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‘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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‘Homeland’ Season 4 Finale or Silence is the Battlefield of Self-Reflection or War Is Over (And That’s Okay!)

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Last night’s episode of Homeland was brought to you by the letter S. S stands for Silence. And silence needs no explanation.

Cards out on the table: YES, I APPEAR TO BE THE ONLY PERSON WHO ENJOYED LAST NIGHT’S HOMELAND. (1) I have no shame in admitting it. (2) I was well aware throughout the episode that this may very well be the case. Like you I was waiting around in the silences between the silences for the proverbial shoe to drop. I tweeted at the time that “Every time someone steps into a car and smiles, I swear it’s going to blow up“. But alas, no one blew up. Nor did the CIA operative asking Quinn to join him shoot him in the back and face down into the community pool, either. Nor was Saul not poisoned by Dar Adal over Chicken and Waffles… But see, here’s the thing: I feared it. I imagined it. I wallowed in the expectation of it. In anxiety. In paranoia. We (the audience, as much as the characters) have been in the thick of a personal and violent war in the Middle East for months and in a state of unrelenting and impending horror and mistrust. The season (not the episode) built those expectations into our psyches, and successfully so. And now, it’s just over? Yes. Take a deep breath, and accept it. Eventually war ends. (And that’s a good thing.)

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened.  (source)

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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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‘Homeland’ 4.09 or Mathison’s Law: What Did Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong Again

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Last week’s episode of Homeland was brought to you by the letter C. C stands for Consistency. As in, consistent failure, but constantly kick ass episodes of Homeland.

(As mentioned in my previous post on The Affair, I was out of the country during the Thanksgiving holiday and unable to view/post for the most part last week. Thankfully for me, Showtime has taken a little break as well, and so I’ve taken that breather to ponder on the goings-on from the “explosive” 9th episode from the week prior.)

Yet another heart-wrenching week of didn’t-see-that-coming cliffhangers, and a sign that this season could be the strongest yet . Let’s quickly look back at the shockers from the last four episodes:

  • 4.06: Carrie sends Aayan to Haqqani, and he is killed in cold blood. Haqqani whips out kidnapped Saul from his car. Carrie nearly drops a bomb on them all and Quinn is forced to restrain her from quite literally pushing the button.
  • 4.07: Carrie is drugged, left roaming the streets in hysterics and hallucinating a shooting. She is taken prisoner where she hallucinates Brody and pours her heart out to him. Her hallucination is revealed to be HISIG Khan.
  • 4.08: Saul escapes Haqqani, but the CIA’s extraction plan is made. Saul almost blows his brains out amid the panic, Carrie promises him extraction, but he is recaptured anyway. Khan reveals Dennis as the mole to Carrie.
  • 4:09: Saul nearly ruins the prisoner exchange until Carrie again convinces him to stay alive. Their transportation vehicle is blown up in an ambush, while Haqqani is infiltrating the embassy through the underground tunnels Dennis has given up to Tasneem.

I’d also like to point out that despite those just being the final moments of the episode, the episodes as a whole have been rock solid. It’s old trick to have a so-so episode and just end with a bang creating a kind of narrative-amnesia (ahem, Homeland season 3) but I must say with the way everything has come together this year, I cannot blame the team of that this time around. With the tightly woven stories, and they way they mostly seem to be coming together, you would think we had been in the final stretch of the season, but no. Since the season opener and Sandy’s shocking death we’ve more or less never stopped freaking the hell out now, have we? Even when it slowed down and allowed us into the depths of Quinn’s pain, Saul’s regret, or Carrie’s darkness, you at least hoped that whatever they were going would come return with a vengeance as the season rolled along — and it has.

Saul’s self-doubt about leaving the CIA has certainly come full circle by now, dragging him to the deepest pits of despair, ripping him from his life, and quite literally looking into the eyes of innocence and evil all in one in that young boy. After Carrie’s “faux affair” with Aayan, his death, holding Saul’s life in her hands three times and a catharsis with Khan-as-Brody, it would appear she’s ready to accept that her job isn’t quite as important and benevolent as she tried to convince herself of when she left Franny motherless. Now, as for Quinn, that remains to be seen, and I take it will be fairly soon. For all the attention they put on his character’s state of mind in the earlier part of this season, I hope that his arc and the change in his character will have a large impact on the coming events, particularly since he and Lockhart are now in charge or figuring out what happened during the ambush and of controlling the impending infiltration of the embassy.

Oh and the big question? Could Carrie and/or Saul actually be dead? Seriously and permanently injured?

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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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