We learn a lot of new information about our adulterers.

By Sara Vilkomerson
Updated October 20, 2014 at 03:01 AM EDT

The Affair

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  • TV Show
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Well, we’re back in the murky waters that churn around the central mystery of The Affair. Can’t say that this episode gave a lot of new answers, but it did shed a little light on some things. Oh, and let’s give a shout out to the theme song courtesy of Ms. Fiona Apple. I like it so much, I will probably not fast-forward it. You’re welcome, show.

First up, as usual, we have Noah and his memories. Is it just me, or does anyone else find Noah more annoying in his own retelling than in Alison’s? Anyway, we hear Noah telling the police that he didn’t know that Alison was married when he first met her, and that he considered her both the loneliest girl in the world and bad news. His voice-over continues as we see Noah running through town in his Williams T-shirt (yep, that seems about right) and trying hard not to think about Alison and her cute skimpy dresses that may only exist in his brain. He claims he wanted to avoid her but, of course, we see that he actually lurks by her driveway and sees her everywhere. Interestingly, we learn that in the future/present (note: still so confused by the time/space continuum on this show) his second book exists and the detective questioning him has already picked up a copy. So, I guess he did have a second book in him after all!

Noah is most definitely thinking about Alison. Especially during his “me time” (if you know what I mean, and I think you do) in the shower, which gets super awkward when his wife wants to join him. Breakfast at the Butler mansion seems pretty intense, what with a teenage brat demanding an espresso, grandpa refusing to let a 10-year-old beat him in chess; and no one being allowed to touch anything—especially since they had an efficiency expert come to “do the kitchen.” God, it must be great to be rich.

Helen volunteers for them to go buy flowers for the big party at the house, and this leads to a car ride full of some interesting information. For starters, Whitney’s friend Ruby recently spent some time in rehab, which I’m quite certain we will be revisiting in the future. Noah is totally over hearing the same stories out of Helen (she is a lot more tolerant of his attitude that I would be, I think), but this particular tale has to do with the Lockhart farm where she used to ride and there were “four boys” who must be grown-up by now. I’ll say.

But first, the farmer’s market, where Noah and Alison see one another again at the jam stand. In this memory, Alison wears another wisp of a sundress and acts like she has no idea who Noah is or why he’d be talking to her. She ices him pretty awesomely and sells a bunch of jam in the process. Win.

The Solloway family heads to the Lockhart Ranch, where we get to meet some of the other Lockhart boys, Scottie and Hal. Each one is cuter than the next. Stacy (the choke monster) gets signed up for lessons, and weirdo Martin with absolutely zero experience gets to try his hand working for Cole (Pacey!). Noah recognizes Cole as the sex partner of his woman he’s been fantasizing about and acts like a total freak, but no one seems to notice.

We learn through voice-overs that Noah may have some issues: His mother died young, his dad was an alcoholic, and he was thrown into a panic by the idea of not having someone to love. So he proposed to Helen right after college and felt like a man. Ah, hindsight. Funny stuff.

Noah is definitely a little Alison-obsessed. Instead of writing his book, he’s just typing “Alison” like a sixth grade girl on a Trapper Keeper. And when he finds out the delicious sandwich his wife made him is due to that magical jam, his brain implodes. In case you haven’t picked up on it, Noah is really annoying me—thank your wife for making you lunch! Don’t complain about being bored! Sheesh.

At the big fancy party, Whitney is dressed incredibly inappropriately—her dress is the size of a cocktail napkin. Helen freaks out when she finds out her dad invited the woman that he once had an affair with, and it’s when Noah comforts her that he sees that Alison, clad in a tight black cocktail dress, is working the party.

There’s some horrific passive-aggressive cocktail party chatter—about Noah’s book, about being more commercially successful, about Alison’s ass in her dress. You know, the usual. It sends Noah around the bend though, so he stomps off and finds Alison smoking pot and then takes her down to the private beach (attention all burglars: the code is Helen’s birthday, which he messes up and it seems odd).

Then Alison dances around like she’s in the Madonna Cherish video and comes on real strong to Noah. Real strong. He resists, telling her that nothing can happen between them and saying all the right things about how he’s a married man. She’s all, surprise: My last name is Lockhart, and I’m married too! And that “marriage means different things to different people.” And yet, and yet…

Noah tells the cops that nothing happened that night. We learn that they’re talking to everyone who “knew the victim” (hmmm!) to see who might have wanted him dead. But then we see he’s been lying to the cops anyway because when he walked back to the house that night, he saw Alison waiting at the gate and they start making out.

