Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Episode 6

Well, this episode moves us away from "the affair" itself and none too soon, in my book. The expanse of scope is troubling for several reasons though, some have to do with character, but I'm also concerned about the plot. The people tuned into this show don't care about drug smuggling. That might intrigue a Miami Vice action audience, but that's not the lure of this series. I saw the creator tweeting about how exciting a scene between Oscar and Allison was and felt anxious because Oscar is neither threatening nor interesting enough to excite the average viewer. When the producers' view of a show is vastly different than the viewers, content suffers. This happened on the Dallas Revival. We watched expecting oil cartels and what we got was Mexican Drug Wars every week. Indeed, the characters spent half their time across the border. It was like having J. R. Ewing on The Bridge with Diane Kruger: too dichotomous to make good television.

I don't want to see the Lockharts and Solloways hiding cocaine. Murder is one thing. It's personal and emotional. Drug running is more about action than the people involved and I don't want that to dominate the second phase of this season. Showtime confirmed that the show has been renewed and I already see it losing focus. We met a new character, blowsy Max, and the creator gleefully pointed out that he's been signed to play a big part in Season 2. Well, I wouldn't mind having him as a suitor for Helen, but he's so broadly written that it frightens me to think he'll be a "big part" of anything. He belongs on the periphery of this show or on a network sitcom. Max animated crying scenes, women chasing and sprawling drunkenness resembled sketch-comedy, rather than acting.

Word of a second season, also made me fret that this one will be left incomplete. I'm sure we'll find out who murdered Scotty, but of more concern to me is the paternity of Allison's baby. Saving that denouement for Season 2 would frustrate me so much that I might not want to return. All mysteries introduced early in this season, need to be answered before it ends.

Noah's Story

I thought Alison would start the next three entries, but we're back to Noah. His loud friend Max is visiting from out of town and he's taken him to The End, a club Noah told the detective that he'd never been before. Lying about visiting a place that was so crowded that night was ... not even a mistake. To be that stupid, you'd have to want to be caught and both Noah and Alison have always seemed to want exposure from that first shower scene.

Max pulls Noah into his taxi, asks to borrow $40 and buys cocaine from the driver. Noah can't believe it. The driver tells Max not to use it in his car, but Max ignores him, offering some to Noah who balks.

Inside the club, Max asks how Noah managed to bag rich Helen Butler. Noah turns the table and asks him how he got Val. Whatever trick he used has worn off, because he and Val are divorced now. How is Max doing without his wife and kids? Great he claims, best thing that ever happened to him. Max asks about Noah's book, which has become a roman a clef about a visitor to Montauk having an affair and (later) stumbling upon drug trafficking.

Alison sidles up to the table in a red dress that Noah and Max would have us believe is sexy. I came to love Alice Morgan, so I love Ruth and she is pretty to me, but I know that she is not a conventional beauty, so for every man to be knocked out by her sex appeal is a bit much. She pretends to be a stranger to Noah and asks to sit at their table, while she waits for her friends. Max said, "We'll be your friends." Eventually, Noah pretends to leave. Max wants to linger and pick up Alison who he insists was flirting with them. Noah acts as if he barely remembers her and sees Max off in a taxi, before going back inside.

He and Alison laugh at their ruse and dance enthusiastically to Earth, Wind and Fire's September. Love was changing the mind of pretenders. Does this mean they are falling in love?

Back at Phoebe's, Noah joins Alison in the shower. She has a sober look on her face and I remember Cole saying how she had to be bathed by Cherry when she was still afraid of the water. In her version of the pilot, she was so depressed and contemplative when she showered that I wonder if she would really be at ease with Noah joining her. He imagines her as more open with her showering than I suspect she is.

She points out that the summer is over and he'll be leaving next week. He says that maybe he can get a job teaching their part time and they can still see each other. "So, what would I be then, your mistress?" Well, that's what you are now!

She pulls on black slacks and top. She brought a change of clothes, he asks, suggesting that she has plotted her deceptions a lot more carefully than he has. She reminds him that she Cole is coming back from out of town today and she can't go home smelling like him (perish the thought of Noah's smell). He should bring a change of clothes too. He sulks and wonders if she and Cole still act like ... "What married people?" He says never mind. And says he has to get home and go sleep with his wife. She gives him a look, more arch than hurt and he apologizes.

