Sunday, October 25, 2015

Season 2, Episode 3


Noah and Alison are having sex on the couch and he is anxious that it's not good for her. She says it is. He doesn't want to climax unless she does. She says she will if he would just keep on going. I like the fact that he feels he is dissatisfying her in bed. I hope he is.

He wants her to come swimming, says it's a beautiful, salt water pool and she hasn't been in it all during their trip. She says she doesn't want to. He playfully grabs her and says he will make her go, tugging. She doesn't think that's fun and sharply stops him. He sobers up and says ok. See, this is why people don't like Noah. I think Treem has accepted that they don't, but she has no idea why. She thinks it's only because he's an adulterer. She doesn't understand that he's a jerk. This woman's SON HAS DROWNED. He may not know all of the details, but he knows that. Why can't he figure out that that might be why she doesn't want to go swimming -- especially not in a salt water pool designed to replicate the ocean. Last year, Cole said that it took her a long time to even be able to bathe again (and his delightful mother had to help her). Well, Noah may not know that, but it doesn't take a brain surgeon (other than Ben Carson) to conclude that the drowning just might be related to her reservations.

He tells Alison she's an enigma, which is how she must have seemed to Cole as well. Insular, withholding. He asks her what she would say if he asked her to marry him. She says that depends on the size of the ring. I like that flip answer. He takes a ring from a drawer and presents it to her when she enters the room. She is shocked and not exactly thrilled. She looks like she wants nothing to do with the ring, but then accepts it, more with resolve to change than with joy. I am glad that he has this view of her reaction.

He goes and has lunch with Max who has just closed a lucrative deal. He talks about his divorce and Max mourns sympathetically. Noah says that Helen won't be single for long -- glad that he thinks she's desirable, even with four kids. Max is noncommittal and doesn't let on that he's dating Helen. I look forward to Noah's reaction when he finds out -- as I do Alison's reaction to Cole's dating. Obviously, I hope Noah and Alison are both a little jealous. Max gives Noah $50,000, clarifying it's a gift, not a loan. And of course, it's amusing to the audience left to assume it's more out of guilt or the hope that the divorce should go as smoothly and quickly as possible than it is general affection for Noah. "The sooner you and Helen are divorced, the happier everyone will be."

Reading an interview, I see that Treem cut an oral sex scene out of the 2nd show. I guess that woman Cole picked up in the cab paid more than her fare. This surprises me because I noticed her coming on to him and giving him her card, but since she was vomiting, I didn't think that would lead to sex. I mean, it's not much of a turn on -- but maybe men don't need one. Also, that scene did end rather abruptly, so I should have known something was cut from it. In Cole's state of mind, maybe it's natural that he hooked up with someone as desperate and reckless as himself. Treem said she cut it because she was showing Cole having a bad day and how bad could it be if he got random oral sex? But a physical connection with a stranger can be very depressing, if you're not out for fun but feeling rejected by love, by the world. It's not a mark of virility, but a sign of low self-esteeem and diminished personal values and worth. Stable, confident, unmiserable people don't have a casual encounter with drunken people they meet in a cab. So, I don't think it would have ruined the mood Treem was trying to set. I don't know if I would have liked that scene or not. I'm sure it wouldn't have discussed me as much as Alison's hook up with Oscar though.

Noah and Alison go to dinner with the landlords, Robert and Yvonne. Noah is disapproving when Yvonne asks how they met and Alison says that it was in a light house when he was researching his book. She makes it sound so romantic and he gives her the side eye. When Yvonne offers more wine, he declines and cuts Alison another look when she quickly accepts.

Yvonne and Noah talk books and Alison says she doesn't read much. Robert says he's not a book person either, but Noah says that's not true of Alison. She says she hasn't read anything since Catcher in the Rye. I thought she and Noah bonded over a book last year. It may have been Peter Pan, something she read to her son. I mean, maybe that's not great adult literature, but I thought Noah was impressed because they both agreed about some insightful passage she recalled. Then, I think in the library he found that she had read his book, checked it out. So, this thing about Alison being a non-reader is new and meant to draw lines between her life and Noah's. But I don't particularly like it. I didn't like Cole being painted as a Neanderthal next to nurse Alison last year. They tried to tell us that's why she was drawn to Noah because he was so different from the riotous Lockhart clan. Now, they're telling us that she's part of the dumb locals. I don't want the Montauk people to be portrayed as less sophisticated and intelligent, either Alison or the Lockharts. You can demarcate personality distinctions without making one side high brow and the other low. I think it's a cheap divide to put between Noah and Alison, although heaven knows I'm not against them being divided. I want her to realize her mistake in leaving Cole the way she did (and her conversations with Robert go a greater way towards this end than I ever could have hoped). I want her to regret it and I want Cole to have moved on.

After the foursome, Alison, Yvonne, Noah and Robert finish eating, Noah and Alison go into the study to talk books. It's reminiscent of the way the men would retire to the smoking room to enjoy cigars while the women cleaned up in the old days. In Alison's version, she encourages Noah to go. He didn't want Alison to read his book, but looks like he would welcome Yvonne's input. She says an author told her that if the ending comes hard to you, it's because the rest of the book is bad. If the book is written well, the ending should come naturally, which I suppose is a metaphor. If the relationship was meant to be, then it wouldn't encounter so many roadblocks, I guess.

Now, this is another Jerk Noah moment. Alison knocks on the door and he impatiently says can't it wait. Why do you think your girlfriend would interrupt you for no good reason when you are in a closed door conversation in a stranger's home? Even if you find her a general irritant, in front of people you don't know well, wouldn't you respond to her kindly for appearances sake? But he snaps at her like she's a big nuisance and I'm not sure that Treem knows this shows how selfish he is. Even in his own narrative, he's a jerk and that's been true for the entire life of the series, although I don't know if that's been the intent.

