It starts with the surf. We see a boy running parallel to the waves, the lapping water. I think that Alison's son must have drowned. I hope he wasn't with his father when it happened. Or is this opening water sequence telling us there's going to be another surfing accident?
I was hoping that this episode would bring confirmation that Alison was not yet attracted to Noah and the infatuation was one-sided, but no such luck. In her story, when asked if she's thought about him, she answers "Of course, I have" and then says she wants him to kiss her, so my dreams of her indifference were based on my own biased narrative which, as always, must be added to Noah and Alison's own. Of course, this isn't new for me. I was at the 13th episode of Luther before I realized that not only did the title character have romantic feelings for the serial killer, but perhaps he always had. Until then, I assumed that he only thought of her as an unstable loon, who'd helped him out, but of whom he'd rather be rid.
Speaking of which, Noah tries to tell the investigator that he felt the same way about Alison.
During his ongoing questioning, Noah wonders what the investigation is for. He thought the guy's death was an accident. The detective says they are just trying to find out as much as they can. In the beginning, Noah says he didn't even know she was married. How could he? She never mentioned it, he claims. Noah says that he concluded that Alison was bad news and he decided to steer clear of her. That's what he says, but we see his acts and realize that he's lying. He lurks outside of Alison's house, waiting for a glimpse. He masturbates in the shower, imagining it was him pushing her into the hood of that car, not Cole. That's when his wife walks into the bathroom and asks if he'd like company. "Not really," is his curt reply. "Thanks a lot." He says that's his "me time." Well, for someone always frustrated that he can't have sex with his wife, maybe if he took this opportunity to be with her, he wouldn't be lusting after Alison.
Although, truth be told, it's being cloistered with Helen's family and all they represent that makes him long for escape. Helen seemed down-to-earth in the pilot, but her gentrified attitude begins rearing itself now. Leaving her husband to his privacy in the bath, she says that she will find a pool boy who lets her shower with him. Noah tells her they should have breakfast together before she does that.
In the kitchen, Noah learns that his mother-in-law hired an efficiency expert to organize everything and she was worth every penny. Whitney asks her dad to make her cappuccino and instead of telling her she's too young for it, he says he'd love to, but he can't find what he needs. The mother-in-law discovers that she forgot flowers for their party that evening and acts as if it's the end of the world. Helen pipes in that she and Noah can pick up flowers and Helen will arrange them for her mother. The mother says Noah doesn't want to spend his Saturday buying flowers, but Helen insists he doesn't mind. "Not at all" an irritated Noah concurs.
Whitney has a precocious friend, who comes down to breakfast and sighs a "Hello, Mr. Solloway" at Noah in a manner that is almost seductive. When Helen, Noah and the kids pile into the car, the son wonders why they let Whitney hang out with the girl who has been in trouble. Helen downplays the girl's past and says she only did a stint in rehab. I don't like the inference that this black teen is the one who is leading Whitney astray, because Whitney seems to be doing that fine on her own. But I suppose this is a plot point. Later they will wrongfully accuse this girl of something that Whitney is actually guilty of, I'm sure.
They pass a ranch, while driving and young Stacey begs to see the horsies -- this kid acts more like she's 4 than 6. Helen promises to let her on their way back and says that she used to ride at that ranch. It was run by a couple with four boys. Noah says that she's told him that many times. Well, he repeats things too, she replies.
On the pier, Helen goes to get flowers and Stacey and Noah walk. He sees Alison selling jam. He buys a jar for $12. He tells Alison he was worried about her. Do they know each other, Mary Kate (we later learn it's her sister-in-law) asks. "Not really" Alison quickly says. He gives Alison a $20 and tells her to keep the change. Alison says "no thanks." Later he tells Alison she wanted nothing to do with him and she says it's because he was with her daughter. It's interesting, because she doesn't remember it that way. He remembers her as being hostile and she doesn't. Do the writers have a reason for all of the many discrepancies or do they just make Noah and Alison remember things differently because the unique plot wouldn't work if they didn't? I would have loved for Alison to have remembered their post-hood sex encounter this way too. I wanted her to be standoffish.
