‘The Affair’ 1.06 or Fishy Fishy or This Is The End or Who Ya Lying To?

theaffair 106Last night’s episode of The Affair was brought to you by the letter S. S is for Surprise. Like when you find out your side chick is a drug smuggler, or that your boss/nemesis/harasser is not quite as dumb as he looks.

This week things changed a lot more than you may even realize. Yes, we went back to “Noah first”, which I was a tad surprised and confused by since I thought the series would be shifting gears after the “Alison first” episode last week. However, as a writer and filmmaker, I am smitten with the attention to detail and sense of purpose behind Sarah Treem and the writing team on The Affair thus far, so I am trusting that their decisions are for the good of this marvelous story they are telling. That’s what is most important, and that’s what I saw again last night.

But the real change was that, for the first time, we did not get any interrogation room time. If you remember last week’s episode, you’ll note that the reason for that is that the interrogation has ended. Which begs the question: IF THERE IS NO STORY BEING TOLD, THEN WHAT THE HELL ARE WE WATCHING? Memories from the corners of their minds? A story told to someone else? The story they tell themselves? It certainly is not any objective truth since the two stories differed significantly yet again this week.

NOAH

We start at “The End”. Literally, “The End”. This was the touristy Montauk club which Det. Jeffries asked Noah if he had ever been to last week, and which he believes Scotty was on his way to when he was hit and killed. Why is Noah lying about this?

Max, Noah’s newly-divorced best friend, rolls into town for the night in a Blue Water Taxi driven by Hal Lockhart, who also deals cocaine to tourists like Max. Alison approaches them, flirts, and once Max is too drunk (or drunk enough) Noah puts him in a cab home, and spends the night dancing and then some with Alison. This rendezvous was obviously planned (Alison even brought a change of clothes), and it’s pretty shitty for more than just the fact that Noah is cheating but because seeing Max was also just an excuse to stay out all night without Helen suspecting.

Noah tries to make plans with Alison for when he has to head back home next week (summer is ending in case you didn’t hear Earth Wind and Fire’s “September” playing already). Noah begins to wonder if Alison still sleeps with her husband, drops a few remarks, but knows he’s wrong to be jealous. As we find out later, he has not been sleeping with Helen, and so it would appear that between this fact and talks of cabin getaways, Noah has taken this summer fling more seriously than (a) he expected, and (b) Alison.

When he decides to follow her, headed in the opposite direction from her place, he witness the usual trip to the docks for the cooler followed by a stop at Blue Water Taxi Cab dispatch. He begins to put two-and-two together between this and Max’s cocaine from the Blue Water cab driver, going so far as to ask Whitney what she knows about scoring coke in Montauk. It would appear that Noah does not know that Hal is a Lockhart at this point. Amiright?

In the morning, back at the Butlers, when Martin is missing, it is Noah who calls the Lockhart ranch and confirms that Martin rode his bike there that morning. He does not seem all too  concerned that Martin would have done that, unlike Helen. I have to wonder if Noah is paying enough attention to his children’s needs right now?

Helen, complains to Noah that they aren’t having sex and he makes up any excuse he can. So what about his affair with Alison makes Noah not want to have sex with his own wife who he clearly still loves? That Alison is younger or new, and thereby somehow sexier? Is it guilt? Or is it something deeper? Noah clearly still loves Helen very much. Just look at that cheesy grin on his face as she walks out of the room! It lingers until it hits him what an asshole he is.

Like Oscar last week, Max blows up Noah’s spot in front of Helen by revealing that Noah stayed out much later than he did the night before. That’s two lies and no sex in one week. Yikes. (Important to note that Noah remembers Alison being at the Lobster Roll while he was with his family that day. There is even a rendezvous at the bathrooms. Alison’s shift that day does not include Noah’s presence.)

So Noah asks Oscar to have a drink at that point, likely to patch things up after their altercation at the Butlers. Damage control. Oscar claims he “popped [Alison’s] cherry” but knowing what we know that he knows, that was likely just to get a rise out of Noah. When Scotty comes in asking for money he is owed, Oscar brings up the permit for building the Entertainment Center which got shut down at city hall a few weeks back. Scotty is ballsy, taking cash straight out of Oscar’s register and pushing him down. Oscar sets Noah up with a fake call to the police but some true background on the Lockharts and generations of illegal operations. According to Noah he goes to the farm to confront Alison and let her know what he’s heard. She admits it as if it were no biggie, he’s disgusted, and she runs off to tell her family. Noah goes home to make love to his wife like never before. He’s missed her, apparently.

