While last season was more tightly-plotted, I can’t help but feel that this year The Affair is realizing its true potential by continuously producing powerful, thought-provoking episodes week after week.
A heavy Helen/Noah-centric hour is tricky business because this show has never tried to convince us that these two are endgame, something I’ve come to love as it makes its characters more realistic and genuine. But Helen’s part surprisingly made me want to see more of these two together (a prequel to when they were dating, perhaps?) because everything about their first bar scene was immaculate and compelling. The calm, quiet setting made their exchange all the more endearing, especially as it was following a truly captivating scene at the book reading. This has more to do with Helen being the best character on this show than it does with Noah, but I was taken aback by how great their chemistry was. Kudos to Maura Tierney and Dominic West who are truly making this show even more fascinating than I possibly imagined.
Even more gripping than the bar scene was Helen walking into the library and seeing how moved everyone is by Noah’s book. The weight of that entire sequence—watching so many people come for his reading, being baffled by the crowd, sitting in with the audience and listening intently—is perfectly on-point and a wonderful insight into Helen’s mindset.
Noah’s part shockingly didn’t annoy me, perhaps because I kept on analyzing how Noah sees himself as a selfish, drunken, colossal failure in contrast to Helen viewing him as this confident hotshot. Even the fact that he doesn’t recall bumping into his own daughter Whitney (still outrageous and hilarious as always) is more proof to how Noah sees himself as a terrible father and human being in general. It’s all quite compelling, even if the hour takes a dangerously slow turn at times, because we get to see him interact with a drunk Helen and reminisce about the old times. The differences in perspectives return in huge form this week, most notably in the way the bar scenes take place, but they don’t make the viewing experience any less impactful.
Of course, the flash-forwards are starting to make much more sense now that the season is reaching its end, and I appreciated how they were intercut throughout the episode rather than just abruptly at the beginning and the end. The lawyer making a strong case against Alison being the mastermind killer is an unexpected twist, but I’ll doubt the writers will really go there, while Helen stealing the baby’s pacifier to get a DNA test that might prove Noah isn’t the father is a bit soapy and far-fetched for this show. But I’ll let it slide just to see where the show is going with this storyline.
Unfaithful Flings & Bits
– I think Julia Goldani Telles is absolutely perfectly cast as the despicable yet hilarious Whitney. She’s such a hardheaded character yet so gullible and naive, and Telles helps her seem less cartoonish than the show makes her out to be. Then again, I’m not faulting the writing because this is just the way all the characters view Whitney, and this is in no way me asking for a Whitney perspective in season three.
– Whitney setting her mother up on Tinder dates was actually kind of sweet. Until she mentioned that she probably has around five good years left.
– You gotta hand it to Helen for not totally freaking out about her daughter and the whole photographer incident.
– The part where Noah is reading a passage from his book at the reading with her listening is so darn fascinating in Helen’s version, but downright awkward and uncomfortable in Noah’s. My head hurts just trying to analyze this show sometimes.
– LOVED the bar scene in both versions, but the two of them reminiscing in Helen’s perspective was just so darn intriguing.
– Alison showing Noah the crib she made is so painful to watch. He is such a despicable character, I can’t believe he was asking about his desk!
– “Descent: Porn By Another Name” is kind of an awesome headline for a book review.
– Hilarious moment when Noah assumes a woman is reading his book but is dumbfounded to see she’s actually reading The Kite Runner.
– A drunk Helen is the best kind of Helen we’ve seen so far.
– The drinking game Helen challenges Noah to is EPIC.
– It’s common knowledge that Noah is a cheating jerk, but Eden should not be showing up at her boss’s hotel room in the middle of the night, knowing in advance that he’s drunk.
Whitney: You have at least five good years left. I’m just trying to help you maximize them. You might even have six.
Whitney: Look, I don’t want to spend four years training to spend my life in a cubicle and then spend my life in a cubicle.
Helen: Every time she texts you, you have to drink.
Noah: She doesn’t text me that much.
(He receives a text)
Noah: She’s had a very disappointing day.
Noah: Bruce Butthole is no Noah Solloway.
Noah: Do you like the book? Is it a good book?
Helen: I can’t read it without crying.
A slow-burn but still another addicting hour of The Affair.