Alison presses for him to come out again, says this is important, but Whitney bursts in. So, this is where he's living now and with Alison? She thought he said they weren't living together. Alison and Noah had told the landlords that they'd both been married before, but didn't say they'd had an affair, but Whitney makes that clear. Noah tries to get Whitney out of the house, but she says she wants to stay there, because it's nice. She doesn't want to go to his little shack.

He pulls her away. How did she even get there. She took a taxi. Is that a ring on Alison's finger? He's not even divorced yet, Whitney shrieks. Later, he is talking to her on the deck while Alison stays inside. Does Mom know she's here? Oh, why does he still call her "Mom". Why not use the more formal Helen, since they aren't a family anymore, Whitney sneers. But she settles down and says she's miserable. She says that being with her mother and grandmother is like living with two depressed witches. She wants to come and live with him. He says he's trying to make it so that she can live with him some time. She says she doesn't want it to be some time. She wants it to be permanently. He says to make that happen she has to do him a favor. Whitney guess what it is: don't tell Mom he's living with Alison.

He wants to know why she made up that school girl fantasy story about how they met for Yvonne. He wants her to share herself with him. Tell him something that she's never told anyone else. She makes a wry joke, but then confesses everything. She says Cole was there. He brought her clothes. He says he thought Jane brought them. She says she lied. She says nothing happened with Cole. They just talked. And I'm glad she didn't tell him that Cole had been a creeper (in her version), but says they talked, like they shared something. She says she slept with Oscar. He says he's not crazy about it, but ok. She goes on and says last year she tried to hurt herself, cut herself. Tried to drown herself. He is shocked and asks her if she ever still feels like doing something like that. She says she doesn't, but the look on her face indicates her answer might not be completely truthful. She wonders if he wants his ring back. He says that there's nothing she can tell him that will make him abandon her. He doesn't want her to think she has to hold things back.

In the end when he goes to the mediator, he is shocked to be served with divorce papers. I guess Whitney finked him out and told Helen he was living with Alison. So, will he ask Alison to move out "just until the divorce is final" so he won't lose custody of the kids?


It starts at the dinner party. Yvonne looks at Alison's engagement ring and says it's sweet, in a manner that suggests it's small and cheap. When she's offered more wine, in Alison's version she declines and says she's had her fill. Yvonne says that they should wed there, since her daughter didn't want to do so and they had a vacation wedding instead. Robert says she made the wedding a bigger do than it had to be and Yvonne said she was being a good mother. She says that Alison and Noah can have their wedding there and Alison says they haven't set a date yet. Yvonne talks about kids and Noah says he has 4 and doesn't want more. Alison is shocked. Yvonne says that it's the woman's call anyway. Men will always resist but once the baby is there they will fall in line as if it was their idea all along. Robert takes her drink and tosses the rest of it into the plant. She protests that that was the good 2005 bottle.

They love each other, but are ill-suited. Their differences are less cartoonish than the Butlers, but like the Butlers showed us Noah and Helen's future, Robert is an experienced version of Alison for the audience to compare (and Yvonne is perhaps a less dead on version of Noah). After dinner, Alison starts to clear the dishes with Noah and Yvonne quickly pulls Noah away. Alison is left behind, not only as the "little woman" but as the servant. Robert sees her stacking plates and says she is good at it. She says she used to be a waitress.

In the kitchen he doesn't let her throw away the salmon. He is saying it. He asks if Alison can keep a secret. She says she can, her tone indicating she's had lots of practice. He has a dog, 1/2 wolf. Yvonne wanted to get rid of it, but the dog ran away. He's been feeding it on the sly and she mustn't tell Yvonne. Whitney barges in and the scene is pretty similar to Noah's version, except instead of saying she came in a taxi, Whitney says she took an Uber.

I think Noah is aware his daughter is rich and spoiled though, so his perception of Whitney isn't completely different than Alison's.

Whitney sees the ring on Alison's finger and demands that she take off. She rushes Alison and Noah pulls her away. After Noah takes Whitney out onto the deck, Alison hears them from inside the guesthouse. Whitney is loudly calling her a slut. She stiffens and opens a cabinet, remembering the box of Gabriel's that Cole brought to her. She opens it and takes out a stone. She rubs it, comfortingly.

On the deck, Noah says that Whitney is out on the pier smoking. Alison asks where Whitney will sleep. Noah says probably in their bed. Where will THEY sleep then. He says she can take the sofa and he can take the floor. Alison is resigned, rather than resentful. The obvious question is why Whitney can't take the sofa, but I guess he doesn't want to sleep with Alison, to rub it in Whitney's face.

He says that kids are great when they're young and he just wishes they never grew up. Alison is stricken. This is the same kind of thing he said to Cole at the ranch last year and no warm-blooded human being would continually say such things to the woman he supposedly love who lost her young son. You might put your foot into it once or twice, but not continually. How many times do Treem and writers think they can get away with this stuff without the audience losing patience with them as much as we do with Noah.

She asks if he wants his ring back, I suppose, in light of Whitney's reaction and the trouble it could cause in his custody battle. He says he wants her to keep it, but from his tone it's not clear that he means he wants them to stay engaged. He could mean just that he wants her to keep the ring if they break up. He says all of his life he's been afraid of what other people would think and he doesn't want to do that anymore, meaning he wants to go ahead and marry her, no matter who disapproves.

She asks him, what is the worst thing he has ever done. He says, "probably this." And although it's clear he means leaving his wife and children, the way he said it makes it sound like Alison is the worst thing, his biggest sin. Even if she's not his biggest regret, who wants to be thought of as a sin or regret. Mr. Insensitivity's Strike Again.

