Everybody Knows Everything
The Affair Season 1 Episode 10 finale recap
Noah’s in the rubber room with Elvin from The Cosby Show. How’s your weekend?
I couldn’t breathe most of the time that I was watching this finale because where are we going? Where in time are we? Who are these breathtakingly honest people who still manage not to be too earnest, except when they’re being cringe-inducingly naked about their feelings?
There were enough gasps in this hour to make me hang on with bated breath, and there were certain scenes that really sold it. I’m officially bored of Noah Solloway banging the ladies, because it’s a little boring, but man, I could watch Alison and Cole go six rounds on dissolving their marriage any old time.
The show Rashomons all over the place, in time to get Noah into the rubber room and Alison to an Athena-endorsed yoga retreat and for him to make deals with the tow truck driver and Alison to reconnect with a friend we’ve never seen before. Sure, we get it, time is passing. The memories are divergent and there were times when Noah and Alison weren’t living intertwining lives at all.
Here are the things I think, now that we’re at the end of season 1 and we know everything and nothing:
1) We’ve been cheated by being shown that Noah and Allison are happy together (and that ‘she’ is asleep). Because what did they actually have in common? What did they build a new life on, other than being trapped by their old families and their old lives? It’s not that I think it absolutely couldn’t be done, but the show has now proven to me that it has worked – and I think a lot of the tension is going to come out of it when we pick up next season, because we know they were happy, at least up to the arrest.
2) Would the season had been different if it hadn’t been pinned on Whitney?
If I were writing this show and the plotline involved a 30 year old man who was screwing around with a sixteen year old, I would want the most mature sixteen year old actress I could find so that I wouldn’t be grossing out and horrifying everyone. But the fact that Whitney is so incredibly self-assured does the show a strange kind of disservice – she is compelling to watch and to look at, nobody’s denying that, but I have trouble feeling Noah and Helen’s anxiety about protecting her because everything about her reads as a sophisticated 25. (For what it’s worth, Julia Goldani Telles is 19.)
3) Knowing that all the Lockharts are in complete and total disarray – that Cherry lied to everyone, that they lost the ranch, that Scotty is getting himself in trouble, and that MK’s travel and riches dreams are dashed (and let’s be honest, she’s heartbroken that she’s losing a sister-in-law buddy) – Alison is callous as hell in her own memory. She knows she’s coming in to cut ties and get out, and she sees how much pain it gives everyone, and she does it anyway. She sees Cole threaten her lover and how much pain everyone is in, and she saves Cole from himself, yeah, but she ultimately chooses Noah and maybe she knows she’s going to, even in the moment.
Noah sure as hell does. Because how can he come back from his mother-in-law thinking he’s an asshole and his daughter (and wife) thinking he’s a sociopath? Where’s the redemption there when they’re just going to look at you with contempt or, at best, tolerance? Noah was always going to choose Alison if there was a ghost of a chance. That’s why in his memory she’s in shining white – as is Helen. Either is his path to salvation, if he can just choose one and stick his landing...
4) You know Lainey’s always talking about Hollywood Sliding Doors? You know, Maura Tierney was supposed to be Sarah Braverman, and then she got sick and had to bow out which gave Lauren Graham the job. Man, she wouldn’t be doing Helen Solloway if she were Sarah Braverman. Who do you think wound up happier in this situation? Depends on your perspective, I guess. Like everything else in this show.
For what it’s worth, there are red herrings all over the place in this episode with regard to Noah being the one who killed Scotty, which means he probably didn’t. This was an utter pleasure, even when it was uneven, and I look forward to having them screw with my memory further. Because I refuse to believe Noah and Alison are just going to be happy, and like I’ve said, they’re so much more interesting when they’re miserable, and apart.