Sunday, December 28, 2014

Episode 10

The show ends having made a mockery of everything they used to promote its debut 10 episodes ago. The characters have wildly divergent memories of an event no one would actually forget and Sarah Treem declares that it doesn't matter which version is true or not, all that matters is how it made them feel.

If the truth doesn't matter, why have you had audiences trying to divine it for the last 3 months. And if the characters' feelings are of paramount importance, why can't they just indulge them without false memories?

We still haven't gotten to the murder we've waited for for so long. We know Scotty has been hit by a car and we know that Noah is ultimately arrested, but we leave Montauk before the accident occurs. We don't know why it happened. We don't know whose wedding everyone was attending. We have as many questions about that mystery, which is really a sub-sub plot in the show, as we did when the series started. If the show hadn't been renewed for another season, I don't know how the finale would have unfolded, but anything would have been better than what we got.

And, ending the way we began (with the maybe rape scene closing the first two stories in the pilot), we continue to get endings that serve to heighten interest for the next episode, but have very little to do with the plot going forward. Cliffhangers should ask an important question, that is not only answered, but integral. Here, they just tease, only to be forgotten later.

Noah's Story

Noah's at the swimming pool where it all began. I hope it is a flashback letting us know that the preceding 9 episodes have been a dream, but no such luck. He runs into his admirer from before. She reveals that she is engaged now and when Noah tells her he is separated, she is sorry she missed out (on what I don't know). They end up having sex. Then he has sex with everyone he encounters and does it at school, where he's caught and punished.

He is sent to a "rubber room" to wait until the charges against him can be heard. Some people have been coming there every day for a year or two. If he leaves, he will lose his chance at reinstatement. He ends up using the time to write his book. Apparently, he's the only one who found something productive to do, because the man next to him (who was reading Infinite Jest for the second time) tells Noah that he's his hero.

Noah's agent says the same. He loves the book and asks Noah what it's like to be single. No ties, sleeping with as many women he wants. Noah says that his older kids hate him and he is living in a room the size of a shoebox. The agent asks if he misses his wife. Noah flashes back to being in bed with Alison. I learn on twitter that the scene is from Alison's story, not his. Treem says that they don't recall every even in their own stories. I have been afraid of this. For instance, when an episode ends without them having sex, I have been aware that maybe they actually did, they just didn't divulge it in their narratives. When Noah remembers an encounter that Alison omitted, if it's not contradictory to hers, then I feel that it may have happened. What I don't think is that they actually repressed the memory and wouldn't admit it to themselves until now, which is how Treem explains the flashbacks they have from the other's story. So stupid. Considering everything else about the liaison that Noah and Alison have recalled in their own stories, why would they "forget" relatively innocuous moments? The way Treem uses the memory gimmick, these people aren't giving us their biased recollections, they're suffering from selective amnesia and are actually mentally unstable if they truly recall events the way Treem says they do. Actually, she's the one who's mentally unstable, if she thinks failing to write a complete plot and using the media to explain away all of the script's discrepancies is the way to produce a television show.

Anyway, to me, in Noah's flashback to Alison in bed, she looks unhappy. I don't know where the scene is from. It appears to be the first time they slept together at the inn. She initially hated it and was looking for a quick exit. When Noah recalls the scene, it is in slow motion. Even a joyous movement of the mouth can look like a grimace in slo mo. Still, I'm wondering if Noah is remembering a point during sex when Alison looked regretful or disappointed. If that's something he wouldn't let himself admit until now, then I'm happy to know it. In fact, any time he has her being less enthusiastic about their pairing than she is in her story, I like to think he's telling us a truer version of Alison and her inner emotions than she is. I grasp onto that. But maybe he's just revealing his own securities. Does he see her kiss Cole goodbye at town hall, because she did and was more affectionate towards Cole than she knew? Or does he see it because he feared she was using him. When she talks about the affair in retrospect is she trying to make it seem like she met Noah at least halfway so as not to take the blame for its failure, while he sees that she was never as whole-hearted as he is? Of course, I'd embrace that.

She doesn't make it seem like she tries very much with Cole. So, I'm not sure why she would go out of her way to tell the audience that she gave her lover every chance, if she didn't, but I suppose no one wants to be the one who let the other down. With the cocaine, Noah recalled that she was more intent on helping Cole cover up the crime than she was guilty about it. He saw her as being a full Lockhart participant. Again in this episode, from his POV I thought Alison was back in the family, not just a visitor at the home. Is that the way it seemed to Noah, or do Treem & Company just slant it that way, to fool the viewers into thinking that Alison has reunited with Cole, only to surprise them in the second half of the story?

The character points of view have been so manipulated, that you don't trust them as having a purpose other than building suspense, anymore.

The agent tells Noah he can get him an advance in the six figures and Noah is overjoyed. We learn that he hasn't seen Alison in four months. They've been out of touch.

Helen calls him over to the house and shows video of him beating up Scotty at the abortion clinic. Why didn't he tell her who their son was sleeping with. He's surprised to see she's having him followed. She says she's not, her mother is. She's doing it to help in the divorce proceedings.

Helen also knows about all the women he's been sleeping with and that he's not on his job anymore. He can't believe she let her mother spy on him. She says no one let's Margaret do anything. She screams that she hates him and he says, sure, that's why she wants a divorce. But, she melts, she doesn't want a divorce. She misses him. She wants him back. This is too hard. She can't do it alone.

She says it's not fair that she thought everything was fine and he loved the person she was. She gave him all the things he'd always wanted, including the four children, the family he grew up without. He changed and he didn't let her know. He never gave her a warning that he had outgrown her. She's been in therapy and she can change. She's learned new coping tools.

She breaks down in his arms and he comforts her. She asks him to come back. He kisses her and jokes that she wiped her nose on his shirt. She says, "does that turn you on." They laugh and become amorous.

Maura did a great job in this scene, but it's such a humiliating one. As an actor, do you mind groveling if it gives you good material? Maybe not, but as a fan, it's very hard to watch and I honestly don't know why The Affair writes scenes that turn so many people off. I mean, even if the producers mistakenly think people just want Noah and Alison together, they can't think having Helen beg him to take her back makes him look good, since he does reunite with Helen only to dump her again. How ... to me, even if you were rooting for Alison and Noah, that would turn you off of them. And if you were never rooting for them to begin with, it's just infuriating.

Whitney presumably had the abortion, but it's not mentioned. At first she is glad to see her father back, but then when Helen and Noah say they will press charges against Scotty because she was only 16 when the affair happened and he is at least 30, she turns against Noah and says he can't sleep with Alison, return and act like he's her father. He says "I AM your father." She says that he's a sociopath. Helen told her so. Helen looks guilty and says she was mad at the time. Sociopath! Sociopath, Whitney screams. Thanks a lot, Noah says as he retreats to the bedroom.

It's funny, because after the pilot, I called Noah a psychopath. I think he feels guilt, but that doesn't stop him from continually hurting others. But he's so self-centered. I believe that ego is more the trait of a psychopath than a sociopath. I think the writers may have been getting "sociopath" complaints online from the audience, so they threw that in for laughs and it was amusing.

Helen gets into her pajamas. Noah asks did she really just go into the other room to change clothes. Yes. Why? She says she doesn't know. She gets into bed in sweats. When he thinks about the Lockharts, Whitney says she is the one who chased Scotty not the other way around, Noah suggests that maybe they shouldn't press charges. After all, Whitney was almost 17. Helen is astounded and, guessing that Noah is reticent because of Alison, she says she is pressing charges, with or without Noah. She turns her back to him. He asks if she wants him to leave. She says, "please don't," I think that's nice dialogue.

Noah's phone rings and he sees it is Alison. He doesn't answer. Then she texts, "your daughter is here." Since he hasn't seen her, how does he know where "here" is for Alison?

He heads over to the ranch. Alison opens the door. She looks bigger. First of all she is wearing a shapeless dress, but it's white so I guess Noah sees her as angelic. It has a belt and looks like a choir robe. Her arms look bigger, but I don't know if that would be the show's wardrobe or just Ruth's body. I don't know if they want her to look pregnant or not, but if she would have gotten pregnant four months ago ...

Helen eyes Alison and Noah looking at one another. She says that Whitney is inside "with my mother-in-law." Her language ties Alison to the Lockharts in Noah's mind.

They go into the kitchen and when Whitney sees her parents, she lashes out at Alison, "I thought we were friends, how could you call them?" Um, why did Whitney think Alison was her friend? What interaction has she had with her? I could see if Martin thought that, since he'd hung out at the ranch, but when have Alison and Whitney been around each other?

Noah asks where Scotty was and Alison says he left. Where'd he go. Alison says she doesn't know. It turns out later that Scotty was there. Does Noah think that Alison was complicit in lying to him? In his version of events, it seems so.

Cherry tries to convince them not to press charges. She says they lost the ranch and will all be homeless soon, Noah looks sadly at Alison. Helen tells Alison to stop looking at her husband and yells, "what is wrong with you?!" Cherry says please don't speak to her daughter-in-law that way. Helen says that that daughter-in-law slept with Helen's husband. Cherry says she knows and that everyone in the room has done bad things. So that seems Cherry is admitting that she did something bad. What? Was telling Alison that she wished she had died instead of Gabriel one of them? If so, that would indicate that she and Alison have forgiven one another. At any rate, Noah would not have known that Cherry knew about the affair (or that Cherry would have reason to say they've all done bad things), so that part seems like it really happened.

Just as Noah is about to leave with Whitney, Scotty comes down the stairs and says, "Are they gone, Ma?" Noah lunges after Scotty. Scotty can probably fight better than that. He's younger than Noah and has probably been in brawls, while Noah hasn't, so I don't know why Noah always gets the better of him, but that makes me remember that there is video of their fight at the abortion clinic, so we know that that must've really happened.

Noah chases Scotty outside and has him down on the ground. He is punches Scotty's face back and forth, when Cole comes out with a gun and says, "get the ___ off of my brother." He says that Noah should give him a reason not to shoot and cocks his gun. Helen, Alison and Whitney all stare in horror.

We see detective Jeffrey investigating. When he saw him leave the police station, Noah bribed the mechanic who fixed his car $10,000 to say he never saw Noah and the mechanic got it all on tape, which he gives to the police.

Alison's Story

She is at some yoga retreat with Athena and her boyfriend. They are all getting along, suddenly. Namaste.

She's in a sweatshirt and still looks like she could be pregnant. It is only because I see her drinking beer later that I think maybe she is not and at 4 months along, she would know if she was. So, I want to assume she wasn't pregnant at the time. If she is, I have to conclude that the baby is not Noah's and she lied to Cole about not being the father, which would make me hate her more than I do, if that's possible. I hope they don't go anywhere with the paternity tease.

Athena wants to fix her up with someone who will help her reach sexual peak. Alison says she doesn't need that. When they part, Alison hugs her warmly and Athena says she thought she just might call her "mom" when Alison doesn't.

Alison goes to Phoebe's. She tells her she is not going back to her husband and not running off with Noah. She says she needs time for herself. Phoebe can't believe she had an affair and left her husband all while she was gone. Alison says that there was a moment when it first started when Noah looked at her and really SAW her and she has never felt so aroused as at that time. Now it seems everything since then has been her and Noah trying to circle their way back to that time.

Phoebe says they can't, because it never really existed. I don't know if this is telling the audience that Alison is fantasizing about something that doesn't exist in real life, that she's tracing a dream and Noah just looks good to her because he doesn't come with the burdens of real life, he's an escape, not an alternative. Is this the message to viewers? Even if it is, Alison doesn't believe that. Alison saying that she and Noah were trying to circle their way back tells me that she is not over Noah the way she is Cole and I am disheartened.

Phoebe says that she thinks life is all about having someone to donate a kidney too when you need it. Phoebe looks around and she has no one. Alison says that she'll donate Phoebe a kidney if need be and that not having a donor is preferable to being lonely in your own marriage (which is a good way to describe what Alison is feeling. The writers have some talent when they aren't trying to play cutesy games). Phoebe says that Alison shouldn't mind her, after all she's never been married. Alison says she is going to try to sell her house. Phoebe asks if Cole is still living in it. Alison says she doesn't know. Probably.

