‘The Affair’ 1.08 or Meet Me Hereth, I’ll Be Thereth or DNR

the affair 108Last night’s episode of The Affair was brought to you by the letter G. G stands for Genre. We’re all familiar with the term, but what we are more familiar with are the genres themselves. What genre would you categorize The Affair under? Mystery? Romance? Melodrama? Comedy? There are certainly elements of all these within it but, as Prof. Solloway rightly points out to his high school English class, it is clear when the story shifts in genre, much like “Romeo and Juliet”, and it always always means something. The Affair has shifted from what we believed a series titled The Affair might be about, to something much different: murder in a small town. But is it really about who killed Scotty Lockhart? Or is there much more to be answered?

You’ll have to excuse my personal bias towards American high school English teachers, but I think that among them lie some of the most magical people, possibly because within them lies the story of storytelling. The audiences expectations are part of the effectiveness of the story, I know that, perhaps you knew that, and certainly the writer on this show know that. So are they messing with our expectations? Just as this romance turned into a mystery, will this mystery turn into… something else? I’ve heard a lot of people wonder how long the series will be able to maintain “the affair” at the center of the story for three seasons (that’s how far in creator Sarah Treem has mapped out the series, FYI) without having the audience lose interest. If I had to guess, the answer lies in genre. Just some food for thought.

Oh and one last side note while we are on the subject (and before I get into last night’s episode): has anyone noticed or read any discussion on why Carl Sagan’s science-fiction novel Contact is in the opening credits of The Affair? It’s quick, blurry, and well hidden, but several pages from within that book can be seen (yes, there was lots of pausing and a few quick Google Book searches). I have not read the book but the 1997 film on which it is based is one of my favorites, and it could not be any more different than The Affair. It tells the story of a female scientist who builds machines to communicate with other planets, travels in time, fights religion, embraces technology, then questions it all. It’s a story about a father and daughter, too. Totally random? Or could there be more to this?

Alright, on with the episode after the jump. (And for those still keeping score with me that’s: Noah 7 – Alison 1)

NOAH

I mentioned above how Noah’s lecture on the star-crossed lovers could have implications for the show, but what about for Noah? Does he know or have the pure love he speaks of, or has it been corrupted? Well I’ll say this much, I’d bet that Noah was a Gemini… I should know.

It’s Christmastime, and what Noah seems to believe now — four months into therapy with Helen and away from Montauk — is that he loves his wife, and that his affair with Alison was an error in judgment, brought on by a phase of self-doubt which coincided with the meeting of an attractive and vulnerable woman. Helen is his true love, and the self-doubt is the corruption in the world. After all was his life with Helen before Montauk not much funnier? The kind of first-act comedy worthy of Verona? That’s the logical part of his brain, and it may even be true, to a certain extent.

Unless of course, Alison is his true love, and the duty of family and marriage is the corruption. Much like Poe’s and Nabakov’s young lovers by the sea, Alison may be his Annabelle Lee. Perhaps even his Lolita. But if the tragic end of any three of these tales is a sign of how Noah and Alison’s affair could end, it’s not looking good, my friends. Not by a long shot.

Helen and Noah are trying, and they do love one another but all is not well. Rejecting jewelry from your husband because he can’t afford it? Gulp. Might as well hang his balls up as tree ornaments this year, Helen. I’ve discussed almost from the beginning what an important role money has been playing and it has motivated, if not dictated, Noah and Alison’s lives. Noah has trouble affording his own home, a vacation to anywhere by Montauk most years, private schools for the kids, therapy, and work on the house just to name a few. In nearly every episode there has been some mention as to his inability to provide financially. Sure, it played a role in his self-doubt and his cheating but, could there be something more to it? Money is after all the number one motive for murder.

Helen is certainly on edge. She complains about having too much to handle — Whitney’s issues, the article on the store, being present for Bruce’s lifetime achievement award — but doesn’t it sound like she enjoys taking it all on? I think the psychologist saw this as well. In the past, Noah’s Helen has been lovely. A bit aloof, a bit judgey, but still a pretty great lady. What she says to him about why she married him (“Because you loved me?” — “Because you were safe.“) was really hurtful, and even more so because I don’t think she was trying to hurt him. She was telling him the truth. And that backhanded compliment about knowing that he would never be President or a tycoon because her father had all that and he was an asshole? Really? The poor guy. No wonder she described him as paralyzed as soon as three people chimed into a conversation when they met! His wife was counting on him being “safe” and not amounting to much.

My favorite line of the episode:

“I don’t want to be the envy of all your friends.” – Noah

So over in Montauk, Bruce knows about the affair, and we know where Helen learned her skills in backhanded compliments from. After taking a metaphorical shit on Noah, Bruce seems to empathize with him by sharing a story about his own affair with a student, but of course just ends up pontificating from way up on his high horse. Bruce is an asshole, that’s for sure, but I don’t think he’s a hack. He is deep, and he is wise, it’s just that he’s a bit of a liar and a pompous prick, too.

