This week on The Affair: We almost get a good episode! At least one-half of one, that is! Maura Tierney continues to be slightly too good for this show and is making a character that feels half-written real and true.
Noah’s story: Noah is sitting in therapy. Not by choice. According to troubled teen Whitney, she needs her parents in the room. She notes that Helen puts pressure on her to be “perfect,” and then says that Dad, Noah, is miserable. Well, my teen has that right, Noah thinks. “You’re having an affair, Mom.” So close, Whitney. The therapist, already taking the last of Noah’s pocket money, suggests some couples therapy. Thank god Brooklyn beckons.
[Cut to Detective Framing Device, reading Noah’s book: “Descent.” A better title than “A Person Who Visits a Place,” right?]
At the Butler manse, Helen and Whitney fight. “Why do you always keep denying my reality?” Whitney asks. Other kid, troubled tween Martin, asks whether he can say goodbye to the Lockhart Ranch where he worked over the summer. Noah takes him over there, where that cowboy stud Cole instantly does the good dad thing for the kid, saying he has a job there next year as long as his grades are good. Alison pops up, looking at Noah, asking “That’s it?” He runs.
At the Butler House, the grandparents are fighting over a Vanity Fair article that gives too much credit to Mama Butler as the ghostwriter, since she “soothes Butler’s overwrought sentences into the genteel prose of his better work.” Noah runs away and leaves a note in Alison’s bike a The Lobster Roll, and Oscar pops up, threatening blackmail. The orange plot device wants $10,000. Back at the Butlers, grandma refuses to Skype and grandpa won’t say goodbye. Noah lets out his first real smile as he drives away with his kids and Helen.
Back in Brooklyn, Helen bitches about the boarders, who rusted her Le Creuset pan, and later, Noah can’t get it up to have sex with her. Something (or a $10,000 threat) is weighing on his mind, it seems.
The next day, Noah asks his finance bro friend Max — remember him? with the coke and the sadness and the recent singleton status? — for the money. He cuts a check, Noah admits that he had an affair, Max, a man of honor, says “Fuck you.”
Noah goes for a run in Prospect Park, collapses. Ends up in the hospital. Apparently stress caused it, and here Noah begs for absolution. He admits it. That he had an affair. Helen knew exactly who it was, Alison the waitress. When they get home, the kids cuddle around Noah. Helen remains separate, annoyed. Noah closes the blinds, ostentatiously.
In the bedroom, Noah and Helen have their first real conversation. Helen says “our marriage and our friendship is a lie.” Noah tries to explain that it was a case of having his first book out and having absolutely nothing come of it. He’s only potential to Helen, nothing else. He puts his forehead to Helen’s. They presumably do it.
The next day Oscar texts, looking for his money. Noah tells him to fuck off, and rips up the check. The damage is done.
[Detective Framing Device is driving around Montauk. He hits The End club at some point and asks about Noah. INTRIGUE!]
Alison’s Story: Remember me? The saddest girl in the world? I was working on the porch at the Lockhart Ranch when that awful Noah comes back with his troublesome son. I spied on Noah talking to Cole about his son, and he talks shit about his son because he’s the worst father and lover and person in the world. These are all facts, I believe.
When I bike to The Lobster Roll, I don’t get a final check from that carrott Oscar. I take some pies. It’s the best I can do. Oscar’s the only topic back at the Lockhart house anyways, now that he knows and is willing to talk about our drug deals.
In the kitchen with Cherry, she goes all spooky witch on me and tells me about how I was cheating on Cole. Turns out she found a note from Noah, in between the pies from The Lobster Roll. He is the worst. She tells me that I will never tell Cole about this, which is the exact point that I realize that Cole’s bound to find out, due to something that I can’t put my fingers on… parallelism? Storytelling? Bad luck? At dinner Scotty mentions a “little brunette” and it better have not been that slutty daughter of Noah’s.
We go to Oscar’s to instill some fear in the asshole, but he instead tells Cole that I’ve been fucking Noah. Back at the beach house, Cole turns to his one true friend, whiskey. I take a trip to my waitress friend’s house in Brooklyn. If only to get out of town.
You know what they have in the city? Google! It’s this crazy thing! You can find out exactly where somebody lives, or where they own their bougie Park Slope-y store of fair trade inessentials for the modern rich lady, and you can go there! So I stalk Helen and go to her store, and then I walk down Noah’s street like I’m singing “On the Street Where You Live,” but really I’m just being creepy. Then I get back to my friend’s house and Cole is there. Did he ride up on a horse?
The coke is gone, he says. He wants to know if Noah took the drugs. He calls Brooklyn hell, but I kind of like it. He gets weepy, knowing I fucked someone else. He puts something down on the sidewalk so I don’t get my dress dirty. Cole cries, says grief comes in waves, and then we’re interrupted — minor Lockhart brother is in the hospital in Montauk.
We take the long drive back home, and Cole’s different. He’s ready to sell the ranch. He goes to the hospital and tells his family his feelings. We leave holding hands, we go back to the shack, and we decide to try again. We’re going to make a baby.