When Alison spoke about that moment with Noah, she flashed back to the beach, after the party that she catered for the Butlers. Online people pointed out that her flashback was from Noah's story and didn't happen in Alison's. In Noah's story, he fingered her. In her story, they just kissed and she told him that she was attracted to him. Alison's not especially modest and I don't know why she would "repress" a romantic encounter with Noah on the beach, in light of everything she has admitted in her story. I remember her telling the Detective that at that time she hadn't been unfaithful to her husband, she'd just kissed a man on the beach, but since she never had any real qualms about being unfaithful in the first place and never tried to resist Noah until after they'd already slept together. I don't know why her memory wouldn't divulge the scene in the flashback, if it had happened in her memory. It's just Treem & Company trying to be cute with a construct they've already rendered meaningless.

When Alison goes out to the kitchen at Phoebe's Mary Kate is sitting there. Mary Kate is cold. Alison asks about Hal. He's fine. The house. They lost the house. Alison says she is sorry, but it's the condolences offered by a stranger, not by a friend. Alison pointedly doesn't ask about Cole, which makes me mad. Mary Kate says if she'd known that Alison was there, she would have waited in the car. "Really?" Alison is more argumentative and sarcastic than contrite. Is that how it is? Yes, Mary Kate says, when you leave your family without so much as a goodbye note, that's how it is.

Phoebe comes out and asks if Alison wants to go surfing with them. Mary Kate says that Alison doesn't swim. Phoebe says that Alison can watch. Alison just wants a ride to her house. Is that all right with Mary Kate. Mary Kate is not happy about it and Alison snippily says, "just drop me at my house and then you never have to see me again." I wouldn't have taken her to the house at all. On the one hand, I wouldn't give her the satisfaction of knowing that I'd considered her a friend and my feelings were hurt. On the other, I wouldn't let her in my car, even for a 10 minute drive.

Since Phoebe is a surfer, maybe she can give an objective description of what happened the day that Gabriel drowned and Alison will discover that she was wrong to blame Cole. Of course, it's stupid that no one has ever discussed these things before, that she never asked Cole why he wasn't watching Gabriel before, or even that Noah and Alison don't discuss the different memories they have of the first time he saw her house and the shower episode. With the drowning, just for the medical report, you'd have think people would have discussed their recollection of the incident two years ago and not give Alison and her doctor excuse for lengthy exposition on the subject.

They drive up to the house and Cole comes out and I am glad he is being charming, like Josh and not all mopey. He says that they will have a great time surfing and then Alison gets out of the car and he immediately puts his hands in his pocket. Body language that says she has emasculated him I guess. He is no longer jocular.

In the house, she says it looks great. He says that he's been fixing it up and it will make it easier for her to sale. I'm glad that he's acknowledging it as her property and not trying to hold onto it or make a claim to her money. He thanks her for answering his calls and texts. Not. She tells him to understand that she couldn't do that.

He says after 20 years, he can't believe she wouldn't even talk to him. And if she had nothing to say to him for four long months, what does she have to say now? Wait a minute. It dawns on him that she's not there to talk to him. It's summer time, the tourists will return and she came back to sell the house, didn't she? She didn't want to see him. She says this was a bad idea and turns to leave.

Is it Noah? She says she hasn't seen or talked to Noah since she last saw Cole. It's not about him. It's about her (reminds me of Cher's line, "I didn't leave Sonny for another man. I left him for another woman: me."

So, Cole says they've been together 20 years. IN the pilot, Alison estimated they'd had sex 10,000 times, which seemed outrageous to me. For 20 years, that's 500 times a year. Rather ambitious. Maybe Alison isn't that good with math, as her next offer to Cole proves.

Alison says that he should keep the house. She will sell it to him. He says he's broke. They have no money. She says then she will give it to him. I like the fact that she will give up some money, since that all that seemed to be keeping her with him. On the other hand, I don't want her pity and that's the most she seems to feel for Cole. Cole says giving him the house would make her an idiot. She says that she just wants him to have something he loves. He says, "I love YOU." So embarrassing. The scene seems real though, excruciating, but real, so it's hard to watch in a good way -- a better way than most of the show is.

He says that people can get over this. They can go back to therapy. She says she doesn't want to do that. It's too hard. It's not fixable. Nothing can fix it for her but Gabriel. She doesn't know why he was taken away from them, but he was and there's no other way to repair what they had. Every time she looks at Cole, his face, his body, she sees Gabriel all over him. She just wants to get away from that. Does she want to forget Gabriel, he asks? "I want to forget you." Whoa! Of course, I flinch for Cole, but I think that's a brilliant exchange there.

She is quiet for a moment and you can see the thoughts churning in her head as she pauses and I know what's coming next. "Why didn't you watch him?" "What?" He says, not understanding. "On the beach, I went to the house to get a towel and you were supposed to watch him. Why didn't you?"

Cole leaps up and is next to her standing, his face close to hers, "Why didn't you just take him to the f___ hospital," he snarls. And THAT it Josh's best moment in this episode, not that junk at the end of the show. Cole tells Alison to get out, says he never wants to see her face again. I just wish he meant it.

Then, Mary Kate runs in and says that Whitney is at the house. Her parents want to press rape charges against Scotty and Cole needs to get there. She tells Alison to come too. Why, why in the world would that be necessary? This is so contrived that it wasn't worth watching, much less writing about later.

At the house, Cole asks how old Whitney is and wipes a hand over his face when she says 17. Cherry says maybe if she could speak to Helen, mother to mother, they could keep the Solloways from pressing charges. I wish Cole would say something about how wrong Scotty was. We did see him tell Scotty to stay away from Whitney in the series' beginning, but I'd like to know that Alison still sees him as having some inkling of morality.

Cole tells Alison to call Noah. She says she doesn't want to. Cole says Noah will come to the house if he gets the call from Alison. Well, if he got a call saying Whitney was there, I think he'd come. Alison wouldn't need to call him, but this is the way to lead to the big moment that Treem has in store for us, so it has to happen, whether or not it makes sense. She says in Alison's mind, Cole used her to set up a trap from Noah, that forced Alison to choose between her husband and lover. She stepped between them and chose Cole. Well, it looked like she would have chosen him without this "trap." I see the scene as needlessly making a villain out of Cole. Worse than a villain, a weak crazy man for whom we can no longer root. With the rape scene, most of the audience believed the wife's version over Noah's. With this scene, I believe Noah's version. I think it's insane to suggest that the two have different memories which involve different people, a different place and a different reason for the gun showdown.

Treem says that all Alison saw was Cole's gun and everything else (Scotty) was secondary to her. So secondary that she (or Noah) begin making up things that never happened? That's not a sign of different points of view, it's a sign of schizophrenia. It would be more believable that events are fuzzy than that they be very specific and 100% different from the events Noah said he witnessed. Treems says that the points of view diverge the most during traumatic events, like Stacey's choking. In real life, your mind is more focused during a traumatic event than during others. So, I don't think that's when you start wildly imagining, even if you don't notice everything other witnesses to the event noticed.

At any rate, the memories were so different that I had to believe one didn't happen, that maybe we were seeing drafts from Noah's book, rather than "reality." But in interviews, Treem insists that this is not the case. It's all just Alison and Noah's honest recollections. Ugh!

Anyway, while they are waiting for the Solloways to come over to the house. Whitney asks Alison if she really slept with her dad. Alison says yes. Whitney is grossed out. "Why? He's so old and your husband is so hot." Alison just swigs her beer, noncommittally. It is a hilarious moment, but it breaks the fourth wall. It is more a joke based on online comments (why would anyone cheat on Pacey?) than on anything the characters would really say, but it's a nice touch.

Helen and Noah arrive. Cherry leaves and Cole says that she agreed to give them a moment. Noah tells Whitney he wants her to leave right now. She refuses. He curses at her. Cole says, "Is that the way you talk to your children?" He said he figured Noah to be a good father at least. He wonders what Noah has that would make Alison go with him, since she won't go with Cole anymore (or something stupid like that. I can't bear to rewatch to clarify). What does Noah have, because kindness certainly doesn't work with Alison. Noah says that that's something between Cole and his wife and he'd be glad to talk to him another time, but not now. He rises to leave and Cole says he's not going anywhere. He pulls out a gun and points it from one Solloway to the other. Clearly, if Cole had pointed a gun at Noah's wife and kid he would have remembered that. For Alison to remember such a heinous thing if it never happened makes her horrible. She has to make Cole a monster so she can feel better about choices she never felt guilty for in the first place??

Alison tells Cole not to shoot the Solloways. She's the one he's angry with. So, he turns the gun on her and she yelps. Or would she prefer that he kill himself. He puts the gun to his head. She says, "God no!" He says he should blow his head off and that would be the last memory she had of him and she'd have to live with it, just as they both have to live with the memory of her son.

She says that Gabriel wouldn't want that. He says that Gabriel isn't there. She says he is. He is with them every day. And he loved Cole so much. He wanted to be like Cole. Cole starts crying (sigh) and puts down the gun. He leaves a crumpled man. Helen hurries Whitney out and turns to ask if Noah is coming too. He looks at the shaken Alison and refuses to leave her. When they are alone, he hugs and comforts her. Gag.

If Alison's view of events is correct, it's once again curious how Noah has no memory of Gabriel, just like he never remembers Athena. The fact that the people in Alison's life don't ever show up on his radar is telling, especially when her son's drowning defines her and (from her POV) he's so supportive of her regarding the subject. It's not even worth mentioning from his POV. The closest he's come to acknowledging it was to tell Helen "she was in a dark place." Noah is not Mr. Sensitivity.

At one point, Cole said, "And what do you think I should do about that?" Even though he is being a violent psycho at the time, it still reminds me of Peter Bishop talking to Olivia in the sweetest Fringe episode, 6B.

Fast forward. They are in a modern NY apartment. She has just come out of the baby's room. Is she down for the night, Noah asks? "I think so." They are cuddly on the sofa. Alison, with a chic, short bob, asks him what his day looks like tomorrow. They are turning his book into a movie and he has a meeting about actors. The doorbell rings. It's the police. They arrest Noah. Put him in cuffs. Alison can't leave until Juliane comes to be with the baby. But she promises to get Noah out. "Do you believe me?" She asks. For me, that's a curious question. What reason would he have not to believe her?

Someone said they were both wearing wedding rings in the scene.

Josh didn't tweet anything about the finale or the show. I can only hope that he's not returning for S2. I don't want to hear that he's renegotiating his contract for more money. I just want to hear that he's not coming back. That way, I won't be compelled to ever see any of these characters again.

If he does return, while Helen will probably have a fling with Max, she'll still love Noah and their family (I still think Martin is headed for a break down) will keep bringing them together.

Cole and Alison have no family, but maybe we'll learn more about Gabriel's death, which will break down the wall between them. Maybe beyond their child, they had a love that was not apparent in the first season. We don't know why they got together in the first place. We assume it was for financial security on Alison's part, partly because of what Athena said. But maybe she was really in love and we'll discover that in the first season. I recall her telling Jeffries that Oscar was invited to the wedding because deep down they are family, no matter what fights they have. I am waiting for her to rediscover that blood tie to Cole. Being away from him for four months wasn't enough to make it return, but maybe eventually ...

In her place, I would want to be away from Cole for the townhall speech, for the tattoo, for the outburst at the dinner with Athena, for all the ways that he pricks her feelings about her son's death without realizing it. So, I don't fault her for wanting out, especially if he expects her to be around Cherry often, even if Cherry is not the monster that Alison makes her out to be. It's an oppressive environment. Add to that the fact that she blames Cole for Gabriel's drowning in the first place and I completely understand her not wanting to be married to him, but I don't understand the attraction to Noah, who is much less giving than Cole. I don't understand lying to Cole and agreeing to start a family with him, only to cheat on him all over again -- after being the first to push him away when he wanted to go to the hospital with her. You can leave someone, without being cruel and uncaring. I blame her, not for her anger towards him, but for her indifference.

If she acknowledges that she was blind towards him, I would be interested in seeing them together, but I don't want her to reconnect with him out of pity or guilt. It would have to be true affection that outweighs what she says she feels for Noah. The best of all worlds would simply be for this show to be cancelled because other's find it as silly as I do.

