The Affair, Ep. 2.03-04, “203” and “204”

The Affair, Season 2, Episode 3: “203″
Written by Alena Smith
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck

The Affair, Season 2, Episode 4: “204″
Written by Anya Epstein
Directed by John Dahl
Airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on Showtime

The first two episodes of The Affair‘s second season expanded the scope of the show to examine how the affair and the ensuing separations and divorces were affecting the former spouses of the central duo. While not shifting to the children’s perspectives, the last two episodes have undoubtedly put the focus on them and how they’re coping, both with the newly exposed relationship that Alison and Noah are in, and with the changed behaviour of both Noah and Helen. The result has been a duo of compelling episodes that continues to effectively chart the fallout from the adulterous behaviour of Noah and Alison, while not losing sight of the reasons the two began an affair in the first place.

It’s interesting to note how, despite his divorce from Helen, much of Noah’s interactions with others are shaped by his time with her, whether willingly or unwillingly. Seeing Whitney’s entrance from his perspective indicates that Noah still sees himself as the saviour of their children, especially given that Margaret is living with Helen, no matter what others such as his sister have to say about the situation. However, when he’s in charge of his children, Noah proves to be as helpless as Helen herself. It will be intriguing to see how this gets affected as things progress. His interactions with his sons in the season premiere, as well as with Mark in the motel, indicate that the relationships are already becoming strained, and as the children spend more time with Helen and Margaret, that gulf is likely to grow wider, especially if Noah rushes his marriage to Alison. Noah’s reaction to Alison’s comments about Whitney will also be intriguing to view. Depending on Noah’s mood, he may lash out at Alison and claim the latter is trying to drive him away from his children, or he might see Whitney’s desire to reconnect with Scotty as further evidence of Helen and Margaret’s destructive influence. What direction he takes is likely to have a huge impact on both his relationship with Alison and his relationship with his children. And just like his marriage to Helen is affecting how Noah relates to his children, Max’s affair with Helen is affecting Noah as well. With Max now sustaining Noah so the divorce can go through faster, Noah’s discovery of their affair has a lot of potential, so how it plays out will be worth watching.

The Affair S02E04

It’s similarly interesting to see how Helen copes with having to deal with the children and the divorce. Her spiraling situation has been demonstrated before, but the lack of a stabilising force such as Max or Noah further proves the importance of such a figure in Helen’s life. From alienating the customers in her shop to causing the accident that injures her daughter, Helen is clearly spiraling at this point, to a degree that is affecting her life and the life of those around her. How far Helen falls, and what ultimately helps her climb out of the hole, will be worth seeing. With her behaviour already landing her in holding cells and causing bodily harm to her children, Helen will have to snap back fairly quickly, particularly if Noah follows through on trying to get full custody as a result of her behaviour. On the other hand, with Margaret trying to cope with her own divorce, and her children struggling with the separation, Helen doesn’t really have anyone to talk to about her situation, which is in turn causing her to bottle up her emotions. The importance of a human connection is clear for Helen at this point, and where and when she gets it will say a lot about how well she handles the divorce, and in turn, how Noah and Alison’s relationship ends up. If Helen can find a way to deal with her divorce, she might end up feeling more amicable towards Alison and Noah’s relationship, which in turn would open up the possibility of Alison becoming part of the family, rather than an alienating force.

Watching Alison adjust to life outside Montauk is also fascinating to watch. Her ongoing friendship with Rob and Yvonne is fascinating to watch in how it brings a degree of stability that Alison is seemingly unable to find even with Noah. Alison’s hesitation in telling Noah about Gabriel is a particularly stark note about their relationship, especially as Rob puts Alison enough at ease for her to confide in Rob after knowing him for a briefer period of time. While the duo are still married when Noah goes to trial for Scott’s death, and even have a child together, the strength of the union is put in serious doubt by the events transpiring over the course of the duo’s early days together. The absence of Noah’s children at his trial is also curious, for while it would be understandable that the younger children would be kept away from the court, both Whitney and Mark are old enough to be at the trial and support their father. Whitney’s absence in particular is odd, as her affair with Scott is the key driving reason behind Noah’s guilt, and the fact that none of the children seem to be present, despite Helen knowing of the trial and being there to secure a lawyer, points to a strained relationship that may be beyond repair. If that is the case, how the situation got to that point, and what part Noah’s relationship with Alison played in it, will be intriguing to see. It’s interesting to note how both Helen and Noah feel the divorce judge is being too harsh on them, much like how they both disliked the mediation lawyer for differing reasons, both of which prove that neither one is getting what they would like from the divorce proceedings. How everyone continues to cope, as well as how Cole, the most isolated of the four key players in the affair, is adjusting, will be worth looking out for as the season continues.




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