He asks her what is the worse thing she has ever done. She says darkly, "I've done lots of things."

The next day she awakes to Whitney making her breakfast and being sweet. Alison accepts some eggs, which seems terribly stupid to me, but it seems they were not laced with arsenic. Whitney asks for Scott's number. Alison refuses and points out that there's a restraining order. Whitney says it's not real and Alison says the police think it is. I like to think she was protecting Scott from being arrested. Whitney presses for the number and Alison says it wouldn't be appropriate. Whitney then stops pretending to be her best friends and turns on her angrily again, but is all friendly and "Hi Daddy," when Noah enters. Again, that's a little silly because Noah knows she's a brat and she is bratty in front of him, so why hide it. He is surprised that the two women were seemingly chatting over breakfast and when he leaves with Whitney even more surprised when she gives Alison the "call me" signal. Alison kind of shrugs.

Later, she is sitting outside and Robert comes along. She is melancholy and he asks her about the engagement. Does she love Noah. Very much she says (ugh), but she's been married before and she's not sure they should rush into anything. Married before? She looks so young, Robert remarks. She doesn't look that young. She says they married right out of college (so does that mean Cole went to college too?). She says the thing is, she and her first husband had a son and they lost him and she doesn't know if she can be with a man who never knew Gabriel (and who is an insensitive lunkhead). Was that her son's name? How did he die. It was secondary drowning and she should have known. He died in his sleep. She should throw in that she was a nurse, to boot, to emphasize how stupid her actions were! She says that this is the rock that she found on the beach with Gabriel. The water washed it smooth and she told Gabriel whenever he was feeling anxious, he should rub it and it helped calm him.

Has she been carrying all of this inside? Alison says she has, tearfully and, not for the first time, I think she should have had an affair with ROBERT. Does Noah know about this. He knows some of it (and doesn't really care!). She says she thought if she started a new life, in a new place with a new man, the pain and sad memories would go away, but it's always there. So, I think of her telling Cole that it's not Gabriel she wanted to forget, but him and I wonder if she sees that leaving him didn't help. Robert says that no one can understand you completely and he made that mistake with his first wife. He thought if she didn't understand him 100% then it wasn't true love. He now knows that basically, we are all alone. No one can be everything that you need. They can just walk with you on the journey. He doesn't say that Yvonne is a mistake, but I'm hoping that Alison is looking at her husband in a new light and begins to see that because she was lonely with him, because he didn't grieve like she did, didn't mean their relationship was a bad one.

Actually, Robert's words to her formed some of the best dialogue in the series, so far.

When they go in the house, Yvonne is upset because Robert fired his physical therapist. The guy was pessimistic about his recovery and that offended Robert. Yvonne quietly tells Alison to make sure he does some leg stretches. So, this shows that although she can be brittle sometimes, she genuinely cares for Robert and doesn't see Alison as just a servant, she recognizes her medical training as well.

Yvonne gets a call about the dog (Pete?). He killed a neighbors chickens and she will call animal control to pick him up. Robert objects that they will just put him down. Yvonne says that's what needs to happen anyway. I don't really understand this. If they just kept at home and contained, would he be a menace. He ran away, but I got the feeling that it was because Yvonne didn't want him near the house, more than the fact that he was wild and wouldn't stay in one place. Robert says he will kill the dog instead of a stranger doing it. I don't understand this thing (it happens in the Walking Dead a lot) of wanting to kill a loved one, rather than letting a stranger do it. Shouldn't strangers do that type of thing? There's a sense that you can do it more lovingly, but when you're going to blow someone's brains out with a shot gun, how loving and gentle an act can it be??

I just don't think that even Yvonne would expect or let Robert do such a thing. It's gone from thoughtless insensitivity to cruelty. And this is the most hammer, heavy-handed way of trying to make a point about how we are heedless of the feelings or pain of others or tying Robert to Alison. It's unrealistic and emotionally manipulative. Plus, I saw the same thing done on Marvel Agents of Shield recently and Ward didn't kill his dog either!

Alison goes with him to find the dog, because Yvonne is afraid he'll hurt his leg or some such nonsense and I don't know why Alison doesn't offer to take it to Montauk or something where it doesn't have to be killed. I don't know why she's just standing there with no advice or offer to help. The dog comes. Robert shoots. Alison covers her eyes. But when she opens them, Robert has shot up in the air and let the dog run away (to kill more neighbor chickens, I guess).

Robert and Alison don't speak of the secret they now share. Back at the house, Robert says he killed the dog. Yvonne asks Alison how it was and Alison said it was quite beautiful in a way, which makes Yvonne think she is a freak. It was a stupid subplot all the way around. Designed to make character points but destroying plausibility in the process. Of course, when Yvonne finds out the dog is alive, she won't trust Alison any longer.

Later that night, Alison gets in the pool. She swims strong laps. Noah comes home, sees her is surprised and happy and joins her in the pool, pulling off his trunks. So, what would have been an inspirational moment turns smutty. From the house, as they frolic, Alison can see Robert in the distance. Maybe he sees them (but is not close enough to know that they're doing something in his pool that chlorine can't cure) or maybe he's just reflecting on his own troubled, "she would make me kill my dog" marriage. So, Alison has Noah in her arms, with the prospect of becoming Robert in her future.