The creators started with a good concept, but were unequal to its execution and have to explain their ideas in the media, because they're incapable of transmitting them in the show itself.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Episode 9

Well, this was a soul-crushing episode in every way. Everything that I consoled myself with was taken away. Not only was Alison happily prepared to leave Cole, but she did leave, showed not the slightest pang about doing so, and was mightily miffed to find that he was relatively broke and she couldn't get half of his ranch profits. Again, I can understand her not being in love with him -- if she ever was -- but he's kind to her and she doesn't even seem to feel that friendly about him. I understand that this is a person who self-mutilates. She feels she should be punished and does self-destructive things, but most of the stuff she does isn't punishment, because she feels downright happy about Noah and indifferent to Cole at best.

Sleeping with Oscar was a destructive act, sure, but Cole would feel worse about than she does. She was chagrined the morning after and I don't think she'd give it much thought otherwise. In fact, this episode makes it seem that the only reason she wanted to avoid Cole finding out about Noah is that she wanted to reap 1/2 of his millions before he dumped her -- which, unfortunately, he seems far from doing. I hate that Cole is the lap dog in this. It's one thing to forget about her affair with Noah, maybe he's had his own, but for him to be so eager to sacrifice everything for her was hard to take, especially since I don't see what he sees. Or what Noah sees. Or what Oscar sees. Oh yeah, this makes it clear that Oscar doesn't just taunt Alison to be obnoxious. He loves her too! He's like the kid who pulls the girl's hair, so she'll notice him.

Nine episodes in, there's nothing likable about Alison, much less lovable. Since people at the hospital, her co-workers and that woman at the lighthouse like her, I have to assume she was once a good, friend who reciprocated affection. But since we've been introduced to her, she is always on the receiving end. Her friends cover for her at work, lend her a dress when she wants to take a catering job at the last minute, read her palm, let her stay at their NY apartment and she doesn't do anything in return. She's been nice to Cherry, but it seems like she's half due to fear. The only good thing I can about her was that she was a caring granddaughter. That's it. She is not particularly smart (as the Gabriel flashback makes clear this week). She's not sexy. She's not funny. Why are these men so crazy for her? If she's the best that Montauk has to offer, I don't think it would be as big of a tourist attraction as it is.


It's Christmas time and Alison is delighting in the NYC bustle. Noah comes up from behind and hugs her. She laughs and he lifts her and she had a hat to toss into the air, she'd be just as carefree as Mary Tyler Moore. They've been having an affair for the three months since we left them (Noah had just returned to school during the last episode, I'd say).

They don't know where they can go. Alison's friend is studying and Max is in town. Alison thought he'd be visiting family, but Noah says that Max has nowhere to be and no one to be with. I hope this is true of Noah very shortly.

His wife and kids are on a ski trip. They can go to his house. Alison gives him a sidelong look. He says he won't sleep with her in his wife's bed. Cut to ... him sleeping with her in his wife's bed. Alison begs for him to repeat that he loves her, as she nears orgasm.

He says he wants a place of their own. He'll get an apartment. He can use it to write and she can stay there when she's in town and it will be a starter home for them when he moves out. Moves out? She's surprised and almost afraid to be happy. But he confirms that he's leaving, if she's willing to move in with him. Yes, she exclaims.

She showers and pours out some of Helen's expensive shampoo, just to be devilish. She goes into the kitchen, breaks a glass and when she's cleaning up she sees a pregnancy test in the trash. Assuming she thinks Helen is pregnant, I think she'll break it off with Noah, but nooo. She still plans to be make a life with him. She looks around the kitchen, the signs of a family everywhere. It doesn't make her guilty. I guess it makes her envious.

If she is with Noah, does she think she will have that family too?

As Noah takes her to the station, he says he wants to show her something. He takes her to an apartment that is practically a studio. When she sees how small it is, her mood turns sour. This isn't a place where they can live together. This is a place for his mistress. He says it's only temporary, until Whitney goes off to college. She says that's 9 months away. He says which is no time at all when you're talking about ruining your children's life.

She says that he never planned to leave at all. This is just a game for him. He says she's got to have faith. In him? Why? I wonder. What has he done to deserve her faith? What has she done to be able to have faith in anyone, is the other question. She storms off. She sees a kid and his mother on the street. The child asks where she is going and the mother apologizes for having bothered her. Seeing the child, about 6, the same age as Gabriel would be, puts Alison in a tailspin. She stops at a bar and drinks heavily. I think the writer thinks that because they always give a "reason" for what she does that that makes her actions understandable.

It doesn't, because the reason begins to look like a wooden mallard after awhile, driving a phony plot rather than revealing character. Especially when ....

Oscar turns up, as he always does. He's more than a bad penny, he's a cheap writing device. He says he hasn't seen her since he was beaten by that Neanderthal husband of hers. She says he deserved it. He shrugged, practically admitting she's right. He wonders what she's still doing in town. Is she still having an affair with that guy. He thought that was over. He sees she is depressed and says it hurts to love someone who doesn't love you back. And I see for the first time that he's more than obsessed with taunting her. He has feelings for her and is jealous. He must have hated when she rejected him when she was a teen and has been carrying an angry torch ever since.

Tired of his harassment and drunk, Alison asks if Oscar wants to sleep with her. If so, they should just do it. He says that her Neanderthal husband will kill him. She gleefully says "I know." This comment suggests that it's an act of self-loathing. She is willing to sleep with him because she feels bad and this is the only thing that will make her feel worse. But does she do it because she wants Cole to feel worse too?

Cut to them having sex. The next morning she wakes up, looks around her and groans. She slips on her shirt and her worse fears are confirmed. There's Oscar in the kitchen, cooking.

She tells him that when they sell the ranch, she will get Cole's money and get as far away from here as possible. He pretends to be gentle, while still speaking slyly and says he doesn't want to hurt her, but he thinks she should know that the ranch is underwater. Cherry has refinanced it to the hilt. It's worth about $2 million, not $30. When you split that among all the kids it's not much.

Alison is horrified. He's lying, she insists. But he conveniently has the paperwork laying on the table (huh?). Alison is frantic to leave, but doesn't have a car. Oscar says she can take his, clearly eager to do anything he can do to accelerate everything hitting the fan.

The thing about Cole being a Neanderthal. Obviously, Oscar is biased and will say the worse of Cole, but the writers seem to think that Alison is more educated and intelligent than Cole as well. In fact, his intellect (?) seems to be part of what attracts her to Noah. Cole is who you marry when you grow up and live in the same place where you were born and your parents were born and you never explore the world or aspire for better. This is fine, but if that's who you want Cole to be and you want him to serve as a contrast to Noah, why would you cast Joshua Jackson in that role? I don't know if Joshua Jackson has been to college, but he's loquacious, quick, glib and speaks knowledgeable in his areas of interest, even if those areas are just Calvin and Hobbes. He played a genius in his last tv series, so why have him play a hard-drinking idiot here. First of all, Cole doesn't come off that way. Secondly, even if he did, you wouldn't be playing to Josh's strengths. There are plenty of people you could have hired to play a better Cole and plenty of roles you could have written, which Josh would have served more expertly. I'm not getting the casting decision here.

Perhaps they wanted us to make shallow assumptions about Cole early on, so that he could be explored and revealed as having more depth later. But when they started this show, they weren't sure that there would be a later. I'm not sure why we are given so little about Cole and the Lockhart marriage right now. We don't know why Alison married him, what she thinks about him, what she sees in Noah, by contrast. We know a great deal more about Noah and Helen and I can't figure out if they are saving material for later or just haven't written it yet. I wish Josh would leave the show and make it something I never had to worry about any further.

Leaving Oscar, Alison runs to Cherry. At first Cherry denies it, but Alison has the papers. Alison says she will tell the kids that they've been lied to. They all expect to be rich. How can Cherry do this. Cherry says it's a strange turn of events Alison telling her how to be a good mother. She says she thought the child looked funny and begged Alison to take him to the hospital, but Alison was a nurse and thought she knew better. Alison freezes. What's Cherry saying. Don't do this, she begs.

Cherry says that Alison should have listened to her. Because of Alison she lost a precious grandchild and she pulled Alison back from the brink of death, after Alison caused her child to die. Is this the thanks she gets? It should have been Alison who died.

Alison runs away. She sits in the car and cuts her inner thigh. Then, she can't stop the blood from gushing. She goes to the hospital. She is bandaged up by a doctor who appears to have known her since childhood. He says he tells other patients that he knew a little girl who busted open her chin four times and still turned out all right. I wouldn't say Alison has turned out well. Moreover, why did she bust her chin four times? Was she self-mutilating even back then.

He sees all the healed cuts on her leg when he bandages her wound, but says nothing about it. He's obviously a swell physician.

She asks him PLOT DEVICE/ POOR WRITING ALERT to refresh her memory about what happened when her son died, because she's losing track of the details. Surely there was another way of getting into this conversation without her using that excuse to explain her reason for recounting the facts. The doctor asks what she remembers. They were at the beach. There was a bonfire and the kids were in the water. She realized that Gabriel would be cold when he got out, so she went to the house to get him a towel.

Cole was watching him. Uh, well I don't know why Cole let the kid drown. I also don't know why, since that happened, the guy still loves hanging around bonfires with his surfer friends and invites his wife to join, as he did in the pilot. She can't swim anyway. The water probably was never her thing and now, he should be able to divine, it is even LESS so. I suppose he really is a Neanderthal, if that hasn't occurred to him.

As for Alison, what kind of mother wouldn't have towels down at the beach??

Anyway, when she came back from getting the towel, they were pulling Gabriel out of the water. She knew just what to do. She pumped his chest and a lot of water came out. He smiled at her. Then she wanted to get him away from everyone else and take him home. I did not know about secondary drowning when I watched this show. But I DID know that when you drown or almost drown, there is a lack of oxygen to the brain. Alison should have wanted to get the kid to the hospital to check him for brain damage if for nothing else. She's a nurse, so her decision is particularly stupid. Cherry condemned her, but there's no evidence that Cherry really questioned Alison's decision that day. Maybe she just said it now as a Monday morning quarterback who knew it would be the way to hurt Alison the most. But if Cherry and others did urge Alison to take the kid to the hospital and Alison declined and won, because she thought she knew better than all of them, then I NEED for Cole to throw this in her face next week. I need it bad.

I don't want him to do it spitefully like Cherry did. I want him to just reveal it as something that's been weighing on him heavily for two years. The "what if" that his wife consigned them both to live with for the rest of their lives.

Alison says when she carried Gabriel to the house, he wet himself, something he hadn't done for years. I don't think this particularly means something, because the kid had just been through a traumatic event. Trauma is another reason you'd think she'd have taken him to the hospital. But she wanted to calm him down. She put him to bed and put him to sleep. She cries saying that phrase, "put him to sleep."

The doctor says that secondary drowning is very rare and how could she have known. The only symptom is lethargy and any kid who spent a day at the beach would be tired anyway, so you can't diagnose it. But Alison presses, if she had gotten him to the hospital right away, would he still be alive today. Yeah lady! The doctor says no one can say. Alison says she just would do anything to do it over, to have the chance to take him to the hospital again. To do it right. She cries. I guess it will look good on Ruth's Emmy reel.

What they don't say is whether she woke up and found him dead or found something irregular and rushed him to the hospital. I think he must have gone to the hospital again, because if not, they'd just take him directly to the morgue and how would this doctor know anything about the events of his death? I want to think he went to the hospital and there was a life support question and that's why Cole acted so funny when she asked him about the DNR. I want him to say he's been dealing with as much hurt as she has, but didn't handle it the way that she has chosen to.

Hysterical she runs to the beach and walks into the waves, almost letting them swallow her, but she hears the little boy with his mother on the beach, the same one she saw in NY. He is calling to her, "where are you going. Where are you going."

She pulls herself out of the waves and walks back. She passes the boy and looks at him. She goes to Gabriel's grave, brushes it off and says thank you.

She goes home and packs. She takes a picture of Gabriel and puts it in her bag (but has no memories of Cole she wants to preserve apparently). If we find that she blames him for Gabriel's death, I'll be glad to have that articulated as an explanation for her coldness towards him. Right now, there is none and it makes me angry, mostly sad.