As she exits, he watches her out the window and sees that she bikes in the opposite direction. "Where is she going," he demands, to by great irritation. I don't like his possessiveness, but we're supposed to notice that their relationship has evolved so that he feels possessive and protective of her. He didn't even like to watch Max hit on her at The End.

He jumps in his car and follows Ali to the harbor where she gets a cooler and then goes to the taxi stand. This is the place by the docks where she picked up the container before. I didn't realize it was a taxi stand. I didn't know what the Lockharts were doing there, actually.

At home, when he crawls into bed and Helen asks how Max was, he has almost forgotten that he was ever with Max. He says that Max is .. is .. a disaster. Of course, the aimless Max is juxtaposed against Noah to show Noah (and us) what his life will be like, if he loses his wife and kids.

Helen says that Martin is missing. He only left a note saying that he was going to the ranch. What was he thinking, Helen exclaims. Noah urinates at the toilet, bathroom door open and says, "He's 14. He probably wasn't thinking." He calls the ranch and finds that Martin is there. We don't know who he talks to, but from his end, it doesn't seem like he's talking to Alison.

Helen suggests that they could benefit from going to Whitney's therapist, because Noah has been distant. It's because of his book, he says. Then why isn't he sleeping with her? He says because they have 4 kids and are staying with her parents. He pulls her into his lap and assures her that she's still attractive. Affirms when she asks if she is still a "great lay." She says she's taking the kids to eat and asks if he wants to join. He says no, but ultimately does go. He goes down to the pool and asks where kids get cocaine in that town. She says she doesn't do drugs and will never know the answer to that question. Noah says he needs the info for his book.

At the Lobster Roll with the family, Noah is surprised that Helen has invited Max. Is that a problem? No, he says. Helen and Max lock lips, playfully. He is family. He is "Uncle Max," which is why now that Sarah Treem tells us he will return next season, I expect him to be the first person Helen turns to when she learns the truth.

Max is surprised to learn that Noah didn't get home until 5. Helen had assumed that Max and Noah left the club together, so her face says that she is surprised that Max is surprised. Max looks over and sees Alison waiting tables and asks Noah is that the woman they saw at the club. Noah does a "what woman" thing and Max recalls her. Says he's going to go get her number. A fidgety Noah says she's married. They give him "how do you know that" looks. She told him so last night. Well, she didn't act married, Max notes. Stacey needs to use the restroom and Helen tells her to ask her daddy. With nudging, Noah takes Stacey into one bathroom and he enters the other. Alison comes in and they make out -- too ridiculous for words -- until Stacey knocks. Alison hides behind the door when Noah opens it, but we see her reflection in the mirror. I wonder if Stacey saw it and since Sarah Treem mentions this moment online, I'm thinking that Stacey DID see and will tell her mom, "Oh that's the lady who was in the bathroom with daddy."

Noah goes back out and Max has been crying, being around the Solloway family has made him feel the loss of his own more. Even Stacey tries to comfort him. He asks if he can tell the kids the truth about their parents and Noah and Helen say yes, not knowing what he is going to say. I think it's a nice way of showing that they trust him so much that they known it's not going to be anything bad coming from him and they trust anything he says to their children. He tells them that their parents are really aliens. They are from a fantasy world where ... people don't get divorced. Then, he starts crying again and it's like watching Lucy Ricardo sob, more amusing than moving. I suppose it moves Noah though. There but for the grace of ...

As they prepare to go, Helen asks Noah if he wants to go sightseeing with them. He says he has to work on his book. She says she figured as much and leaves with Max and the kids. Oscar gives him a hard time for their fracas at the Butler home. Noah apologizes and says he wants to make it up to Oscar. They should have a drink. Oscar pours one for Noah and Scotty comes in wanting his money. Oscar doesn't oblige and Scotty bangs open the cash register and takes what he wants. I think drug dealers are generally more subtle ... Oscar says he wants a permit from the Lockharts (for his bowling alley). Scotty shoves him away. Oscar puts up a lame fight, following Scotty outside, but returns. Noah feigns innocence. What is going on? Oscar knows that Noah is fishing for information about his "girlfriend" and eggs him on. He says that the Lockharts are nothing but thugs and their grandfather was a bootlegger. That's how he made their money. The family is all dirty. He picks up the phone, calls the police.

