This entire half of the show consisted of Noah talking to his couples therapist alone. I think it was the first time I was impressed with Dominic West's talent on this series. It went on about 5 minutes too long, but it was still admirable and should definitely make an Emmy reel. The only problem is there may not be any stand out lines, taken out of context. It's the conversation alone that was the triumph.
And it wasn't only that his delivery was good. It's that the dialogue worked. Even in the theater, when a character talks this much, for this long, it sounds unnatural. For the most part, Noah seemed human, not monologue-y and staged. And being a writer and teacher and a self-obsessed nut, it seemed believable that he would put this much thought into his feelings. People accuse Lindsey Buckingham of sounding like he's had a psychotherapy overdose when he introduces one of his songs. In this case, Noah WAS with his psychotherapist and his talk still didn't sound forced or unrealistic. I hate it when someone explains their reaction to something and diagnoses their own emotions, i.e. Howard Stern saying, "I went into radio because it was the only way I could get my father's attention. He loved listening to the radio and blocked everything else out, so I started broadcasting, because then I knew he would be forced to listen to me." That's too self-aware and precious, as if the derivation of our every act can be easily traced and expressed. It shows that the speaker has a very simplistic way of thinking, but likes to present it as deeply introspective. But Noah's words were more searching stream of consciousness than pat explanations.
He and the counselor are waiting for Allison. He calls her, but she doesn't answer (that happens to them a lot). Allison has gone back to school (it's a year after the kid's birth) to become a doctor and maybe she stayed after class to ask a question. He tries to help out as much as he can and got up with the baby last night. He got little sleep. The baby goes "Mama, mama, mama." The counselor is surprised. Is she old enough to talk? Yes, but he can't get her to say "dada" to save his life. But he loves her anyway, he says as an awkward after thought.
He says he is not going to talk about it until Alison comes and prepares to leave, but the counselor presses him. It can still be couples therapy, even if its her and him one on one and the more he starts talking, the more he reveals without intending to.
He says that he catches Alison staring at him with the baby, as if she's trying to figure things out. The doctor rather too magically says that he describes Whitney, Helen and Alison as all looking him in a certain kind of way. Helen when she found out about the affair. Whitney when he last saw her and now Alison. Isn't it important that all the women in his life stare at him??
He has to meet a student that evening. She's the smartest one in his class and is always making passes at him (isn't everyone) and he wants to sleep with her, just to bend her over his desk. The counselor pounces and says it's not the first time he's wanted to be unfaithful to Alison. He was with Helen for 20 years and made ONE mistake. Alison was his first "mistake" -- he rushes to say he doesn't consider her that. He just misspoke. But the counselor says now that he strayed once, it's easy to do it again. It's common when two people got together by having an affair for their own relationship to experience that outside desire and lack of trust. He's wanted to be with other women besides this student?
Yes, he tells her about Eden and how he sidled over to two women and it turned out to be Whitney and he ran away. He didn't stop himself from sleeping with Eden. He got shocked out of it. He left his daughter there and just as that happened with his eldest, his newest baby was being born at the same time. It has taken this whole year for Alison to forgive him for missing the birth and he has tried to make up for it, by doing chores and babysitting.
Helen and Vic are on vacation and they've had the kids. Does that bother him? No, he's happy for Helen. Vic seems to make her happy. Is Vic that doctor from last episode? I didn't get his name.
When talking about Whitney, he reveals he hasn't seen her for a year.
The thing he wanted to wait to say until Alison came was that his divorce is final. He got the papers, but didn't tell her yet. At Cloud Springs (was that the cabin they stayed at or the place where she was studying yoga with Athena) he would have married her in a heart beat. Now he doesn't know. He wants to write a third book that means something. His second did very well, but he knew he wanted to write something with significance. There's this real life guy, a war hero or something and he wants to write about him. He needs to go to Paris to finish the book, but he can't get away, can't leave Alison with the baby.
He likes being with a family and having people dependent on him and having a home, but he also wants to be with that student of his too. He talks about the subject of his book. The counselor says there are no women in this book right? Did he tell her that? No. He just said that he didn't want any characters in it that Alison might think resemble her. He didn't want to have that tension again. So, it's a war story, with all men, but then Marlene Dietrich shows up and she and the war hero have a thing. He grins slyly, clearly fantasizing vicariously as a biographer. Did he make up Dietrich. No, it really happened. They knew each other. They have been pictured together, but the affair is just conjecture.
