Total Affair of the Heart (Episode 5)

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It’s nothing revolutionary to talk about how “The Affair” is a show that dabbles in forced perspective; it’s essentially the hook of the entire thing. But this episode stands out, to me, as one of the few that really draws your attention to it.

It’s goes beyond the sight gags of Allison’s clothes, or the narratives each of them have to remember why that was important, and into how they see the players around them. And it’s a credit to the acting of the supporting players that they can so believably play a character through someone else’s eyes.

Noah’s in-laws, for instance, often come off as the picture of snobby class. But in this episode, or at least Allison’s version of this episode, we find out that he came from a relatively low-income household, so he would see the sort of decadence they live in as devoid of compassion. Until now I had always filed their performances as somewhat one-note, but their portrayal not only make more sense now, but they serve as a sort of clever reminder that there’s always more than meets the eye in this series. Similarly, Cherry seems to be an almost incongruous mash of a person; one moment chipper and friendly and the next making sneaking, passive-plays for claim over Allison in front of Athena.

And Athena is her own little breath of fresh air for Allison’s perspective: it’s not that what she’s saying is right, per se, but she has her own narrative that’s in some ways just as valid as Allison’s. Allison never really tried to get off the island and doesn’t believe (or, as Athena somewhat condescendingly puts it “forgets”) that she could’ve left with her mother if she had really wanted to.

This episode is rife with material for exploring the people who orbit Allison and Noah’s affair, in a way the episodes haven’t quite done before. Oddly, or perhaps appropriately, Oscar remains every bit as full of douchebaggery in both visions, which could mean that he’s just that much of a tool. Or it could be that as Allison and Noah recite their stories they are on the same page about Oscar for a reason other than his personality. An easy mark, perhaps?

xj4uqusWhich brings me to my final point. I’ve said it before, that for a show that doesn’t seem to cheaton the drama and intrigue they’re got a passionate interest in a coy, showing-of-cards, and apparently the cinematographer is in on the joke. Off the top of my head, I remember most of interrogation scenes being a fairly straightforward over-shoulder, shot-reverse-shot.

Screen Shot 2014-12-19 at 4.02.22 PMBut in both of the scenes with Allison and Noah talking to the detective, the camera noticeably angles itself so that Jefferies is shunted off to the side. A bit of literal forced perspective, for you. Of course both of them are getting up to leave after their conversation, but the way the camera moves–particularly in Allison’s (where she is referred to as “Ms. Bailey” hmmm) swivels, as if it’s sort of clearing its throat to get us to notice, or remember, that they’re being observed. But by whom?

Unsure for now. But is anyone else thinking that Detective Jefferies is one of the most interesting characters on the show? Where’s his point-of-view series?


Total Affair of the Heart (Episode 4)

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Welcome to episode 4, where most things aren’t made up and the family doesn’t quite matter. That statement’s only really about 43 percent true, but this episode is a sort of game-changer, even if it’s got a more mellow tone to it than the previous three.

For starters, consider this affair blasting off, with Allison and Noah consummating their relationship and going away on a day trip together. Like I said last time, this show is all about laying it on thick, and the fact that they are removing and isolating themselves on an island is sort of poetic. They both seem to be on the same, albeit seemingly unspoken, page that this trip is a significant development to their relationship.

What they don’t seem to be on the same page about, is what that means. They both know that they still love their families, and will never leave them. They’re aware that though some of the appeal is in not knowing the person they’re with (or more accurately being a blank slate to them). They are both under the impression that they are being pulled together by some sort of invisible string they can’t fight. But that doesn’t mean they’re not going to feel very unsynced in how they’re approaching that moment.

1031103_1_3406307_01_444x250But in an odd way, this is one of the most synced episodes we’ve seen yet. Their outfits stay the same and by the end they share a moment where they seem completely in tune, lost within each other.

It wasn’t only a way to avoid editorial redundancies, using the view switch as a pause rather than a rewind was a brilliant way to show sort of how Allison and Noah differed in their approach to sex: Noah, concerned that he was crossing a line he couldn’t uncross, that he may enjoy it even though he never wanted it to be permanent, and that he needed the validation that he was still a good guy even if he was stepping out on his wife. Allison, concerned that if she took the huge step to consummate her affair it would be the only thing that could make her feel better, feel removed from death, and also afraid that it wouldn’t do a damn thing. We go from watching Noah grapple with the uneasy excitement he feels directly to Allison’s anxious grief setting back in.

It seems odd and yet fitting, then, that the only part where they’re account noticeably differed was when they visited the sunken pirate ship look out. Noah, who remembers the discussion before the sex, remembers conversations around Peter Pan, and Allison’s childhood memories. Allison, who remembers the conversation during a break from their lovemaking, seems haunted by the wind whistling like a child crying out for his mother.

Given that Allison’s lost a kid, it makes sense that she’d be bothered, but why then would Noah remember it as Allison’s favorite place? It’s another example of just how out of sync their memories seem to be, even when they almost perfectly align. But it’s also a way of rooting these characters in the lives they can’t break out of, no matter how hard they try.