Welcome back to the show that still refuses to tell us who is maybe dead. WHO IS MAYBE DEAD?! I need to know! And… we still don’t know. Ugh. There’s plenty of other things I’m not so sure of either—like if we can trust any small piece of Noah or Alison’s memories since it seems as though their stories are beginning to get further and further apart.
Let’s begin with Noah. We see him at night (or very early morning) swimming in the beautiful Bruce Butler pool. Are we to think he’s a man drowning in temptation? A man underwater with his responsibilities? Or just a dude who likes to swim. Either way, his father-in-law—who can not resist any opportunity to passive aggressively/aggressive aggressively cut him down to size—calls him in to tell him a fine yarn about beating the pants off some poor schmo named Arnold in tennis. I think it’s supposed to be some sort of whack Bruce Butler parable about being more disciplined with one’s writing habits, but Noah is about as receptive as any writer will be when it’s implied they might be goofing off. (Not me, of course. Nope, never.)
He’s so fed up, in fact, he goes straight to his bedroom and takes off his swim trunks. He slithers up behind a peacefully sleeping Helen and whispers those three little words every lady wants to hear: “Don’t wake up.” Which, romantic or gross? You decide!
At breakfast Helen is trying to decide between overpriced bowls between Kenya or Brazil. Bruce Butler gets stuck being on childcare duty because Noah has a breakfast meeting and Whitney has an interview to be an au pair (haha, good luck kiddos!). At lunch with Harry, the agent we met in last week’s episode, we learn that Noah wakes up early to write (or swim) and that he has no idea what his next book is going to be about. Harry thinks Noah has an honest face—which may be a subtle nod as to why the print industry is in trouble. Noah vamps a little bit about how he wants his novel to be set out in Montauk, about “the death of the American pastoral” and about an affair between a waitress and a city guy who falls in love but he kills her in the end. Hmmm! Harry is interested, too. Now all Noah has to do is write it.
Searching for, um, inspiration, Noah heads to The Lobster Roll looking for Alison. Oscar, gross boss, throws a little bit of shade as if he knows exactly what Noah is really up to. Noah heads to the library, where he looks up his own book (title: A Person Who Visits a Place. Excellent.), which is dedicated to Helen. Think on that during your next me time, Noah! Alison magically appears. How did she know he was there? She offers a tour of the island, looking fetching in a low cut blue T-shirt and flimsy skirt. Noah says all the right things again: He’s married, he doesn’t want to jeopardize his family, blah blah blah. Alison suggests the friend route. As she walks away, Noah thinks friendship sounds nice and trots off after her.
Alison takes him down to the docks where cute fisherman Will is. He offers up some fresh porgy fish, but poor city boy Noah doesn’t even know what that is. Scottie Lockhart shows up with an envelope full of cash and an attitude full of questions. Note: Many of you guys picked up how downright fishy things to be with these fish transactions and how, perhaps there’s some sort of smuggling going on with the fish. Do we think drugs? I think we think drugs. Alison’s mood quickly darkens after the arrival of Scottie and she deals with it by practically forcing Noah to make out with her. As you do. (Also, she’s nuts because Cole is making ribs for dinner and that sounds like a nice time to me.) Noah protests and Alison again stomps off saying “I get it.” I don’t think so…
Time for a totally awkward Solloway dinner! Margaret tries to teach basic table manners to Trevor, and Whitney can’t believe what spoiled brats the kids she’s charged with taking care of are. Small moment of silence for the absolute excellence of Maura Tierney’s deadpan, “Really? What’s that like?” Also the father of said brats apparently leered at Whitney’s ass. Bruce Butler’s reaction is, well you can’t fault a guy for good taste, which… gross grandpa.
We get a little backstory chatter about how Helen’s parents were not so psyched about Noah and Helen getting married. Noah, understandably, bristles even though if he could step outside of himself he could see how hilariously wonderful Margaret is—even if she throws the fact that they lend the family a ton of money back in his face. Still, if you want to write a book with a great character in it, this is the woman you should be studying.
Noah takes off to the Town Hall meeting but arrives just in time to see everyone leaving. Oscar, gross boss, totally busts him again as he gazes at Alison saying goodbye to Cole. Noah grabs Alison and asks if they can talk somewhere alone.
Noah confesses that he can’t stop thinking about Alison: that it’s keeping him from sleeping, talking to his kids, having sex with his wife. She says she thinks about him, too. And her suggestion as to what Noah can do to solve this is problem is not printable on this family-friendly website. Alison! Noah half-heartedly resists, telling her not to rush him and that he wants to be in charge. Things progress.