Part of him wants to be that, to leave his responsibilities and have affairs and write great books, like Hemingway. But it's hard to do that when you're up at 3 a.m. changing diapers.
The doctor tells him that he can get a babysitter and still go to Paris. It doesn't have to be one or the other. His yearning to be a great writer, doesn't make him a bad father. She says their time is up and he's surprised it went so fast.
When he goes home, Alison is washing dishes and he says he will take over and she says no, she is almost finished. They end up doing them together. She says she was late because of class. He says maybe they have had enough counseling. After all their relationship has been repaired hasn't it? He pushes the divorce papers deeper into his jacket pocket and doesn't tell her about them.
Alison is putting the baby to sleep. She gets back into bed and says that the baby finally went down, thank heaven. She says next time it is Noah's turn. He says, "she doesn't want me, she wants her mama." He turns over and Alison tries to study.
Alison is at school, in a lecture, looking uncertain, inferior to the laughing students around her. When they take a break, she asks the teacher the last day to drop the class without getting a bad grade. He says it's tomorrow, but she shouldn't. She's a nurse right? Yes. Then this stuff isn't new to her. It's not new, but it's been a long time and she has a new baby at home. He says his advice is for her not to stop now. The longer you stay out of school, the harder it is to go back. She nods, but then leaves the lecture early when he is talking about the test they are supposed to cover tomorrow and we know she doesn't intend to take it.
When she gets to her apartment Scotty is there, looking half crazed and hyper. He says he wants money to buy Oscar's Lobster Roll and he knows she has it because he knows what her house sold for (so it didn't burn to the ground). She is surprised when he tells her that Oscar is going into foreclosure. He says he doesn't sell drugs any more. He was forced into stopping and he's obviously bitter about it. She says he looks like he still USES drugs though. She says that she can't help him. He becomes angry and says, sure she can, look at her swanky digs. She's a success. He already has one partner. He just needs her money to make it happen. She is backing away when the nanny comes up with her daughter, Joannie.
Scotty looks at the kid and is suddenly interested. The nanny says that people say the kid looks like Alison, but she thinks she looks like her daddy. Scotty peers into the stroller and says, "Oh I think she looks like her daddy too." His manner goes from desperate to cocky and jocular. He tells Alison it's been a great visit and heads off. Alison is zoning out and hardly hears the nanny asking if she's ready to go upstairs. She falters and then asks the nanny if she can stay until 4.
Then, I guess time has elapsed, but it looks like Alison has just turned the corner. She goes into a bar where Cole is sitting at the counter looking dreamy (sigh). He rises to greet her and says, "What do we do? Do we hug." She nods in a manner that is more friendly than awkward. I feel that she is really glad to see him in a way and he her, but not with longing. I like that, that he seems over her. I don't know if she blamed him for burning down the house and if Treem will revisit what happened or if she is just happy to have skipped forward a year and ignore all the unfinished plot points leap frogged over by time (like the direct aftermath of Alison and Cole sleeping together and how they parted after that happened). Maybe we'll never know why the house wasn't a total loss.
Alison says she heard Cole was living in Green point, Connecticut and couldn't believe it. He says yes. He does some construction jobs. Does he really have to? He has his share of the money from the house. He says he's not going to touch it, it belongs to her. She says she took HER half of the money out of the bank and if he doesn't touch his share, it will remain there forever. She won't take it out (I love her for that, especially since she was so hot for his ranch money last year and it made me hate her). He just shrugs.
He is surprised that she orders a Blanton neat. I don't know why or what that is. Is it more sophisticated than what she drank in the past? More expensive. The bartender fixes Cole's regular and Cole recommends the olives to her. She says that he seems to come here often. Well, Luisa's bar is across the street. It's not hers, but she manages it, so he hangs out here often, so as not to get in her way too much. I like that he does it to be near the woman he loves and not because he's a big alcoholic, drowning his sorrows. But maybe that's part of it too. I'll have to see more of him and Luisa together, to see what he's repressing in that relationship, aside from the childlessness of it. I saw this episode after the Kruger/Reedus scandal, so it did seem to mirror real life too closely, as I watched.
He says she'll get to meet Luisa and he says that he can speak a little Spanish. She doesn't believe it and tells him to say something in Spanish. he thinks for a minute and looks so earnest. Ack! Joshua is too gorgeous and gentle for words, sometimes. He says something in Spanish (reminding me of Peter Bishop saying that greek saying about being a better man than his father) and she asks what it means. He says he's going to be married. Oh, wow. She seems surprised and genuinely happy. She congratulates him.
