‘The Affair’ 1.02 or Getting Into a (Raspberry) Jam or The Victim Card

theaffairepisode2

Sunday night’s episode of the The Affair was brought to you by the letter J. J stands for Jam.

Those of you who saw The Affair pilot when Showtime previewed it two weeks ago may have felt the same anxiety I did in having to wait a whole 14 days to catch the follow up episode this past Sunday night.  I was so excited I started to wonder if perhaps I had hyped it up too much. Sunday’s episode confirmed that I had not.  In fact it twisted the premise up even more so with some curious reveals about what we hear, what we see, when we hear/see it and how we should interpret the validity of each.

Brits Ruth Wilson and Dominic West continued to captivate as married American caught in wave of lust and longing in Montauk, Long Island.  For those who’ve never been to the popular seaside New York town out on “The Island”, Montauk may still ring a bell as the setting of Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, in which the town represented a similar sense of longing and escapism to a pair of star crossed lovers who met there.  Montauk is it’s own character in The Affair, its history, landscape, scenery, and culture serving as vehicles for most of the twists and turns which lead Noah and Alison to each other.  It always adds something very authentic when a television show is filmed on location, rather than just another “New York street” on a Burbank lot, and that is certainly the case here.

Oh and, still no sex.  I think there’s a third date rule in here somewhere.  Good call, writers.  Who doesn’t love some good old fashioned foreplay.

NOAH’S STORY

As with the pilot, the episode starts with Noah’s version first.  At this point I’m wondering if this is arbitrary or, if starting with Noah’s side of things is part of the structure. If so, why? Do you feel that hearing Noah’s side of the story has a different effect on your reactions when Alison’s always becomes a point of comparison? (I’ve tweeted Sarah Treem and the show to see if this is the case but if anyone has read an interview which clarifies please let me know.)

Noah goes out for a jog the next morning as images of Alison run through his mind and he purposely runs past places where he may run into her. However, the story he tells the detective is quite the opposite, insisting that he tried to avoid her and not think of her.  The question arises: is he lying out of ego/embarrassment, or for a more sinister reason related to the investigation? His attempt to masturbate to thoughts of Alison in the shower, are interrupted by his wife and, for a moment, I cannot imagine anything more awkward.  I wonder if Noah turning Helen down for a shower together will fuel any future suspicions she may have of his affair?

When Noah and Alison run into each other at the farmer’s market, Noah expresses concern for her and she is cold as ice.  He recalls the jam costing $12 and buying one.

Later at the ranch, he meets Cole, who at the time is just the man who took Alison from behind on the hood of a car the night before. Noah is reluctant about letting his son work for him, possibly because he suspects this man to be violent in some way.  Did anyone else feel that way?

Both that morning at breakfast and in interactions with his father-in-law, Bruce, at the party that night, Noah’s interactions with his wife’s family are wrought with a sense of discomfort and even anger bubbling just below the surface.  His mother-in-law’s God-awful GASP when she realizes she forgot flowers for the party truly startled me before I realized what she was gasping about. Of course his words with Bruce were very direct, according to Noah.  Did Noah really say these things to Bruce or is it wishful thinking to what he wish he would have said?

Did you just call me a shmuck? You certainly called the waitress a whore.

Finally he Noah, fed up, goes off to find Alison who is getting high out back.  She is inviting and is the one to insinuate that they go elsewhere to smoke if Noah thinks the smoke will get inside.  At first, Noah cannot remember his wife’s birth year for the code to the private beach. This sounds like his interest and memory in the details is wavering, which is contrast with his mention to Helen twice in the car that she’s told him the story of the ranch and the brothers who ran it already. These subtle reveals in the story, about how accustomed and even tiresome one can become of replaying and recalling the same factoids multiple times over years of marriage. It’s both contradictory and revealing what Noah chooses to remember and forget about his marriage in the episode.

On the beach, Noah recalls Alison walking into the water and asking him to join her.  She edges him on to make it happen with her, and he affirms that he is married and that means a lot to him, thereby turning down her advances.  Only by chance does he uncover that her last name is Lockhart (“Like the farm?“) to which she casually tells him that it’s her husbands farm.  Here Noah is claiming that Alison had no intention of telling him that she was married before sleeping with him.  A great line, which not only tells us a lot about Noah but I think many married people nodded their heads at was “Married people don’t fuck like that.”  When the two finally kiss (err, have sex?) it is only because Alison does not have the code to get back out of the private beach, keeping in line with Noah’s tales of happenstance, or bad luck, depending how you look at it, but certainly not Noah’s doing. Victim Card #1.