In the future they are in the lawyer's office (the same lawyer Helen used for the divorce. So, this guy does divorce and criminal law) and he tells them they must have a change of venue, because the town hates Noah. As do we all. Tell him about that night. Well, Noah knows it looks bad but he had his bumper fixed and was caught on tape with the mechanic because he'd hit a deer. He hit a deer? The lawyer is skeptical. Was Scott Lockhart riding that deer? That's one of the funniest lines in the series! Alison is quiet, tense and jumpy, like she knows Noah is lying or we are supposed to think he is. Noah says he didn't want to be out anyway. After all it was her ex husband's wedding and he doesn't know why he was even invited.

Alison says that Cole was trying to be friendly. Was he, Noah questions. YES, he was, Alison defends. And I like her taking up for Cole. When Noah says that he hated Scott because he got his teen daughter pregnant and was a "lowlife" I wish Alison would show more Lockhart loyalty, but she doesn't.

There was an episode last year without Cole and Helen that was painfully dull, but this episode wasn't. When I don't see Cole in the promo for next week, I am not happy that we go 2 weeks without him. On the other hand, I thought the parallel between Robert and Alison was a good and thoughtful one and it helped me explore Alison's doubts about where her relationship is at more than any words could have.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Season 2, Episode 2


I was amused that Alison is starting to see Noah as somewhat of a jerk as well. Selfish and insensitive, easy to ridicule either openly or in his disapproving grimace. The producers much have gotten so much feedback about negative viewer perception that rather than try to "redeem" the character, they decided to run with his selfishness.

They start off in bed and he is leaving. He resists being pulled towards her, briefly because he doesn't want to be late and she says, sure it's HER insatiable sexual appetite that's causing the problem, right? They laugh. He says she should not use the bathroom because it broke. When? Just now (so that tells us this is starting where the beginning of Noah's story started last week). She says she will get the landlady to take care of it. He doesn't have to worry about it. His agent Harry, hooked him up with the owners, Robert and Yvonne. Alison wonders what he told the owner about her. Who is she to him? Do they assume they're married. He said he doesn't know. She says they need to have a discussion about their connection in the eyes of the world. He says he promises they will that evening.

What does she care what his agent or the owners of a cabin think about them? And if she didn't want to seem like a dishonorable woman, then maybe she shouldn't have slept with a married father of 4.

She looks at Noah's manuscript pages on the desk and sees the dedication to "Alison". She smiles and then stops reading (which is probably not what really happened) gets dressed, goes to town and is walking when her calloused feet start to hurt. This is a woman who was cutting herself a few months ago. Why should calloused feet be a problem. She stops on the side of the road and the strap of her shoe is biting into the back of her ankle. She looks like she might turn back but a car comes along and it's her landlord. He offers to give her a ride. She hesitantly accepts.

He says she looks like she belongs there (really? he sure summed that up fast) and she must have grown up in a small town. She says that she did. So, she looks like she is missing Montauk already. But is she missing the PEOPLE there? I can't wait until she starts to miss Cole. Unfortunately, Josh let slip that Cole gets married. I had guessed that he might be the groom at the wedding Alison attended last season, because Alison was saying that the people might fight but they're still family, talking about Oscar and the detective asked her why SHE was at the wedding. I wondered whose wedding it would be where Alison wouldn't be attending and Cole's was the only name that came up, for me. So, now that has been confirmed by Josh, but I want to avoid spoilers as much as possible. Still, I hope she is jealous when she learns that Cole is happy and in love again. And I hope he doesn't look like he wants her back at that point, which will ruin everything, because she wasn't healthy for him either and Josh's explanations about how he drove her away by not sharing his grief with her are just a way for him to understand why his character was cuckolded. Actually, Cole didn't push her away any more than she did him.

Josh did talk about that large tattoo he got (on his back where Cole doesn't have to see it) being insensitive and I definitely agree with that. I said last season that Alison should leave him for that Gabriel tattoo alone.

So, in the car with the landlord, he tells Alison that his wife hates the town and he is going to have to sell. "No," she yelps and then apologizes for speaking her mind about a stranger's decision. He says he feels the same way. But his wife can't stand the stagnancy. What does she do for a living? The landlord is surprised that she doesn't know. His wife is the top editor for a big publisher. With Noah being a writer, the landlord obviously thought she'd be aware of this. Alison said she didn't know and said she knows nothing about publishing?

I'd think this would show a divide between her and Noah, but in the cliffhanger from last season, they were happy after his 2nd book was a success. They had money and a new baby, so I don't think he believes she is too uninterested in his career and it's not the obstacle for them that I might hope it would be.

She eats lunch at a diner and asks the waitress what she makes. Why is she thinking about working there? Alison says no. And with her nursing skills, I wonder why she is considering another job as a waitress. Working for Oscar (who was a harasser) seemed to stifle her, so why wouldn't she look for medical jobs, that have nothing to do with pediatrics? Even being a receptionist would be better than being a waitress. Last year I wondered why Cole would let her work as a waitress rather than sell the ranch, but maybe it's her low self-esteem that keeps her working as a waitress and not financial straits. And how much of that low self-esteem was always there and is not a function of having lost her son and feeling helpless or at fault because of the secondary drowning?

In town, she sees children playing and saddens. Back at the house, the landlord asks her over for tea and says she looked bored earlier that morning. Oh, is she bored already?

She goes and his wife is a whirlwind, talking on the phone, to people in NY. The husband needs physical therapy but won't get him. Alison advises him and the wife says she sounds like she knows what she is talking about. Alison says she was a nurse. When the wife leaves to make another call, the husband says why doesn't Alison work for them as the personal assistant Now, other than giving him some physical therapy tips, I don't know what about her makes him think she'd be good at being an assistant to a publishing exec. Is she good at making phone calls, typing emails, etc.? They don't know and they don't seem to care. The wife is happy when the husband says Alison is her new assistant. But the wife seems to be somewhat of a pain, so I wonder if they will soon lock heads.