He asks about her. Her baby is almost a year old now. Pain flickers across his body, as he lowers his head, lids drop over his eyes. Josh is so good in those seconds when he reacts to her second maternity. I am biased, but he is as amazing in those few moments of screen time as Dominic was in his 20 minutes of what was basically narration.
Then he says, "what is it you wanted to see me about, Alison?" I'm glad he's the one that decided to get to the point. Did anything bad happen? He still has concern for her. She says that Scotty came to see her this morning. He seemed like he was still on drugs and wanted to borrow money to buy the club. Cole's face goes from friendly to grim and says that Scott has had that plan for a long time. Is that what she wanted to see him about. He seems stern that he was called here for this and I'm glad he can still get mad at her, like he'd rather not see her if that's all she has to talk about. He doesn't seem hurt that she didn't want to visit with him for himself, just annoyed at having to talk about Scott. He says that the best thing he has done is leave his dysfunctional family behind. She says Scott said Oscar was in foreclosure. Hmmm. Cole didn't know about that either.
They talk about going into a bar when they were teens. How did they even get in? Did they break in, he wonders? No, she had the key. She worked there in the daytime when she was 16 and then they came back after it closed at night, with her key and drank. Oh yeah, he'd forgotten. He says remember when Scott burned his hand. NO, she didn't and he reminded her of how Scott burned his hand badly at the restaurant. She'd forgotten that. Their shared history can't be divorced or undone is the feeling. It was something to escape before, but now it's a bond, as, with time, the good memories, come back into as strong perspective as the bad ones. They laugh and Luisa comes in.
Luisa seems a little cool about meeting Alison, but not overly so. Alison seems fairly natural. She doesn't seem like she wants Cole back (which I'd like, so much as she doesn't want to impose on his happiness). Luisa says that she probably couldn't believe that Cole was out of Montauk and that the change has been good for him. She could have meant that in a catty way (like a change from Alison), but it doesn't come off badly and Alison doesn't react weirdly. I just don't like Luisa talking about what's good for Cole, as if he's a little boy.
Alison says it's been good to see him again and he says the same. Nice to meet Luisa. Pleasant partings. Outside, Alison looks through the window at them, seated with his legs scissored around hers, intimately. He and Alison sat knee to knee, across from each other. He and Luisa sit with Cole's leg overlapping Luisa's, pulling her inside of his body frame as they smile and talk, warm and familiar. I'm glad his mind isn't lingering on his ex.
I don't blame Alison for not telling Cole at this point. She doesn't know Luisa can't have children and she kept silent mostly to leave him to his newfound happiness, rather than to keep the baby all to herself. What I want to know is why she didn't tell him when she got pregnant in the first place. She wasn't happy with Noah then and Luisa wasn't a big part of Cole's life. Why deprive Cole of a child. Then, why not tell him after the baby was born, when she was mad at Noah for missing the birth? I assume it's because a drunken Cole had just burned down her house and she didn't think he was good daddy material, but I would like to have that confirmed. Although, I don't hate her right now, I should, because a child would mean so much to him and her silence is selfish.
She goes home and the boys are in the living room playing a video game. she apologizes as she squeezes in front of them, blocking their view of the big screen. Domestic life. Later, she and Noah are having sex. As they climax she keeps saying, "I love you, I love you." As if she needs to hear it back. Does she want his love badly or, as I would prefer, is she trying to convince herself that she loves him. Finally, he says he loves her too. Then the baby says "dada" from her crib. It's as if now that Alison has accepted Noah as the father, other options having been eliminated, that Joanie (why'd they name the kid that?) telepathically accepts him too, all of a sudden.
She urges Noah to go to Joannie. He picks her up and coos at her. "Did you say DaDa?"
Flash forward into the courtroom, with NOah's lawyer telling those assembled why his client wasn't guilty.
It was a fulfilling episode, because I liked the place Cole was in. I wish I had seen more of his relationship with Luisa evolve and wonder if it is healthy. Aside from wanting to be a father, what are his other regrets?
I have to say that the writing IS good for the most part this season. And this episode gave the audience an excellent understanding of Noah's character. The thing is, we can know what makes him what he is and even appreciate the good, alongside the bad and the ugly BUT it doesn't make us like him any better and it doesn't make him more interesting either. And that's the problem. We can understand. We can relate. We can stop blaming, but it still doesn't make most of the audience care whether or not Noah ends up in jail, guilty or not.