Noah goes to the ranch. Alison is shocked to see him. He says how could she do drugs. She denies it. Then, he tells her about Oscar's phone call and her panic gives her away. She runs to Cole and tells him. Cole says "I got it" and starts to drive off. Alison is too busy working with the Lockharts to cover their crimes to even see Noah off. His fears confirmed, Noah returns home.

How's the book coming Alison asks him, keenly aware that he hasn't been working on it. She is picking up laundry when he grabs her, starts undressing her, nuzzles her inner thighs, tells her she smells good. She protests that everyone is at home. "Let them here," he growls.

I haven't really heard Dominic West talk. I wonder if I would like Noah more if he had an English accent.

Alison's Story

She has herself taking a shower when Noah comes in. She smiles at the intrusion. He uses the bathroom and she says "Seriously?" He asks, "too soon?" And they are already a married couple, so familiar with one another. He goes out and when she exits the bathroom he is gone. "Noah?" She picks up a note from him and he comes out and grabs her, happy that he fooled her into thinking she was abandoned. She claims he didn't fool her and they giggle and roll. She says she has to go. "Do you have somewhere to be at 10 to 5," he wonders. Yes, she says.

She goes to the harbor, gets the cooler and then the taxi stand. Caleb Lockhart is there with a blond sprawled out on the sofa and Ali asks Caleb if he's sleeping with her. "Of course not," he smirks. "I'm a married man." I wonder at Alison being aghast at Caleb's infidelity. She always frowns upon cheating when talking to others, Oscar, Mrs. Margaret Butler, the other waitress ...

Caleb says they don't have to worry about the woman on the sofa, she's out cold. He takes the container into a hidden room in the back and stores a wrapped package in a safe. Since Noah saw Max get cocaine from the taxi driver, he deduces that there was cocaine in Alison's cooler. She goes back to the ranch and Cole is unloading his new mare -- see he is just coming home from buying that mare. Last week he was already home again, so this episode is out of chronology. Yet, sequentially it doesn't seem like last week could have happened after this week. So, I do not know what the time reverse means. Cole says that he's been married long enough that he realizes it's not a good idea to compare your wife to a horse, but he still thinks the horse, Elizabeth Taylor, resembles Alison because she is stubborn and majestic. Liz Taylor also slept with Debbie Reynolds' husband, so maybe Cole is aware of that sub-consciously. Aside from her husbands and love affair with Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor is known for her love of diamonds. Does Cole think his wife has a materialistic streak? She wouldn't still be with him if she had.

I blame him for preferring to have his family live a life of crown, rather than selling the ranch. What sort of legacy is he passing onto his descendants as a coke dealer? Maybe the Lockharts were always a little crooked (although Oscar is biased and was laying it on thick for Noah anyway), but even so why would Cole give an impassioned speech at town hall and advise Oscar to open something useful like a daycare center, when he's smuggling drugs?

He later acknowledges that Oscar has a sick obsession with Alison, so whether or not he knows that Oscar probably harassed her when she was a teen and still taunts her now, he knows he's a negative presence. Why would he have Alison working for him, rather than sale. She can't afford to keep her beloved grandmother nearby, because they don't have money. Cherry's house is falling down around her. Scotty is a social menace, doing anything for cash. The hardship he is causing his family is unforgivable and it's certainly not based on integrity because (1) a drug dealer doesn't have any, and (2) a man with integrity would give up anything to protect his family, not turn away $30,000,000 to indulge his own sense of history and pride.

But Alison is responsible for her own well-being. Would she need Athena's permission to sell her home? Her grandparents paid little for it, but the land alone must be worth millions now. Why won't she sell. It can't be because she loves Montauk, because why would she and Cole bring drugs to their charming hamlet, if they cared about it so much? Even if she didn't sell her house, if Cole is forcing her to sell drugs because the ranch can't sustain itself, if she is against it, why doesn't she leave and get a nursing job in another city. She could live a decent life, wouldn't have to work with Oscar and would be free of Cole. I believe (or believed) she loved him and didn't really want to leave him, but she hasn't really shown any signs of that. So, what's keeping her in Montauk, where she faces one humiliation after the other on a daily basis?

