The Affair Season 1 Episode 3 recap

Don’t look around. Don’t question what you’re being told, what the narrative is. Don’t wake up and see that you’re walking into an affair, because you want to have plausible deniability the whole way along, until you’re right in the affair, and not just because someday you will be questioned by a detective about it.

The thing about The Affair that seems so good and so bad at the same time is how they’re struggling to paint each person as more innocent. In the Noah stories, Allison is almost comically aggressive and sex-sireny. In the Allison stories, she’s so shy with her innocent hair and cardigan that I could swear I saw her braces glint on her teeth when she smiles.

Is this the only way an affair is “OK”? If you do it by accident? If, as both Noah and Allison do, you think about your affair-partner but then have sex with your spouse instead to dissuade yourself?  

Today, we see the cracks in those spouses. That they’re there, and lovable, but not perfect. Not keeping the every need of our heroes sharply in their minds. Helen is bitchy toward their daughter and, if we’re supposed to judge based on what we see, downright indifferent to her other three. She’s so wrapped up in her dicky parents (and oh man, are they ever dicky) that she only has time to think about how they affect her and her rebellion-husband Noah. Meanwhile, Cole is so wrapped up in Montauk politics he’s not thinking about how his poor neglected wife might feel, and doesn’t even appreciate that her dress is one of her favourites.

Noah starts every episode swimming – in clear water, washed clean, nothing to hide.
Alison sings country songs at the start of “her” episodes, those songs where your heart is right there out in the open…

Okay. I get what the show is trying to do, but I’m interested in the fact that nobody, except Helen’s father, has been upset or even more than mildly questioning of our “heroes” makes it a little harder to buy that they just happened to be walking into this scenario. It makes them a little too innocent.

Also too innocent is the show’s affection for Montauk, determined to let us know how unique and special and not-East-Hampton it is. That’s fine, but to outsiders, it’s not quite the “third character” the show is implying.

New information this episode:

That Noah’s wife is expecting him – he’s still married (or married again, I guess, but).

That he came up with the idea for his book “he murders her” because the agent was so desperately disinterested.

That father-in-law Bruce actually couldn’t be worse.

That Alison used to be a nurse (I think this is new) and, obviously, was beloved enough to be received with open arms when she tried to go back.

That she and Cole have been there for generations: suspected, but now confirmed.  

As Ira Glass said last week “this isn’t just going to be just, like, a rumination on the nature of truth, is it?” I hope not. We have enough of those these days. I hope we go somewhere where we learn the “objective” truth or at least they start to divulge further. Ironically, though, that might mean that we need the characters to come to a less cartoonish place so we’re able to buy what they’re selling more easily. For what it’s worth, the showrunner Sarah Treem said next week is her very favourite episode, and that if it doesn’t sell you, you can quit the show with her blessing. I’m fairly certain I won’t – I’m interested enough to see whether whose side I’m on changes and whether that has anything to do with whose story comes up first each week.