Later, Noah and Helen head to the ranch. It is run by the brothers now. She tells a younger one that she used to ride there as a kid, but he probably doesn't remember. Uh, Helen? He probably wasn't even born yet. She wants Stacey to take riding lessons. The son sees a post for a stablehand and he wants to apply. Just then Cole comes along, galloping on a horse. Josh Jackson said he enters like the Marlboro man. Well, horses don't turn me on. It's not masculine or attractive in my book and the image of the Marlboro man -- smoking -- isn't either. But I guess it says something that the writers wanted to formally introduce Cole to Noah in this fashion.
Noah recognizes Cole from the hood sex and is hesitant, but he puts out his hand and introduces himself. Cole says "ma'am" and "sir" and the timber of Josh's voice is friendly and firm at the same time. He's charismatic without even trying. Well, I guess the fact that they put him on a horse means they were trying -- but his voice alone is alluring. I don't know if the producers are aware of that.
Noah's son, Martinasks about the job opening. Cole teases him a little, says he's younger than they expected, but they'd be glad to give him a trial, see if he can do the work. He's so kind to the boy that you can tell he must have been a good father to his lost son. Martin wants to work there and Helen is happy. Noah says, "wait a minute" but Helen says it's the first thing the boy has been excited about. It's a miracle really. They should let him do it. Please? Noah relents. I guess I can't expect Noah to tell his wife what he saw when he was stalking Alison. He can't give her a reason for not wanting the kid around Cole, but maybe if he had told her about the boy's "suicide" joke she might have wanted to keep a closer eye on him, herself. Aside from the affair, the things he keeps from Helen don't make him seem like an ideal mate.
Actually though, meeting Cole face to face, I don't think Noah is unwilling to have the kid work for him.
At home, Noah is suffering writer's block. His wife brings in a sandwich and he says he can't get started. He says he's bored. "Thanks a lot," she says. She holds up two dresses. Asks which one he likes and she decides to wear the one he doesn't pick. Even though it's a cliché, something that all wives supposedly do, Noah seems to mind. He bites into the sandwich and says it's delicious. I think he's just trying to make up for saying he was bored, but he asks what is in it. That jam he bought on the pier she answers. Noah chews appreciatively.
At the party, Noah sees Alison in a short dress and sends her up to her room to change. She's resentful. Helen says the most messed up thing of all has happened. She curses up a storm before she can finally tell Noah what has happened. The woman that her father had an affair with has shown up. Her mother didn't KNOW about the affair officially, but she knew and why is this woman there to upset her. Her father is a jerk or hasn't Noah noticed? Noah says he has. "It was a rhetorical question. You didn't have to answer," she fumes. Noah is hugs her, kisses her head -- but isn't as tender when he does it as I fancy that Cole is. When he turns his head, he sees Alison serving. He can't take his eyes off of her.
He is talking to his father-in-law's agent and the father-in-law tries to get him to discuss his 2nd book. Noah says he hasn't started it yet. The Father-in-law had his agent read the first one and might want to help him get a deal. Helen butts in and says that's great. Her dad says that Noah is not making it easy and won't talk about the book. Helen says he just started it and doesn't like to talk about his new nascent work, but she has a feeling that it will be more commercial than his first book, right. Commercial. Noah stiffens. "It's not a dirty word," she tells Noah. Noah says he was thinking of setting the book there in Montauk. The agent and father-in-law nod.
Alison comes over and says that she has that whiskey Noah ordered. He is startled and clearly hadn't ordered anything. When she leaves Helen says that's the girl from the restaurant where Stacey choked and wonders if she was hitting on Noah. The father says of course she is. He doesn't blame her, with a bottom like hers. That's what the locals should do when they get to come to a place like this, in their tightest dress and try to snag some schmuck. "Are you calling me a schmuck," Noah roars. The father-in-law says he didn't mean to if he did. Over-reacting much? "But then you WERE calling that woman a whore, weren't you?" Well, I'm glad to see he's protective of her from the start and doesn't just see her as a potential roll in the hay. This surprises me, since he paints her as such a siren, luring an innocent man to his downfall. He says he needs some air and storms off.
He comes upon Alison alone and smoking. She looks sad and I wonder if she heard what the father-in-law said about her. She doesn't seem surprised to see Noah and smiles. He tells her that she shouldn't smoke there. They will smell it in the kitchen. "Then, where should we go," she says. We. He takes her to the beach, but has to open a security gate. He fumbles with the combination, until he figures it out. I think that's going to figure into a future plot point. That lock.