Cole comes in and breaks my heart looking so happy to see her. How was her mother? She says she's going back. What? She says she is leaving. He doesn't understand. He thought things were better between them. She says he needs to talk to Cherry. What about? Cherry lied about the ranch. It's underwater. There's no money coming in. At least she's truthful that the money is a factor in her leaving him and it's not just "I need to find myself." She does need to find herself, no doubt, but she was going to stay there sleeping with him and letting him think they had a future until the money came in.

She says "I love you, but if I stay here I'll die. I don't want to die." She kisses him, rather chastely and walks out. Well, just as she has decided that she doesn't want suicide is when I've decided I'd like to murder her. Murder her really hard.

She is at the train station. She is ready to board when he calls after her. He has his bags packed. He says he talked to Cherry. She was right. There's no money in the ranch and he's ready to leave it all. He's threw with Montauk. He'll go anywhere she wants to go. She looks at him. Fade to black.


Noah is talking to the detective and the detective mentions his two girls. Noah says he thought the guy had two sons. What's going on. Was the detective playing with his head.

He flashes back to when he and Alison are having sex in his bed and she says, "I'm yours." He makes her repeat it as he orgasms. He wants to own her and she wants to be loved, I guess we can gather from the POVs.

He says he wants to do something with her that she's never done with anyone else. She says anything, she's all his. He moves his finger around her back side and she says she has never done that before (we know she told Mary Kate that she had once with Cole and did not like it). She tells him maybe next time.

I wonder what the lie about anal sex means. Is it really in there just for a joke. Is it telling the audience that Alison is lying to Noah and making him think he is more special to her than he is, when really she has shared just as much and more with Cole. Or is she just stroking the guy's ego and making him think she's never given as much as she has with him, not as a "lie" but just because she does love him more, even though she's been with other men? I can't really tell.

He starts changing the sheets. He doesn't know how he's going to work out leaving, she says, "I have faith in you," a switch from her POV when he chided her for having none.

His family is coming back soon and she rushes to dress. She leaves and he says, "You know I love you right?" I am glad that that happened in his version, because he hadn't said he loved her in his version and I wondered if he ever had. She says she knows she does, but doesn't say it back and acknowledges his love in a rather perfunctory manner, so he doesn't think her love is all that deep. Also, at the town hall meeting, in her version, she kissed Cole goodbye when Cole got into the car, so although Noah said she never talked about her husband, he may believe that Alison is more attached to her mate than she shows us in her story. I hope that she is and that it is a repressed love, due to the loss of her son and that it will come out in a crisis. But I want it to emerge full, unambiguously and not just appear as a second choice, as something she settled for, because she can't have Noah.

The fact that he doesn't take her to the rental unit in his story at all is strange, just as is the fact that he didn't comfort her at the hospital about the DNR in his story. Or see Athena in his story. Or know about Gabriel in his story. This seems to be more than different points of view. Even his thinking she showered in the pilot to entice him, when that wasn't in her story was too wild an omission to just be different memories. One person has to be lying or, as Emily Nussbaum said, one person has to be crazy, or .... the way Noah said just what Alison needed to hear about the DNR made me think he was more her sub-conscious than a person.

Are they imagining this affair? Making it up? Is it fantasy? Maybe fictitious chapters in Noah's book. If they never really happened, I will kiss Sarah Treem, because it means that Cole would not have been treated so callously. I don't know how the viewers would trust her next season, if it turns out that most of this one was a dream, but it would suit me just fine.

Noah is cleaning up. He finds Alison's bra and stuffs it into his drawer. In the kitchen he looks in the garbage and finds the pregnancy test. I don't know why a teen would stuff something she wanted to keep secret in the KITCHEN trash. I'd put it in a plastic baggy and keep it in my room and dump it, in her place. But later Treem tweets that maybe Whitney wanted to get caught. So, that means the placement was not just dumb writing on the show's part. I wish that could be said of everything that they do. If Whitney planted the pregnancy test, maybe she wants to marry Scott and it could have been his wedding that they were going to when they talked to the detective.

When Helen gets home, Stacey starts setting the table, even though it's Martin's turn. Stacey says Martin will do his chores after dinner. This makes me think that Martin is missing for a reason. He is overlooked and will be part of the murder mystery trouble. Maybe he was driving the car.

Noah demands to know when she was going to tell him. She wonders what happened to her shampoo. Has he been using it? If so, it's ok, but he doesn't have that much hair and it's kind of expensive. He tells her about the pregnancy test. It's not hers. It must be Whitney's. He's incredulous. Duh, you saw her sneaking Scott up to her bedroom. Why are you so shocked.

It can't be Whitney's. Well, it's not Helen and it's not Stacey's, she points out. They confront Whitney. She denies it at first, but then says she is pregnant and is signed up to get an abortion. She won't say who the father is. Noah takes her phone and computer.

Helen says they are awful parents, could have done more. Noah says he wasn't there for her and the children like he should have been. She says it's not his fault. He says it is. He wants to know who the father is.

He follows Whit to the abortion clinic and since they won't give him any information about what time she is coming in, he just sits there. Scott comes in and he lunges at him. What was he doing sleeping with a 17 year old girl.

He goes to Max and tells him that Whit is pregnant and the father is Alison's brother-in-law. Is he still seeing Alison. Yes, he loves her. Max says that Helen can never find out. Noah says Helen will have to know, because he wants to be with Alison, this is not some passing lust. Max says that he thought he loved Helen and he, Max, loved Val, but that changed. If what he has for Alison is real, it will last. I thought we would see some inkling of Max's love for Helen and find that he had a crush on her in the past. I guess that wasn't hinted at in these scenes, but I think it is true.

At home, for some reason, Whitney didn't get the abortion yet. Helen is talking to her about her own abortion (with Noah's baby?) and says she was depressed afterwards. But she saw a psychic and the psychic told her that the baby's spirit would live again in her next child, Whitney. Whitney can't believe she went to a psychic. Helen says she went to several. Noah is listening outside and he wasn't surprised about the abortion, so I don't know if that means it was his or not.

When Helen returns to their room, he says that she's a great mom. I think he has recommitted to staying with her, but he actually tells her he is in love with someone else and wants to leave. Helen is angry but holds it in, says he should move out. He says yes and she appears to be agreeing when Noah says that he wants to stay and see Whitney through this and then he will leave. That's when she tells him he is leaving NOW. This minute, not a few months down the line. She starts throwing his belongings at him and finds Alison's red bra (would Alison really have worn a red bra in her version?). Has Alison been in her house? In her bed?? She really lets him have it.

He makes a phone call to Alison and says he did it. He left Helen and will be in Montauk in 3 hours. Now, I am upset wondering if Alison planned her train out, to coincide with his train in. Did she want him to see her at the train station? I tell myself no. She thought she would be gone and she would have been, if Cole had not detained her. At least I hope that's the case.

Noah gets to the train station. Sees Alison. Calls out to her. He sees Cole. Alison looks at both of them and then gets on the train alone.

This infuriates me. What right does she have to leave Cole there, without another word. This is the guy who, despite mistakes he might have made in the past, thought she was giving their marriage another chance. He didn't deserve more of an explanation. I sincerely hope she said something else to him before Noah arrived and didn't just silently react to his offer to go anywhere in the world with her, wherever she wanted.

If she did and he is still running after her, I not only hate her for being so heartless, I blame him for being so submissive. If she doesn't love you, it doesn't mean your love for her ends, but it does mean you should stop begging. This is not only a bad supporting role for Josh because he has so little airtime, but because his character is so unimpressive. He had one crying scene, but that did nothing for me and Cole is insignificant. They must be paying him well. If he had a small part and stole each scene that would be worthwhile. In fact, Ruth largely did that with Luther. But the only thing worth noting about Cole is that he is played by an actor that people have found attractive or interesting in other roles, not this one. I think taking this role, sets Josh up to be offered weak, supporting roles in the future. Maybe Treem has more for him to do S2, but the writing fell apart in S1 after the first episodes and why would Josh think it will be better next season?

I know Scott is the one who dies, but it seems like they are setting Oscar up to be a murder victim for sure. If he's the father of the baby or if says he is a candidate, that's a motive for his murder. Is that something that happens next season. We find out who kills Scotty this time and then we find Oscar dead as the cliffhanger?

The fact that they were not content to have two men in the paternity race tells me how slutty this show is. There has to be three men, the latest nominee is the husband's arch enemy. All the Rashomon talk, the fine actors, the debate about gender differences. The Affair pretended to be Phil Donahue in the press and it's really Maury Povich in the script. The first season is not even over yet and they have already jumped the shark.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Episode 8

Unfortunately, this show got nominated for a Golden Globe, doubtless making the producers feel even smugger about this Harlequin romance they've cooked up.

The Rashomon point of views? The murder mystery? Both Macguffins, luring people who watched the first episodes into thinking the show was psychologically compelling, deeper than it actually is. The murder involves periphery characters who seem to have been created just to be suspects in a crime we don't care about. On the other hand, looking for murder clues helps distract me from the tedium of the relationship at the core of this trite story. It's a soap opera, but one without humor, action or adventure, so if you're, say, a General Hospital fan, this won't hold your attention. You're used to far more fun with your adultery than The Affair has to offer.

Sarah Treem continues with her condescending twitter observations, pointing out that the feedback she receives gives her insight into the minds and biases of the viewers. I'd turn that around and say that Treem's tweets give me insight into her inability to transfer her views of these people onto the screen. She tells us Noah is a good guy and people just dislike him because they're biased against weak men??? Noah isn't liked, because he isn't likable. How many men try to rationalize an affair by telling their wives, "she was in a dark place and really came at me hard." First, it makes it sound like he took advantage of someone vulnerable, if you knew they were in a "dark place." This is a guy who shouldn't be teaching young co-eds if he is turned on by susceptible younger women who needily approach him. Secondly, it disparages "the other woman" without also reassuring his wife. Sure, trash Alison if it will help Helen forgive the infidelity. Lie and say you were drunk (for 8 weeks) or she drugged you or something. But saying she was in a dark place doesn't help Helen forgive your weakness. Instead, it reveals how quick Noah is to cast blame away from himself.

THAT is what is unlikable about Noah. He is too quick to offer reasons that explain his actions. Alison, by contrast, doesn't do much in the way of explaining herself. No, the writers let her son's death stand in as the reason she does everything, which is maddening in a different way. Alison doesn't offer us lame verbal excuses, but the writers show us one of her dead son's crayons, every time she does something unsavory. It's the writers' out, "get out of ethical jail free" card which they constantly play for Alison. Noah, on the other hand, presents his own excuses.

He protects himself before anyone else and that's what makes him bad, not the affair. So, if Treem thinks he's only unliked by those protective of Helen, she's as nutty as Noah is. There are pretty of beloved philanderers out there. I just finished watching and rooting for John Ross Ewing on Dallas. Adultery is not a deal breaker, nor is villainy. What's wrong is when you have an unsympathetic character that the script thinks you should love. That's a problem. This makes Treem & Company's point of view more intriguing than either Noah or Alison's. They're drinking their own kool=aid, while this viewer is standing at a distance saying, "Wait, don't do that. This is Jonestown and that's POISON." Next on Showtime, the Jim Jones story starring Sarah Treem.


Professor Solloway is teaching Romeo and Juliet to a lethargic class. The students talk slang and are mostly black, so automatically this is some reverse To Sir With Love thing that you see so often in movies. We are supposed to infer Noah's nobility, just based on the students he teaches. These surroundings are so different from the world enjoyed by his frivolous in-laws. They tell us he's a man of substance. To me, it just makes him even more obnoxious.

At his urging, a student points out that Romeo and Juliet were doing fine until others (Friar Lawrence and The Nurse) intervened and even though they were trying to help, they ended up creating trouble that led to the lovers' death. I only wish this metaphor was dead on and that Alison and Noah will be dying soon. Noah concludes that the well-meaning outsiders ruined everything for Romeo and Juliet because "pure love cannot survive in an imperfect world."