She smiles at Cole's majestic and stubborn comment and it's a sweet moment. They find Martin sleeping in the stall. He says he just wanted to see the new mare. They give him breakfast. Alison answers the phone when Helen calls. She's too nonchalant for Alison's liking. It took her all this time to even notice Martin was gone, she fumes. Cherry says that Helen has four kids and is busy. She doesn't even care, Alison insists. If she didn't care, she wouldn't have called, Cherry counters. She didn't seem that concerned, Alison presses. Cherry says that she is busy and has a lot on her mind. No, she doesn't, Alison retorts, because she's rich. I think Alison is saying that if she had been rich she could have devoted 100% of her time to Gabriel and he wouldn't have drowned. So, I think she was working when he died or not paying attention to him, because she was preoccupied with work. But she seems to think that Helen's leisure gives her the opportunity to be a better mother than Alison was and resents the fact that Helen doesn't take advantage of or appreciate this.

At the breakfast table, Martin says his father is a teacher and is lame. Cole says maybe he's not lame because he's a teacher, but just because he's Martin's dad. Maybe, Martin says, but he doesn't do cool things like the Lockharts do. Alison tenses and I wonder if she is feeling protective of Noah, when Cole mentions him, but Cole isn't likely to slam Noah in front of his son anyway, so I suppose she's not jumpy on that score.

Cole takes Martin out to show him how to ride and lead a horse. Alison looks on. That could have been Cole with their son. I like that, because it makes it seem like she's not just grieving for herself, but for the family that she and Cole might have been. I want to know more about their past and their feelings for each other.

She goes to the Lobster Roll and has a note from Noah to meet her. At Phoebe's she is surprised to see him there already and she looks up at him first happy and puzzled, the way you look at an approaching murder in a crime movie. He says he followed her after she left and knows she's doing drugs. Drug dealer. She hates that term. He asks why she does it. Does she know what she's risking? She could go to jail for years. She says they have to, because the ranch can't sustain itself. They have no choice. He says sale the ranch. She says they can't but doesn't explain, at least I'm glad she doesn't blame Cole. He says he trusted her with his life. How can she do this and what about his son? He works at the ranch every day. Do they sell drugs around him? Of course not, they don't do drugs. They don't bring them home and they never sell to children. They have rules. Noah scoffs at that. She's tearful. She says doesn't he see that she doesn't care? It doesn't matter if she goes to jail or lives or dies. It doesn't make any difference to her. So, is that her justification for doing this, I wonder. She's been so numb since her son died that she didn't care about breaking the law anymore or maybe she wanted to break the law, be caught and be punished? Is that what we're supposed to believe? Ethically, this drug thing does much more to destroy Cole and Alison as redeemable people than failing each other as partners did. They can hurt each other without being bad morally, but selling the drugs has them turn a different corner in my mind. I knew they were smuggling something illegal, but I thought it might be jewelry. I didn't think they'd bring drugs to the town. Alison said they don't sell to children, but she's seen Scotty with Whitney and knows how ungovernable he can be. She might place restrictions on herself, but there are no restrictions on Scotty, her co-conspirator. His crimes are also hers and Cole's. The risks they are taking ethically changes my view of who they were in the first half of the series. I knew they were criminals, before, but I didn't know they were corrupt.

Noah says there is one more thing he has to tell her.

She goes to Cole and says she overheard Oscar calling the police. Scotty says he didn't see Alison at the Lobster Roll when he was there. She says she was in the back and she overheard Oscar. Cole says they've got to hide the drugs before the police get there. He'll bury them on the ranch -- she just told Noah they never take drugs to the ranch. She says that she will drive Cole. I like this, because it suggests that she would sacrifice herself to help Cole. He says no, if he's going to get caught with kilos, he wants to be alone. I hope that Cole means he doesn't want her to get in trouble too and would take the fall for everyone, rather than think he's just saying that he can work more efficiently if alone. He kisses Alison on the cheek before departing, a very tender gesture, I think. He tells her to go to the taxi stand and act like she's working dispatch, until he calls and says it's all clear.

