Category Archives: The Affair

‘The Affair’ Season 1 Finale or The First Wave Retreats or The Easy Things

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Last night’s season finale of The Affair was brought to you by the letter R. R stands for Retreat. Like a wave, sinking back into the ocean, as opposed to the alternative: staying on shore. As humans, when things get really, really hard, we tend to do what’s easy before we do what’s right, and then we wait and hope that they might be the same thing. The easy thing is not just easy to do, it’s easy to know, but the right thing… that’s not quite so clear. There’s only one thing to do and that’s… well, you get the picture.

On goes the tale, Alison and Noah retreat like the tide into their desires. Noah gets a bachelor pad and sticks his dick in whomever and wherever he wants because staying married with children was just too hard, and sleeping around without commitment was the opposite. Alison finds her own way to fill the void of her desire at a cabin by the lake, meditating, and and filling herself with “vegan surprise” and Athena, of all things. Her retreat is similar to Noah’s, but with a twist: staying married without children was just too hard. To each their own.

But what about The Affair? What kind of wave is it? If not a wave, what form does it take? What does it desire? Here is the first reason why I was slightly let down by it’s first season finale: the answer was unclear. Make no mistake, I am not referring to the “answers” of the narrative — I respect the process of allowing the details to reveal themselves in time — but like Noah and Alison, the “thing” of the show seemed to both hide itself and retreat, rather than move itself forward. And it left me wondering: What is its purpose? Why are their stories so different? We should at least know if they are memories or not, because honestly, the differences are radical, not subtle. What is the mechanism? I am left wondering but I’m not sure what I am wondering about: the characters intentions, or the writers? Am I over-thinking it and their memories are just that bad? One thing I can say for sure is that this is NOT a love story. It might be a story about love but, shippers, put your hearts in jars and keep them there.

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‘The Affair’ 1.09 or Narrative Structure as Misdirection or The Anna Karenina Factor

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Sunday night’s episode of The Affair was brought to you by the letter S. S stands for Stories.. and Suicides. Suicide has been a significantly recurring theme in this first season, and one that should not be overlooked in your weekly theorizing. Let’s go back — way, way back — to the very first dramatic beat of the series: Martin’s staged suicide. (Oh morbid Martin who learns how to fake a hanging on YouTube and frees horses in the middle of the night.) A tally of the suicides and attempted suicides on The Affair thus far comes in at a staggering FOUR: Martin, (Skank Ho) Jody Manko, Alison, and the Tribeca jumper. And what with the train imagery to boot, there’s an “Anna Karenina” thing going on, for sure. Noah as Vronsky; Alison as Anna; Brooklyn as St. Petersburg? In the pilot, Noah even guesses that it would be Alison’s favorite book.

So why? Could it be as simple as setting the tone for pain and despair, or something more sinister? Are the protagonists misdirecting someone? Are the writers? Well that’s where the “Stories” come in.

At the risk of sounding redundant, it’s been weeks since Noah and Alison’s stories stopped being police interrogations, and yet we’ve not uncovered what they now are. Honest memories? Intentional lies?Innocent tales? And to whom? And from whom? Yes, from Noah and Alison but… who else? “Story” is a theme of its own on The Affair, and it is no coincidence that Noah is a writer: the writers on The Affair are represented here, as is the power of storytelling and narrative misdirection. Viewers have theorized that Alison and Noah are purposely misrepresenting themselves through false narration as part of a cover-up in the Scotty Lockhart investigation, but it seems to me that the writers of this fine series are playing the same trick on us, the audience.

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‘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)

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‘The Affair’ 1.07 or The Truth Shall Seriously Complicate Things

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**Apologies, for the lateness and subsequent rushing on my part with this post. I’m away on holiday in Peru and my Showtime Anytime was not unavailable out of the country**

Sunday night’s The Affair was brought to you by the letter C. C stands for Confessions. And just like that. Did anyone think that the affair would come out in the open quite so quickly?

While on the topic of confessions, here’s mine: It’s been difficult reviewing this show because I love it so much that I need to watch it twice: once to enjoy the hell out of it, and a second time to really get my thoughts together for the review. It takes a lot more time but is absolutely worth it. For me, this is hands down the best new show of the last two or even three years. I’ve crossed over and can barely find a fault in it. Feel free to call me out on any biases to come. Phew! Glad I got that off my chest.

Yet another week of not knowing if what we are watching is a set of memories or confessions or writings? As I mentioned last week, beware, these narratives should still not be taken as absolute truths. Although there is minimal crossover and much of it is similar, they are not identical, so proceed with caution. I’ll ask again, are they just memories? We saw Detective Jeffries again this week after his absence last week, and he’s certainly on his own investigation so if these are interrogations or confessions of sorts, its not to him. We also returned to Noah first. Per my count of firsts that’s Noah – 6, Alison – 1, and I’m sure this means something.

Nonetheless, so much to discuss this week I barely know where to start, but let’s jump in.

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‘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.

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‘The Affair’ 1.05 or Ladies First or It’s A Family Affair

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Last night’s episode of The Affair was brought to you by my new Twitter handle: @SkankHoJodyManko. But seriously though, I forgot how much NOT fun it is being a teenage girl.

For the first time last night, we heard Alison’s side of things first.  And yet again, we didn’t see the same thing unfold twice.  Instead we are seeing certain bits from each of their perspectives but mainly how their personal lives are unfolding when the two are not together. If you’ve been keeping up with my reviews on The Affair, you will have guessed that I was thrilled about both these changes. Not because having Noah’s story come first, or watching the same story twice, had created a problem, but because it would have skewed opinions in his direction and gotten redundant — respectively — had it gone on too long, or worse, permanently. The switch was perfectly timed! In fact, according to showrunner Sarah Treem, a gifted playwright, she saw the season as a three-act play, and Sunday’s episode (no. 5) was the first episode of the second act (via Twitter). If you know anything about story structure, you’ll recognize the truth in that statement as it relates to last night’s episode, and realize that things are going to get very complicated and very dark, very quickly.

And so this week I’ll touch upon what seemed important here, their separate stresses of their home lives, and finally recap the differences and links between Noah and Alison’s stories and “bunk-ups” as well as what has become my new favorite show within a show “Revelations: Hosted by Detective Jeffries“. Let’s not forget we finally learned who died this week (BOOM! I got it right!).

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