At that point, I'm genuinely confused. I don't have any idea who in the show is supposed to have "pure love" It's only later that I realize it's supposed to be Noah and Alison. Huh? Their love is as impure as it comes. Not because they're married, but because neither has seemed that interested in being exclusive with the other. Romeo and Juliet wouldn't work as a story, if Juliet's loyalty to Paris were stronger than her love for Romeo. There was one time when Noah had trouble getting aroused enough to sleep with Helen, because he was thinking of Alison, but until this episode, we never had a clue that he was struggling within, not to choose her over his family. We don't get that with Alison either. In fact, she asked Cole to run away before she asked Noah to do so. Since we aren't told that she loves Cole outright, I'm not sure why she would stay with him over life with her true soulmate, unless she felt pity or guilt. But I don't get that from her either, since she didn't consider his feelings at all when he caught her leaving to see Noah and said, "I love you in that dress." There was no, "I don't want to hurt my husband, but I can't help myself" vibe from her. She seems indifferent to hurting Cole and ambivalent about Noah. So, how was I to know that Noah is really Romeo to her Juliet?

What the writers don't understand is that even if you can't be with the one you love, you do loving things on their behalf. You can't help yourself. Cole does that with Alison. His first instinct is always to push her out of the way of something and it's how we know he's a loving husband, even when he does bonehead things. Noah, is always saying he loves someone, but he never worries about them, before himself. In fact, he doesn't seem to worry enough at all. He cares for them distractedly. Oh, pretend to hang yourself, no big deal. When he told Alison he wasn't going to answer the phone call from his family, she said, "but it could be a crisis." His answer was, "it's always a crisis. So that means, it's never a crisis." That exemplifies his attitude. Stacey chokes? She'll get over it soon enough. There's something about the way he glosses over potential trauma that suggests his feelings don't run that deep. It's been true of him since the pilot.

When he told Helen that Alison was unimportant, we knew that any man would say that to preserve his marriage, but Noah didn't say it hesitantly or reluctantly. He actually said it like he meant it and he's not that good of a liar. If he'd really been in love, I don't think he could discount Alison so easily -- not even to his wife. It's not like he's telling Alison that Helen means nothing to him, just to cheer her up. Real love would have made the words he used to minimize Alison stick in his throat just a bit. Instead, they tripped lightly off the tongue.

After his class, Noah meets Helen at a restaurant. A magazine wants to profile her shop. She's had some celebrities in and people are beginning to notice it. That's great. Noah didn't know about that beforehand, but he has a perfect gift. He gives her a Tiffany's box. Wow she says. What's it for. He says it's for sticking with it. She says they can't afford it and gives it back. He presses, but she is cool, firm, won't be dissuaded. He is chagrined. I think that she's not sure she does want to hang onto the marriage. He's still on probation and accepting the jewelry would indicate that they'd moved pass it. She doesn't want to say they have yet. I think if he'd worded his presentation differently, she would have graciously accepted the present. He probably thinks that's proof of how rigid she is.

At home, Noah is talking to Martin about his book report. I don't see the book Martin was reading, but it was probably relevant to the plot. Noah said it was his favorite as a kid. I don't know if it was Lord of the Flies or Swiss Family Robinson ... I could replay the show to find out, but I really don't want to know that much more about Noah. Martin is saying he doesn't want to do a book report in class (although in the future, he seems to be doing one when Noah is being interviewed by the detective) because the kids will make fun of him. He says they'd tear him apart and I think the kid's words are a bit strong. He seems to be talking about more than light teasing. He may be going through some bullying issues at school that Noah could expose if he probed further, but he just doesn't think the kid is weird. He says that he should give it another year and if it doesn't work out at that school, he can go to private school like Whitney. He was hoping Martin could stay in public. But if he can't, Noah will ask Margaret for the money. He won't have to ask because Helen would love to do it. I gather that Helen has wanted the boy in private school all along, Noah resisted because he wanted Martin to grow up like he did, more centered.

This suggests to me that one reason Noah doesn't talk to Helen about the weird things Martin does is because he doesn't want her to think that Martin needs help adjusting. If she did, she would insist he go to private school and Noah is trying to delay that. So, he's ignoring warning signs from his kid and not talking to Helen who might recognize them as such. I don't know if Martin will have a crisis before the season is, but if he does, I place the blame SQUARELY at Noah's feet. Cole saw it and it's not just because Noah is too close to the situation to see, because I believe that Helen would have seen it too.

She interrupts his conversation with Martin and Noah doesn't return to it. Whitney is throwing up in the bathroom and they listen. Helen thinks the girl is bulimic. When Whitney opens the door and asks what they're doing there, Noah jumps and says, "Nothing!" And that's really funny. His first reflex is to tell a bad, guilty lie. I wish the show had more humor.

Whitney denies being bulimic. Again, since Noah saw her sneaking up the stairs with Scott and Helen didn't, you'd think it might occur to him that the girl was pregnant. But, of course, it doesn't. He tells Helen that she overreacts. She screams that he lost the right to say that to her. There's an awkward silence. She says they used to be a team. He says they still are. She says they're not. "Now we're just two idiots that don't know how to handle things." Well, he's always been an idiot, even if he was her teammate.

They go to the therapist. It's Blair Brown. Hey Nina! Helen reveals more of her ugly side (the side that loves to spit out the word "waitress" as if that's the worse thing she can say of a person) by saying that she married Noah because she thought he was safe. When she was younger, she could have had anyone. But her father was a famous, millionaire and he was a jerk, so she wasn't drawn to the hotshots. She wanted someone she could count on. Noah was so quiet. Her friends thought he was a mute. He only talked if there were only 2-3 people around. She knew he would be a great father and never cheat and that in fifty years when everyone was divorced, they'd say look at what a good choice she had made. She'd be the envy of their friends.

So, she has basically said that she married him because he was a safe loser and I can understand why Noah wants to get away from her, but he's also sort of a creep and he probably had that pervy side in college, so in her, he probably got more than he deserves.

Noah says doesn't she think he has always known that's how she felt. But he doesn't concentrate on the "loser" insinuations. He just said that he always felt that they had to put up a perfect front for their friends and he got tired of it. Why can't they just be themselves, foibles and all. Why do they have to live so expensively. He can barely clothe their kids. She scoffs. It's not like he's unemployed. He can support his family. He says she gets Stacey's clothes dry-cleaned. "Only the French ones."

Helen says her father is getting a lifetime achievement in Montauk and Margaret won't be there, so he needs her there. Yet, she needs to get the store ready for the magazine interview and she can't leave Whitney. She doesn't know what to do. Noah says he'll go to represent the family. Helen balks. Not with Alison there. He says he won't see Alison. Helen thinks it's a great idea, but the therapist disagrees.

Noah's at the award ceremony and he sees Alison. She heads right over to him. He keeps his distance. Later Bruce asks if that's the one he was sleeping with. "Helen told you?" Of course not. She told Margaret and he heard about it through her. Bruce says that Alison can still be his muse. Bruce had an affair with some woman when he was at the University of Michigan and he thought of running away with her. At their house Margaret was putting up a massive tree and he knew with that woman, he'd have a tiny tree in a barren apartment and his little Helen would have to play with her toys in the closet, when she came over. So, he stopped the affair.

He took his feelings for the woman and put it his next book. It was his first award winning book. His only one. They are ready to leave, but Noah sees Alison and tells Bruce he forgot something and will catch up with him later.

He talks to Alison. She gets a phone call and is upset. Her grandmother has had a heart attack. She says she doesn't have her car and has no way to get to the hospital. Can he drive her? Won't her husband be there? She hasn't told him. He drives her to the place and she asks him to come in. He says it's not his place. She thanks him and walks in looking all alone and forlorn.

He goes back to Bruce's and hears groaning. The moans are such that it's not clear to me someone is in pain. I think he's about to walk in on Whit and Scott having sex, but it's just Bruce trying to get out of a chair. He seems injured and I wonder if he's been in an accident we don't know about. He notes that Noah took the long way home. It would be nice if Bruce was more upset that his daughter is being cheated on, but why should I expect anything from him when the main characters disappoint me so?

Noah asks if Bruce ever thinks about that woman in Michigan anymore. Bruce says every single day of his life.

Noah then runs to the hospital, determined not to regret something for the rest of his life I suppose. But this is the first time we saw he might feel this way about Alison. On twitter, the writers act like it's the accumulation of something that's been building (and cheered for) for a long time. Wrong! Just because Noah once told Alison that he thought about her when he slept with his wife, doesn't mean we realized he thought of her with affection that didn't involve sex.

At the hospital, Alison is so wiped out that he has to be the one to wake her, to let her know Grandma is on her last leg. Alison goes to the bed and her grandmother says that they need to get somewhere right away, how fast can Alison drive. Alison smiles and says "pretty fast" and I wonder if this is a clue. If maybe Alison was driving the car when Scotty was hit. I don't think they killed Scotty, but it does seem like Noah's car (or is it Bruce's) is involved and has been to the mechanic's to conceal the damage, from what we learn later.

He takes her home and I'm afraid that we're left not knowing how the night ended. Did they sleep together then? She's asleep in the car and later Sarah Treem tweets about how romantic it is to watch another person sleep. Hmmm. That is the last thing that occurred to me when I saw Noah doing it. There was no particular softness in his eyes. It's not like All Things when Mulder put the blanket on Scully and moved the hair from her eyes, before alighting from the sofa. Now, that was romantic. Or in the finale when Mulder kissed Scully before leaving the car (to urinate). Even that was romantic. Noah? He was just looking at Alison. Thank goodness Sarah Treem tweets or I never would have known what the look was supposed to convey. Is this a shortcoming in Dominic West, the actor, not the writer? Who can say.

Later we see the detective reading a passage from Noah's book and it describes the place he was parked with Alison.


Cherry is cooking and the daughters-in-law ask her what she wants for Christmas. She says she just wants her family together and dinner at her house. Hal is recovered from his injuries. It's been four months since he was beaten. We don't know if the family is still selling cocaine or not. What an odd plot device. Again proof to me that the writers are a little crazy and are incapable of gauging audience reaction, because they have no idea how "normal" people think.

The boys are moving boxes and she is throwing stuff out. Scotty asks Ali what about this and his voice is gentle. It is a treasure chest, a kid's box. Alison looks stricken. Cherry looks up and says she wants to save that. Put that in her room. Alison thanks Cherry. Cherry kindly says "of course." They are having dinner and discussing the sell and Cole says they have to fix up the place first.

If it looks awful, the new owner will tear it down. If it looks like a working ranch, then they can preserve it as such. The place is going to take months to fix up. Alison looks somber. He and the brothers begin to argue and Alison calls his attention to a hole in the ceiling. Alison reaches up to help, but he pushes her back. He puts a pot under the leak quickly. Cherry left the bath running upstairs. He is always pushing her away or cutting off her words. He does seem to be the patronizing cowboy who sees her as his "little woman" but he breaks the mode, because he's backs down from possessiveness. He lets her go. When they went to Oscars, he asked her if she wanted to stay in the car or not. He didn't tell her. While his first instinct might be to lead her (like the mare, Elizabeth Taylor) when she resists, he backs off quickly. He may be a cowboy, but he doesn't insist on being macho. He's open to change as she needs it. So, when she doesn't let him know she needs it, when just a word from her can change his behavior, I have to blame her for the distance between them, not him.

At least tell him, then cheat. Don't just say nothing. Constantly withdrawing. If you want to be alone, be alone. But don't be in a marriage that you betray, to a man who's told you you're his world and would open his heart, if you wanted to walk in.

When they are home, it is cold in their house. Cole says he is going to take Cherry to see a doctor. She's been forgetting a lot lately. He thinks its early Alzheimer's. Alison thinks Cherry is just thinking of ways to delay sell of the ranch and that she left the bath running on purpose. Cole says why would she do that. I don't know if Alison thinks Cole is delaying the sell of the ranch himself and if that pushes her away from him or not. But the suggestion is there.

They get in bed and it is freezing. Cole takes off his shirt and asks her if she wants to stoke the fire. She giggles no and says he is always a raging furnace. She asks what he will do with his share of the money. He says he doesn't know. She wants him to buy something he really wants. I'd like to think she is thinking of him, but it's not clear to me she actually cares that much, she just wants the money so that they can live better -- although she should care about his needs, if she's known him since they were children. I don't know if the failure to define the relationship is because it's something the writers want to expand later or if it's just a story structure mistake on their part. Like Peter said when Olivia asked him a similar question, Cole tells Alison he doesn't want anything. "I've got everything I need right here." He kisses her tenderly. Then they scramble under the covers to take off her pants.

