Total Affair of the Heart – 306

Just as you start to wonder this week whether we’re going to see another one of Helen’s dad’s terrible girlfriends, and what Helen’s mom is up to, and if she knows how much we miss her—in she dances. Turns out, Helen’s Dad and Mom have rekindled their romance, and are halting the divorce and staying married. 

“At the end of the day, your mother just knows me,” says her father, blissfully. “Better than anyone else ever will.”

It’s the subject at the front of everyone’s mind this week; when do you really know someone? Noah wrestles with what his father knew about him, and what he wants Martin to know about him in return. Helen wrestles with if she truly knows anyone at all—and whether she’ll ever find someone to know her in return.

This week Helen bounces between rocks and hard places—Nina, Max, Martin, Vick; all seemingly trying to steer her away from Noah. She is, after all, one of the only people left who believes—nay, knows his innocence. It’s why she wants to believe he’s fundamentally good; fundamentally whole.

It’s why no one’s reasoning works with her. When her father jokes about Noah’s killer streak she hears the worst night of her life roar up against her ears. As Martin shuns his father for taking a life Helen sees the ghost of a path narrowly avoided. And when Nina throws in her face that Noah was broken when they met, that he used her to escape his life, until she dragged him down and he had to escape again.

When Helen’s at the disastrous double date with Vick and her parents it seems like she’s at an entirely different evening than the rest of them. That out of step feeling follows her throughout the episode, terrible decision after terrible action. She’s haunted by what she did, and haunted by the man who protected her who she may not even have known.

Her half lands harder than Noah’s, who struggles to put his life in motion after the last time we saw him—divorcing Helen, admitting his part in the end of his mother’s life, and figuring out where he goes from here. His admission in the last episode seems to have alleviated some of the guilt from his shoulders; he goes to his father’s house, and starts to broach the life he left behind there.

He brings Martin into some of the folds of his life and imparts some wisdom. We know Martin ended up going home, so when we see him chase a hooded figure into the lake it’s legitimately surprising (even if, from Helen’s perspective, we know no one else is there). But when the figure turns around it’s young Noah, it’s both a shock and a let down.

Anyone who’s not Helen could apparently see that Noah had trauma. And The Affair has telegraphed its thought process pretty clearly in the past. But this? This is a bit too low-hanging-fruit. What’s clear is that Helen wasn’t the only person “purposefully ignoring” the fuck-ups and downs in their life.

On the one hand you don’t want to end up like Helen: Finding out that Noah ran into her; realizing that she never cared to dig for the truth of why so long as the arrangement worked for her; grasping at straws and men for answers and connection. On the other, you don’t want to end up like Noah: Pushing people away in favor of exile, repentance, and confusion. Demanding too much and too little for yourself all at once.

The problem with knowing people, better than anyone else in the world, is that it can be a double-edged sword. And if The Affair is about anything more than affairs, it’s about the discovery of that truth.

Stray thoughts and thinks: 

  • God help me I love Vick. Poor bastard could be a great partner to someone in a different show. That being said, that Helen notices (or imagines) him laughing at her Dad’s joke about killing him to save a lot of heartache? Not a great look.
  • “Was Noah fucked up when I met him?” Helen asks Max, who is bewildered as one would be when you’ve just cheated on your fiancee with your ex-girlfriend after she initiated it and then brings up her ex-husband who was your best friend for 20 years.
  • Noah was calm when he heard a train whistle—if he heard it at all.
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Total Affair of the Heart: Episode 206

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Finally some semblance of reason from these people. Specifically, Noah and Helen. In this episode Martin’s health issues (after first appearing earlier this season) make way for some real airing out of the room, and Helen finally sees what really matters.

It seemed to me like the show was making a case that it’s not that everything is suddenly in perspective, per se, so much as it gave Helen and Noah a breather and a reminder of what it is they’re really fighting for and about: Their kids.

I kept expecting Helen to break down through out the episode, but her half is really about her strength and how she let herself get lost in all of this. Helen’s mother can’t believe that the anger Helen felt didn’t justify her doing whatever was necessary, and that led to her offering helpful unhelpful advice that was not in tune with what Helen needs. And in all her grief and rage Helen didn’t notice how far she had been pulled down from what she wanted—to close the book on this whole ordeal—until she literally removed herself from the conversation in the lawyer’s office. It was then that she finally saw how little voice she was really having in the whole proceeding.

06-affair.w529.h352.2xAnd from there she seems to be really pulling herself up: She makes peace with Noah over Martin’s hospital bed, she lets Noah hang out for a week in her house, and even offers to have him stay there with the kids on his weekend. Noah, in turn, notices her kindness, and isn’t a total fuck-up. Though we don’t see the hospital trip from his perspective, it’s clear that the ER room was home to them revisiting what it was about their partnership that made them good together and good parents. Martin’s doctor’s game plan of “let’s all work together” is something so innocous, but it’s exactly the sort of mundane statement that can pull you out of your funk and back down to Earth.

Of course Noah’s girl-trouble isn’t over there. He’s ready to move Alison back and move on with their lives, but—surprise! The way he left his fiancee alone for six weeks with very little (at least on screen) by way of communicating where he was didn’t inspire a lot of confidence, especially after last episode’s book reveal.