Alison heads to the guest house and, to me, she sees a bike there. I had wondered about her own bike that she had in Montauk and thought she would rent one instead of trying to walk 6 miles into town. So, I'm not sure what the bike meant. Did Cole bring it to her? If so, that was really thoughtful. Did Cole ride the bike there? Or was there a car/truck in the scene too that I missed and didn't bother to rewind to find out? Any way, when she sees that bike, she has trepidation. I didn't know why, but Cole is inside the house when she enters.

He's pleasant in a sarcastic way, rather than a warm one. He is sitting at the desk, reading Noah's manuscript on the table and she locks it up. He says, "You seem a little nervous to see me." She says, "Well do you have any weapons on you." Relax. He just came to bring her her stuff. He says he was nice enough to bring her belongings rather than have her friend do it. I wasn't sure who the friend was. I thought it might be her sister-in-law (but it turned out to be the woman who worked at the diner with her) but I think it was wrong of the person to give Cole the address, without letting Alison know. Even if they hadn't broken up badly, you don't give someone's ex the address they're staying at with the man they had an affair with during the marriage. She says she thinks he should leave. He sits down. Shouldn't she offer him something after he came all of that way to bring her her clothes, he demands? She says that depends on whether he's armed with a weapon this time. He says he has to use the bathroom. She says he can't, it's broken. He asks where the tools are. She doesn't have an answer. "don't tell me the guy doesn't even have tools." He says he'll get the tools from his truck. So, he's handy, self-sufficient, not ineffectual. That wouldn't impress me. I just want someone who knows how to call a plumber. I'd perhaps prefer that to someone who does it themselves, but maybe Alison doesn't.

He fixes the toilet, but menaces Alison, cornering her against the wall at one point, but laughing it off when he sees her anxiety. He leaves. She is outside, still calming down when the landlady comes up. She feels guilty when Cole comes back carrying Gabriel's toy box. "The most important piece of the puzzle of all." He says he is SURE she didn't mean to leave that behind. She is tortured, angry, heartbroken as she takes it from him. When he goes the landlady asks who he is. She says just someone she knew who delivered her things. The landlady asks if he is single. Alison stutters and says she guesses, she doesn't know. The landlady said that she wants to introduce him to someone who has the same weakness as she does: a man with rough hands.
I really resent Josh playing the guy with rough hands. Why would you cast him as a cowboy or, as Josh says, the "Marlboro Man" when his strong points as an actor are not brawn -- just the opposite, in fact. I think Cole would be a more interesting character if he were identified by his wit, not his "rough hands" and ability to robo root.

At least he is not disheveled in her version as he is in his own and I'm glad she still sees him as somewhat together, even if he feels otherwise.

The landlady says living with a writer is a horrible thing with all of their secret worlds, when Alison tells her that she hasn't read Noah's book yet. So, I guess Alison feels that Noah is keeping parts of himself from her, keeping secrets.

Alison fixes dinner. Noah comes home in a horrible mood. Says he had a bad day. She asks if there is anything she can do to help? He says, what's she going to do with her house? Is she going to sell it or what? I absolutely LOVE this. Alison is starting to see Noah as someone who would use her for her money, which makes them alike, since she was trying to stay with Cole just until he got HIS money from the ranch. But it's hilarious and it's a nice contrast from Cole who fixed up her house and refused to buy it from her, even for a dollar, because he considered it hers. Of course, Noah probably wouldn't sell cocaine to make ends meet, so Cole's superiority ends there, but I'm sensing that's not how Alison will see it longterm. Anyway, Cole was against using a family legacy to make money and I gather Alison feels the same way about the house that her grandparents left to her.

He storms, asking if she read his script, when he sees the pages in disarray. He TOLD her he didn't want anyone reading it. She says no she didn't, defensively. She was afraid of it blowing away, because it's been windy. That's why she moved it.

She says she got a job and when Noah hears it is with the landlord, he thinks that's a terrible idea. I'm not sure why. I mean, they aren't important enough to his life, his family or his work, for it to be that awkward and he doesn't plan to live in that guesthouse forever anyway. So, what does it matter if Alison seals a few envelopes for them? He walked out of the room, but later returns and apologizes for being so cranky. She says it's ok and they have sex at the counter, which -- is that good for anyone? Are there Dominic or Ruth fans who find that a turn on?

Flash forward. In the future, she gets to the courtroom pushing a strolling, on her way to see Noah and is stopped by Noah's new lawyer. She says they can't afford him and wonders if Helen is paying? Why is Helen making decisions, after all SHE is his wife now. This makes Alison look bad, because even in her own version, rather than being relieved that her husband will have good legal representation, she is just jealous of his ex-wife, the one she stole him from. It seems petty, under the circumstances. The lawyer patronizes her and says they'll contact her if she's needed.


He is driving around in the taxi, looking beat, hair shaggy, can barely keep his eyes open. He picks up a fair at the airport, it is Butler, Noah's father-in-law. He gets in and asks Cole a question, Cole is not in a talking mood and doesn't answer, Butler asks if he can speak English. Cole says, "of course, I speak English." Butler says he is leaving his wife. He figures if his no-talent son-in-law can do it, he can too. This gets Cole's interest. Cole asks what happened to the son-in-law. Butler is startled by the question, because Cole honed in on the part of the conversation that mattered least to the self-interested Butler. I almost think he will recognize Cole at this point, but he doesn't. He just says he feels bad for his son-in-law in a way because he has no money and is living in a small place with the mistress he ran off with. What information does Cole want with his questions? Does he want to know if Alison is ok, being treated well, is happy? Or does he just want to know if he can get her back.