The next morning, she takes a pregnancy test and it comes back negative. She gets a phone call about her grandmother having a heart attack. He says he'll drive her to the hospital. She says no, Athena will be there. He'll take her anyway. She pulls away and is more adamant in telling him no. He looks stunned, but backs off.

At the hospital, Athena is there with her new boyfriend. They called Athena because the grandmother asked for her daughter. "They meant me," Alison says. Athena and the boyfriend sprout new age nonsense at her. Alison asks the boyfriend to give them privacy and Athena tells her that the grandmother's old body should not be put through the trauma of them trying to revive her. She thinks Alison should sign a "do not resuscitate" order. Alison says that means that the hospital won't help the grandmother no matter what, even if she just chokes on a grape. She's not willing to do that and if Athena thinks it's the right thing, Alison should sign her proxy over to her and let Athena bear the responsibility.

Upset, Alison goes home. Cole is pouring over bills. The grandmother is stable. Alison looks at Cole who is preoccupied and then does try to let him in to what she is feeling by saying that they want her to sign a DNR. What should she do. Cole is rather brusque. He doesn't know. What does she want to do? She doesn't want to sign it. Then don't, he tells her curtly. Alison turns away, disappointed. Well, yes, he could have been more supportive, but if she'd let him come to the hospital in the first place and they'd been together when she was most distraught, I think he would have reacted differently. She can't push him away one moment and then get hurt and have another affair just because he pushes her away the next.

Someone wrote that he was too preoccupied to see her needs and Josh says that about Cole too, but this was more than that. He wasn't merely inattentive. He was cold. Where is that coming from. I assume from Noah's words later that Gabriel didn't just die in the water. He was taken to the hospital brain dead and they had to make the decision to take him off of life support. Did Cole press for it, then? Is that why Alison didn't want him at the hospital, because it would remind her the time he made her do something she didn't want to.
Of course, she's the nurse. Maybe she's the one who released Gabriel, pulled the plugs, and now is afraid it was the wrong thing and wanted Cole to, indirectly say he doesn't blame her, by taking a stance on the grandmother's DNR. He doesn't do that. He shuts down, as if he blames her for whatever happened.

She says she has a catering job. Can he drive her? He says, of course. What's the job. She doesn't know and doesn't care. She puts the tea kettle on and says she just wants to get warm. Of course, the show loves to hit us on the head with the relationship metaphors. Clearly she needs comfort. The thing is, so does Cole. After their talk on the curb, you'd think she'd reach out to him, when he pulls away, because he will open up in time. If she doesn't want to do that, just leave him. But I can't forgive her for just hurting him. Then, having him make it clear to her that she's the only one that kept him going after their son's death. Only to have her hurt him again. Eyes wide open this second time, even if they weren't the first.

She asks if he will give her a ride to a catering job. Of course. What's the event. She doesn't know and doesn't care.

We learn that she was truthful about not knowing what the job was for. When she sees Bruce's picture on the posters, she goes to the supervisor, says she's sick and tries to leave. The woman says she's in a jam and needs her to say. Alison agrees. Alison does coat check. She talks to Bruce. It looks like Noah sees her from the corner of his eye, but it's not clear.

But then he comes over and catches her reading another book (Bruce's) and says she's being disloyal (true). She says it's the only thing she could find.

They go outside. He hands her a cigarette (is that a symbol that he's the aggressor or what) and she says she hasn't smoked since the summer. He seems skeptical, but she says it's true.
She asks him why his wife isn't there, but he doesn't want to talk about his family. She says that she and Cole are doing well, really well. They're even trying to get pregnant. He smiles.

She gets the call from the hospital about her grandmother. He offers her a ride and she doesn't want to take it, but has no choice. When they get there, he wants to go in with her, but she firmly says goodbye.

She is having a fight with Athena when Noah strides in. Athena says, "here comes the cavalry." Like a knight in shining armor, Noah talks her through the DNR and it's fitting that in Alison's memory he was called "cavalry" because he saves the day. He doesn't mention the conversation in his version and if she imagined it, it could not be just a question of remembering things differently. She'd have to be a loony tunes, who made him her imaginary friend who said and did all the right things when real people in her life failed her. Likewise, from his perspective, I've sometimes wondered if he just fantasized an affair with Alison, rather than it being the real thing. Rashomon views can diverge this widely (think of the All in the Family episode with Ron Glass), but not in stories that are supposed to be taken seriously.

In Noah's version Athena and her boyfriend aren't even present. Whether Athena meant anything to him or not, he should have a fleeting memory of her being around -- if she was and he was. Or we saw Alison tell him about her son in her version of the story, but he's never acknowledged the kid in his. Did she really tell him? If she did and he doesn't even bother to mention such a tragic event in passing, in his POV, he can't really love her. You can't love her and think the event that has shaped her existence is too inconsequential to gloss over in a flashback.

At the hospital that night, he's all about Gabriel. He tells Alison that holding onto a life that has reached its end won't bring back a life that was taken too soon. She can't keep her son, by clinging to her grandmother. He's been in hospital waiting rooms before. He knows what it's like and what she's going through, but releasing her grandmother would not be letting her down, it would be a gift. Alison gratefully accepts his words.

We see her sitting by her grandmother's empty, stripped bed. Athena says that losing one's mother is such an archetypal event. Yes it is, Alison agrees. I think that Athena is just a caricature. I'm sure Sarah Treem would say that that's just the way Alison sees her, but while I used to let her off with that logic in the pilot (with Bruce and Margaret), Oscar is unrealistic in both Alison and Noah's view. I think it's just bad writing, not bad imagining by Alison. So, anyway, I just pass off Athena's archetypal comment, but others point out that when Alison agreed with her, Alison was really acknowledging the loss of her own mother. That's a good point. She is past arguing with Athena anymore, she is just letting that bad influence leave her life.

I wish she'd leave the show completely too, because she's too much of a Shirley Maclaine spoof to be accepted in anything but a comedy. When I said that this show needed more humor, cartoon characters is not what I meant. Alison talks to Athena about the memorial, but Athena says she's not staying for that. It's too depressing. She and the boyfriend will move on. Alison accepts this with "why am I even surprised" resignation.

Noah takes Alison home. When they get to her in-law's house, they sit in silence before he says, "I love you." She answers, "I love you, too." Well, this was handled nice between them, because it came off as not a revelation, but as something they've both known but never put into words before. They understood it. And that's nice. But hey, the audience should have been in on their secret. Mulder and Scully didn't say ILY for 9 years, but the audience always knew it. On twitter, the producers are tweeting "Finally!" like the viewers have been expecting this all along. I don't think so. I think even those who want the two together are surprised that they, supposedly, love each other. I think their fans (team Noah and Alison, whom Sarah Treem says she admires) hoped they would love to each other, but didn't know it had already come to pass. Allegedly. So, this doesn't feel like a "payoff" to dedicated romantics. It comes off as a plot twist that happened without proper foundation.

We often see these two unhappy in their own lives, but don't see them pining for each other. They enjoy sex, but don't linger on smiles or soulful gazes. And they don't offer each other what they lack. In fact, when he gave her the DNR advice, this was the first time we'd seen Noah offer Alison what she is missing in her marriage. As for Noah, if he wants to live a hard-working, meaningful life, that is close to the way he grew up, maybe he should be having an affair with Cole, who seems to value those traditions more than Alison does. She feels smothered by the past and the dreams she didn't realize. On top of that, I don't think she'd think Noah was a good father, if she spent more time with him. She thinks she saved Stacey's life, because maybe she needs to save a child, but also maybe it's because Stacey's parents weren't being as attentive as Alison thinks parents need to be, after having lost her own child.

It's not uncommon for people to seek lovers to fill a gap. We also may frequently fall in love because we project onto the other person those things we need, whether they actually possess them or not. So, it would make sense for Noah and Alison to envision each other as the opposite of all they want to escape. The problem is, although I have seen them together more than enough, I haven't seen what they see in each other. This was the first episode that offered a glimpse of that. The proceeding 7 did not lead up to the "I love yous" exchanged tonight.

Alison goes into the house and Cole and the boys are playing cards, joking and laughing. I don't like this. Cole didn't know her grandmother had died, but he knew the old lady was in the hospital. Did he check in with Ali? I guess he thought she was still catering, so why should he? But it makes him seem inconsiderate. Ali leaves him like that, ignorant, proving to me once again that she doesn't care about him. Please, treat him like a friend at the very least. You don't have to be his wife or his lover, but stop being a stranger.

She sneaks upstairs to Cherry's room, not wanting the family to hear her and opens the treasure box that belonged to Gabriel. Why does this have to be a secret? In fact, why is Cherry keeping the box? Why couldn't Alison just take it back to her house? I know in the pilot Cole said that they should try to make their son's birthday a good day, indicating that he doesn't like to see her moping about, but that hasn't been the vibe we get from him at other times. He held her and said he didn't know how to make it stop hurting. He yelled at her and said he wanted to hear her say they could leave Montauk and move on. He told her there is no moving on, as if he was the one who couldn't get past his grief (and maybe the one who partially blamed her for it, which makes me think of the DNR again). Although he may not know how to comfort her, he doesn't seem to be forcing her to put up this brave front. One time in a voiceover she said she had to be strong for everyone else, but she's not being strong, she's being removed from everyone else. She makes them "them" and her grief "hers." And maybe it's a survival tactic, but it makes me feel she left her marriage long ago and I resent her thinking that she's been trying to put it together these last four months. As if she and Noah gave staying apart and rebuilding their relationships their best shot. They never did.

Alison pulls out Gabriel's things, smells his baby clothes. She sees a picture of Cole and Gabriel together and smiles at it tenderly. For that I am grateful. But previews tell me my single solace will be short-lived.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Episode 7

The subjective POV feature of this series easily lends itself to a broader discussion of the same topic. Having the producers on Twitter offers valuable insight into their creative views, biases and shortcomings. Sarah Treem's time line is interesting, in that she is constantly replying to the audience, "that's only true if you believe Alison/Noah." Every time someone complains about a plot point or line of dialogue, Treem suggests it only happened from one person's perspective and no other character should be judged based on one character's slanted viewpoint.

That's fine, but Treem overlooks the fact that the STORY has to have it's own objective point of view as well. The characters may not know the truth. The viewers may not know, but it's the duty of the writers/producers to know it. If you don't and you're just winging it, then I shouldn't invest my time. The best Rashomon plots have an objective view. So far, The Affair does not, but the longer the series continues the more desperately it needs one. I respect the gray between black and white, but you can't continually walk the line. At some point, you have to assign blame and responsibility. You can't keep kicking the can down the road by saying, "well, it may not really have happened that way." We can appreciate that Alison/Noah often delude themselves but, increasingly, I feel that the producers are deluding us and have no real answers. That's a problem.

Also, Treem seems to think "all's well that ends well" and that the when viewers consume the whole season, they will see how good Noah is in the end. No, Noah may take the fall to save his family in the next 3 episodes, but that doesn't mean that he's not self-centered and insensitive. You can't make characters bad to "surprise" us down the line. I mean, Rowling tried that to greater success with Severus Snape, but I never thought he was on evil's side anyway. Noah? I'm not so sure, he might well be a deatheater.

Right now, Treem is telling viewers that they're being too hard on Noah and insisting that he's misunderstood. Well, he seems like a jerk in both his own and in Alison's story. So, if the writer is the only one who thinks he's good, maybe she's failed to convey that in her script. Instead of accepting this, Treem concludes that viewers are just harder on men than women. That's why they sympathize with Alison and not Noah. It's a gender thing. No, I'm not particularly sympathetic towards Alison either in these last 2 episodes, but my feelings towards her are separate from my contempt for Noah and are not based on their relationship at all. They're mostly based on Noah's interactions with his own family. When you spend so much of your online time explaining what the viewers are getting wrong, perhaps it's your perceptions that are off, not theirs. Instead of telling them to keep an open mind, shape your plot differently, so that it's balanced the way you want it to be, but haven't yet achieved onscreen.

