The Affair is trying to break us. That’s been it’s point all along, right? To emotionally devastate viewers so intensely that it’s impossible to bounce back? The show has always been heavy. It’s has portrayed difficult themes with an unflinching honesty. It’s not that Noah or Alison are heroes (in fact, much of how Noah especially conducts himself is repugnant), but there is still a magnetism to their relationship and the show that keeps bringing us back to the wreckage. Hit the jump for why “your pride cost you his life.”
Heavy doesn’t even begin to describe this episode, though. Both Noah and Alison’s stories were the definition of weight. Alison started her narration off with romance and hope; she and Noah met up, had sex multiple times (in his marital bed), and even went to look at an apartment together that would signify Noah’s slow movement away from his family. But when she sees the studio, she rightfully calls it out as a “stash pad” for a mistress. Though Noah berates her for not understanding the gravity of him leaving his wife and children, he also gives no thought to what Alison is giving up in her relationship with Cole, either.
Back in Montauk, Alison makes a spiral of bad decisions. She sees her future with Noah fading away, and she gives in to the most depressing possible outcome: sleeping with Oscar. Aside from the act itself, Oscar yielded even more bad news: the ranch was worth almost nothing. Her plans to take the cash and run are a dead end. After a confrontation with Cherry about her financial woes, Cherry lashes out at her brutally, and Alison leaves dazed, resorting to cutting again. But she went too deep, and ended up having a long talk with her doctor. Finally, we learned of the horrific circumstances surrounding Gabriel’s death, which led Alison to the water to die. But she came back from that brink, packed up her things, and went to the only place she saw hope: Noah.
Some of the threads that were planted all season about why Noah might feel so much hatred towards Scottie came together in “9,” with Whitney’s pregnancy and Noah’s discovery of Scottie as the father. Noah still seems like the Detective’s prime suspect, with his questions about Noah’s car and his lies about The End. “9” gave more reasons for motive, too. Though Noah doesn’t seem capable of such an act, he turned his life upside down in “9” in a way that could have him completely losing control at some point in despair. But for now, he told Helen he was leaving, she kicked him out, and he ran to his hope: Alison.
Cole, unexpectedly, showed up on that train platform, too, telling Alison that he would go away with her anywhere. (Interesting to note that while Noah came clean with Helen, Alison continued to lie to Cole about the reason she was going away). Noah’s appearance proved he has given up everything to be with her. So she disappears back on the train, just trying to run away from it all.
At times, The Affair can feel emotionally claustrophobic. Alison crying out in the doctor’s office to please let her take Gabriel to the hospital was beyond heartbreaking, and I felt viscerally like I wanted to escape from there, and from Noah and Helen’s room after he told her he was leaving. It was a relief, though, when she finally started screaming and breaking things. He deserved to see that the choice he has made is going to be awful and messy, and only the beginning of a painful journey for him. And, after Cole — who had already forgiven Alison for the affair — appeared ready to run away with her, away from his family, there was no choice for Alison but to escape as soon as Noah showed up. The trajectory of “9” was from idealism to raw reality, and nothing was more real than seeing her life choices standing there in front of her on the platform. Next week, we find out where she is going.
Episode Rating: A-
— There were some strange interludes in “9,” though, that I didn’t think connected that well. Everything with Whitney’s pregnancy just felt off, or too fast. Whitney is essentially a sociopath, but I still expected a little more out of an abortion storyline. Noah’s visit to Max, too, did highlight the incestuous absurdity of things (that Noah’s mistress’ brother-in-law impregnated Noah’s daughter), and gave Max a chance to explain to Noah why he shouldn’t let go of his family (which of course he does). But the suicide he witnessed felt odd. Though it mirrored the emotional devastation in Alison’s narrative, it felt extraneous to Noah’s story.
— Hotel clerk: “It’s the holidays, sir, and this is New York.” Noah: “It’s Brooklyn!” Hotel clerk: “Is there really a distinction anymore?”
— “Women are like stocks …” ohhh Max …
— “Your pride cost him his life. It should have been you” – Damn, Cherry. Another 180 that I’ve done with a character. I thought she was so cute and nice at the beginning of the series, but she is kind of a witch.
— TIL about secondary drowning. And it is horrific.
— “Going back to your husband? What does that even mean to you?” – Oscar. Fair question.
— “I put him to sleep” – Alison, with Emmy material. That scene was hard to bear.
— “I want your to get the fuck out of my house” – Helen. When she found the bra I almost died of sadness for her.
— “I love you, but I’ll die if I stay any longer. I don’t want to die” – Alison.