Total Affair of the Heart: 209

For previous posts, check the tag here

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.

Helen and Dr. New Guy talking with her sonSomething 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.

Noah and Eden in a car‘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?

Other thoughts

  • 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

 

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Total Affair of the Heart (Episode 9)

For previous posts, check the tag here

Often I think “The Affair” is clever, but not as clever as it thinks it is. But the one thing it consistently does well is Alison.

1031103_1_3406312_07_800x600Obviously Ruth Wilson plays her spectacularly, but there’s definitely more to the character than that. The complexity that Wilson and the writers instill into Alison’s character is so mesmerizing because it draws you into the character when we really have no business being there at all.

She is, after all, an adulterer (which despite many media’s attempts–including this one–will never be a romantic or exciting plot line, for me) with a major self-destructive streak who’s still mourning the loss of her only child. That’s not always a fun thing to watch.

But “The Affair”‘s Alison is a firecracker; she’s built her unpredictability on all the things above, and that’s what makes her so much fun to watch. We’re given to believe that this is the first time she’s really done this, or at least Athena seems to think so, and also that it all stems from losing Gabriel.

It’s what makes the end work, because you honest to God have no idea what Alison is going to do or who she’s going to do it with, or even what would be best for her. It’s also what makes the scene with Cherry so revealing. All that complexity is built on her desire to be somewhere or someone new while simultaneously punishing herself, so she stays and listens through Cherry’s spiteful speech–where Cherry is quick to assure her, that Gabriel’s death is all her fault–because she feels like she deserves it. Like Cherry’s right.

By this point I think I can safely say that Noah is a shitbag, but he does have her pegged: she needed (needs?) a little faith, in something. And somewhere in the full range of emotions she goes through here she finds guidance, or at least a facsimile of it.

Stray thoughts: 
  • I, of course, would be remissed if I didn’t mention the Helen scene, which is a tour de force in the greatest, most unfortunate sense. From what we’ve seen of Noah, we know he feels the weight of this decision, even if he’s making it a bit recklessly. And he honestly thinks he’s being an adult about this, and expects Helen to react the same way. THANK GOD SHE DOESN’T. Maura Tierney goes through a whole different field of emotions here than Wilson, and damn is it a sight to behold.
  • That Cherry scene really got to me, guys. To have the closest thing she has to a mother figure (especially after her Grandmother passed so recently) chew her to bits like that. Knives would’ve been cleaner.
  • Alison is a much different person to herself than who she was in the beginning, while Noah stays largely stagnant except for his love of Alison. I’m wondering if there’ll be something in the future about this retelling about Alison and her relationship to sex through both her and Noah’s eyes.
  • Obviously a lot of other stuff happened here (Noah’s daughter was pregnant! Alison slept with Oscar!) but I’ll get to that next post. One more episode of the season…