In Noah’s narrative he is sitting around — the only guy without a tie at a suit and tie event — when he and Alison spot each other from across the room. She is walking around serving drinks and makes her way to him with a smile, at which point he nearly has to tell her he can’t be seen talking to her. On his way out of the ceremony he runs into her, frantic, and calling everyone she knows on her phone because her grandmother has just had a heart attack. She has no car and no way to get to the hospital, so Noah reluctantly but cordially offers to take her. Upon arriving at the hospital Alison asks him to accompany her inside. No, Cole is not there. Noah declines and heads back to the Butler mansion.

That is of course until a poor old, crippled Bruce gives in and reveals to Noah that he thinks about the student he never left Margaret for “every fucking day“. Cue Noah rushing back to the hospital. Deny thy father and refuse thy name!!

Something very curious is done here, as Noah instructs Alison on what to say and what to do as she says goodbye to her grandmother. Alison, still sitting in the chair, asks for his help and there is a jump cut, to her getting up and walking towards her grandmother while his instructions come from what at first appears to be just off camera, but is actually a conversation between the two seconds before she got up from the chair. If you don’t know what I mean, go back and see if you catch it. She is walking silently over to her grandmother but their conversation plays in background, as if it were literally guiding her.

Noah cries outside the hospital room, one can only imagine he recalls when his own mother passed and how hard it was on him. On the drive home, Alison falls asleep in the passenger’s seat. Noah stops at the light house, and takes her in for a long while… Didn’t have it all quite so figured out, eh, Noah?

ALISON

The usual dinnertime shenanigans at the Lockhart Ranch: mother, brothers, wives, talking over each other, the women in the kitchen. It appears that when Cherry isn’t pointing out that Alison isn’t using the right knife to cut the tomatoes, she’s pointing out the obvious difference between baking soda and baking powder. Poor Alison can’t catch a break. Cherry’s love/judgement of Alison seems to be related to Gabriel’s death. We don’t know the exact circumstances of Gabriel death but we know he drowned and that Alison couldn’t swim. We also know that for a long time thereafter she had nightmares about the water and that Cherry helped her get through those times. Finally, we know that Cherry doesn’t think Alison should care for a small child on her own again “at least in the beginning” and Alison knows it, too. It’s possible Cherry isn’t being cruel but that her pity for Alison’s presumed ineptness is even crueler than any direct criticism. (Of course, this could all just be in Alison’s imagination since we don’t know what we are watching.) Nonetheless, I’m with Alison regarding Cherry overrunning the bath on purpose. Perhaps even for attention and not just to devalue the house and stay in it.

Meanwhile, the stork seems to be on Christmas break because four months later Alison does not seem to be getting pregnant. Fertility problems? Likely. They are definitely having sex and she wouldn’t be taking the test if she were secretly still on the pill.

Pretty early the next morning, Alison gets a call at home from Athena that her grandmother has had a heart attack and is in the hospital. She rushes over and refuses to let Cole accompany her, although he seems to want to be there for her. At first it seems like its a polite “You don’t have to” but its clear that she rather he not be there. Why not? Is it to much to be at the hospital with Cole because it’ll remind her of Gabriel’s death? When she arrives, Athena insists that Alison sign the DNR but Alison is having a terrible time letting go, afraid to make the wrong choice, and perhaps worse, of agreeing with her mother.

Back at home Cole is having a hard time getting the house appraised because (a) there are no receipts to prove how recently renovations have been done, and (b) there are no properties like it to be compared against for value. Alison shares her concerns with Cole about signing off on the DNR with Cole and he seems to want nothing to do with the decision. It was subtle but did you catch on how little he wants to be involved in that? I don’t think it has to do with her grandmother or Athena, more so with making medical decisions, which yet again could circle back around to Gabriel’s death. It’s not in his personality not to make decisions, after all he calls all the shots back at Lockhart Ranch, so what’s up? At this point Alison asks Cole for a ride to her catering job and claims that she has no idea what the event is about. (This lines up with Noah’s story that she didn’t have a car at Bruce’s party.)

When Alison arrives at the party and learns just what is going on that night, she asks to go home sick in anticipation that Noah and his family may be there, but has to settle for doing coat check instead. She first sees Noah from behind the coat check counter but he doesn’t see her. Later in the night, once everyone has gone inside, Noah approaches her at the counter (looking far more dapper than in his own narrative, I might add) and is coy with her. She can’t help hiding that she is as happy to see him as he is to see her. Somehow they end up behind the building smoking cigarettes. He is as friendly as ever, and goes as far as blurting out how beautiful she looks. Alison seems to get serious at this point and opens up at how well her and Cole are doing, even that they are trying at having another child. Smartly, Noah sees this as his cue to say goodnight. Just then Alison receives a phone call that something has happened at the hospital. Noah drives her and he offers to go inside with her but she refuses.