ALISON

In Alison’s version of event we don’t get to see the night out dancing and drinking at “The End”, we start at the morning after. Noah does not talk about plans for the future, he just pees in front of her as she showers (“Too soon?”). When she has to go at 5 AM, she does not lie to him about having to go home, simply confirms that she does have “somewhere” to be.

At the docks, Will, the usual “fisherman” is not there to receive her at his boat for the cooler handoff. A far less kind gentleman is, however. Alison mentions this to Lockhart #4, Caleb, at the dispatch, and they agree that it’s weird. We watch Caleb pull a key of coke out of the cooler, just in case there was any doubt.

Back at the ranch, Cole has bought a new mare (so he really wasn’t home overnight): her name is Elizabeth Taylor. Curiously, he compares the mare to Alison: majestic, stubborn, like apples. Considering that both the mare and Alison run off at the end of the episode, the metaphor is significant. Let’s see if the mare ever turns up… Martin turns up asleep in some hidden back room in the barn, but in Alison’s version Martin spent the night there. It’s possible that he spent the night in both versions, after all. Curiously, Alison’s narrative has Helen calling them, looking for Martin, in the late morning. She complains that Helen is a rich and aloof mother who should be more worried about her children. Cherry does not agree. I found that whole exchange fascinating and found that Alison’s unreasonable judgment of Helen is about jealousy, but not about Noah; it’s about Helen as a mother, something that was taken from Alison. Cue, Alison watching Cole teach Martin how to handle a horse.

What follows appears to be a scene in which Alison is leaving the Lobster Roll. In her bike basket there is a note from Noah asking her to meet him at Pheobe’s. Why wouldn’t he just text her? They definitely text in her narratives. I found this unlikely. Also, how did he or would he get into Pheobe’s? She gave him a key to her friend’s house? At Pheobe’s Noah confronts Alison about following her and the cocaine but in a very different manner than we saw in Noah’s narrative. He is angry that she has put herself in her position and holds her, but when she expresses that she didn’t think it mattered Noah remembers that his son works at the ranch where all this is presumably going on and backs away. His reveal about Oscar’s phone call happens off screen, which was a good choice from the writers. (It is a difficult task, I imagine, to balance out the same story twice but without being redundant, and cutting out something like that is effective in making it not so.)

Cole does not look all that concerned at the news that Oscar called the cops. Sure he moves quickly but he is so calm. There is something way creepy about it. Alison waits for the cops with Caleb until Oscar shows up and blows the lid off the thing, admitting that he never really called and by default, that he staged the whole thing for Noah, suspecting that the information would trickle down to Alison. Bingo! (This is what I call pulling a Cyrus Beene.)

The Lockharts agree to give Oscar the permit to get him off their back. Alison tries to convince Cole that they should sell the ranch to get out of their $100,000 debt (uh well yeah!) but, like before, he refuses for all his ridiculous reasons. She wants to “get away” and he has no interest in getting away or forgetting what happened with Gabriel the way she does. She can’t live with the memory, and he can only live if he never forgets.

Just then, Martin comes in with the news that the mare escaped, but Alison knows better: Martin let her go free. The two find common ground in that sometimes they don’t know why they do the things they do. This was similar to Noah and Whitney’s scene last week about being “bad people” and functions really well in painting Noah and Alison as children. Not as a fault necessarily, more so as a fact. Perhaps it’s just a fact that is true about adulthood, and the need to feel “connected to something” (a phrase that Noah used this week to describe his current state, and Alison’s mother, Athena, called her “life force” last week) new and exciting, the way children do when everything is new and exciting.

Ultimately, Alison tells Noah, at his doorstep, that she wants to runaway with him but in line with what we saw in his version, he is no longer interested.

