After such a dark and emotionally distressing episode last week, it’s only natural to have a relatively low-key hour in Episode 10. That is, if you consider spending half an hour in therapy with Noah “low key”.
It’s one of the year’s most fascinating scenes, one that runs for far too long without you even realizing, that delves deeper into what makes Noah tick (and what also makes him a dick). Dominic West has been playing the douchebag character ever since the show’s inception, pushing the audience further and further away from this despicable character, and while this episode doesn’t exactly make any of his previous ramifications excusable, it does make for captivating television. Never has TV therapy been this accurate and riveting before, thanks to a tight script and an impeccable performance by Cynthia Nixon (from Sex and the City fame). When the clock ticks 3 o’clock and she informs Noah that their session together is over, he isn’t the only one shocked at how time flew away so briskly.
Seeing Noah wrestle with his emotions and words was compelling enough to make me wish we’d see more therapy sessions on this show. While other shows tend to use this worn-out device to dump exposition, I appreciate how The Affair tackled it in a very delicate matter. We find out it’s been almost a year since Alison gave birth, which isn’t so shocking seeing as how this season alone has seen SEVERAL time jumps, and it’s executed in a realistic and believable way. There’s no need to see the exact consequences of last week’s events because it’s melodramatic and pointless, especially the Noah/Alison drama, but at the same time this is still a character-driven show. The proof is how often unimportant the courtroom flash-forwards seem most of the times.
Alison’s point of view isn’t nearly as intriguing as Noah’s nor is it tonally even with the therapy scene. It’s mostly just a collection of “meh” scenes, most of them pretty bland starting with her college class and moving on to her run-in with Scotty who’s trying to convince her to buy the Lobster Roll. The bit about Scotty hinting that Cole is the father of Alison’s baby may be a bit heavy-handed, but it isn’t executed for shock value anyway, and I’m fine with that because we’ve been expecting this storyline to start taking shape for a while now. What’s beautiful about this perspective, however, is how that dull moment leads to the fascinating Alison/Cole bar scene. For once, Cole looks truly happy and that makes Alison very nervous. Even the fact that he wants her to meet his fiancée is just riveting to watch, and I love that the show always goes back to some perspective differences, this time with the way Noah and Alison return home at the end of the night.
Finally, the flash forwards are starting to move a bit faster, but I can’t say that cliffhanger was exciting. If anything, the only thing quite memorable about the courtroom scenes is the fact that Helen and Dr. Ullah are still together.
Unfaithful Flings & Bits
– It’s no coincidence this felt like an episode of In Treatment. Sarah Treem (creator of The Affair) was a writer and producer on that show alongside Anya Epstein (writer of this episode) and Hagai Levi (creator of both shows).
– Noah remembers going home after therapy and finding Alison washing the dishes where he tells her that he enjoyed having couple’s therapy on his own for once. Alison recalls ditching therapy altogether to hang out with her ex-husband and returning home to Noah who tells her he didn’t sit for it either and instead watched a Captain America movie.
– Noah telling Marilyn that he finds Alison “watching him” really made me picture Alison lurking out the front door.
– I hated Noah saying that he changed a thousand diapers and washed dishes and cooked for a year, as if to say those things make what he did forgivable. What a douche.
– The bit about Helen going to Africa with the doctor made me smile.
– The “good man, great man” speech surprisingly made Noah seem a bit more likable. Especially after we dug deeper into his childhood life.
– I love everything that came out of the therapist’s mouth. It was all very insightful.
– I want to see Noah and Whitney running into each other after that hot tub scene more than anything.
– This marks the first time we’ve seen Luisa in Alison’s perspective, and it’s fascinating that she sees her as unfriendly and slightly cold. Jealous much, Ali?
– The “dada” stuff at the end was a bit heavy-handed, no? I just really can’t bring myself to like Alison anymore.
– I don’t know how I feel about Noah taking over my quotes section this week.
Noah: I want you to tell me what we’re doing here. What all this is for, really? All this talking and listening… even if I understand, I grasp all the deep and painful reasons why I did what I did and I want what I want. I felt dismissed as a writer, I’ve held back in my marriage, I was craving acknowledgement, success… I mean, what does it mean for me to know all that if I still just end up wishing Lucy would quit talking metaphors so I could take off all her clothes and just bend her over my desk?
Noah: He was a drunk, a delinquent father, and a terrible husband. And I’m the one who’s cast as a villain.
Marilyn: It makes sense to me, given the history you described, that you might’ve developed a skepticism about fidelity as a virtue. Is that fair to say?
Noah: I guess.
Marilyn: And that your connection to Alison and your attraction to Lucy, to you, are connected in some way to your father’s hypocrisy.
Noah: I think things are only that simple in this office, Marilyn. I think the rest of the time, we live in a complicated, multifaceted mess, basically. You think I haven’t thought about this before? “I’m angry at my father, so I cheat”? You know, I’m sorry, I just don’t think people are that easy to figure out.
Noah: What do we make of this guy? Does the fact that he had sex with a movie star outside marriage, does that somehow negate all of his achievements? Or do those traits that made him cheat…ego, intensity, drive…do they also lead him to achieve?
Marilyn: I think it’s worth taking the time to look beyond Bradley, beyond Jefferson, beyond whoever. To another list. A list of men who did remarkable things and remained loyal partners. We hear about them less, but they’re out there too.
Noah: I know that, of course.
Marilyn: And conversely, what about the average guys? The dentists and accountants who cheat on their wives? A few of them sit right where you’re sitting. Every week. How do they fit into your theory? You could be in France right now with a sitter minding Joanie. And you didn’t have to tell me about your appointment with Lucy. And the very fact that you stayed today, and that you’re struggling with these issues, to me, says volumes about who you really are.
Noah: Great, so who am I?
The first half proved to be a compelling insight into Noah’s character and had some of the best writing and acting on this show so far, but I found Alison’s perspective a bit lackluster in comparison.