The one thing I never knew I needed in my life was Helen undergoing a “transformative” journey.
Helen’s entire journey this week is filled with so many memorable sequences: Helen and Sierra smoking weed together before going on their adventure, the conversation in the Porsche when Sierra reveals she slept with a married man (and it’s oh so awkward because we know it’s Vik), Maura Tierney’s face when the Shaman makes out with Sierra, Maura Tierney’s face when Sierra lays down naked on her bed, – basically Maura Tierney’s face during anything. The actress is given so much to play with this week, and she does a phenomenal job. Not only is the storyline comedic in the obvious ways, it’s very revealing as it culminates with a number of realizations: Helen realizes that she’s happy she’s reached menopause because she doesn’t need to give the men in her life any more kids, and she realizes that she doesn’t want Vik to die. Watching her speed off through the night to tell her husband this is surprisingly romantic after all the hurt they’ve been through this season.
Of course the most memorable part of the episode is Helen sleeping with Sierra. Regardless of the awkward fact that Sierra has now slept with both husband and wife, it’s so refreshing to see Helen enjoy herself for once and do what makes her happy. Since the start of The Affair, Helen has always been the character I’ve rooted for most, and this week’s hour gorgeously conveyed why she’s a character worth rooting for. I just want her to be happy; is that too much to ask?
Although I’m not the biggest fan of Noah getting involved in Janelle’s family dynamics, I’m pleased to report that the present timeline has finally caught up with our flash-forwards now that Noah, Cole and Anton are united in their search for Alison. If nothing else, Anton’s family troubles have at least brought us to this point, while simultaneously allowing Noah to play father figure (since Trevor is so adamant on disconnecting from his dad). As I mentioned a few weeks back, it’s hard for me to get invested in new characters so late in the show’s run, particularly when they receive so much screen-time in a storyline that could carry on without Noah. Nevertheless, both Sanaa Lathan (Janelle) and Christopher Meyer (Anton) are enormously likable, and they’re doing fine work with the material!
Bits & Flings
– It’s a quick moment, but it’s very interesting to watch Helen wait her turn in the supermarket as a store employee flirts with a girl by giving her tips on “overnight oats”. Even more awkward, Helen asking where to find the pregnancy tests.
– I love Helen’s reposes to Sierra asking if she’s only slept with men before: “Mostly.” Ha!
– Helen sharing anal sex tips – hilarious.
– Isn’t it so heartwarming to watch Helen give advice to all the girls about having kids? I vote for a spinoff featuring Shaman Helen after the show comes to an end next year.
– Watching Helen advise Sierra not to sleep with married guys (which is kind of what she advised Alison last week) is pretty heartbreaking when you know she’s going to find out abou Vik & Sierra’s tryst soon. Or will she forgive him since she slept with her too?
– I can’t remember the last time I felt as claustrophobic as I did while watching Helen in the sensory deprivation tank. I actually felt like I was being buried alive.
– Laugh-out-loud moment: Helen calmly telling the young guy “no” when he sits down beside her.
– Vikram promises Helen he won’t die. Does he know something we don’t? Also, why did he change his mind? Did he finally believe Helen’s love for him?
– A gem of a sequence: Helen telling Noah that Vik is dying. His demeanor transforms completely, and I love how he tries to hug her but she’s incapable of letting him do so. She even denies that they’re “friends”, effectively bursting his bubble. Wow.
– Janelle and Noah’s sex scene went on for quite a while didn’t it?
– I like how Noah and Cole don’t even say hi to one another. They just silently shake hands. Appropriate.
Barbs & Betrayals
Helen: Don’t you think I’m too young to be in menopause?
Vikram: Don’t you think I’m too young to die?
Sierra: No, you don’t understand. Thirty is almost, like, 50 in actor years.
Helen: Well, I’m almost, like, 50 in people years.
Sierra: Yeah, but you’re still really fuckable. I’m never gonna be that fuckable when I’m your age.
Helen: Look, I want to be honest with you. No matter how many new moons or tropical Libras you circle under, the only way out of this thing is through it.
I mean, and you can talk to astrologers or gurus or shamans, but the only thing that really works is living and making choices and making mistakes, and then eventually, you get old enough and you start to figure shit out.
Helen: I thought we were going to a sensory derivation bank.
Sierra: A sensory deprivation tank?
Helen: What did I say?
Helen: I mean, all my life, I’ve been feeling I don’t know how to say this.
I’ve been feeling needed. By men, by my children. You know, I remember when Noah and I first got together, his mother had just died, and I remember how much he wanted me, in this kind of really desperate sort of way. And he would just, like, climb into bed with me and need to fuck me, to feel connected or, uh, safe or cared for. I don’t know, and I was I was happy to give that to him when I was young, because I thought that that’s what I was supposed to do. And then my children came along, and they’re just all need. You know, they’re like little, tiny, little, walking balls of need.
Helen: Listen, can I give you some advice?
Sierra: Yeah, okay.
Helen: Um lay off the married guys.
Sierra: Yeah, I know.
Helen: You don’t, really, because you’re not married. You’ve never been married, so you couldn’t know. And that’s okay, but when you sleep with a married man, it’s not just him. There’s a whole constellation of people behind him, and it takes years to build trust in a marriage. And when you sleep with someone’s husband, it’s not just a moment. It’s years of his life, and hers, and the promise they made to each other and-and their kids, and it’s everything. And you’re just shitting all over it.
Noah: You’d really rather go to war than go to college?
Anton: Well, they said the chances of me seeing combat are slim.
Noah: Yeah, they’re lying. This country is pretty much at war somewhere all the time.
Noah: I’m sure she’s fine.
Cole: That makes one of us.
Although Noah’s perspective wasn’t as strong, the Helen material this week was just astounding. I am loving this season and am ecstatic the show is coming back for one final chapter next year!