Never has television been this good. For the first time in two years, I feel like this is the show’s first PERFECT hour.
The Affair continues its streak of powerful episodes with a narrative that breaks the mold and places the focus on all four perspectives simultaneously. Steering away from the usual format is dangerous for any show, but when done right, it can lead to a masterpiece.
It’s hard to pin down what exactly makes this episode work despite its unusual set-up and melodramatic event that brings all four viewpoints together (the hurricane), but the depressing nature of every single perspective is undeniably one of the most seductive things about this hour. Alison’s part in particular takes the prize for being so insanely dark and gloomy, it was absolutely heart-wrenching to watch. The beauty of her story is that it doesn’t become solely about Noah leaving her to give birth alone, but rather how it collides with Cole’s part about moving on and giving birth to a new life. Those final 10 minutes that show Cole seeing his son Gabriel before he trashes down his and Alison’s old house and burns it to the ground while Alison goes into labor are extremely powerful and ridiculously dark. It’s hard to catch a breath during that sequence, and the stormy weather is a PERFECT representation of the distressing emotions the characters are feeling. Absolutely mind-blowing on every single level.
Not that Helen’s or Noah’s parts were any less mind-blowing: the latter goes through a range of emotions starting with the Hollywood producer’s party where he gets drunk, high, naked and almost in a three-way with his OWN DAUGHTER. It’s a horrifying, wild, jaw-dropping moment for everyone involved (Noah, Whitney, the audience, and probably the third girl who’s mostly confused more than anything), and the best part about it is how Noah is so shocked and ashamed, he gets up and leaves afterwards. There are literally no words to describe how utterly insane that scene is, but I’m in awe at how The Affair tackled such an exaggerated telenovela moment by turning it into a psychological experiment for its character. If you think about it, even the parts leading up to that moment are exaggerated and surreal: Noah taking off all his clothes and jumping into the pool while staring at some woman, but the show’s beautiful cinematography (and Dominic West’s shocked face) sell that sequence quite exquisitely.
While the show continues to prove what a despicable human being Noah is, it more than reveals how awesome Helen is when she bumps into Dr. Ullah (her son’s surgeon), takes him home with her, has sex with him in the basement while her kids are upstairs and then ultimately realizes what an asshole he just might be. Again, the best thing about this show (besides absolutely everything) is how extremely real its characters are even when the story is as straightforward and simple as this one. This guy’s evil nature isn’t pure assholery as evident in the way he treats Martin and convinces him to get the shot, but he’s not exactly a great person either and Helen might be more than okay with that for now. Their dynamic is an interesting one for this show, and I do hope we see more of these two together in the future.
The lack of any flash-forwards makes this hour all the more impactful (those scenes always feel detached from the story), so I’m glad this episode didn’t include any of those. It’s hard to see the writers continue to produce episodes with four perspectives all at once, but if there is any show on television that can pull off such a spectacular challenge it’s this one.
Unfaithful Flings & Bits
– Sarah Treem, creator of this show, tweeted right before the episode: “It’s difficult to describe tonight’s episode, but suffice to say, we purposely broke our own mold. Tonight, everything changes.”
– I love that the episode moved in a linear fashion with occasional time labels instead of revealing which perspective we’re watching.
– More tweets from Sarah Treem: Helen’s “interview for sex” line is a direct quote from Maura.
– Dr. Ullah drinks on the job and calls one of his patients a “needy bitch” and yet he’s still kind of charming, no?
– Loved the scene where Helen listens to him on the phone with a patient. It’s pointless and lengthy, but absolutely realistic.
– It’s absolutely hilarious that Noah’s book might be made into a movie starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lawrence.
– If there’s any collision between the four stories this week, it might be just Whitney’s appearance in Noah’s perspective after Helen goes home and discovers her daughter is out with her friend Chrissy.
– Seriously though, what is a high-school student doing at a Hollywood producer’s naked pool party in the middle of a hurricane?
– The Eden ass slap was just outrageous and hysterical. Eden in general is simply outrageous and hysterical.
– One tiny thing I hated: Noah losing his phone in the car. Unless it’s a perspective thing, and in real life he just really didn’t want to be with his girlfriend as she gives birth to her ex-husband’s child.
– Who’s worse: Max or the producer?
– Seriously, what did Eden need 15 minutes for?
– My heart broke into a million pieces when Alison was screaming that she doesn’t want the baby.
– So, it’s definitely Cole’s baby, right? The fact that Alison thinks she’s giving birth to Noah’s child five weeks early more than proves that Cole is the father, given that she slept with him that one time in the cabin.
– Cole and Luisa’s part ran a little too long in my opinion, but it had a pretty fascinating climax with the whole Lockharts’ curse coming back to light. I did feel absolutely horrible about Luisa though.
– What a perfect way to end a perfect episode: Alison holding her newborn the next day after the storm has passed and telling the nurse not to let Noah in (just yet). Absolutely chilling.
Helen: I wasn’t sure what surgeons generally like.
Dr. Ullah: Alcohol.
Helen: O…kay, do you prefer red or white?
Dr. Ullah: I prefer whiskey. Wine doesn’t get you drunk fast enough.
Dr. Ullah: How about leaving me your number?
Waitress: This is great you guys, but can you do this part outside?
Helen: I mean, what’s a date, really? It’s just an interview for sex.
Helen: Are you a nice guy that acts like a dick or a dick that acts like a nice guy?
Dr. Ullah: Uh, what’s the difference?
Luisa (to Cole): The world does not revolve around your pain.
Luisa: Anything that goes wrong in your life, you blame someone else…your mother, your ex-wife, even your fucking dead grandfather. Which means that if something goes wrong with us, you’re gonna blame me.
An epic, flawless hour of television. This show is a true masterpiece.