Things took a hard turn in The Affair‘s “6,” as Noah (and viewers) discovered some new things about the Lockharts and their business interests. The recollections also differed wildly again, and there was no present day perspective given. While in past episodes, difficult truths have been met with compassion, the things uncovered in “6” only drove Noah further away, while Alison stood fast. Hit the jump if you worry that I’m just a really great dream.
Some of you have mentioned how Noah and Alison appear to lack all discretion with their affair, and that surely, on such a small island, that would lead to them being found out. How did Noah really think, for instance, that he and Alison could be at a party together, and not have anyone notice? Noah didn’t even bother with a cover story, which complicated things after Helen invited Max — Noah’s best friend — to have lunch with them. Max recognizes Alison at the Lobster Roll, and Noah jumps in about her being married. Helen seems to put it together that Noah was out without Max, talking to Alison, and not being forthcoming about his whereabouts, but she doesn’t press it further. Instead, in another scene, she worries about their lack of intimacy.
Max, meanwhile, seems like another living warning sign for Noah that he ignores. Max is desperate and sad, lamenting about losing his wife, Val, to divorce, and his kids as well. The same could be true for Noah in the future, but it’s not his marriage or Alison’s that wake him up to the harm of the affair, but Alison’s involvement with drug dealing. Also, he fails to see any irony in his feeling betrayed by her lack of disclosure.
What’s always interesting about The Affair is the what links up and what doesn’t in the memories, and what those in/consistencies mean in a larger sense. Noah recalls telling Alison that though they are leaving in a week, he can make excuses to return. But in hers, he tells her that because they’re leaving in a week, then things have to be over, so they might as well be over now.
In both sets of narratives, Noah and Alison feel thrown off talking about the other in the presence of their spouse. Noah defends Alison in front of Helen, by telling Max she’s married and to lay off. Alison tells Martin she doesn’t think being a teacher is lame, while Cole chimes in that maybe Martin just thinks Noah is lame because he is his dad. Later, she also slanders Helen as being an absentee parent. Martin, also, oddly decides to let the new mare loose to run away, even after he had slept in the barn to help with her that morning. It’s a weird melding of worlds that shows how the two stories are starting to overlap, often in uncomfortable ways.
Just like Max (unknowingly) makes trouble for Noah with his family, Alison crumbles at the fact that Oscar has put her affair with Noah together, and could use it against her at any time to wound her, Cole, and the family. But there’s another layer as well: the drugs. That drug subplot was alluded to in an earlier episode, but something about it taking center stage in “6” felt off. Here, the Lockharts are moving kilos of cocaine on the island, and are more than just small-time operators. Cole is looking to make up $100k in debt that the ranch has incurred, and yet, none of them are willing to consider the possibility of selling it.
For Alison’s part, she at first says she doesn’t care if she’s arrested (“I don’t care if I live or die, go to jail or to space”), but later, begs Cole for them to stop with the drugs. She wants to change, she wants to move on, and the only way out that she sees is with Noah, or even possibly with Cole, if they leave the island, but she’s rebuffed by both.
“6” also set Oscar up as being a foe to just about everyone. Cole decides to settle with him and allow him to have his bowling alley permit, thinking that him calling the police is him posturing for that. Another brother suggests doing something to him “so he won’t try again,” but Cole dismisses it. Still, Scotty was violent with Oscar when he came by to collect the money Oscar owed him for drugs, and it was in retaliation that Oscar phoned (or pretended to phone) the police. Does Scotty take things too far at some point, causing Oscar to actually kill him? Or is there more to it?
Just like “5,” “6” was an engrossing hour. But it also felt disjointed, or out of sync. Noah and Alison’s relationship seemed to both progress in huge leaps, and also regress just as far. It left Noah wanting out, and Alison wanting all-in. It will be fascinating to see how that rights itself, or topples completely, next week.
Episode Rating: A-
— The introduction (or non-introduction) of Max also felt odd. While I applaud the fact that the show didn’t shove the exposition of their friendship backstory down our throats, it felt underdeveloped. Did Noah invite Max there? Does he always go there? Why did Noah not feel able to tell him the truth about the affair if they are best friends? Noah didn’t have a problem with Max buying drugs, but can’t abide Alison selling them? Etc.
— Max did set up the cocaine story, though, which Noah followed up on by asking his daughter Whit where to buy cocaine!
— Alison having to lie about her personally overhearing Oscar call the cops, when really she was taking Noah’s word for it, was so insanely intense. I could feel her panic with her as it started to unravel — Ruth Wilson was particularly incredible in those scenes.
— I find it hard to believe Alison wouldn’t notice Noah’s giant red minivan creeping up behind her on dirt roads.
— Whit’s story about the Butlers’ open marriage during Vietnam, though!
— Noah: “Sometimes I worry you’re just a really great dream.” Alison: “Well don’t wake up now.”
— Alison is so confident and seductive in Noah’s eyes, but so hurt and furtive in her own. Noah is more or less the same in both versions, ha.
— “Your parents are aliens from a planet where marriages work” – Max.
— Noah running back to Helen to have afternoon sex with her after he found out about Alison was essentially, “well I was bored with you, but now I’m just happy you’re not a drug dealer!”
— “I’ve been married long enough to know not to compare my wife to a horse, but she does remind me of you. She’s majestic, she’s stubborn, and she likes apples” – Cole, who is becoming a favorite now.
— Noah basically ripped out my heart as well when he was so cold to Alison at the end of episode, GAH!
— “There is no moving on” – Cole.