The Affair, Ep. 1.10: “10″ brings everyone’s feelings into the open

Maura Tierney, Dominic West
Maura Tierney, Dominic West

The Affair, Season 1, Episode 10: “10″
Written by Sarah Treem
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
Airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on Showtime

Noah and Alison both walking out on their families last week represented the culmination of several strains on both their individual marriages, of which the affair was only one. With both of them confronting the source of their unhappiness and extricating themselves from it, this week’s season finale focuses on the aftermath of their decision, in a strong finish to the season that sees the fight between the Lockharts and the Soloways come to a head.

It’s intriguing to watch Helen and Noah’s relationship in light of their separation last week. While Noah has been honest in the past about why he married Helen, this episode provides some insight into why Helen married Noah, shedding some more light on the relationship in the process. It has been clear before that Helen felt the betrayal of Noah’s affair much more deeply because of what happened with her parents, but her reveal this week that she needs Noah for the relationship indicates that love was not the only factor for her either. With Helen’s hatred and her need for Noah both out in the open, how their relationship evolves will be interesting to see. It’s clear that the separation and the change in feelings the duo have towards each other is affecting the children. While Noah does express an obligation towards the kids to several people, it’s clear that he’s not willing to take them, especially given the way his private life goes this week. However, Helen also admits that she’s unable to deal with the kids on her own, which means the two are likely to form an uneasy alliance for the sake of their children until they have another option. How Helen and Noah deal with the Lockharts from now on also promises to be compelling. Noah is clearly torn about his affections, with his positive feelings towards Alison wrestling with his negative feelings towards Scott and Cole, and he may soon have to decide which aspect wins out. What he decides on may be key in determining if he had anything to do with Scotty’s death. Helen, on the other hand, is clearly resentful of the Lockharts for both the actions of Alison and Scotty, and as events progress, how much she blames them for everything that happened during the summer will go a long way in determining her actions as well.

Kaija Matiss, Ruth Wilson
Kaija Matiss, Ruth Wilson

The stark difference in how Alison and Noah spend their time apart is also very telling. Alison’s desire to spend time away from both Noah and Cole, and instead reconnect with her mother, is perhaps the clearest indicator that she’s truly done with life in Montauk. While incidents like the cutting had established her mindset before, her decision to walk away represents a major shift in her thinking. Similarly, Alison’s decision to stay away from Noah proves the truth behind her assertion that the separation from Cole was not because of Noah, but for herself. It’s interesting to note that the marriage between Cole and Alison seems less reparable than the one between Helen and Noah, and the reasons for both revolve around children. It’s clear that, despite Cole’s pleas, the memory of Gabriel is still too raw in Alison’s mind to consider anything other than a clean break, which effectively dooms their relationship. Cole’s seeming misunderstanding of how big a part Noah played in the proceedings is undoubtedly also having an effect on Alison’s decision. With the end of the episode revealing that Alison finds her way back to Noah, how events play out between the past and present promises to be fascinating. While Alison has declared her love of Noah before, this episode proves that his presence is not a necessity in her life, which would mean that her return to Noah would come from a choice, rather than an obligation or the pursuit of a feeling. The confirmation that the kid in question is Noah’s and Alison’s also opens up another intriguing angle, proving that the Alison we see in the present is someone who has managed to put the grief and insecurity of losing Gabriel behind her. How she manages to do that, and what role Noah plays in that, will go a long way towards sketching out the current state of their relationship.

Overall, this is a strong finish to an excellent first season. It’s interesting to note the differing ways in which Noah and Alison’s acquaintances react to their individual separations. While Noah’s agent expresses envy over his new statue, Alison’s friend experiences regret over her own single state. If Noah had a friend like Phoebe, someone who had been unmarried for a long time, how his own perception of his marriage would have changed could have been fascinating to watch. The differing reactions the duo get from their own family also says a lot. While Noah’s children are clearly angry at him for cheating on their mother, Mary Kate’s harsh words towards Alison revolve around what she perceives as Alison’s abandonment of the family, rather than the adultery. The obligation aspect of this issue shows up with regards to Noah throughout the season as well, and the pressures created by this undoubtedly played a part in both individuals drifting away from their family. Helen’s assertion that Noah didn’t give her an opportunity to meet his shifting needs is particularly compelling, and it once again illustrates the divide in the affection between Helen and Noah, particularly when the latter thinks of Alison when asked whether he misses his wife. It’s interesting to note that Noah’s version of events makes Cole’s attempted violence seem more justified than Alison’s version, when the opposite would have been expected. It’s also intriguing to see that Noah’s professional problems, and his detention for adults-like condition is what gives him the push he needs to finish his novel. With the Lockharts having now formally lost the ranch, and Alison and Noah both out of Montauk, what causes Scotty’s death, as well as how the duo rebuild their lives in the wake of both their families’ collapse, both promise to be storylines worth watching for when the show returns for a second season.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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