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.

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