A+ Episode The Affair

The Affair – Season 4 Episode 8

"This state is endless."

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I have no words. Yes people, The Affair just did THAT.

A Twist Like No Other

Never in a million years did I ever imagine that The Affair would kill off Alison Bailey. I didn’t think this was that kind of show – Game of Thrones‘ insistence on slaughtering everybody is not exactly the norm on television. But Alison’s demise is a gamechanging twist because she’s one of the core four. In fact, before Cole and Helen became primary characters in season two, Alison and Noah were the main two. She’s that integral to the show’s DNA. Wow!

Showrunner Sarah Treem revealed that Ruth Wilson herself asked to be let off the show. It’s incredible then, that Alison’s death feels so character-based. A lot of times when actors ask to leave, their death comes off as forced (see McDreamy’s death on Grey’s Anatomy). But no, Alison has always struggled, and the clues were always there. Of course the details of her death are yet to be revealed (and I’m sure Ben had something to do with it), but this a woman who has endured a whole lot of misery, so I totally buy that this is how her journey ultimately ended. It’s gut-wrenching and immensely depressing, but it feels earned.

You know what else is amazing? That The Affair didn’t wait until its finale to drop this monumental jawdropper. So now we can witness the aftermath without waiting a year.

Light from Darkness

What’s truly incredible about this episode is that in addition to being the most harrowing episode the show’s ever done, it’s also the single funniest episode The Affair has ever produced. Why? Because comedy and tragedy are often so painfully interlinked, and this hour beautifully illustrates that. Noah, Cole and Anton’s hijinks at the motel were just hilarious. At times it felt like those scenes came straight out of a sitcom, especially when Cole starting playing along with his “hubby” and the two former enemies protected Anton from his fling’s psychotic dad. This episode also singlehandedly proves why Anton is such a lovable character, and I kind of want him to stick around full-time now. Fingers crossed for season five!

An Unexpected Duo

Much like the incredible Helen/Alison scene a few weeks back, the conversation between Cole and Noah at the diner was just as poignant and insightful (read it in its entirety below). Watching the two analyze each other’s ways with women was a thing of beauty, and you can tell Dominic West and Joshua Jackson had a ball with this scene. Moreover, their dynamic culminates beautifully with Noah consoling Cole even after he gets savagely attached by the latter. Talk about character growth!

Bits & Flings

– Cole brushing his teeth out in the open was just hysterical. In fact, dental hygiene seems to be a theme tonight.

– A clue that Ben is lying: he tells Cole that he told Alison he was married, when we all know she found out through his wife. What a creep.

– Very uncomfortable moment: Cole shouting at Athena through his car’s speaker. You can feel she’s on the verge of revealing her rape as the reason behind hiding Alison’s dad from her.

– So why did Noah let Cole behind the wheel again? The guy was obviously exhausted.

– Cole and Noah listening to Anton having sex was just comedy gold. Even better is Cole putting a reality show on TV to fit their cover.

– So darn cringeworthy: Julie asking Anton if he eats baby octopus or if he would prefer grilled cheese. Quite amusingly, he asks for a shower in return.

– I can’t tell what was more of a gut-punch: Cole sobbing after Noah sees the body and nods, or the latter himself sobbing alone at the diner in the end.

– If that cop looks familiar, that’s because it’s Victor Williams back as Detective Jeffries. There’s brilliant continuity with him mentioning that Alison has always had suicidal thoughts.

– I love that Noah’s part begins in the final five minutes. How unexpected.

– Perfect final scene with Noah watching the family and the waitress and remembering his experience in the pilot. I love parallels.

Barbs & Betrayals

Anton: (about Alison) What was she planning on doing, relaxing herself to death?

Anton: (to Noah) 1991 called, on a landline, asking you to fax its slang back.

Noah: See, they say the best advice is to be yourself, but I think it’s good to enhance your natural personality, you know? See, Cole, for instance, he’s a moper.
Cole: I’m a what?
Noah: A moper.
Cole: I am not a moper.
Noah: You are. Classic moper. See, his thing is is to belly up to the bar and order a drink, like, you know, really seriously, like he’s ordering a missile strike, and then just stare into the glass really, really intense, like he’s reading tea leaves, like he can see the future in there. Before you know it, women are falling all over themselves to come and cheer him up. Isn’t that right?
Anton: Wow.
Cole: Now, Noah’s strategy, on the other hand-
Noah: Yes. Do tell. I’ve been wondering about this.
Cole: Is to make all of these promises he has no intention of keeping and couldn’t possibly deliver on, but that’s okay, so long as he gets what he wants.Β Right?
Noah: (to Anton) Seriously, though, she’s a smart girl, probably totally bored, living in a Podunk town. She’d really welcome talking to someone with a bigger perspective.
Cole: Or maybe she’s chosen to live here for reasons you couldn’t possibly understand, and she doesn’t need some fucking stranger coming into town and ruining her life by rescuing her from choices that she’s made as a grown woman.

Cole: How exactly do you know this kid?
Noah: It’s complicated.
Cole: Yeah, I bet. Let me guess. You’re fucking his mother.

Noah: I’ve been sexiled.
Cole: What?
Noah: Isn’t that what you called it in college? Sexiled?
Cole: I never went to college.

Anton: (to Cole) What? College white boys can lose their mind over hip-hop, I can’t listen to metal?

Anton: (to Cole) You ever feel like someone else’s feelings about something are so loud that you can’t even hear your own?

Ben: You want to know what happened to Alison Bailey, Cole? Why don’t you take a look in the fucking mirror?

Conclusion

One of the greatest episodes of television I’ve ever watched. Absolutely spectacular.

Nad Rating
A+

 

7 comments

  1. It’s interesting how I started this episode, laughing over the Cole/Noah/Anton road trip, and ended the episode, feeling shocked and sad over Alison’s fate. Her death isn’t a complete surprise. I had a feeling her disappearance would have a tragic outcome.

  2. Absolutely loved this review, Nadim. What a funny, unnerving, emotional and absolutely shocking hour of television. This show is freaking amazing.

    “Alison’s death feels so character-based” is what I absolutely loved about this twist. There’s nothing gory (minus the brief sight of the body at the morgue) about this death, which makes this all the more natural to the kind of show The Affair is. Because you mentioned McDreamy’s death, I have to mention how all the deaths on that show are completely exaggerated. Here, we find out through one of the perspectives, and we get to REACT to this death at the same time as the other characters. How amazing and unique is that?

    A part of me wants this to become the show’s mystery for the next few episodes (and the final season next year), but I would love if it didn’t actually turn into a homicide. Is there another show that killed its main character before through a suicide? EVER?

    I’m still speechless.

    1. You’re right I kind of want them to stretch out the mystery a bit but I think the next two episodes is enough so we can witness the aftermath next year.

      As for your final suicide question, SO TRUE. I can’t seem to think of any. Wow!

  3. With all due respect to the skill of the people involved in the making of the show, I find it interesting and telling that what it takes to get over the top praise for a TV show these days to to brutally kill a woman to further the plot for the men.

    1. I mean, Ruth Wilson wanted out. Sure, there are other ways to deal with a character’s absence but it wouldn’t be so true to Alison’s character if she just walked out of her daughter’s life. And Cole too because he’s always been a huge part of it. So I don’t see this as a way to further the plot for the men at all.

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