The Affair

The Affair 3×01 – Episode One

"I don't need you to push me out of my comfort zone. I've never been inside one."

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The Affair‘s first season was a thought-provoking thrill ride unlike anything else I’d ever seen. The show’s sophomore season took everything that made the first season so great, and turned into one of my favorite seasons of television ever produced. Obviously, there are a lot of expectations riding on the show’s third season. So how does the premiere stack up? Honestly, it’s too early to tell, but I’m intrigued.

 The strangest thing this premiere does is limit the entire hour to only one perspective: Noah’s. That’s a brave move in theory, but Noah is the show’s dullest and most unlikeable character (maybe that’s what makes him so fascinating), so I’m not entirely sure he was able to carry the whole thing on his own. Nevertheless, the premiere laid down a number of compelling tidbits regarding his prison stint (my money’s on the disturbing possibility that he was raped) while showcasing a broken and terrified Noah exhibiting signs of PTSD.

The first half of the episode was undeniably slow-moving, as the show gradually integrated us into Noah’s new life as a convict-turned-professor. These changes included the introduction of a number of cliche students, and Noah’s potential new love interest in the form of a French professor who strangely understands him and his idiosyncrasies. I’m not too optimistic (it might be down to Irene Jacob’s odd performance) but I’m willing to keep an open mind. I did however miss Allison, Helen and Cole quite a bit. Less screen-time for the newbies please!

And then there’s that final sequence. To say that I was absolutely terrified is an understatement, because the chilling musical score and ominous camera-work drove me over the edge. Maybe it’s the underlying dread of Noah’s potential rape, or the creepy character (played by Brendan Fraser) who kept chasing Noah throughout, but I was suitably unsettled and on the edge of my seat until the end. Also, did Noah get stabbed or did he stab himself in those final moments? Place your bets people!

Flings & Bits

– The credits are different, and suspiciously robbed of all their color. A bit too staged for me but I still love that gorgeous, haunting tune by Fiona Apple. It fits the show’s mood perfectly with its atmospheric vocals.

– I really love Jennifer Esposito as Noah’s sister. Show us more of her (and less of annoying JP).

– Noah utterly destroying his student’s work was horrifying to watch.

– The fact that Noah told Helen to “wait” in the prison flashbacks, and then wanted nothing to do with her when he got out – what an ass!

– Quite the political episode wasn’t it? The rape discussion over dinner was some heavy stuff!

– I stand by my prediction that Noah was raped by the guard in prison. There’s no other reason to explain all the rape/consent debates and his traumatized demeanor. Ugh this is going to be tough to watch.

Adulterous Sayings

Dana: You killed him, you know, with your antics. He died of a broken heart.
Noah: I thought he died of emphysema.
Dana: You’re a horror.

Helen: This is not a writers retreat, Noah. You’re incarcerated.
Noah: Can’t it be both?

Lila: Okay, I stopped listening at the part where she fucks you, because that’s where your story lost all credibility.

Juliette: I don’t even know why we’re asking him. The man basically wrote a self-help book on how to cheat on your wife and get away with it.

Conclusion
A slow and offbeat premiere that’s salvaged by a powerful ending. Although it was uneven, I’m eager to see where the rest of the season takes us.

Nad Rating
B

7 comments

  1. Loved the review! So good to have this show back in our lives.

    I really miss the old opening credits! But there's something so eerie about how the entire cast is sinking in the new one. Chilling.

    Also, it didn't even occur to me that Noah could've stabbed himself at the end! And I definitely thought “rape” when Noah kept hallucinating the prison guard everywhere. We're in for a disturbing ride indeed! Can't wait!

  2. I agree with your prediction that he was raped in prison, it is the logical conclusion. But that final scene!! OMG! My bet is on him stabbing himself. It seems we are in for a very interesting season.

  3. Isn't it possible that the end scene is a mix of a memory and a panic attack? He kept having pains in that very place in his shoulder/neck throughout the episode and took pills for it. My guess is that something happened in prison, maybe he got stabbed there, with pain and anxiousness as a result…

  4. I found the French prof's habit of switching to her native tongue every other sentence really distracting and irritating. I hope they drop that. Who does that in real life? Nobody!

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