ALISON’S STORY (AND DIFFERENCES)

I’ll cut straight to an important theme within Alison’s story, and that’s financial hardship and a certain disdain (another Eternal Sunshine reference, heh) for the wealthy.  Alison starts of the episode picking up wholesale fish at a dock taking it down to the train station where the receptionist takes it and brings it right back.  Alison insists that he keep the door close, just as Cole has mentioned to him before, so at that point you start to wonder if that’s really just ice under that fish. (Drugs?) That scene is followed by hunting down her check from her sleazy boss (ultimately chump change), and ultimately taking the catering job at the Butler mansion for extra cash.  There is also mention of the Lockhart Ranch going through hard times and if you notice the party in her narrative it is slightly more lavish than in Noah’s.

Another recurring theme in Alison’s version of herself is a certain sexual purity which I buy about as much as Noah’s ballsy-ness in standing up to Bruce.  The main reason I don’t buy it has nothing to do with Noah’s opposite retelling of it: it’s exaggeration.  Why did we need a conversation between Alison and her sister-in-law where she shyly reveals “Cole and I had anal sex once…?“).  This is similar to her stuttering and nervousness when Noah approaches her stand at the Farmer’s Market.  Once again, don’t get me wrong, I highly doubt Alison was wiping sand off her nearly-bare ass cheek the night they met at the beach or taking all of her clothes off outside the home she shared with her husband. I also believe that the dress she wore to the cocktail party was borrowed, but even so the hemline far looser and longer than in Noah’s.  Both Noah and Alison are playing their own Victim Cards by somewhat vilifying the other.

One very distinct difference in their versions lies in the conversations at the Farmer’s Market and the private beach, particularly in how it is revealed that Alison is married.  According to Alison, her sister-in-law told Noah this at the market, something which is totally missing in his narrative which emphasizes the shocking reveal at the beach.  Also we had the mention of Alison’s marijuana use in both narratives.  In Noah’s he finds her smoking weed while on the job, while in Alison’s she is not smoking weed in any way, and in an earlier scene mentions she only smokes on rare occasions.

Another great scene was between Alison her mother-in-law, Mrs. Lockhart.  The woman breaks down to Alison, praising her for her strength after losing her son, but more interesting is her assumption that Alison and Cole will try again and should move into her house so that she could have “… a little more help this time around.”  From Alison’s pained and almost insulted reaction I got the distinct sensation that the comment implied some culpability in Alison’s son’s death on either Cole or Alison, or both.  How the boy died is still an unanswered question, and the fact that the writers have decided to keep it as such tells me that it will be significant in the story of their affair and even the murder investigation.

The most shocking revelation in Alison’s narrative, for me, was in catching Noah’s daughter, Whitney, half-way up the stairs with one of the hot Lockhart brothers, Scottie.  This not only moved Noah and Alison’s run-in to inside the house, but why was it nowhere in Noah’s?  I have an actual theory on that…

THE INVESTIGATION AND THEORIES

I did not expect to get this much information about the murder investigation so soon! Horray. If I think about it I don’t know why I didn’t expect it because had I not gotten it, I’d have been a tad annoyed/bored. What we learned:

  • Who: A young man, a local, someone that Alison can’t believe is gone
  • What: Killed in a hit and run
  • When: The night of the party
  • Where: On a dark road that leads to the touristy part of Montauk
  • Why: Unknown, but police believe a possible foul play and not an accident

How much after the man’s murder is this investigation taking place?
At least a few years considering Alison has a son in school and both Noah and Alison have mentioned that their current stories took place a long time ago.

What triggered the investigation of a possible homicide now? Who was the victim?
I won’t theorize as to why they are investigating the events years later, but can only guess some new evidence has come into the police’s hands. As for who was killed, my current theory involves one of the Lockhart brothers. First of all for the sheer fact that there are four of them and that’s a lot of brothers. Second, because of that scene where Whitney, is escorting Scottie upstairs before being stopped by Alison.  I can’t think of one good reason as to why he would have been at that party had he not been invited.  Which again, how did he get invited if he and Whitney didn’t exchange numbers (that we saw?).  Something is up there.

Another theory-worthy possibility is that the victim would be Bruce Butler. Bruce’s affair with the woman at the party was mentioned in both narratives with significant anger from both his wife and daughter.

Other possible victims: Hal Lockhart, the fisherman (anyone catch his name?), one of Noah’s sons, someone we have yet to meet.

I’m really into this guys! What are your theories? Anything I missed?

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