One of my big problems is that the characters often don't seem to believe their own version of events. For instance, in the pilot, Noah supposedly thought he saw Alison being raped by a man that he doesn't know is her husband. Yet, he never acts like he truly suspected rape. He treats it like a fantasy display put on for his benefit. He masturbates about it. He tells Alison that if they have a relationship, he needs to be in charge, adding that he knows that makes him sound like an asshole. Is this what you say to a woman whom you think is a victim of domestic abuse?? That you need to be in control of her? If so, you are not a good person, whether your creator wants to think that you are or not.

Similarly, in the latest episode, in Alison's story, when Cole gives Noah (correct) advice about Martin, Noah answers, "talk to me when you have a teenaged son." Treem says that we don't know if Noah really said this or not. It doesn't matter what the audience thinks. If Alison thinks he said it from her POV, then she should react accordingly. She knows she told Noah that her son died. She told him that Cole has a gigantic tattoo of the angel Gabriel representing their dead son on his back. He knows that they are grieving. He comes to their ranch and rubs that grief in their face?? Even if he spoke to Cole reflexively, forgetting that Cole's son was dead, the fact that he could forget, says something negative about him. The fact that he didn't catch himself and apologize -- or at least look self-conscious, says something worse. Yet, this comment from Noah doesn't change Alison's feelings for him at all. She still wants to run off with him. Why did she hear that line from him, if she wasn't going to react to it? She runs away from family and friends whenever they mention (or forget) Gabriel. She retreats whenever that salted wound is grazed. But Noah does it and she's still stalking him, longing for a last letter or look from their broken romance. This not only turns me off of Noah, but has me questioning the true depth of Alison's maternal loss as well.

Or take Oscar. He has been menacing ever since he was introduced, but neither Alison or Noah ever behave as if what he did the last time they saw him has any impact on their future course of action. Oscar knew they were rendezvousing at Phoebe's from the start, yet Noah and Alison both respond to him as if he has no idea they are having an affair. Alison seems surprised when Oscar confronts her at the taxi depot, but how could she have been when he has been taunting her about Noah for the last 5 episodes?

Treem and Crew use the POV as a gimmick, but largely forget that the characters have to rely on their own telling of events. They can't only observe events happening in a certain way, but should also respond as if they happened that way and change accordingly. They don't. It's a plot driven story and the characters are just along for the ride, occasionally sharing their view of the scenery with them, but never letting that view change their course.


Noah and Helen are in a therapy session with Whitney. Feeling she has the therapist's sympathy, Whitney milks it and claims that her mother represses both her and her father and is clearly having an affair with Max. Helen and Noah both say the accusation is absurd. Whitney says it's clear that Noah is miserable. Noah doesn't exactly deny that.

Whitney's stunt proves that they need to get away from the Butlers. At the house, the grandparents are in a major fight because a Vanity Fair reporter has credited Margaret with ghostwriting Bruce's novels for him. Noah delights in the vitriol the couple throws back and forth, but viewers are meant to wonder if that's where Helen and Noah will be after 40 years of marriage. They begin packing, with Whitney complaining all the while. She refuses to gather her things. Helen starts to pack for her, but Noah insists the teen do it herself. Martin says that he needs to apologize for something at the ranch. Noah tells him to write a letter, they're more effective anyway. Helen balks and says that since they have one kid who wants to take responsibility for his actions, they should let him do so. She tells Noah to take him to the ranch. Noah balks. Helen says it will only take him 20 minutes. He goes reluctantly.

Treem thinks the audience dislikes Noah because he's weak. I don't see him giving in to Helen as weak. Helen puts up with a lot from him and, in fact, even though we only know her mostly from Noah's viewpoint, I don't see her as being as oppressive and bossy as Noah makes her, because if she was all that overbearing he wouldn't be half as annoying. Judging from Whitney's age, they must have been married for at least 18 years. He has the job he wants, wastes lots of time "researching" his next novel, doesn't seem to co-parent with her in a healthy manner (not telling her about Martin's suicide gag) and seems to think every woman on the planet wants him. With his ego, I naturally assume that he is making Helen look a lot worse than she actually is. I don't see him as weakly submitting to her as much as I see him as mostly lying. For every errand (he says) she made him run against his will, I'm sure she made two concessions for him, in return. To me, he is not a man who doesn't stand up for himself. He's a hypocrite who foists blame onto others. Even the way we saw him trying to convince the detective that Oscar was the guilty one is an example of this. Sure, Oscar has been cast as a comic book villain in this story, but I don't think Noah tried to implicate Oscar because he thought he was guilty, so much as to take the heat off of himself. Treem describes him as "weak" or submissive, but he comes off as opportunistic.

At the ranch, Martin apologizes to Cole for the mare getting loose. Cole says that was a strange thing that happened, but he says that Martin was a good ranch hand and that he can return next year, if he keeps his grades up and it's all right with his parents. He tells Martin he can say goodbye to Alison who's up front. Alone with Noah, he tells him he's got a good kid. Noah is smug about that. Cole says he thinks Martin craves attention and acts out. Noah says "what teenage boy doesn't?" Yeah, you have a troubled kid. I can understand why he'd be flip about it to Cole, his rival, but he's not concerned about Martin in private either. He doesn't even bother to ask what Martin needed to apologize to Cole about. At home, he's always complaining about wanting to raise good kids, who won't be materialistic like the Butlers, but other than taking Whitney over to apologize to the girl she bullied that time, I don't see any evidence of him teaching his kids much of anything.

When Cole leaves, Alison comes up behind Noah and asks if he's leaving just like that. He doesn't answer.

He goes to the Lobster Roll to leave a note for Alison attached to her (very public) bike basket. Oscar arrives, startling him. So, you'd think that he might not leave the note, if Oscar, their arch enemy could intercept it, right? Wrong.

Oscar says he will keep quiet about their affair for $10,000. Noah says he doesn't have that kind of money. Oscar says he better get it.

The Solloways load up the car and head home. Helen says they can go somewhere else next time. Maybe they can go camping, as long as they do so in luxury. They both want to make amends for the bad summer and you can feel the family healing, the farther they get from Montauk.

At home Helen is cursing about the way renters left the house. There's a mark on the banister. A pot is broken. Noah says that's what security deposits are for. He reminds his kids to clear their own plates, because they don't have servants at their house. They are back to a "down to earth" existence and you can tell Noah is feeling happier. He gets a message on his phone from Oscar and suddenly he's uptight again.

He visits Max and asks for the money. When we first saw Max, he borrowed $40 from Noah for cocaine, so I assume he had money problems and maybe his wife got their assets in the divorce, but Max seems to be some kind of well off corporate lawyer or manager. He says he needs to know what the money is for. Noah tells him he had an affair. Oddly, Max cautions Noah never to tell Helen about it. You can say he did that for Helen's own good, because telling her would make Noah feel bad, but only hurt his wife, but it seemed to me that Max had an ulterior motive. He writes Noah a check for $10,000.

Later, Noah goes jogging and is stricken with pain. He ends up at the hospital with Helen by his side. He is convinced it is a heart attack. Helen doesn't think so. I'm sure Noah thinks this is an example of how she minimizes his feelings, but to me it's proof of how he exaggerates them, since it turns out it's not a heart attack. It's a panic attack, probably caused by stress? Noah is puzzled. The doctor says if they have four kids, then he's under stress. When they're alone, he has something he wants to tell Helen. At first she's questioning. Then, it dawns and she's "oh s___". She can guess the worst by the growing somberness in his voice and I like the way Maura reacts before the news is even delivered, going from a light to hurt and removed mood, with only sparse dialogue.

He tells her he had an affair. With the waitress? Alison? He is surprised she knows the name, but she says she knew it all along. He says it meant nothing to him. How long did it last. 8 weeks. Then, it was the whole summer. He says that Alison was in a really dark place and came after him hard. Wow! Is this the man that Sarah Treem wants us to think is good at heart??

Obviously, you are going to minimize the affair you had to your spouse, but telling her it only happened because another woman came on to you hard, isn't really likely to make her feel better. You're faithful as long as no one pursues you. Secondly, the comment that Alison was in a "dark place" should have made him resist the affair, not give in to it. To me, it makes it sound like he took advantage of Alison -- which is not something I really think he did. The point is, most of my bad opinions of Noah come from things he said, did or said he did in his own story. The bad impressions of him are not bred in any third person's view of him.

Helen scoffs that he did this for "a waitress." Well, that's interesting, because I'm not sure that Noah ever knew that Alison was actually a nurse. "Waitress" is said like a character description. And it tells us something about Helen, who is not only a snob in Alison's POV, but in Noah's. Yet, I'm not positive that he sees Alison as more than a "waitress" epithet himself. Noah tells Helen how much he loves her. He says he just wanted to be with someone who saw him as a success, instead of just unrealized potential. Even in her anger, Helen defends his accomplishments, says his book was a success, in its way.

He points out that she had feelings for Leon too (guess we'll hear more about that later). Helen says that this isn't about feelings or fantasies, because he acted on his desire and she never did.

At any rate, I was going to complain bitterly if he gave in to Oscar's blackmailing, because it would never end with $10k. He'd come back for more. I'm glad that's over and the check from Max has been torn up.

They go home and Helen is stony. The kids are glad to see him healthy. Martin makes a wise crack. Helen remains withdrawn. The three kids hug Noah. Martin remains sitting, with Helen's arm around him, separated from the others and I wonder if there is something going on with Martin. Does he know about the affair? Is there a reason he's not part of the embrace? Noah goes over to close the curtain. Helen asks what he is doing. He says he doesn't want to be an exhibitionist. She raises a brow. I don't actually guess that Alison is outside and I don't think Helen does either. It's actually a nice little moment, script wise, when we get the same incident from Alison's POV later.

Clearly, the kids' feelings for their father hit home for Helen. When you've got 4 kids, you can't just pack up and leave.

Later they are in bed together. Her hand on the blanket, wedding ring intact on her finger.


Alison is on the front porch of the Lockhart home, trying to fix the banister rails. Cole comes out and says that the whole thing is rotten and needs to be replaced, but they can't afford it. She says that it would look better if they painted it. He says, "no, it would just look painted." She leans her head on the rail in hopelessness.

Well, ok, that's a nice metaphor, but what does it really mean? It's not like Alison has been trying to fix their marriage and he has said that's it's no use. Last week she did ask him to leave Montauk and he said there was no "moving on." But I haven't been getting a "let's repair" vibe from her, in general. In fact, Cole seemed to be the one reaching out, while she pulled away in the first five episodes.

So, I'm not sure what the show is trying to say. She's been rejecting him. If she wants to change that now, let's SEE the change, don't try to make it seem like she's the one who's been trying all along. You give her a certain personality in one episode, only to flip it the next. We're told that he went to therapy with her, went to church. It seems he tried to grieve with her. If she shut him out because she blames him, tell us that. If she shut him out because she just feels numb, then explain why she's not numb with Noah. I could believe that with Noah she's not a motherless child. She can forge a new identity and doesn't have to be "that girl." I remember returning to school after summer vacation and wanting to redefine myself and be the "cool" kid, in the new school year. It never happened. I always reverted back to being my same old self immediately. I can understand if Alison gravitated to Noah because he helped her reimagine herself, but the thing is, even when he doesn't, even when he pigeonholes her or makes her feel bad, she doesn't withdraw from him, as she does with Cole.
Why is this?

I can imagine many reasons. I can accept many reasons, but I need The Affair creators to help me along by giving me some of them. If I thought she was trying to fix her marriage like she was fixing the railing, then I could appreciate the scene, but she isn't because minutes later it's clear that she's still hung up on Noah to the exclusion of all else.

At the ranch, Noah brings Martin to say goodbye. Cole tells him that Martin is a good kill, but seems to crave attention and Noah should keep an eye on him. Noah says thanks for the advice, but come back to him when he has a teenaged son. Cole doesn't really react to this and I think it bad acting on Josh's part. Alison flinches but, as ranted about above, it doesn't seem to change her view of Noah at all. She is silent as he departs.

She goes to the Lobster Roll to pick up her check. When she asks Oscar for it, he says she must be kidding. I'm not sure what he's mad about since he's the one who played the trick on the Lockharts. She says she's fine without the check and will take some pies instead. She takes two pies. Surely, her paycheck was worth more than that, but perhaps that's all she could carry in her bike. She gives the pies to Cherry who is happy to get them, while she prepares dinner. Alison puts the pies in the oven and hears the men talking. They will give Oscar the permit for his bowling happy and try to be friends with him.