She splashes in the water and asks Noah to join her. He looks down at his suit jacket and declines. They sit, drawn together. He pulls away, says he is married. She shrugs that off. She calls him Noah Solloway. He says, "Alison ..." and she supplies the surname "Lockhart." As in Lockhart ranch? It belongs to her husband's family. Husband? Then, she's married too? Yes, she says. She told him it meant different things to different people. She smiles mischievously as she walks away, turning to look at him as she goes.
What happened next, the detective asks. Nothing? The party ended and he went to bed, to sleep with his wife, Noah replies. But somehow we don't believe him.
Alison says that she thought she'd never see him again. The summer people come and go, they never notice the locals. She watches the tourists arriving and leaving on the train, a constant stream of anonymous faces. She's carrying a cooler and goes to the dock, picks up some fish. The guy calls her "Bailey," so even when she was married that's how she was known to the locals. It's unlikely she really introduced herself to Noah as "Alison Lockhart."
She appears to be in a cheerful mood, but kindness brings her down, takes her back. The fisher asks how she's doing and says his mother prays for her and Cole and wishes them the best. Thank you, Alison says, decidedly less cheerful than she was when she came. Last week she seemed to mind the fact that people were glossing over her loss. Her mother in-law was having a dinner, complete with lasagna. Her husband was telling her to try to have a good day. She wanted to cry, not celebrate. This week, she seems to want to live, but people keep seeing her as someone in mourning, a motherless woman. That's her identity to them, her label, and she wants to escape it.
For some reason she takes the fish to a guy in an office. I think maybe he will weigh it and she'll pay for it, but that doesn't seem to happen. The cooler is heavy and he doesn't help her lift it onto the counter, even though she moans. He takes the cooler, comes back and says, "nice fish" and Alison says, "I thought so." She says, "didn't Cole tell you to keep that door shut." She points to a door with a combo lock on the handle. Does Cole own this place, too? The guy shrugs and says there's no reason to lock it, no one comes around there, but they look outside and see a load of people disembarking from the train and he concedes. He closes the door. Are they smuggling something? I think there was something in that cooler other than fish.
I don't know where she goes next, but I guess it's her mother-in-law's home. Her sister-in-law, Mary Kate, is packaging jam and smoking a joint. She asks if Alison wants some and she declines. She says that someone has invited her to a threesome. Has Alison ever done that. What! Alison is shocked at the question. Didn't she experiment in school? No, Alison said mostly what she did in school was study. Mary Kate says that's her problem. She, Mary Kate, doesn't have any role models. So, Alison is painting herself as prudish, studious, more sophisticated than this in-law. Is she the only one in the family whose gone to school? Is she drawn to Noah's intellect?
As if to give as much input as she can, she tells Mary Kate that she and Cole had anal sex once. And? The woman wants to know. Alison frowns slightly and shakes her head in "shudder" fashion. Ruth is excellent in that little moment.
Alison goes to work to pick up her check, but it's not there. She goes upstairs to the house out back to speak to the owner. "You're sleeping here, now?" She asks him. "What did you do?" He says why is it he had to do something. Maybe his wife is just being a jerk. Alison doesn't believe that. Again we're seeing she doesn't have a high opinion of cheating spouses. He says her check is downstairs, but she says it's not. He goes to get it and doesn't invite her in, which is good, because I thought he was harboring her check as an excuse to hit on her. Then, the other waitress comes up and when he gets to the door he says, "Great! You've multiplied." He says he has a catering job. Do they want it. The girl says she does, but Alison says no. What, her boss asks? Does she think she's too good for catering? Does she have something better to do. She's going to go home and sleep with her husband, Alison says. "For a change?" he asks. "You wish," she replies.
She and Mary Kate go to the pier to sale jam and she sees Stacey first and recognizes her immediately. Then, she sees Cole. She is nervous. She can barely tell him what kind of jam they have for sale. He buys all of them, $40 at $8 a jar. I thought $12 sounded a little expensive, in Noah's version. He asks if Alison and the woman are sisters and the woman says, "Sisters-in-law. We are married to brothers." As Noah departs, Mary Kate says that he clearly wanted to sleep with one of them. Well, he only made eye contact with Alison, so I don't know how she figures she was in the running at all.
