THE AFFAIR Recap: “5”

     November 9, 2014

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Last week, in “4,” The Affair tinkered with its structure slightly by not replaying the events of the episode through the lens of both characters (for the most part).  It showed a growing cohesion in their recollections, that things maybe weren’t so dramatically different as in prior episodes.  In “5,” The Affair again shook things up slightly by starting with Alison’s narrative instead of Noah’s, and also allowing for even more solo moments for each, that just reinforced what a shelter their relationship has become in those few times of togetherness.  Hit the jump for why “we came to the end of our story.”

the-affair-3-dominic-west-ruth-wilsonThe most important piece of the murder mystery so far was dropped in “5,” with the revelation that it was Scottie who was killed, not Cole.  This had been foreshadowed in a few ways already on The Affair, with Scottie seeming to have hostile or questionable relationships with several characters, including Alison, Whitney, and Oscar.

It is Oscar, though, who becomes a leading suspect in “5,” not only because of the long-standing feud between his family and the Lockharts (explored more fully in previous episodes), but also because of his connection to Noah, Alison, and Scottie.  Oscar seems to have pieced together some part of Noah and Alison’s relationship, but while he has proven himself to be lecherous in Alison’s memories, Noah’s perception of him in “5” added an even more obnoxious, incendiary and unstable side.  Why was he trying to push a friendship with Noah? And what was with the repeated use of the word “douche”?

The Affair has dealt with, and continues to deal with, questions of money and privilege, which also relate to Oscar and the rest of “5.”  The Lockharts and the Butlers are rich, and Oscar’s family is not.  He tries to buddy up to Noah as a “regular guy” like he is, but later feels betrayed by Noah throwing him out.  Noah and Helen had several fights about money, and its connection not only to them owing her parents something, but also the way it has warped their family’s values.  Noah assures Alison early in the episode that he didn’t grow up rich, which he felt compelled to say in order to bond with her more.

the-affair-pilot-ruth-wilson-dominic-westThe rest of “5” was one of The Affair‘s best and most difficult episodes yet, because so much of it felt real (to be fair though, most of the show has a very grounded sense to it).  Details like Alison pitching in to help Noah pay for their room last week, and Noah asking her about birth control this week, are never things that get included in a sweeping romance; but they are there.  Alison’s struggles with her mother over her grandmother’s medication were particularly heartbreaking, and Athena’s entire presence paid less as comic relief and more as a way to reveal other, difficult truths.  Her fight with Cole, for instance, and the reality of Alison choosing him and his family because hers left her without any sense of stability, told a lot about them all.  Noah’s fights with Helen, particularly the last one, stung from the echoes of the kinds of fights everyone has over things that everyone faces, in one way or another.

When Noah runs off to see Alison, it’s clear how much they both need each other.  But the rest of “5” also showed the depths of their selfishness.  Noah chastises Whitney (another great set of scenes) about the consequences of her actions, and the hurt they’ve caused others.  He’s so wrapped up in his righteous indignation that he is unable to see the hypocrisy in his words.  Later, when he does recognize the irony of telling her to “just stop,” he doesn’t take any larger lesson from it, fighting with Helen and running back to Alison.  Don’t forget, though, of the many examples of Noah’s idealism — he wants to run away to Sonoma, and leave his family behind, not seeming to internalize that it is fantasy (and one he may not be so quick to embrace once it becomes reality).

One of the major missing pieces of The Affair are the current lives of Noah and Alison.  Are they together?  Who are they with?  And the purposefully vague speech given the characters is frustrating. The Affair‘s murder plot is really its weakest part at the moment, which an episode like “5” really highlights.  Everything about “5” was so engrossing from all perspectives, and isn’t clear about how things might (or might not) resolve on the emotional side.  The murder isn’t even a consideration during the rest of the episode, and the moments that cut to the detective are jarring, as I supposed they’re designed to be.  He, and his interrogation, represent the real world, not the reverie of romantic memory.  Scottie is dead, and it wasn’t an accident.

the-affair-3-dominic-westEpisode Rating: A

Musings and Miscellanea:

— Now that the interrogations seem to be complete, I’ll be interested what we see next in the present-day timeline.  More from the detective, or from Alison and Noah’s lives?

— Another clue, Alison said she lives in the city now.  Also, she still goes by her maiden name.

— I started out really not liking Cole, but he’s growing on me with every episode.  I love the repressed and sad way he commented to Alison that he loved that dress on her, after catching her in a lie about wanting to go back to sleep.

— Cole’s mom is the best, and Alison’s is kind of the worst.  I loved how Athena bonded with Mary Kate, though, of course.

— I like how in many ways, Alison and Noah are just dating.  It’s weird, in a good way.

— I have a feeling that the murder is going to have a lot of complications that make Alison and Noah somehow culpable on some level.

— All of the confrontations Noah has with his family are just so good, I just have to keep expressing how natural they feel (which is what makes them so horrifying to watch).

— Alison: “So you broke up.”  Athena: “We … came to the end of our story.”

— I have a feeling that the fight over selling the ranch is going to become part of the murder plot, too.

— “I’ll keep you company why you wait, that way you won’t look like such a douche” – Oscar.

— Was the AAA guy kinda hitting on Noah?

— That final sex scene (again) …

— “How do I un-asshole myself??” – Whit.

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