This week on The Affair: apparently, it’s still going! And the “two different sides of the story” conceit grows more nonsensical and leaden with boredom by the minute. We want to learn just what love is, whether it’s the love you have with your wife or the love you have with the sexy young thing you’ve been giving it to; obviously, the latter is far more deserving of the amorphous cloud of pheromones that we like to call “luv.”
Elisabeth’s Story: GOT YOU, everyone! Now you’re going to hear, from the horse’s mouth, just what this show entails. (And when I say horse, I mean like a stallion, tamed and mounted by Joshua Jackson like he’s playing Cole on this show.) Or maybe you will if I ever find my notebook where I took wonderful, thorough notes on this episode, although I think it got swallowed up by my Christmas tree. Did you know the show likes to have slight parallelism between Noah and Alison’s experiences every week? They sure do!
We open on chilly Brooklyn. Noah is teaching Romeo and Juliet to apathetic teens. Is this supposed to make me like him? I still don’t, guys. Snow is on the ground. Annoying Teen #2 is all “I can’t do school anymore” and Noah’s like, “You have to keep it real in public school so you can be a full person even if it sucks.” At couples counseling, Noah and Helen are at odds, with Noah showing visible chagrin, like a little boy. He feels like he’s paid his dues, of course. He got Helen a gift and she refused it.
Helen, on the other hand, makes the most magnificent, cutting, Gorgon speech she could make: she says, I could’ve had anyone — and you believe it — and she then explains why she chose Noah. He was safe. He was stable. He would be in debt to her for money and position, so in some ways, she would always have the upper hand; and he would be a great father to her kids. It’s a fascinating speech, brutal in its honesty, full of the complications and the choices that we make in love and life, and Maura Tierney gives it layers. (She is doing such a wonderful job in such a thankless role.) Like all Gorgons, Helen has Noah’s creativity by the balls. He hasn’t been writing. He’s been too busy trying not to be a shit.
That night, Noah gets out of town to be the token family representative from the Butler family at Bruce Butler Gets a Convenient Award Award Night in Montauk. Frosty grandma is currently estranged from Butler pere; the two writers have an awkward time together making nice so it looks like the author of Castle of Man, currently weary and rocking a cane, emphysema, I think, has people in his life that love him.
And who happens to be at the ceremony but Alison, cater-waitering. Noah, the dope, sees it as a sign: maybe he can write again if he gets his muse back into his life. Butler, naturally, supports it, by discussing his long-term mistress and how she was the sun, moon, and stars, and most importantly, his muse, and she was the reason that he wrote (even if, according to Vanity Fair, evil grandma has been ghostwriting him). Also maybe Butler is secretly poor and true, just like Noah? Reveals!
Alison has an emergency and needs a ride to the hospital, where her beloved grandma who was like her real ma dies, and only in that sort of grief-stricken, dramatic situation, does Noah realize the real truth: he is totally in love with this girl.
[Doopy doop doop: here comes Detective Framing Device, attending a reading for Noah’s new book, a best-seller that’s already sold the movie rights! Look at how crowded this book reading is! Thank goodness Noah got his groove back, am I right?]
Out in snowy Montauk, Alison’s life is a little bit better than Noah’s, because she’s legitimately good at appreciating her super hot husband. Even if buying into the whole Lockhart family means that you are, in essence, a Braverman: part of a cult, never allowed to be on your own, with the easy bosom of support that can turn into chains (or reigns, I guess, since they own a horse farm) at the slightest buck.
What is sad Alison sadly sadding up to this week? Hospital time with her grandma and her estranged, hippie-awful mother. Night falls and she’s cater-waitering, she needs to get back to the hospital. It’s up to Noah to save the day! He takes her over there, and sticks around. He sees her sleeping. He loves her so much. They talk some real talk about death and grief and grandmas and little boys. When he takes her home, he’s all like I love you, and she’s all like I love you too and maybe it’s on again, who knows? (Actually, I do, and it’s not an ending, let’s say. I don’t know how you could possibly see it as such.)
[Blam! Detective Framing Device is so good at his job. He’s at Scotty Lockhart’s long-delayed funeral. Delayed because of… POLICE WORK? Alison is in the audience, hair bobbed, far away from the family. Again he’s at The End, checking to see whether or not Noah checked in, and going hard.]
The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum wrote perhaps the greatest diss of The Affair in this week’s issue: “But to be more than date-night fodder, The Affair would have to loosen up and admit that it’s pulp, not a book-club selection called The Gloaming.” Agreed! Let’s meet here next week and talk about the last two episodes, and place some bets on whether or not we get to see Joshua Jackson shirtless again. Please, Affair creators, don’t let me down.