He drops Butler off at home and is backing up when he almost hits a kid who ran out behind the car. He is paralyzed with fear and jumps out of the car. The kid is ok. A woman comes out after him and Cole apologizes profusely, frightened at what he almost did after losing a son of his own. Is it her boy? No, she says, she is babysitting. But isn't that Butler's house? How is this kid related to Butler? The woman's mother comes out and is talking in Spanish. The woman tells Cole not to worry about it. Nothing bad happened. I think she's not a very good caretaker if she's this nonchalant about the kid almost getting hit by a car.

Cole drives on and picks up a woman who makes a pass at him. Honestly, he and Noah think every woman they encounter is hot for them and then orders him to pull over, because she's drunk and sick to her stomach. Cole listens to her vomit, disgusted. He drives alone and falls asleep at the will, veering into the opposing lane of traffic. He awakes with a start and takes cocaine to stay alert. He smokes a cigarette. I didn't know he did that. Maybe a bad habit he picked up from Alison -- or Diane Kruger.

Back at the taxi depot he puts his cash into a safe. They put a lot of emphasis on this safe as they did last season and I wonder how it will figure into the plot, if they aren't smuggling drugs anymore. Cole only has a few dollars in there, probably not much more than a few hundred. So, if it's stolen, I don't know why it would be significant. The guy at the desk tells Cole to take a nap. He says it's fine. Scott comes up and hassles him. He says that their mother wants to see him and she is living in poverty, since the foreclosure. Cole should see it and he needs to help the family. He hasn't seen them in months. Mary Kate is pregnant. They need the money and he should demand half of Alison's house. It's a community property state and Cole is entitled to 50%. Cole doesn't even bother saying that he won't live off of his ex-wife and I appreciate that. We all know he won't do that, no matter what ever else he is capable of. And they are trying to "redeem" him since the hostage scenes in the cliffhanger, but they aren't overdoing it too much, because Cole can still menace with the best. Cole says that if Scott doesn't get the ____ out of his way he will run him over. I like the mad serious way Josh delivers the line. They are setting it up to make Cole a suspect in his own brother's murder, which I don't buy at all. Scott hangs onto the car window and Cole drives off, not exactly running him but not exactly non-threatening either.

He goes back to Alison's house. He is living outside in a trailer. I guess because it's hers and he doesn't feel he should be inhabiting it. The trailer is a mess with discarded fast food cartons everywhere. Glancing at the house, he seems someone inside and runs in. Alison? He calls, with soft hope. It's Jane her friend. She didn't know Cole was home. She was packing up things to send to Alison. Cole says he'll take them himself. Jane doesn't think that's a good idea. He says she was trespassing on his property and if she doesn't want him to call the police, she'll just give him Alison's address and he'll mail the UNDERWEAR to her. Well, she had Alison's permission to be there, so I don't know why that police threat worked, but maybe she was just understandably afraid of Cole. Which is fine, but she should have texted Alison that very moment and let her know Cole had the address. I think she was a very careless friend.

So, Cole drives up to Alison's house. On the road there he stops, goes into a diner (the same one Alison visited) and sees Noah on the street. He extends his arm and makes his finger into a gun, which he shoots at Noah. This is the shot they use in the promos for the show, to indicate that Cole is still murderous, but that's not how he comes across in the episode.

Cole drives up the road to Alison's. I guess it looks peaceful to him, beautiful everything he wanted in a life with her, but doesn't have and hadn't had in a long time. He is in her house looking around at the rafters. She comes in, book in hand as if she's been out meditating, all Walden's Pond. Rather than being apprehensive when she sees him, the guy who broke into her home in her absence, she is so grateful that he came that long way to bring her things. And I guess this is realistic, from his perspective in the sense that guys always think they are doing you a favor and being nice when what they are really being is STALKERS.

But I'm not sure if men who press themselves on you really know the attention is unwanted. I think they lie about it after the fact. In Cole's case, maybe Alison was warmer than she let on in her version.

She still can't believe he came all that way and he says he was in the area. Oh, what for? Oh to see a horse. "What? I thought you had to sell the ranch." He did, he says. I don't know what this means, that he lied and now she knows it and she caught him making up an excuse to see him again or ... does she think he still goes around looking at horses even though he no longer owns a ranch? I guess it's the former, but it's hard to tell from their expressions.

She asks if she can make him something. She is in the kitchen cooking, looking all happy in her home (but in a big sweater because Treem thinks he sees her as closed off -- which is the opposite of what he is perceiving in his version of the events). He tells her Mary Kate is pregnant. While she dices in the kitchen, he is on the sofa, self-conscious. He says that he thought of funny he wanted to tell her. What was it? He can't remember. There's an awkward pause, but it's a nice moment. My mom says she would think of things she wanted to tell my grandmother after my grandmother passed. She'd even pick up the phone to call her sometimes. My grandma said that when my mother married and moved away from home, it took her awhile to stop going to my mother's bedroom to wake her in the morning. You get used to sharing part of your life with another and your body still has the muscle memory of doing it, even when that person is gone.

She senses his awkwardness. She asks if he remembers a day they spent together, before she got pregnant. They were out and made pancakes afterwards. Yes, he remembers. That was a good day, she says. He agrees. She pulled out a happy memory from all the bad ones they've had and built a bridge. They hug and she thanks him again for coming. As he is ready to part he asks if he can ask a question. She seems afraid that it might cause tension. But his is quiet, sad, pitiable. Not menacing as in her version. He wonders if she is ever coming back home. She says, no she doesn't think so. He nods. Josh says he needed to hear that, because it opened the door to stop hoping and let him return to life, a new life without her.

