The Affair, Ep. 1.08: “8″ reveals old and new emotional wounds

Dominic West, Ruth Wilson
Dominic West, Ruth Wilson

The Affair, Season 1, Episode 8: “8″
Written by Dan LeFranc and Melanie Marnich
Directed by Ryan Fleck
Airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on Showtime

The end of summer brought with it a number of revelations for both Noah and Alison, culminating in both of them revealing the affair to their respective spouses, with varying results. Combined with Noah breaking things off with Alison following the discovery of her drug dealing, as well as Cole finally agreeing to sell off the ranch, seemed to put both parties on the road towards reconciling their marriages. This week’s episode picks up four months after the end of summer, as Noah and Alison reconnect once again amidst a number of individual difficulties, in another compelling episode that reopens the door for the affair.

Watching Noah’s life in the aftermath of the exposure of his affair is fascinating. Much of the show to date has focused on Noah’s life in Montauk, and while that has given the audience a better look at Noah’s mindset as he engages in adultery, his decision to break things off with Alison just as his time in Montauk ended suggested that the affair was more of a distraction from dealing with Helen’s family. Watching Noah in Brooklyn, however, makes it clear that the family’s issues are more deep-seated, and Noah’s issues, by extension, also continue to plague him in Brooklyn. While the circumstances of Noah’s marriage to Helen have been revealed before, hearing Helen’s perspective on why she married Noah also adds an interesting layer to their relationship dynamic. While it’s clear that Noah and Helen do love each other, to a degree, Helen’s admission this week indicates that perhaps not as much love was lost between the two as was previously indicated, pointing to Helen’s feelings about her father as the source of her feelings of betrayal regarding Noah’s affair. With these issues now asserting themselves more firmly, it will be interesting to see how Noah reacts. While the idea of retreating back into an affair with Alison isn’t off the table, Noah is much more informed this time around, both with regards to Alison’s life, and to how Helen and the children respond to his adultery. Noah’s conversation with Bruce could sway him in either direction. On one hand, it seems to be the first time Bruce treats Noah with a modicum of respect. However, Noah has been reluctant to take help and advice from Bruce in the past, which means the possibility of Noah doing the opposite of what Bruce suggests isn’t out of the question. What direction he takes will say a lot about where Noah’s priorities lie, considering how things turned out at the end of the summer.

Ruth Wilson, Dominic West
Ruth Wilson, Dominic West

Alison’s life since the summer presents a different picture. Unlike Noah, the reasons for Alison’s infidelity were a lot clearer, which in turn made it easier for her and Cole to work through their issues. With her marriage now on more stable ground, as well as the imminent possibility of a fresh start on the horizon, Alison is in a more emotionally secure place this time around than she was at the beginning of the summer, and has seemingly also managed to deal with her grief over losing Gabriel. The loss of her grandmother, however, opens up another avenue in which Noah is the only one capable of providing support to Alison. With her mother’s sudden departure and general unreliability, Alison can only turn to the Lockharts or Noah to help with the passing of her grandmother. Noah is the only person who is capable of fully understanding what Alison is going through, even if Cole and the rest of the Lockharts weren’t preoccupied with the renovation and sale of the ranch, and their mother’s potential ailing health. Thus, how Alison proceeds from here on out will be very telling. If Alison chooses to once again delve into an extramarital affair with Noah, it may indicate the presence of stronger feelings for him, feelings that aren’t necessarily tied up with other events in her life. While Noah may be the one person who has a shared experience with Alison, he is not the only one Alison can turn to for support at this time. Despite their preoccupations, the Lockharts have proven themselves capable of rallying around a family member in the past, and are unlikely to abandon Alison during her time of need now. Thus, going back to Noah would be a choice, and if Alison does make that choice, what the consequences are will be worth keeping an eye on.

Overall, the season has continued to be a strong one, and the move from summer to winter has done nothing to diminish the impact of the story. Noah and Alison continue to be fascinating characters to watch, and it’s interesting to see Noah’s fragile relationship with his father-in-law make some progress this week. It’s curious to note that Alison’s recollection of the end of the day noticeably differs from Noah’s, as a declaration of love is something a person, especially someone like Noah, is unlikely to forget about. With both individuals out of interrogation, Noah has no reason to obfuscate the facts about the relationship either, which puts Alison’s memory in a very curious place, and it will be interesting to see which declaration of love Noah remembers. The detective’s investigation into Scott’s murder is also proving to be a compelling story thread. With Alison and Scott on genial terms, and Noah and Scott seemingly not bearing any animosity towards each other, the Detective’s insistence on trying to establish their story indicates that there may be more to Montauk than is being revealed by either party. Particularly with Noah’s suspicions of Oscar appearing to not be unfounded, the fact that the Detective is still on the duo does suggest that Scott’s involvement with one or both of them is imminent. How that potential involvement plays out, as well as how Noah and Alison deal with each other now that they’re geographically apart, will be worth tuning in for as the first season draws to a close.

– Deepayan Sengupta

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