Alison goes to the ranch. Seeks out Cole and hugs him, takes in his smell. I'm happy, because it seems like she really was rushing home to be with him, like she said in the restaurant, but maybe she's trying to be more interested than she is. Maybe she's got her head against Cole's chest, while thinking of Noah. Cole shakes his head when he learns that the women are selling the jam for $8 a jar. The tourists will pay a fortune for anything, I guess. He asks if she made the pick up. She nods. Any incidents? No. But she is trying to be too breezy about. I think they are involved in something illegal. It's probably not a good idea that she didn't tell him that the guy didn't keep the door closed.
When they embrace, Cole seems surprised, not trusting her warmth. He says, "I love to see that smile." This ruins the moment and just reminds her, maybe, that she's not supposed to be smiling. Then, she seems alarmed when she sees Whitney approach in her expensive car. Whitney, in shades, comes to the desk and flirts with the young brother, Scott. Cole walks away brusquely and comes back with Whitney's little brother. The family told her to pick Martin up, so he could dress for the party tonight. He has an arm around the boy, but wants to be rid of Whitney, putting an end to her conversation with Scott. As she walks away, Cole wonders if Scott is crazy. She's 16 at the most. Scott says that he is just being friendly. He's trying to increase their clientele, because they need the money, or hasn't Cole noticed?
Alison is troubled by the encounter too. I don't know if it's because she doesn't trust Scott or if it's because she doesn't want anything to happen to Noah's daughter.
In the kitchen (of the ranch?), she meets her mother-in-law who says she was waiting to see her alone. Is Cole being good to you? "Always, Cherry" Alison says and I believe her. She also says she's fine several times in this episode and we know we can't believe that. Clearly, she has pressure placed on her to be fine, though.
Cherry says that she always knew those two were meant to each other, even when they were little and hated one another. She says sometimes she cries herself to sleep and thinks of how strong Cole and Alison are and she knows she can be brave because they are. It would be annoying to me to hear anyone else telling me how they cry themselves to sleep over the death of my son. I mean, you want to know he mattered to other people too, but I don't really want to hear about their grief. She says she is going to clean out the boys' old rooms and have a yard sale. What does Alison think? She thinks Cherry will make a fortune. Then, Cherry says, she will have lots of extra room in case Alison and Noah want to move back in. Move in there? Well, Cherry figures that the next time Alison might benefit from having a little help.
Does this mean that the boy came to his death on Alison's watch, I wonder? Was she too overworked to watch him properly or does she feel that she was? Last week I wondered if she needed to waitress, but this week we learn that they are strapped for money. Of course, it was presumptuous of Cherry to start talking about "next" time already. As if you can replace the lost baby with another. As if Alison is ready to love that deeply -- and risk hurting that much -- again. She rides past her house and stares at it. In a voice over we hear her tell the detective that by then she didn't have many friends left. All she had was Cole and her family. So, I'm not sure why she changed her mind, but she calls and asks about that catering job. She wants to do it after all. Is it because she saw her house and didn't want to lose it, didn't want to have to move back in with her mother-in-law? Did she go to raise more money? Did she go to keep from going home and sleeping (or conceiving) with her husband? Did she go because she was lonely and wanted to be around someone other than Cole's family? Although catering an event doesn't give you a lot of time to socialize. Well, not usually. That makes me wonder if she knew the party was at Noah's in-laws. Not sure.
She asks her fellow waitress to lend her a dress, because all of hers are dirty. I wonder why that is. No money for the cleaners or is dirty just the way she feels. In the short black dress (which doesn't look all that tight to me), she tells her pal, "Wow, you're thin," self-conscious about the way the dress hugs her body.