In the future he is going to the courtroom. He looks dapper, in a button up shirt (but still has a bit of a stomach. Probably Josh's real one, but in Cole's past version of events, I think wardrobe gave him a little added pot belly). He sees Alison and she is frantically trying to shush the baby. She looks out of control, frantic. She says she's SO sorry about his brother's death. I had hoped her reaction would be more personal, like she had lost a brother too, rather than just giving a friend condolences. He asks if this is her daughter. Yeah, whose kid WOULD it be, Cole. Cole heads into the Courtroom and she says maybe the baby will be quiet enough for her to go back in. Inside, Noah is charged with Scott's murder: leaving the scene of a crime, vehicular homicide: obstructing an investigation (he did get his car fixed, to protect his kid I think whom he thinks was driving. I think it was Martin. Noah may think it's Whitney). Alarmed, Noah looks at Alison and the baby. Cole looks over to the strained Alison looking frozen, but comforting her baby. He better not be thinking of confessing to the murder so as to keep Alison and her daughter safe, because I'd kill him myself if that crossed his mind. Although, from the spoilers, I know Cole has his own life now and wouldn't give all of that up to comfort dopey Alison, so his life is spared.

Ok episode. Not exciting or funny. Josh said the show is mostly a slow character study and maybe it's too slow, but I prefer that to a lot of action that makes Cole look homicidal or loserish. Altogether, the episode was not as painful as it could have been for me and I look forward to seeing the next, rather than dreading it.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

S2, Episode 1


After the end of last season, there was very little this show could have done to make the beginning of S2 at all tolerable to me. Yet, like the proverbial needle in a haystack, The Affair found the only ticket back to Montauk that I would accept: levity. The opener did everything right, in my view: Cole was not on, so I did not fret about him. Allison was seen only briefly, so I did not fume. I'm indifferent to Helen. She received a lot of airtime and I could enjoy it, without feeling emotionally drained. Noah was, well the writers seem to have embraced a growing consensus that he is a selfish loser, rather than the sensitive intellectual Allison appears to see. So, he was put upon for the entire 60 minutes and it was delicious.

If this was a ploy to get us to be more sympathetic to him, it failed for me. The more he suffers, the more satisfied I am. It starts with his agent being disappointed with the new ending to his novel. Of course, I know that the book turns out to be a huge success, so whatever pleasure I get out of his writing being berated is short-lived. I think we're supposed to be pulling for him to prove everyone wrong. I only want to see him fail harder.

The agent, Harry, tells him that the plot with the four brothers is rich. It's like East of Eden. Well, neither Noah nor the audience knows enough about Cole's family to appreciate their dynastic qualities and I don't want to. They seemed like a quartet of small town thugs with Ma Barker at the helm. They came off as "low class" and while I know we need the sharp contrast between the Lockharts and the Butlers, but it shouldn't be Wasps vs. Neanderthals. The Lockharts were undermined last year, because their quaint small town values were just a cover for drug dealers, who would taint the community they supposedly want to preserve. They don't want a bowling alley in their town, but they don't mind using taxis and fish to smuggle cocaine. These aren't people I want to know better and Noah supposedly writing about them in his novel just reminds me how badly Sarah Treem failed to meet her goals in S1. She didn't create the Trasks from East of Eden or the Ewings from Dallas. She created a motley collection of "blue collar" bad guys from whom the fair Allison needed to escape and I resent Joshua Jackson being mired in that pile. But he wasn't in Ep 1, so I didn't have to focus on the waste of his talents and could enjoy the comic turns Dominic was given to play and why not? He's better in those scenes than he is at romance.

Noah's agent tells him he should change the ending to his story, unless he wants to have to give back the advance he got. He hurries back to the brownstone to move his things out. Margaret is there on a mission to berate him. She tells him his things are in the basement and his kids have been sent away. He hired a truck to move his things, but Margaret points him to two suitcases and a mangled set of golf clubs. He says half the stuff in the house is his. She says not until it has been inventories and assessed. Then, Helen can send him his things or just write him a check for what it's worth. Fuming he tries to collect his books. They're paperbacks. They have no monetary value, but Margaret clearly wants to hurt him, more than anything else. He takes a painting from the wall. His father painted it himself, but her daughter is in it, Margaret insists; he must not remove it. He threatens to push her down the stairs to her death and swear it was an accident if she doesn't get out of the way.

Just then Martin opens his door. He was home all of the time! Oops, Margaret shrugs wickedly. Martin isn't feeling well (I think he's the one who killed Scott) and that's why he stayed home. He's been seeing a psychiatrist, which Noah isn't glad to hear, but the kid actually should have been seeing one since last year when he pretended to hang himself as a JOKE. If Noah hadn't covered that stunt up, Scott Lockhart might still be alive.

As he leaves the house, Trevor runs up and is glad to see him. He says Helen told him that Noah was going through a mid-life crisis and would return home when it's over. Noah says that actually, they are getting a divorce. Trevor socks Noah in the face. I laugh, but I don't understand why Treem has Helen and Cole holding onto these jerks. With Helen, it's not even that she just wants to save her family, but she seems to want NOAH, not just the father of her kids. Why?? I don't see anything in his personality that would make any person cling to him after so many betrayals and even before he had an affair, he was still insensitive. Frustrated at the way she was raising the kids, with pent up resentment about it. So, maybe he felt supportive to her, but all along he was unhappy with their life. His feelings were justified and she should have been more responsive maybe, but once he left her, returned because she begged him and then left her again, I cannot understand why she still doesn't want to let him go. And the thing about him is that her parents' criticisms are true. He scoffs at that materialism, but he benefits from it. He's a hypocrite. If she admired him for his idealism when they were young, the years should have shown her that much of it was facade. Maybe he just gave in to her strong will, but even so. Even if she is the one who made him sell out, now that he has done so, what is it that's left about his personality that she doesn't want to lose? No, he's not like the privileged boys she grew up with, but he hangs out with them (Uncle Max).

