The Affair ended on a frustrating note. Alison’s last words to Noah in this episode were, “I’ll get you out of this. I promise. Do you believe me?” The problem is, there was really nothing too terribly believable about this last episode of the season. I was expecting more of a “Wow!” – and Detective Jeffries swinging by the swanky Greenwich Solloway residence seemed a bit of a cheat.
After watching the finale, I have the sense that perhaps last few episode were altered from what they were going to be in order to accommodate a second season.
The finale felt like the start to a new season. It didn’t give me enough of a reward for my investment in the previous nine episodes. This is risky because, at least for me, I have no emotional investment in any of the characters – there is no Tyrion Lannister, Virginia Johnson, Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings, Rust Cohle that seems worthy of a connection.
The Affair has relied in part on encouraging the viewers to figure out a puzzle, determine a reliable narrator, and challenging viewers to figure out what clues matter and what differences are telling. Because of this, there wasn’t enough in the season finale to provide any satisfaction.
The Affair – Mothers and Sociopaths
For nine weeks, I have pushed away the urge to speculate that Noah is a sociopath. But hearing that Helen called Noah a sociopath and Whitney call Noah a sociopath…I found myself saying, yep, the guy’s a sociopath.
As they head off to Montauk, Helen makes an interesting comment along the lines of ‘I was so busy trying not to marry someone like my father that I ended up marrying someone like my mother.’ Noah has two words for Margaret Butler: narcissistic bullshit. To Helen’s point, that description applies to Noah as well – and from Noah’s perspective, that’s probably the meanest thing Helen could say to him.
Episode 10 opened with Noah involved in a series of sexual conquests – apparently not only Helen, Alison too, is easily forgotten. Noah, obviously, does not subscribe to Dennis’s ‘celibacy as a palate cleanser’ theory.
Sexual recklessness has had consequences personally and professionally. Helen has kicked him out of the house; schtupping in the classroom after school has resulted in Noah being removed from the classroom. (The idea of a detention room for teachers who are suspended with pay is a solution with ‘government bureaucracy’ written all over it.)
Neither story in The Affair is true
At the moment it became clear that Detective Jeffries had shared two different personal stories with Noah and Alison and neither was true (he responds to an urgent call from Steve with “Hey babe”), I returned to a theory I thought about a few weeks ago that “Noah” and “Alison” are not two sets of memories to be compared and contrasted, but rather two versions or drafts of Noah’s book. Or, (sit down for this), two versions of a book Bruce Butler is writing. Just kidding.
Cole waving a gun around didn’t ring true to me – in either version. It almost seemed like a writer created one ending, submitted the story to the editor and the editor sends the writer back to the drawing board to try another ending.
Another story line that I couldn’t buy was Alison seeking refuge with Athena and having such a cordial relationship with her. Maybe four months of yoga, meditation, and vegan surprise has miraculous healing power, but it seemed too tidy and out of the blue.
Overall, I very much enjoyed the series. The acting is superb. But these last few episodes seem a bit frayed. Maybe the big “Wow!” will come in Season Two.
The Affair odds and ends:
- Noah is done in by…a wire!
- “Did you just change in the bathroom?”
- “It’s all very glamorous until you need a kidney.”
- After reading through all the classics while biding his time in the rubber room, it would have been funny to have Victor pull out a Bruce Butler novel.
Previous episodes of Showtime’s The Affair:
Characters and cast of “10” The Affair include:
Noah Solloway – Dominic West (Pride, Burton and Taylor, John Carter, Centurion, The Wire, Hannibal Rising, 300, 28 Days, Mona Lisa Smile, The Forgotten)
Alison Bailey – Ruth Wilson (The Lone Ranger, Saving Mr. Banks, Locke, Anna Karenina, Luther)
Helen Solloway – Maura Tierney (ER, Liar Liar, NewsRadio, Insomnia, The Good Wife, Semi-Pro, Primal Fear, Primary Colors, Instinct)
Cole Lockhart – Joshua Jackson (Fringe, Dawson’s Creek, Cruel Intentions, The Skulls)
Whitney Solloway – Julia Goldani Telles (Bunheads, Any Other Friday, Nurse Jackie)
Martin Solloway – Jake Richard Siciliano
Bruce Butler – John Doman (Gotham, Blue Valentine, Damages, The Wire, Mystic River, Oz, Cop Land, Rizolli & Isles)
Detective Jeffries – Victor Williams (Cop Land, The King of Queens, Bewitched, World Record, Flight of the Conchords, ER)