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As the present day/flash forwards this season have grown more and more disconnected from any one character’s perspective, I wondered if The Affair would ever give up its M.O. completely and opt for a future not couched in anyone’s viewpoint. Well, it’s finally here.
“209” departs completely from the standard two-act approach the show has taken so far, seasoning us with just a little from every corner of the narrative. Alison goes into labor early, missing the time she was supposed to move her shit out of the Montauk house for Cole. Noah neglects and then attempts to mend his relationship with Alison, while Helen meets and sleeps with the doctor who operated on her son. The whole thing really sounds a lot more soapy like this, and when it’s devoid of its schtick it definitely feels a bit more so.
Something the show has rebelled against is that the truth always has to be one thing; Did Noah watch Alison have sex as a creepy observer or did she want him to see? Is Dr. New Guy a nice guy who acts like a jerk or a jerk who acts like a nice guy? Does it matter?
It seemed unsurprisingly like it matters to Helen, who we haven’t really seen as the sort of person who sees those around her as more than one thing. The truth is no one is black and white, and when Dr. New Guy pushes her on it it stings a bit, but isn’t a dealbreaker. I’m not sure exactly where they plan on going with this, but I kind of like the groove he brings to the show. So far he’s one of the only people we’ve seen who seems to consistently be straightforward, and that’s something the world of The Affair could sorely use.
‘Course wake up calls can come in all different packages. Take Noah, for instance, who gets so shitfaced he forgets to hook up with Eden (who is game now that the book tour is over) and instead stumbles into the most awkward hot tub of all time, to find Whitney making out with a woman. That jolts him out of his stupor enough to get to his car and check his phone and realize that in addition to scarring his oldest daughter for life he is now missing the birth of his child.
Despite not being very related, Cole and Alison’s plot lines are used in this episode to echo each other, with the climax of the episode cutting between Cole’s misguided (and somewhat cartoonish) visions of his dead son leading him to action, while Alison’s still uncertain about the strength she can provide a child. It’s a nice (if, as The Affair is wont to be, heavy-handed) way of showing how though these two are separated by time and space they’re both still tied by Gabriel’s death in a way that can often set them apart from their new paramours.
“You’re not alone,” the only OB-GYN on duty assures Alison as her contractions start to really amp up. She was an important character expressing important thoughts, who will likely be little more than a blip on the radar of this show. We know in the future Alison and Noah have made some sort of life, even if their story this season has trended downward significantly. But this show needs some more positivity, especially if it’s ready to start shedding its gimmick. Will our players see clearly now that the rain has gone? Does it matter?
- The waitress had the same thought as I did about Helen’s odds on Tinder, though a bit more brazen—after all, why are you incredulous of the 40-something woman who arranged a date on Tinder? It’s not like they would be surprised by her once they got there, per se.
- “Red or White?” “I prefer whiskey.” I love this guy. Potentially destructive and alcoholic as he may be.
- The whole business with her name being Eden feels a bit over the top in this episode, honestly.
- Apparently Noah does coke now, like it’s no problem at all. What’re you going to do. Definitely not think to call your pregnant wife and tell her you’re safe during a hurricane, no siree Bob.
- Actual note from this episode: “Phwoo Noah is drunkkk”
- Cannot stress this enough: Most Awkward Hot Tub Award