WHAT WE LEARNED

  • Drugs in the fish deliveries? Check.
  • Drug operation going on behind the doors of the taxi dispatch at the train station? Check.
  • Oscar aware about Alison and Noah’s affair and plotting to use it to his benefit? Check.
  • Noah lying about never having been to “The End”? Check.
  • Alison telling the truth about Oscar and Scotty being friends to the detective? Looking less likely.
  • Noah definitely has no problem peeing in front of a woman.
  • In Alison’s memory, she dresses like Carrie White.
  • Margaret and Bruce were once in an open relationship.
  • Helen is allergic to sage.
  • Per Alison, the Lockharts do not sell coke to kids and “have rules”.
  • Per Alison, Martin doesn’t like his dad very much.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LEARN

  • Why does Oscar Hodges owe the Lockharts/Scotty money?
  • Noah is seen by Hal at the dispatch the morning he follows Alison. Did he recognize him and suspect anything?
  • Was there something more to Noah’s change of heart concerning Alison than the drug smuggling? Is he really so straight laced?
  • What’s up with this Will guy not being at his boat to hand off the cocaine? Who is the new dude and how will this (undoubtedly) come around to cause a problem?
  • What are we watching? What are these stories? Are they simply inaccurate memories? If they are lies then who are they being told to?
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4 Comments

  1. Big D
    Posted November 18, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink | Reply

    Great insights! Especially on the pre-arranged meeting at The End with Noah and Allison. I was picking up more of a stalkerish/Fatal Attraction vibe.

    Allison and Oscar share quite a bit of class envy. Any chance they are in together on some sort of extortion plot? And Mama Lockhart is pretty sketchy too. How much does she know about what’s going on?

    • Posted November 19, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks! Alison and Oscar in cahoots, eh? Not that far fetched at all considering only 2% of this show (i.e. interrogations) has been objective truth. Anything goes! By the way the brothers were trying to keep their voices down at the end, I wondered if Cherry knew anything myself. She must!

      • Anonymous
        Posted November 19, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

        Love your blog. Another entry full of interesting insight and analysis.

        Love the first question you raise about Oscar and why he owes the Lockhearts money. While watching had chalked it up to him actually being a drug user but doubt that’s the extent. Although, Alison has been sure to paint Oscar as a partier, rarely at work and constantly hung over and or drinking in the morning. Will need to mull that over.

        As for comment about 2% being believable… Read an Q&A interview with Sarah Treem where she resounded to a reader question about the detective and about whether A or N was more believable…. Her response was that both are equally believable and unreliable narrators including the detective. That each of them have motives and that we specifically could not rely upon the detective…. We know he lied to A or N or both about his wife and kids but apparently the way her response read it’s more than that. Or at least that’s what she and Jeff want us to believe. As in we don’t know who to believe and whether it’s subjective memory creation, ego, honest but faulty memory, protecting themselves, defensiveness etc etc.. Love it.

        Lastly, with respect to who A & N were telling their telling their version of history to this week… it’s a great question. Perhaps a therapist or their respective spouses or god knows. We know next week that N confides in Alex and admits he so being blackmailed by Oscar so perhaps Noah was talking to Alex. Endless possibilities. Whoever the listener(s) are (if anyone at all) are clearly pretty open minded if they’re recounting the drug dealing. Ie not law enforcement. Maybe each has lawyered up and they’re both talking to their attorneys? Probably not given intimate details which would be immaterial. Although, I am an attorney and I can’t tell just how often I think to myself “why are you telling me this… It’s totally immaterial”. Ya never know. Thanks again for loving this series and taking the time to thoughtfully write and share your insights with us. Turned multiple fellow twitter fans onto your blog and they all have thanked me. Look forward to reading more next week.

        Cheers J
        PS is it wrong that each week, i find myself counting down the days until Sunday? Or that I am hopelessly unabashedly hoping N & A will get back together and that she has his child and that they do run away and live happily ever after (and yet some how the series wouldn’t totally suck and be trite as hell?). Ohh to dream….

  2. Anonymous
    Posted November 19, 2014 at 7:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

    One more thing… Absolutely agree with Big D commenter above, mama Lockheart, Cherry is far more involved and far less naive than I see most discussing. She knows how to cut deep emotionally. Whether it’s just typical MIL stuff or whether she is the ring leader… If I had to choose right now, I whole go with the latter.

    Big D also raises interesting theory about A being in on the blackmail… If not that, at least one of the twists is along those lines. A is less believable than she seems.

    One more thought… The number of times they’ve shown us the scene in the library where A is showing N the photo in the book of her grandfather and him being a fisherman… It’s got to be significant. Wondering if A’s grandfather was into bootlegging with N’s elders… Curious whether A knows already… Or whether grandma has to die for her to go through gma’s thjngs and figure out the family connections. Hopefully, the history between the Lockhearts and the Bailey’s is just bootlegging and not anything more…

    On that note… Will stop randomly speculating and go back to dreaming A and N somehow live happily ever after and somehow it doesn’t suck story wise.
    -J

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