Total Affair of the Heart (Episode 8)

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And as our lovers fall apart, everything is under the microscope–and very uncomfortable.

It starts with Helen and Noah, who have apparently been in therapy for months since he confessed to her that he had been with Allison over the summer. Noah is clearly beaten down, but more invested in his family than we’ve ever seen. But Helen is still aggressively anxious about the whole thing, and the issue finally rears its head on the therapy couch when she tells him why she married him. She says that back in college she could’ve had her pick of the litter, but she married Noah because he was safe. He would never be a famous author but it didn’t matter because he Dad already was and “he was a prick.” She married him because she didn’t want her father.

A really fantastic scene of acting, completely simplified by this picture set.
A really fantastic scene of acting, completely simplified by this picture set.

The problem being, that Noah has already said that he married her in some way because he wanted to be her father. He says it’s not news to him, and I think that to some degree it isn’t, but not because he ended up being right. Rather because he’s always had doubts about himself, and he projected that onto Helen. And like anyone hearing their worst fears confirmed out loud he knew it but he didn’t know it.

The scene is a banner bit of acting by Tierney and West; a sort of reflection of last week when Helen heard her own version of a nightmare being confirmed. It’s a sentiment reflected up in Montauk, where Allison and Cole seem to be moving along merrily–until they’re not.

The Montauk couple is similarly under the microscope this week. Allison is fine but her grandmother’s health risk put her whole life into a reaction and reflection period. Suddenly she can’t see Cole being there for her and all that good stuff she had been getting until now is gone. Her news is second fiddle to the ranch’s price check (fitting well with our theme of being under inspection) and she reverts right back to not being able to talk to Cole.

And so though the reuniting of Allison and Noah may seem, in many ways for this show, inevitable, it’s also a testament to how well their bond holds up under scrutiny. Noah immediately sees that her grandmother’s suffering is giving Allison flashbacks to Gabriel. It’s Noah who assures her that “she’s not a child,” so that Allison can step out of herself and say goodbye. Their relationship, even under the close microscope of episode 8, isn’t showing the deep cracks and fissures that lay just beneath the surface of everyone else’s relationships. And that’s what keeps them coming back, week after week.


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