The Affair, Season 2, Episode 9: “209″
Written by David Henry Hwang and Alena Smith
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
The Affair, Season 2, Episode 10: “210″
Written by Anya Epstein
Directed by Scott Winant
Airs Sundays at 10 pm ET on Showtime
Over the course of the The Affair‘s second season, both Alison and Cole have tried to move on from their marriage, with varying success. While Cole has buried himself in work and tried to separate himself from his family, Alison has attempted to build a lasting relationship with Noah despite some red flags. Over the past two episodes, however, both individuals have made major strides in their respective relationships as well as towards their own happiness. The results have been fascinating to watch as they have unfolded, with a lot of potential avenues for the story to go from here on out.
Alison’s unwillingness to bring Noah into her hospital room, and her subsequent return to studying to try and get into med school, is a strong culmination of the season-long examination of the duo’s relationship. Despite feeling alienated from Noah, even when the duo were living in Cold Spring prior to the publication of The Descent, Alison has forced herself to commit to the relationship in numerous ways, first by finding a place for them to live that puts Noah’s needs ahead of hers, and then selling her ancestral home in Montauk despite her reservations, and returning to Noah when she got pregnant despite her issues with how she’s portrayed in the book. Alison’s refusal to allow Noah into the room is the first time she’s taken a stand against him, and by extension her insistence on building a career for herself rather than simply taking care of the baby and being Noah’s plus one at events further proves that Alison is no longer willing to be reliant on anyone for her well-being, least of all Noah. How this affects their relationship will be worth keeping an eye on. The end of last season indicated that the duo were somewhat comfortable with each other, but Alison’s issues with the retention of Noah’s lawyer without her input proves that there’s still issues the duo are working through despite the presence of the baby. How Alison asserts herself in this newfound family will be key in how the dynamic between the duo proceeds, especially as she’s already having doubts about how well she can succeed in the medical profession. Noah’s actions, as well as Scotty’s pursuit of Alison, means that she has to find a way to carve her own niche, so whether her fear of trying and failing to stand alone overpowers her concern about what happens if it doesn’t will determine the course of her life.
Noah opening up to the therapist also reveals a lot about how he views himself. Despite missing the birth of his daughter to attend a party and possibly cheat on Alison, Noah clearly still sees himself as the tortured hero of his own story, an idea that seems to have been bred from having to sacrifice things to take care of his mother so many years ago. The fact that Noah had to take on the responsibility he feels should’ve been shared at the very least appears to be colouring his view of his current predicament, where he is frustrated that he’s being held accountable for behaviour he thinks others get away with. The lack of remorse Noah displays for being at the party when Alison was giving birth is very telling. Noah’s desire to live an unburdened life clashes directly with Alison’s desire to be independent, and it seemingly won’t be long before he gives up on the mutual care of the baby system that Alison seems to have devised. How that affects the relationship, and how Noah reacts when that happens, will be very telling. Despite feeling trapped in the relationship, as he practically admits in both his actions at the party and his discussion with the therapist, Noah clearly also feels some sense of obligation to try and make things work, especially given the deterioration of his relationship with Whitney. How far that obligation goes, however, and what action of Alison’s finally sets him off and makes him decide he’s done enough, will say a lot about who Noah fundamentally is.
Overall, these have been a compelling pair of episodes. It’s interesting to see Luisa’s reaction to Cole’s assertion that her infertility is part of his family’s curse, and hopefully the writers delve more into their relationship. The difference between the Cole who has a drink with Alison and the Cole who burns down the Montauk house is stark, and it’s clear that Luisa plays a key role in that, especially given Cole’s estrangement from his family. Charting how that difference comes about will be worth a watch, not only to see the change in Cole, but to determine how he feels about his brother at the time of Scotty’s death. Cole’s reaction to Alison’s assertion that Scotty is still a drug addict seems to indicate there’s little love lost between the two, and the fact that Cole doesn’t sit with the rest of the Lockharts in the courtroom only adds to that. However, the fact that Cole makes an appearance at the trial at all is very telling, especially given Luisa’s absence. It’ll also be interesting to chart how Cole finally moves on from his grief at losing Gabriel. Speaking of moving on, Helen’s relationship with Martin’s doctor is also an intriguing development, especially given how it seems to last. Their encounter before the hurricane seemed to suggest little love lost between the two, as Helen seems unsure of his true nature, but his presence at the trial suggests that he’s a supportive partner to Helen, especially since none of her children are present. How all the central relationships develop over the remaining episodes of the season will be worth keeping an eye on.