“You’ve been wonderful,” is something that Noah needs to hear from Alison, and since we’re seeing this from his perspective I don’t even know if that’s what she really said or just the high he was riding from the sudden promise of the future. It seems a bit simple, given that we know how much Alison has been struggling to find understanding and her place in the world, honestly. Which is why the next part—where she rips into him for his book-version of her—feels so much more honest.

It feels right to me that Noah would’ve known that his portrayal of Alison was sensitive, maybe even while also knowing that it wasn’t her, while simultaneously lifting it almost entirely from their relationship. That also helps make sense of the flashes we’ve seen him get of running someone BN-LD714_sebast_G_20151108115323over. Turns out (at least, right now, it seems) he’s been fighting against the ending he really wanted for the book: Running her over (? or presumably some similar death-filled ending for her). Likely he knows he’s taking out a bit of aggression over having “[blown] up his whole life over her,” as he seems constantly reminding her these days. But he also wants her to remember that the book isn’t real. Even if it is something of an outlet. Which is what makes his “we end up together” reassurance of the end of the book so hurtful to Allie. She’s much further down the road of reconciling how much truth he put in, she just wish he’d be honest about it.

And in the present day we get our second flash-forward that isn’t couched in anyone’s perspective. At first it seems like it’s from Helen’s, in her lawyer’s office, as she offers to put the brownstone up to help pay a witness (I’m guessing, based on her outburst with her mother that she is no longer financially linked to her parents? Even though the money is her dad’s). But then she leaves and we see Richard Schiff-lawyer call Oscar—who we know it is, thanks to last week’s scene between him and the detective.

 

Now that we know that Noah’s flashes are tied to the desired ending to the book it takes away a bit of the confusion about what his role is in all this if it wasn’t the murder. But still know him and Alison seem to be hiding something—maybe Scotty finds out that Alison’s baby is from her (presumably) one-night stand with Cole during her six-week time away from Noah? Her pregnancy is one of those plot points that reconciles a lot of holes in what we understand so far. No wonder she wants a little clarity from Noah.

Stray Observations

  • Apparently Grandma’s ginger do didn’t fly at the college reunion because she’s back to grey now. Oh well.
  • Noah asks Allie if she only read sex scenes and she says no but it seems “the whole thing was sex scenes.” Again: Is Noah a trashy romance writer? Because I could be down for that; maybe his reconciling with that is what gives him that douchey-English-major air.
  • Watching Bruce and Margaret fight Richard Schiff-lawyer is clearly used to it, and also clearly not getting paid enough (Although he might be; he does seem like a rich white person lawyer in NYC)
  • Six weeks later: Helen’s hair is pretty cute!
  • Noah: “We can go anywhere you want this summer!” Martin: “Not Montauk” Helen: “No definitely not Montauk.”
  • Whitney acted the hell out of the maturity and naive bewilderment that comes with consoling a crying parent.
  • “The story’s not even about you, it’s about me” is so classic Noah Solloway I can’t even stand it.

 

 

 

 

Total Affair of the Heart (Episode 6)

And now we welcome Max, and other dated items into the fold. Max is Noah’s college friend who’s now divorced, and generally fine with it–or so he initially claims. But it’s clear as the episode progresses that he’s really not; he’s jealous of what Noah and Helen have. That unshakeable, established love born from a college romance.

cdn.indiewireSo he can’t know (and Noah won’t tell him) that Noah lusts after what Max has. He longs for the freedom to approach Alison at work and unabashedly hit on her or to flirt with her in a club. But in a concept introduced to me by the late, disappointing, HIMYM, Max’s appearance in this episode–coupled with the growing intimacy between Noah and Alison–brings a sort of regressive immaturity to Noah. (Though, arguably, Noah has been fairly immature throughout.)

Him and Alison play immature games where she comes and plays the stranger at the club, they go out dancing and suddenly age themselves 10 extra years next to the crowd around them, and he hates the word mistress to describe Alison. He lets his best bud Max believe that Noah’s from a planet where relationships work, probably because to some extent he believes it is too. The life he talks about and keeps with Alison is so separate from his life with his family he can’t believe that Helen picks up on his distance over the summer.

It’s that sort of stubborn, adultery-denial that gives Noah his tough streak, but it’s also what makes him a childish partner. Once he pulls off his dream girl goggles and sees Alison for what she is, a married drug dealer who lives in a summer town, he suddenly has a renewed interest in his wife, and familiar stability she brings to his life.

Meanwhile, for Alison this affair has been something of her own stability. She’s always been mature and composed, and for the first time in her life–as Athena guessed–she’s finally found that a bit of unpredictability can present a whole new outlook. Suddenly she feels free of the weights that come with the Lockharts. Free from debt, misery, guilt she sees a real future with Noah.

And so in the last scene she goes to him, but is confronted suddenly by the vast rift between where they are in their lives, marriages, and true desires. But Noah has seen the life she has, the life Max got, and recoils into his privilege shell. It may not be perfect, but it’s home.