Entertainment Weekly


Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


The Affair season finale recap: 'The Affair' season 1 finale recap

We got answers, just not all of them.

Posted on

The Affair
Mark Schafer/Showtime

The Affair

TV Show
run date:
Joshua Jackson, Maura Tierney, Dominic West, Ruth Wilson
Current Status:
In Season

Well? That was really something. And by “something” I mean this show gave us some of the things we wanted to know (who Alison has a kid with) but not, you know, what actually the hell is going on with this Scott Lockhart murder. Is this a case of we-got-renewed-for-season-2-so-suck-it-viewers? Perhaps. Or maybe there’s a bigger master plan at work.

I’m totally confounded about why Noah and Alison’s narratives are diverging so dramatically again, but let’s take a closer look.

We begin in Noah town… or should I call it slutty town? Noah swims his laps as he did the first time we ever met him. The very same comely girl from episode 1 says hello and they chitchat about how she’s engaged and he’s separated, and none of this matters as they go back to have some athletic sex without knowing each other’s names till midway through.

Now it’s a montage while The Animals “It’s My Life” plays: Noah the family man, picking up the kids. Helen giving a look that doesn’t just kill but burns to the ground. More laps. School, where Martin gives him an even dirtier, more dismissive look than Helen did (which didn’t seem possible). Noah having sex with a different lady, this one blonde. More laps. Water, always water with this show. Noah’s sad studio—is it the one we saw in Brooklyn Heights?—where he grades papers. He casts a lascivious eye to a pretty fellow teacher at school and proceeds to have sex with her right there in the classroom. But he’s busted and sent to some sort of grown-up detention for disorderly teachers.

He arrives at the Department of Education and learns that he just has to sit around and kill time indefinitely. His seat mate, Victor, who has read Infinite Jest twice is incredibly well read and has been hanging out in this “rubber room” for two years. Noah decides to make use of his time and start back on his book.

But as the montage picks up with Yo La Tengo crooning in the background, we see time passing—mostly through Victor tearing through Tolkin—and before you know it, Noah is finished. Wow, it sure is easy to write a book!

So, here’s a shameful confession: I pressed pause to read the last graph of Noah’s book. Here goes:

With all of that behind him now, he turned again to face the ocean. Looking out on a horizon shrouded by a cloud layer, he thought it was impossible to tell where the sea ended and the sky began. They were both the exact same mournful grey, a probably confirmation of the rumored nor’easter he heard circulating down at the docks. He thought of weather. How unpredictable it still was. He looked down at his feet to watch the wave recede, leaving jagged little rivulets in the sand and took comfort that he could find no order to their paths either. 

Leaving literary criticism behind for a second, I wonder two things. 1) Would Noah double-space after periods like that? Possibly. And 2) Dominic West might be great at his American accent, but he slipped up and used the British spelling of “gray.” Boom. I got you show!

Victor leaves Noah a note—”You are my hero”—which is pretty sweet. Victor might be the best one on this show. I wonder what he did to get sent into this Breakfast Club for adults?

The book, Harry says, is extraordinary. What’s also extraordinary is that Harry is willing to fake a bidding war to get Noah a half a million dollars. Noah tells him he and Helen have separated. Harry asks what it’s like and if he misses Helen. Noah thinks on this: It’s Alison’s face he thinks of. “Not yet,” he tells Harry.

Noah is back with Detective Jeffries and is all sorts of huffy about being asked about his car. The detective lets him know he knows where Noah lives—99 Greenwich Avenue in the West Village—and Noah insults him, which doesn’t seem wise. Noah tells him he’s innocent and knows nothing else. Shaken, Noah leaves the station and passes a familiar face. Hey, it’s that driver from the episode where Noah got a flat tire near Alison’s house!

We flash back to the past where Noah gets a call from Helen. He rushes to the brownstone where she calmly shows him a video from that day at Planned Parenthood when Noah threatened Scottie Lockhart. Her mother hired a private investigator for the divorce. Of course. She knows about his suspension and all the other woman. They start to fight. Helen admits she doesn’t want to divorce him—she wants him back. She says she’ll change in any way to have him come home. She’s so sad, and this scene, by far, makes me the saddest. Poor Helen. Just to complicate things further, they have sex. Sigh.

Noah has the mechanic in his car in the future/present and is all like: You don’t know me, you never fixed my car. The mechanic is all, how about 20k? Noah is like, fine, I’ll wire it to you right now. The mechanic, reasonably, reasons that Noah is in deep trouble.

Back in the past, Noah and Helen go to Whitney’s room to confront her about Scott Lockhart. Whiteny is looking particularly pretty in a orange-peach-ish shirt and clipped hair. When her parents inform her that they’re going to bring statutory rape charges against her boyfriend, she loses her mind. She turns her rage to her father and throws the Alison grenade in as soon as possible. She also lets him know that her mother told her that her father was a sociopath (ha, maybe!) and that he had no idea what that did to her. Oh Whitney, never stop being you. Noah is like, zip it little girl. She’s all, I love Scottie foreeeeever and calls her dad a sociopath.

Back in their bedroom, Noah notices that Helen changes her clothes in the bathroom. That’s sad, too. But when he asks her if he should leave, she asks that he stay. So he does. That is weird but also probably feels very familiar to them both.

Noah is awoken by his phone. And holy crap, it’s Alison. He hits ignore and she texts him: Your daughter is here.

Helen and Noah are packing up to get Whitney. Margaret (yay!) is there to watch the children and to passive aggressively attack Noah. Noah aggressive aggressively attacks back about how the Butlers are the worst, generally. The little kids start yelling. Martin stands up and tells everyone to cool it. Noah takes in how his oldest son has been forced to man up over the past four months. When he makes a move to hug him goodbye, Martin is all—not a chance, slick.

In the car, Helen: “You know what I just figured out? I was so afraid of marrying my father I never realized… I was marrying my mother.” Burn!

At the Lockhart ranch, Alison comes to the door, dressed in a white sundress. “Perfect,” snorts Helen. Helen has no time for this Alison nonsense now, though. She wants to know where Whitney is—with Cherry inside, apparently—and where Scottie is. Alison says he’s not there and that she doesn’t know where he is.

In the kitchen Cherry is nervous. Whitney screams at Alison that she’s a traitor and that she thought they were friends. (Hmmm! Interesting, since we’ll learn soon in Alison’s memory that she would have only just seen Whitney since the summer. Something is rotten in Montauk.)

Cherry pleads for patience and begs Helen not to call the police. Cherry gives it all she has, playing the mother card hard. She tells them that they’ve lost the ranch and will all be homeless soon. Helen is like, this is FUBAR and let’s get out of here. General commotion ensues as Whitney refuses to leave. Helen screams at Alison to stop staring at her husband and, what the f— is wrong with her anyway? Interestingly Cherry steps in to defend Alison. Cherry thinks they should all forgive each other and say goodbye.

The Solloways start to go, Noah lagging behind to make goo goo eyes at Alison, when Scott Lockhart bounds down the stairs. “Did you get rid of her, Mom?” He sees Noah face and is all, whoops. I’m with Noah on this one: hearing him say that would infuriate me, too. Noah chases him out the door, screaming I’ll f–king kill you! He punches him in the face a few times and starts to choke Scottie. But then, a gun fires, and it’s Cole—he is not messing around. He wants a reason not to shoot off Noah’s face.

Noah breathes hard and looks to his right: Helen, looking anxious. He looks to his left, Alison. Cole cocks the trigger (his beard has never looked better), and we fade out to…

NEXT: Alison’s fate is revealed