Last week, I wasn't sure if Cherry knew about the cocaine, but she's 100% involved with her boys' schemes. A real Ma Barker.

She asks Alison to help her make a salad and Alison says she'd be glad to. Then, as Cherry chops, she tells her about taking Cole out in his stroller when he was just a baby. The stroller started to roll downhill and before she saw it happening, she knew it by instinct. She ran to stop the stroller, before even realizing her child was in danger, because she saw it coming. She can always see when something is going to hurt one of her boys. She asks Alison who Noah is. She found a note from him stuck on one of the pie boxes. She can't believe that Alison is having an affair after all Cole has done for her. After all they have done for her. She tells Alison the affair is over and she will never see Noah again. Alison murmurs that it was over anyway. Cherry says she will never tell Cole. Alison says she is going home now. Oh no you don't, Cherry The Enforcer commands. She's going to stay there and look happy. Alison is docile, just when you'd like her to smack Cherry silly.

I'm glad that Cole stands up to Cherry, because even with him doing so, ever since he told Alison she had to come to his mom's on their dead son's birthday because his mom made lasagna, I've thought that he was too much of a mama's boy and I want him and Alison out from under Cherry's thumb. I've wanted it even before she was revealed as a full-fledged monster, in this episode.

We see how little Cherry's diatribe has impacted Alison when she asks to see Noah's note. What did it say. Cherry takes it and burns it right in front of her eyes and I'm rather glad that happened, even though I want to know what it said myself. I'm sure Cherry read it, so maybe we'll find out it happened. But Alison's reaction, grasping to try to stop Cherry showed that she has no remorse about the affair at all. Again, I'd rather she leave Cole than just hurt him without a care. It suggests to me that she never loved him that much anyway. And what have he and his family done for her? Maybe they helped her financially, but if they were real benefactors, they'd have given her the money to go to med school. Maybe they helped her save her grandparents' house, but Alison said that it was purchased back when land was still cheap, so I thought she owned it herself. I don't now why she feels beholden to the Lockharts, but I'm sorry she does, because it seems she was trapped with Cole, not estranged from him because they are in mourning. I want to know that she loved Cole. I believe that Noah, creep that he is, loves Helen. But Alison ... she seems indifferent to Cole's feelings. That saddens me. It makes me wish Cole would leave her to find someone who reciprocates his affection. Their relationship seems one-sided.

He and Scotty go over to mend fences with Oscar. Cole asks Alison if she wants to stay inside the car. She says no. I think this shows both his gallantry and his sense of their equality. He doesn't try to own her. When we saw his character outline, he was a "good old boy." A drunken rancher. One would assume that he has conservative views towards women, but I'm glad that hasn't been the case. In fact, in saying that he wondered why Alison was lying in her version of events when he read the script, Josh seems like he is less evolved and more judgmental than Cole is. Cole comes off as quite a decent fellow -- except for his irrational refusal to sell the ranch, which has caused needless hardship for his family.

Initially, I thought that the fact that Cole is portrayed as good was, itself, proof of Alison's love for him, if that's how she views him in her version of events. But now, I'm not so sure. When she continues to present him as loving, yet doesn't return that love, it makes it seem like she thinks of him as a patsy, rather than a lover or loved one. Mensch, yes. Manly? No. I don't like having Josh in that role.

Cole knocks on Oscar's door and is conciliatory. Scotty is a jerk. He ends up hitting Oscar. Cole intervenes and when they are heading for the car, Oscar yells after them that they should ask Alison how she knew he pretended to call the cops. Alison quickly hurries Cole along and tells him to get in the car. Let's go. He is obeying, but tells Oscar Alison overheard the phone conversation that Oscar had. No she didn't, Oscar taunts, but the man she's sleeping with did! Cole turns around and immediately starts pummeling Oscar, throttling him back inside his house and onto the floor. Scotty comes along and you think he might pull his brother off of Oscar. You would be wrong. Both of the Lockhart boys beat up Oscar and it's both brutal and funny. Alison looks on, not particularly worried about Oscar's safety.

Back in the car ride home, everyone is silent. Cole drives with his arm around her. It seems like a protective gesture to me, but there is no room in the cab of the truck and maybe there is nowhere else for his arm to go. But it's significant that neither he nor his brother are questioning her. They both respect that this isn't something the married couple should discuss in front of a third party.

At home, Cole pours himself a drink. His tone is terse. Do I know him? No. Is he from here? No. "Good. Then it's your problem. Deal with it." In bed, he is staring upwards. She is turned away. She says she thinks she needs to get away for awhile. He says, good idea.

I'm not happy with Cole's role in the plot, but I do like the fact that they don't have him react like a traditional hot head. We see that he's hurt more than angry and that tears me apart. I hurt for him. I'm glad he doesn't lash out. I didn't appreciate Cherry lashing out on his behalf. But somehow, I do want Alison to suffer for hurting him. The less he blames her, the more I do.

She goes to NY and stays with her waitress friend, Jane, who left The Lobster Roll and returned to the city when the summer ended and the tourists left the area. They smoke pot and Jane revels in the fact that her friend is in love with a married professor. I resent this summary of "the affair" truthful though it may be. Alison says that she feels as if Noah is her real life and Montauk is the pretend one. I guess with him it's a form of escapism, but I just didn't see it that way, really. If Alison made Noah see him as a success in her eyes and buoyed his defeated ego, I don't know what he gave her in return. He desired her sexually, but her husband does too. I know Cole was too bored to respond when she guessed they'd had sex 10,000 times, but he said the horse was majestic and stubborn like her! He admires her, for reasons, I don't understand. But Alison is not blind to that. Noah sees her as a drug-dealing waitress who seduced him. He dropped her. How does she feel better with him?

It would be easier to believe that she wants him because he treats her like dirt. She cuts herself, because the pain gives her release. She wanted her husband to "rape" her. She wants to suffer. I can accept that Noah is another form of self-destruction for her and, sometimes, that's what the writers appear to be saying. But at other times, they suggest that she loves him because he's a dreamboat and makes her feel special. That's what I don't understand. He has never particularly treated her like she was special, so she shouldn't act as if he does.

Nevertheless, she and Jane giddily look Noah up on the internet. They find out where his wife works and go to her store. Helen recognizes her and comes over. She recognizes Alison. Alison stammers that she was helping Jane shop for a gift. Helen is kind, remembers Alison's name and says she wanted to thank her for helping Stacey that time. This is not what Alison expected. It makes her remember Stacey choking. Gabriel dying.

I just roll my eyes, because if Helen really said this, why didn't she thank her months ago when it happened. Why wait until they are both accidentally together in a different city to say, "Oh, by the way, thanks for saving my kid's life!"

Treem is online explaining to dense viewers that this encounter happened before Helen knew about the affair. Duh. They should have been able to tell this by the sequence of events. This happened in the day time, before Helen knew that Noah had a panic attack. We learn this because we see them later that evening. If I were Treem I would not explain small plot points like this to the viewer. If they can't think for themselves, then they should learn how to live with life's mysteries. But don't explain things to the point where you make them watchers.

Anyway, after the store encounter, Alison needs to go for a walk. She finds herself outside Noah's apartment, looking in at him through the window, all Fatal Attraction. In her version, the whole Solloway family is in one great group hug. Noah sees her and walks over and pulls the curtain shut.

Bereft, she goes back to Jane's and Jane urgently tells her that Cole is there. What! Jane finds an excuse to leave them alone. Cole says the drugs that he buried are gone. Her lover must have taken them. Who is he. Alison says he wouldn't do that and I can understand that pricks, hearing her take up for her lover's integrity. Who is he, Cole demands. Alison says Oscar must've taken the drugs. Cole begins shouting, Why won't she tell him who she's sleeping with. And it's not about the drugs. The drugs were his excuse to come after her. To ask what he was too proud to show he cared about before.

She jumps, like he's a bully, rather than devastated. She says it was Noah Solloway. Who the heck is... it dawns on Cole. "Martin's father?!" She nods. "Why?" He asks simply. Let me just say that Josh saying "why" was a more perfect acting job than all of his crying on the curb achieved. He's curious. He's crushed. He's perfect.

Next, they're walking along the street. More friends than splintered spouses. "Was it something I did?" His tone is casual, but you can tell her answer matters. No, she says quickly, touching his arm lightly.

He says that after his father died, when the pain would come, he knew it wouldn't last. It came and went in waves. So, he learned to stop and count, until it was over and he could breathe again. Sometimes it he counted to 10 or 100 or sometimes 3000, but the pain always receded. But when Gabriel died, no matter how long he counted, the hurt never stopped. The only thing that made it bearable for him, for even a second was her. She gasps a little. But I don't really take this as her seeing his grief for the first time, because I think she saw it in the pilot, before the sex on the car hood. She saw he was hurting and shushed him. It's not like he never let down his shield with her in the past. I don't read this scene as her seeing the real him and repenting because she misread his wall as apathy. I think she knew the pain was there, didn't care about it and didn't care about increasing it.

I don't trust her. Until she shows me that she chooses him and would stay with him not out of need and not because he's her second choice, I can't take the exchange between them in this episode as her being anything more than kind. I'm afraid she's polite and pitying and that kills me. I want future scripts to change my mind and assure me that she really loves him.

Cole sits on the curb and she stoops to join her. He stops her. "Don't sit down. Don't." He doesn't want her to get her skirt dirty. Awwww. I have to say that they show his love in small, chivalrous ways that are unique and very satisfying.

He puts a pizza box top on the ground and lets her sit on that. He says that when Gabriel died, he thought if he said nothing that that would make it better and bring them closer together, but it only made it worse. Then he starts sobbing. Oh brother. Josh doesn't blow me away here. He's no Meryl Streep. He wonders if it's Gabriel. If it's their son who is gone who doesn't want them happy here either. She says "no!" It's not him. Their sadness is not what their son wants.

So, have Cole and Alison turned a corner? I'd like to think so, but I feel that she is with him out of expedience, rather than feeling. if that's not the case, the writers need to clarify this, so I can enjoy their renewed commitment. I could pretend that she was indifferent to him, because she felt he didn't care. When he told her the affair was her problem, maybe she thought that's how he really felt. But his knee jerk reaction was to mask his sadness with brusque retorts. Now, that she realizes that, maybe her compassion for him actually makes her regret the affair. But that's only my fantasy. Given the chance, she probably would still be ruffling through Cherry's trash, trying to find the ashes from Noah's letter. I can't believe that Alison was ever unaware of Cole's love. When he told her he loved her in that dress and she rushed over to her lair with Noah, that told me how oblivious she was to Cole's concerns and this episode doesn't suggest that has changed. So, it's bittersweet to see Cole gentle and loving when, inside, the audience is moved, but his wife is not.

They are driving home and her phone rings. Oh no, something has happened to Hal. They show up at the hospital. The Lockharts are all assembled. Hal is in a coma. He has been beaten up. Instead of brow beating Alison, if Cherry has a sixth sense about her sons being in danger she should have seen this coming and saved Hal, not worried about Alison's infidelity.

It seems Hal dug up the drugs and tried to give them back. I don't know what his plan was, but even his brothers seem to think it was a stupid one. Cole says they are selling the ranch. Cherry objects. I thought she wanted want her boys wanted, but no... She wants to keep dealing the drugs! He doesn't listen. Cole says he's going home. "Your brother's in the hospital."

"I'll be back tomorrow and I'll sit with him all day ..." but right now he's going home. He take Alison's hand and they leave.

That night, she is sitting on the bed. He comes into the room. Takes off his shirt. Stares at her. I don't know what she reads in his face, but she starts to take her birth control pills. He stops her. He says they should start all over. "I want to start this part over. Let's make a baby" he says. Obnoxious. Next he'll be singing the Paul Anka tune, "(You're) having my baby." She turns, kisses his hand, they fall into an embrace.

Yes, it's moving. But it doesn't take much to bring out the romantic in me, when Josh is involved. Still, though she had her tender moments, I don't know if Alison means it or not. He's selling the ranch and that will make life easier for her. Noah's gone. So, they'll start again, but is that because she cares for Cole or, once again, is it because he's "security?"