Alison walks in to the horrible news that Granny is on life support, followed by the subsequent speech from Athena that, had Alison signed off on the DNR earlier, Granny wouldn’t have had to go through this ordeal of cracked ribs and tubing. Now the choice is if to keep her on the life support or take it off, and it’s one that Alison does not want on her hands.

Just then, Athena sees Noah walking in, in his fancy suit and tie “Lucky you. The cavalry is here.” In what has to be the quintessentially sensible but sensitive speech from the knight in shining armor, Noah comforts Alison but also calls her out on her fears regarding Gabriel’s death, delivering the runner-up for my favorite line of the episode: “But she’s not a child…” With his help, Alison musters up the courage and is able to make the decision to take Granny off life support. When it’s all over (and Athena has decided not to stick around), Alison finds Noah waiting for her to take her home. Before she gets out of the car he says those three words, and she says them back. Without even looking back at him she gets out of the car and walks into the house.

When she gets inside, she sneaks past everyone in the den and upstairs to Cherry’s room where Gabriel’s toy box is. She smells his stuffed animals, lays his toys out, and cries. She smiles at a sweet picture of Cole and the baby. Alison seems to be enjoying this moment more than I think she could have when we first met her. It is as if she is beginning to heal, finally. And perhaps she has Noah to thank for that, because unlike Cole, she hasn’t been able to open up to anyone about her pain regarding Gabriel to anyone else.

DETECTIVE

I have to say that my least favorite bit of this episode was Noah’s present-time book reading scene. In fact, it may have been my least favorite of the series thus far. It’s short but it’s forced and unbelievable. Of all the passages that Noah chooses to read, it’s about the same blue boat that Det. Jeffries took a random picture of in the last episode? And as if it it weren’t hitting us over the head hard enough, Jeffries has to pull out his iPhone, scroll through and then zoom in to “The End”? Either way, what was that suppose to mean? That because he knows the boat, he knows that there is a sign pointing to the “The End” right by it? It doesn’t mean that he’s been to the place just because he’s been somewhere close by.

Then we have Scottie’s memorial service. Note that this is not a funeral and that the pastor relays that “We’ve had to delay this memorial service longer than we would have liked.” Why would anyone delay a memorial service? A funeral, fine, maybe because the body is part of an on-going investigation but… the only reason to delay a memorial is if you’re not sure that the person is in fact dead? Is it possible that Scottie went missing for a long time and was only recently found? Could that be the reason why its being investigated so much later?

Back at “The End”, Jeffries asks for the receptionist to look up “Labor Day” specifically. He doesn’t ask for Labor Day of a past year so one would assume he is asking for this past Labor Day, from present time. This is our best bet as to when Scotty was killed and it seems to be pretty damn recent. By the looks of the coats and attire at the book signing and the memorial service it is Fall or Spring time in New York. It is likely November or even early December in present time, and that would mean they waited two or three months for the memorial service. If it is Spring time it would mean that they waited around eight months for the memorial which seems less likely. This gives us a good time frame, nonetheless.

So now Jeffries has Noah cancelling a reservation at “The End” on Labor Day, the day that I am assuming Scotty was killed based on what we have learned. We also know that Scotty was killed in a hit and run nearby which may or may not have been accidental. Jeffries asks for a car repair shop in the area, for what I can safely assume is an attempt to match a description to Noah’s car and any car that was serviced there the night of the murder. Looks pretty suspicious that Noah would have cancelled his reservation as well, as if he had plans to stay, and something changed his mind…

EXTRAS

  • Alison is seated towards  the back of the church and not with Cole’s family so can we confirm that her and Cole are not together anymore? The chances of this are high. Which means, so are the chances that her son in present time is also not Cole’s and perhaps Noah’s.
  • Helen takes a prescription medication before bed? What do you think that was all about? It was in a bottle so not birth control. I wouldn’t look past this…
  • Whitney throwing up: If she’s not bullimic, the next assumption is that she is pregnant… with Scotty’s baby? At the Lockhart dinner, the family mentions how Scotty has been going into the city quite often. In the episode prior to this one, MJ mentions having seen him with a brunette, before the Solloways left town. We also have the instance of the two walking up the stairs together in Alison’s recollection of the big party at the Butler mansion in episode 1.03.
  • I missed it guys: what exactly happened to Bruce’s leg? He seems to be in quite a bit of pain. Note that Margaret leaves him wounded and during this very important event. She’s so over his cheating ways.

Well, this episode sure gave us more than any before it! Not everything speculated here is 100% confirmed but what isn’t confirmed certainly has us closer to an answer. What did you all think? Any details you picked up on? Anything to add?

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