Cut to… Noah washing his hands before joining his wife and kids. Classy. They’re all watching Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but he’s not seeing the humor in poor Cameron losing his mind. So that must mean he has a lot to think about.
Back in the future/present Noah is talking to the detective. He suggests talking to Alison’s boss, Oscar. He also recommends the detective read his book. (Writers! Always schilling.) He also wants to get home to his wife (!) for dinner.
Alison remembers things differently…
Alison is listening to the radio and wearing a really pretty dress. (Seriously, I was distracted during these scenes about how much I like this dress and how pretty I think she looks in it.) She’s singing along to Dolly Parton’s “Why’d You Come in Here Lookin’ Like That” when Cole sneaks up on her in a towel, bitching about the construction of the house across the way. Cole thinks she needs a new dress which *I* take offense to. He’s a little sad she’s on her way to a job interview as he’s gotten used to having her around, but sweetly tells her that he’ll miss her.
Alison drives around listing to Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” and for a moment she’s just a carefree woman in a pretty dress, driving around with the windows down, hand in the summer breeze, singing along with the radio. But not for long.
Apparently Alison used to work at the hospital, presumably as a nurse. She’s greeted warmly and when she meets with the head nurse or administrator she’s questioned about whether she’d be okay returning to pediatrics. Alison hedges, but seems to be in it to win it, so agrees she could try being a floater. But when they are walking around the hospital, a heartbreaking scene in the hallway stops her cold. A kid, clearly suffering the effects of chemo, throws up in the hands of his mother—eyes ringed red and oh, so tired and broken—and you can just sort of see Alison’s soul and resolve disintegrate. She changes course, taking the key card into the medical supplies closet and grabbing a bunch of bandages and antiseptic spray and hightailing it out of there to the beach.
She picks up a few shells, finds the sharpest one, and cuts the inside of her leg. (Augh, she’s a cutter!) The bandages and such come in handy, as her voice-over in the future talks about secrets. Yeah, we get it: Everyone sure has a lot of them out here.
At the restaurant she learns that Noah left her a note, asking her to call him. Oscar lets her off work with the promise that she’ll back him up at the Town Hall when he unveils his big bowling alley plans. She’s noncommittal about the whole thing (Oscar is gross, have I mentioned that?). Interestingly, Oscar calls her “Bailey”—the name we know she’s going by in the present/future—on her way out the door. Alison apparently then texts Noah and arranges to meet him at the library.
Of course here is where the details of our story start getting wildly different. Alison’s demeanor, for starters. She’s not flirty, she’s skittish. She’s wearing jeans and a cardigan, too. They talk through Noah’s book idea and then they kiss in the library—which, to me, seems absolutely insane. This is a small town, where is everyone? Alison shows Noah an old picture of her grandfather, and we learn it was her grandfather who raised her and that he, like Noah, was a storyteller.
She does take him down to the docks, but in her memory there’s no Scottie. (Or cute fisherman Will, for that matter.) They make out in the shadows, but it’s Alison who stops things. And it’s Alison who points out why this is a terrible idea—this is where she lives, after all, and she doesn’t think they should see each other anymore. Noah tries to use the book angle, claiming he needs her for research purposes. We’ll see how that goes. She tells him that there’s a town board meeting if he wants to go.
At said meeting, after learning about the deer eating rose bushes and that (hilariously) Alec Baldwin is again upset about a lack of privacy, things gets heated pretty quickly when Oscar presents his plan. Cole stands up and while he claims he takes no joy in public speaking, he gives quite a speech about the joys of being local. Like, a speech that should have had the whole room on their feet shouting U-S-A! But, more specifically, he uses the fact that he’s a man who was born there and has a son who was buried there, which pisses Alison right off. And Oscar, too: He and Cole almost get into a scuffle, in fact. Apparently there’s been beef between Oscar’s family and the Lockharts for ages. Small town stuff.
Now here’s some new info: the detective wants to know why Oscar was at the wedding. Is this the fateful party/wedding where the maybe murder takes place? Come on, show. Tell us!
Alison goes home and gets a text from Noah apologizing for not making it to the Town Hall. Interrresting that this is the first time where the narrative dramatically diverges. She attacks her sleeping husband, kissing his neck, and telling him those three little words again: “Don’t wake up.” I, for one, am at a loss.