She says she doesn't like the author, Noah's father-in-law. Not clear whether it's the man or his writing that she is against. Then, she sees Noah, with his wife. The wife is wearing a long, dark gown, decidedly more conservative than what she had on in Noah's story. She seems to be sparring with Noah, pulls away from his grasp. Noah's mother-in-law comes over and asks what Alison thinks of that woman (the husband's mistress). She's not my type, Alison replies. The mother-in-law laughs, says she likes Alison. Does she recognize her? Well, she worked at the Lobster Roll. Oh, she's the poor woman who lost her baby. Alison is dismayed to have to be remembered that way again. The woman is kind. Tells Alison she'll give her a valium if she needs one. She tells Alison she'll give her $1000 if she'll poor a drink on that balding man over there (her husband, but she doesn't tell Allison this). Alison smiles and goes over with the drink. As soon as Noah sees her, he takes the drink assuming it's for him. I think Alison's version is truthful, because she would have no way of knowing that the father-in-law had an affair with that woman and that his wife was peeved.
Helen feels her territory has been invaded and reaches out to fix a strap on Alison's dress that doesn't need fixing. "This couldn't be any tighter, could it?" She condescends, treating Alison like a school girl. Alison walks away. She sees Scott heading up the stairs with Whitney and wonders why he is there. Whitney is wearing the same short dress that Noah ordered her to take off. Either he never told her to change or she never obeyed. Noah comes to the staircase and wonders why the 2 of them are headed up. Scott says that he was just looking for the restroom. Noah directs him to one downstairs. Alison is disturbed by Scott's behavior.
Alison wanders to the beach, probably thinking of herself as the poor woman who lost a baby.
Noah finds her. He tells her to go into the water and she says she can't swim. That's odd for a woman who lives in a beach town. Alison says it's not really. She doesn't seem to be pained at not being able to swim, so if her son drowned, I gather she wasn't there when it happened. I wonder if the son's death will be the story for next season, a prequel, with Cole more heavily featured, perhaps.
He says it's good to see her again, fully clothed. She doesn't seem embarrassed, just knowing. So, you're married? She nods. That was your husband? He nods. "I don't believe you," he says. "Married people don't have sex like that." Marriage means different things to different people, she answers. The same words he remembered, just a different context.
What does it mean to you, he probes. She used to think that it meant putting someone else above yourself, doing anything for them. Now, she just thinks she's lucky if she doesn't end up killing him. I mind this remark, because I think Alison loves Cole more than this statement indicates. Noah already thinks the guy raped her, now she makes him sound like even more of a brute. While, there is no need to praise your husband to the man you want as a lover, since, from her perspective, Alison has a kinder view of Cole, I mind that she would deliberately give the opposite impression. If she wants to kill him, it's only because she can't move on from her loss and he can, right? It's not because he has otherwise alienated her or was she unhappy with him, even before their tragedy?
She and Noah sit side by side. He seems apologetic about his wife. Says that when he was in school, he had a great girlfriend. She was beautiful, rich and artsy and he wanted to be all of those things, so he married her. "And also, I loved her. Did I mention that, I loved her." What about now, Alison wonders. "I still love her now," he says.
He says he sometimes thinks about going back and living it all over again. There's this theory that if you could really time travel, you still have the life as you've known, it doesn't change, but when you make different choices, then you create a parallel future, where you also have a different life. Two versions at once. Ha! So, Noah watched Fringe.
He asks if she thought about him. Of course, I did she says. What is she thinking? She is thinking that she wants him to kiss her, but she doesn't think that would be -- he grabs her and presses his lips upon hers, before he can finish. She responds. Then, what happened, the detective wants to know. Nothing.
What is he doing? Questioning everyone who was at the party that night? The detective says, he is. I am surprised because I don't think the incident happened as early as the party. She says that the guy was hit heading to one of the tourist places, which was odd, because locals don't go there. She says she'll do anything to help find who killed him and can't believe he's gone.
But the detective doesn't talk to her like she's a widow and her concern is polite, not guilty and not pained if it had been her husband, a man she's known since childhood, who was dead.
While we don't know what else happened with her an Noah, we next see her walking home that night. She is alone on the shoulder of the highway. Her heels are off. Her feet probably hurt. Is she going to hitchhike? I can't believe she doesn't have a ride home. How did she get there? She is almost hit by a passing car, boys yelling "whoo hoo" inside. I wonder if she's in danger, but I'm more concerned about her being assaulted than run over. Before I can ponder her fate on that road further, the screen fades to black.
I'm thinking that Scott is the one who ends up dead and this episode sets up suspects on both the Solloway and Lockhart sides. What I want to see is Alison falsely implicate Noah in the crime, in order to save Cole. I want proof of where he heart really lies, when push comes to shove.