When we saw Noah's house, I didn't even know where he was staying. I thought it was Allison's house. The commode breaks when he flushes the toilet. He shakes his head in a "what else could go wrong" manner.

Noah heads to a family law mediation and meets up with Helen. In his version the lawyer is nice and tries to help them reach compromise, but Helen is antagonistic. She doesn't anything from him and makes it clear that she doesn't think he possesses anything worth giving. The house is hers. Her parents lent them the money for the down payment. The store is hers. Noah says he doesn't want any of it. He just wants joint custody of the kids. She says that he doesn't even have a place to put them. He says that after his book is published he can get a bigger place, for all of them. Oh, he can afford a four bedroom place? Helen is amused that he thinks his 2nd book will have that kind of success. He tells her that the advance he got was for $400,000. That silences and surprises her. Congratulations. But no, she still isn't making any claim to it, she tells the mediator.

Outside, they quibble about whether they should look for a new mediator. He blames her for not seeing the kids. She says that they don't want to see him. Will she convince Whitney to talk to him. She indicates she will. What about Martin? Well, she says, he has a stomach ache. It's probably stress (stress from killing Scott). Noah says that Martin doesn't tell him he's having problems. He doesn't actually believe that Martin is and that's carried over from S2. Helen wants to know, is he living with Allison? He avoids answering. She says that he doesn't want Allison anywhere near her kids. He tells her that she's an a------ and that she can't always get what she wants. She remarks that he's unbelievably selfish (true story) and wonders how she went so long without noticing that.

Back at the cabin, Allison is cooking a gourmet meal. She spent the day walking in the small town (eye roll) and enjoyed it. They're smiling. He asks her to dance. She says there is no music. He says the chirping birds are their music (gag). Afterwards, he sits at the end of the pier in a chair and takes his small, peaceful surroundings in.

In the present day, he's in jail. The investigator tells him it's a small town and a local boy was killed. Plus, the judge lost his own wife to a hit and run driver. Noah's chances aren't good and maybe he should take a plea. Noah is mostly silent. I think he's covering for Martin.


Next we get Helen's view and when we're at the 45 minute mark, I realize that we won't get Cole and Allison tonight. I find myself searching to see if the second episode is available yet. I actually want more. That's rather shocking, especially since I dread seeing Cole mope around and beg to have a part in Allison's life. Still, I have to admit the show has been engrossing. I was more than ready for another 60 minutes.

Helen is having sex with Max and he's doing an excited play-by-play, "I'm filling you up. Can you feel it." Yes, I feel it a bored Helen deadpans, clearly astounded by the Marv Alpert enthusiasm. When he's finally finished, I know that she's just dying for him to get off of her, but he takes his time. He gets a phone call and is playing with her leg, raising it up in the air as he talks. Afterwards, he enthuses about her perfect breasts and orders breakfast, clearly anxious to begin their couplehood. She has other things to do, has to attend an event with her mother and doesn't want to appear in public alone with everyone asking where Noah is. Max says to skip it. She can't.

She goes to the mediation. Noah is late and arrives in a player's leather jacket (in his version he wore a suit). The mediator is surly and wants to hurry them along so he can make more money. She's polite and passive. He's the one that's smirking at the idea of her store being worth anything of value.

She has an e-cigarette and slips some pot into it. Smokes on a park bench.

At home, Whitney is going to write about how Cole pointed a gun at her (ugh) for her book report. Margaret says that if she does, Margaret won't pay her tuition anymore. Margaret is trying to cook them dinner. Trevor is crying because his dad told him they're getting a divorce. Margaret says she wants Helen to stop wasting her time doing things the nice way and sue Noah for divorce. Helen says she is sure he will come home eventually. They've been together 25 years.

At dinner, Helen tries to talk to the kids and share family time. She points out that Margaret never could cook. So, they have to suffer through the meal. She tries to bring up their spirits. She goes to meet her mother at a social function and is surprised that Max is there. It keeps her from being alone and having to ward off the Noah questions. At their table with 3-6 others, Max enthuses about what a catch she was in college, how beautiful, how he was devastated when she went for Noah. Helen enjoys the attention and does begin to sparkle, tells jokes of her own. Her mother is beaming at how Max is impressing their friends. Helen doesn't demur when Max suggests that they are a couple now. Margaret says she doesn't know what Helen saw in Noah anyway. She says she and Max and Noah were inseparable and they were all sleeping together. Helen says that's not true. Max slips her a brownie with pot in it for a treat later. When they get home, Margaret leaves them to say goodnight alone, but not before lying about her age (changes it from 70 to 63 or so). Max comments that she must have had Helen when she was 18. She kisses Max more enthusiastic about him than she was this morning. Yes, he's a boor, but she sees he does care for and value her at heart and she appreciates it. When he's gone she sits on the stoop and smokes some more pot. At night she's in her bed alone and looks up at the wall, eyeing the empty clean spot that Noah left behind when he took his father's picture.

In the present day, Helen shows up at the prison. The detective has somehow become Noah's BFF. He tells him his lawyer is on his way. Noah says that he can't afford a high-priced lawyer (so his book wasn't all THAT successful, I guess). A demure and sorrowful looking Helen shows up and says that she is paying for the lawyer.

I enjoyed this episode, which doesn't mean the show is improving. It was good because it was light and relatively meaningless. It can't be like this all of the time and the producers have yet to prove they can handle the deeper subject matter they want to juggle without dropping all of the balls. Again.