In “7,” The Affair (both proper noun and otherwise) had a reckoning. As I’ve noted all season, one of the things that makes The Affair so engaging, but also so difficult, is how real and natural its dialogue can feel. The fights and confrontations in “7” were hard to experience, even from a removed perspective, because they had in them such universal truths. And, while seemingly removed from one another for most of the episode, Alison and Noah’s stories both followed similar structures. Hit the jump for why “it’s the end of summer, are you heading back to Gotham soon?”
The parallels between the revelation of the affair were strikingly similar in both stories this week. For Noah, it was Oscar’s threats that led him to confide in Max and ask for the $10,000 loan (or gift, really, as there’s no way Noah could pay him back). Max advised him not to tell Helen, because that would be selfish and wouldn’t benefit anybody, but after a panic attack caused him to faint on a run, he blabs everything (of course; though honestly, it was surprising). Helen, for her part, handled it with surprising frankness and forgiveness (she didn’t kick him out or make him sleep in a separate room … yet).
Alison’s story was nearly the same. Oscar, again, played a pivotal role in outing the affair to Cole, which Cole confronted her about later with (like Helen) surprising frankness and forgiveness. He didn’t kick her out, either, but she chose to leave and visit her waitress friend in NYC, where she (like Noah) confided in her about the affair. Whereas Cole’s mother (like Max) had told Alison not to tell Cole, that ship sailed the night they went to Oscar’s. Instead, her friend suggested they go to Helen’s store where, improbably, Alison and Helen actually spoke, before Alison wandered around to their house, and saw their family embracing (and Noah closing the drapes on her).
It surprised me that the truth came out so completely so quickly after the affair ended, but I suppose that the Butler’s marital troubles to start the episode should have been foreshadowing. Bruce pretended he was the only reason his books are successful, whereas his wife really had a significant hand in it. “They just observed the truth,” she says to him as he flies into a rage. But she refuses to leave the house; “why, so he can shack up here with his mistress?” Maybe that had some bearing on Helen and Cole’s reactions, too. If they held on, maybe they could keep their significant other and not lose them to this other person.
What’s interesting now is how the show will progress from here. Noah is back in Brooklyn, and both spouses know of the infidelity, but the show is nowhere near over. Instead, now it’s morphed into a deeper family drama. Noah and Helen dealt, in part of the episode, with Whitney acting out and accusing them of things (she was right in some ways, just wrong in her specifics), while Cole and Alison rush the hospital to see Hal, who has gotten himself beaten up by drug dealers when he tried to sell them back the cocaine. The Lockharts are now facing the possibility of selling their ranch, and what that will mean for their family, just like how the Solloways are having to face how the revelation of the affair will affect their family. For Cole and Alison, a last-minute decision to start trying to have another baby seems like a hasty patch for them that may quickly backfire.
The Affair remains difficult, entrancing television. The affair itself seems like it may not be over, but if it is, what then? Either way, how will things progress? We still have the detective sniffing around, reading Noah’s book, asking about The End and whether or not Noah was ever there. We don’t yet know how this all ties in to Scottie’s death, though, but it just adds another layer to an already very dense saga.
Episode Rating: A
— “Why do you keep denying my reality?!” – Whit. Has a more teenaged thing ever been said? I definitely said that, or something similar, so much at that age. Sorry, parents.
— “You poor deluded bastard” – Grandma Butler.
— “You can Skype, Grandma.” “I can’t, and I won’t.”
— Max cracked me up during his brief part in this episode, especially when he just started working out in his office and said “getting huge!”
— Ahhhh the heart strings when Helen said in one way she wanted Noah to tell her every detail, because she’s used to knowing everything that happens to him. Same thing when Cole explained to Alison how he learned to deal with pain, but it didn’t work with Gabriel, and everything just keeps getting worse.
— I’m quite curious what Noah’s note said.
— “He’d fuck another guy’s wife, but draws the line at theft? Sounds like a regular fucking Samaritan” – Cole, who, I can’t believe how much I like him compared to the first episodes.
— “The plan was to leave Sunday, I’m calibrated for that! My nails are wet!!” – Whitney.