After a somewhat subdued and anticlimactic season premiere, this follow-up hour was a welcome return to form that reminded me just how captivating The Affair could be.
In fact it’s worth noting that no other show can intrigue me with just how immensely slow-moving it is. I’m never bored while watching The Affair, and that’s a miraculous achievement when you consider the fact that a lot of the time, there isn’t much plot going on: just a distinct and powerful focus on vividly-drawn characters.
My main issue with the season premiere was the singular focus on Noah’s perspective; Helen’s always been my favorite character, so you can imagine how much I adored this episode. Maura Tierney is the kind of actress that glues you to the screen no matter what, and this hour did a tremendous job of juggling her bizarre relationship with Vikram, her complex feelings towards her ex Noah, and Whitney’s worrisome new life.
Unlike the season premiere, this episode brought back The Affair‘s signature format with two perspectives in one. Allison’s storyline was noticeably slower, but Ruth Wilson’s reliably mesmerizing performance kept it afloat as we gradually pieced together the remnants of her shattered new life. The reveal that she had checked herself into some sort of psychiatric center and given Cole and Luisa full custody of Joanie was quite the stunner, and her final monologue to Oscar (who is now strangely likeable) was probably a character highlight. It’s a testament to the show’s continuity that the death of her first child can still hold such heartbreaking ramifications.
Flings & Bits
-That prolonged opening sex scene must have been so awkward to film.
– Helen’s Trump line made me laugh. How current!
– The fact that Vikram lives in Helen’s basement. Seriously? A surgeon in Manhattan can’t afford better?
– The sight of Noah with a bruised eye. My money’s still on that guard raping him. How deeply unsettling.
– Even more proof of the rape: that quick shot of the sinister guard adjusting his belt. Yuck.
– It’s interesting that Helen thinks Noah went to prison because he loves her. I think he just did it to escape his twisted life.
– Did anyone else want to punch Vikram as he kept tapping away on his phone in the elevator?
– Whitney’s boyfriend Furkat: I have no words! That dinner scene was just hysterical.
– Epic visual: Helen and Vikram in the back of the cab with the vagina painting in between.
– Vikram finally moving into Helen’s room with his cactus was strangely sweet.
– Symbolism: Helen removing the earrings that Noah gave her.
– Luisa utterly destroying Allison (starting with Joanie’s new favorite color) was just harsh.
– Super sweet ending with Cole bringing Joanie to Allison. Love the final shot of her running out of frame all smiley.
Helen: Why’d you let us hump so long?
Vik: “Hump.” That’s really the worst.
Helen: I like it. I want to revive it.
Helen: And we’re having dinner with Whitney tonight, don’t forget.
Vik: There’s another one? [sighs] How many is that, 11?
Helen: Let me tell you something. Trish’s husband left in August. He had an affair with the dog walker. She has chronic insomnia. She’s also the sole caretaker of her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, and her son, Jedediah, who’s six. And autistic. The woman is a master of illusion. I mean, she’s hanging by a thread, but you don’t see that when you look at her.
Helen: (to Noah) They’re doing The Tempest set in Cuba, so it’s half in Spanish with samba music. Can you imagine sitting through that? You’re lucky you’re in here.
Whitney: It’s Patagonian toothfish with caramelized shallots and kumquats.
Furkat: Also known as Chilean sea bass with little tiny bitter oranges.
Whitney: Honestly, you’d have to bring your own waterboard to fuck them up more than my dad did.
Helen: (to Vikram) We live completely separate lives. My place, your place, my bed, your bed, my kids, your… your… your cactus.
Oscar: You disappeared for six months. Did you join ISIS?
Oscar: I didn’t think so, but you should know, that theory was circling around here for a while. Did you get kidnapped?
Oscar: Did you fall in love with a sailor?
Oscar: Did you have amnesia? Can you even remember what happened?
An extremely witty and compelling hour from The Affair. Outstanding!