The Affair, Season 2, Episode 5: “205″
Written by Sharr White
Directed by Laura Innes
The Affair, Season 2, Episode 6: “206″
Written by David Henry Hwang
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
Airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on Showtime
While the first season of The Affair focused on the relationship between Noah and Alison and what drove them towards cheating in the first place, the show’s second season has focused more on how the characters deal with the aftermath. While Helen and Cole have both spiralled from the abrupt dissolution of their marriages, the two have begun to come to terms with the change in their life, just as Noah and Alison hit a rough patch in theirs as they get to know each other better, in a compelling pair of episodes.
Alison’s reaction to Yvonne and Noah’s book this week is the biggest evidence to date of her difficulty in adjusting to life outside Montauk. When Alison was in Montauk, everyone there knew her, as she had grown up in the town, and was familiar with her as a person. Her move away from Montauk, however, means that not only does she have to form new relationships, but how people perceive her is now filtered through Noah, as she is reliant on his acquaintances for her new life, meaning that their views of her is filtered through him. This is only likely to get exacerbated, as it’s clear that Noah’s portrayal of Alison in his novel makes her uncomfortable, and its publication will only open it up to a wider audience. It’s perfectly understandable that seeing herself portrayed as a homewrecking nymphomaniac would cause Alison to seek solace in the comforts of Cole and Athena. It will be particularly interesting to see how Alison deals with the novel’s ending that Cole envisions. The implication of Alison being a destructive element in Noah’s life that he eventually rids himself of is a hard one to ignore, especially as it comes on the heels of Alison telling Noah she’s pregnant, thus binding them together. As it’s clear that Alison is still with Noah when the latter goes to trial, she doesn’t leave him, but there’s clearly some strife between the two, as seen with Alison’s reaction to Noah’s lawyer. How Alison deals with Noah’s books will thus say a lot about their relationship, not only from Alison’s perspective, but from Noah’s perspective as well.
Watching how the divorce is taking its toll on Helen has also been fascinating to see. While Noah’s strife with Margaret has been well-documented, Helen herself has not been on the best of terms with her mother, as brief moments have shown, and it makes perfect sense that she’d lean on her family when her life seems to be falling apart. Her mother’s destructive influence, however, has always been apparent, starting from when she encouraged Whitney to lose more weight, and Margaret’s impending divorce only brought out more of those tendencies. Helen finally tossing Margaret from the house, while taking away her two main sources of support in her mother and Max in quick succession, also proves that Helen is finally starting to move away from the forces keeping her stagnant and proving to be her downfall in the process. How Helen handles things from here on out will say a lot about her. Her willingness to both admit that Noah’s a good father, and acquiesce to his desire for co-custody suggests that Helen’s finally ready to move on with her life beyond the end of her marriage to Noah, which is sure to inform her actions from here on out. At the same time, however, she will also have to be mindful of the children, and without the help of Max or Margaret, she’ll have to take on more of the burden herself, with less of a possibility of escape or reprieve. How that weighs on her will surely affect her relationship with Noah, and may also impact her relationship with her children as well.
Overall, these have been a strong pair of episodes. Cole’s story also gathers some steam with the revelation of Scott’s plan and his continued drug trafficking. It’s clear that the loss of the ranch has made the remaining members of the Lockhart family more desperate, and the fact that they own the crab shack when Noah goes on trial for Scott’s murder suggests that the family does get a cash infusion from somewhere. Where it comes from, and at what cost, will say a lot about Cole and the Lockharts in general, especially if the rift between Cole and Scott continues to grow. Noah’s story also takes an intriguing turn this week. While his story has become the least compelling perspective, the revelation this week of a reconciliation with Helen followed by strife with Alison suggests a change that could be character-defining. If his difficulties with Alison cause Noah to pursue or fall back into the arms of Helen, the type of person he is will be made abundantly clear. If, on the other hand, he tries to make it work with Alison, then that will prove the strength of the relationship. How all four participants deal with the news of Alison’s pregnancy is likely to be the next key turning point in their lives, and it’ll be exciting to chart how they handle the news.