When she gets to the dispatch, Oscar comes in. Caleb wants to fight him, the narc and Oscar feigns innocence. He hasn't called the police. He might get the idea to fake a phone call to the police, but he hasn't done that yet he declares. Before Oscar lets on that she is not the one who heard him on the phone, Alison hurriedly tells Caleb that she sees it was all a trick on his part. The police aren't coming. They freaked out for nothing. She tells Caleb to leave and she'll take care of Oscar. It's telling that they don't seem worried about Oscar physically hurting her. Caleb leaves. Oscar says that all this time he thought Alison was grieving. If she wanted someone to sleep with, she could have slept with him (has she slept with him since her marriage to Cole? Has she just been off limits since her son died?) instead of some tourist yuppy. He invades her space, but when she pushes back and tells him to get out, he does. She heaves and curses, near a melt down because of how close she thought she was to arrest. So, I guess she does care about going to jail after all.

As for Oscar, she should have at least expected that it was a prank, an unnecessary was. He could have confirmed she was having an affair with Noah by staking out Phoebe's cabin. He didn't have to play a game of telephone that depended upon him correctly guessing Noah's future conduct.

At the ranch the brothers are arguing. The others accuse Cole of being a "pussy." Cole says they need to give Oscar the bowling permit, if it will get him off of their back. Just like that, he's not concerned with preserving the cultural and architectural sanctity of the town where his wife was born, his kid was buried and he will die. He walks out of the room and is surprised to see that Alison is there and overheard them. He didn't think she was back yet. She tells him he should sell the ranch, since they are all clearly miserable. "What!" Why is he surprised. Why is he holding on to it. I can't believe Cherry hasn't insisted that he sale. And does Cherry know about the cocaine? Maybe she's the head honcho, like Ma Barker.

Alison says that they can sale the ranch, take the money and relocate. Maybe they can finally move on from ... she drifts off. Move on from what, he asks angrily? He wants to hear her say it? "There is no moving on," he barks. This is curious, because in the pilot he was telling her to try to make Gabriel's birthday a good one, like he was the one who wanted to move on, when she couldn't. Now, he seems to mock her for making the suggestion and is there blame in his voice? I know that this is Alison's subjective view, so does she hear blame? Is he telling her that he won't let her move on, because he won't forget what she cost him? Once more I ask if she was there when Gabriel died?

I take some solace in the fact that she asked Cole to go away with her. In a sense she was asking to make a new start with him and only him. She asked him first.

Cole is cursing and his brother shush him because Martin has appeared. The mare is loose. Martin opened the door and she ran out. Cole exclaims and grabs Martin by the collar. They go looking for the horse. I'm surprised that Alison doesn't object when Cole yanks Martin.

Later, Alison drives Martin home and says, "Why did you do it?" To me, she knows that he deliberately let the mare out. But maybe she just means, why did he carelessly open the door anyway. But knowing him and the suicide ploy, I think he deliberately let the mare run away and I suspect that Alison sees that and recognizes him as someone who causes trouble, to regret it later. Like she herself does. Martin says, "do you ever do things and you don't know why?" Alison laughs. Yes, all the time. But I want to know what she has done that she doesn't understand, have the affair or stay with the Lockharts and run drugs. I hope it's the affair that's inexplicable to her.

At the Butler house, Alison gets out of the car as Martin goes inside. The mansion looms large and elegant as Noah emerges. Is it his wealth and the security it affords (all of which would be stripped away if he leaves his rich wife) that influences her? She says that she's sorry about the drugs. He's right. It's wrong and she will stop. She will leave this town and begin a new life with him. Well, he never asked you Alison and if this wasn't Alison part, I would be sure that Noah just concocted this conversation in his vain head.

He said he's been thinking and after all that's happened, they can't go on. He was leaving town next week anyway. They might as well stop seeing each other now. He's cool, removed. I didn't want him to reject Alison. I wanted her to choose the Lockharts over him, not choose him after he left her no choice. Does this change her view of him, from a man she was falling for, to thinking of him as someone who was only in it for the sex all along? Of course, he will see her as the heartless one, if we ever get his version of the breakup. Well, I hope this is the break up and that they aren't reconciled next week.

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