Next: Let’s see what Alison remembers…

In Alison’s memory, things are always more wholesome. There are denim shorts and bicycles and early morning rides to pick up some fish from a cute fisherman named Will. She stops to see Caleb, who apparently works at the train dispatch and who is reading Bruce Butler’s book (love the title, Castle of Man). We also get a clue that Bailey might be Alison’s maiden name (and the one she gave the cops in episode 1), since that’s what Caleb calls her. She also takes the fish back with her, which is weird and I’m guessing will be explained to us later. Or not. Mysteries!

Alison in the future tells the cops that she never thought she’d see Noah again. Summer people are invisible and may as well just be lampposts. So far I’m Team Townie. Though I do covet an efficiency expert…

At the restaurant, terrible boss Oscar tells her that Bruce Butler needs waitresses for a catered party (really, they get food from the lobster shack on the highway? I don’t think so). Alison takes a pass on that one and heads to Mary Kate’s, her sister-in-law, for some labeling of jam and crazy girl talk bonding. Short version: Hal asked his wife if she wants to do have a threesome with the au pair. Alison tried anal sex once. Okay, moving on!

At the farmer’s market, Alison is definitely not wearing her seducing clothes. Instead of a skimpy dress, it’s just a shirt and shorts (though it’s worth noting, both Noah and Alison’s memories agree on the color). Noah buys an insane amount of jam ($40! Summer people = suckers) and tells Alison he wants to see her again.

At the Lockhart ranch, we see Whitney pull up in a convertible and a short romper, bouncing in like some sort of jailbait Lolita nightmare and subtle-as-a-sledgehammer flirting with the young Lockhart brother. Sample: “I’ve never been on a horse before. Something tells me I’d love it. I’m a dancer, so I’ve got really loose hips.” Someone lock this girl up till college.

The jam gets even more airtime when Alison’s mother-in-law comes and totally messes with her head. She clearly means to be supportive, but you can see Alison break into a million tiny pieces when her mother-in-law praises her for her strength. And, offers to let them move in when they have another baby. “I just thought it might be nice for you to have some help next time around.” Oooof, felt that one.

And so did Alison as she apparently decided to put on a little black dress and work the Butler party after all. She spies Helen and Noah fighting (definitely different than Noah’s recollection, as is what Helen is wearing) and talks to Margaret Butler (big cheers here for Kathleen Chalfant, who is portraying a woman who is quickly becoming my favorite character on this show). Margaret recognizes her as “that poor girl who lost her baby” from the newspaper and offers her a 1,000 bucks to dump a drink on her husband. Heh.

Helen condescendingly fixes Alison’s strap as she walks by (“This couldn’t be any tighter,” she chirps) and when Alison goes into the house she sees Lolita daughter prancing up the steps with the Lockhart brother, who came with “Ed,” who is apparently famous. Uh-oh. Noah catches them and let’s all have a moment of empathy for all the fathers with leggy teenage daughters who are in their testing-out-their-girl-powers phase.

This time on the beach, Alison says she doesn’t swim. Noah brings up the awkwardness that the last time he saw her she was naked and having sex with her husband, and notes she doesn’t wear a ring. (For better tips, of course.)

Noah sells her on his sad story: married young, should have waited longer, see who he might become, blah blah blah. Then he dazzles her with his theoretical physics talk, about traveling back in time and making different decisions. That there’s a true life that continues unchanged but that you then have a new life traveling in a parallel universe. He puts his hand on her then, clearly thinking and in that other universe you and I can do it. Alison, I’m guessing, is thinking something else, probably the possibility of a world where her son isn’t dead.

But, be that as it may, when Noah tells her he’s been thinking about her all week, she says she’s been thinking about him, too (even though there’s been no evidence of that), and they start making out on the beach.

Back in the present/future: Alison tells the cop everyone at the party was local. (But were they? Aren’t they summer people?) And “the road where he died” was one to a fancy club that only tourists go to. Hmmmm. She also said she was driving back to the city that night so maybe the show is engaging in a little time travel trickery itself here, and is in fact talking about a different night, different party. Because the last shot we see is Alison walking home.

Episode Recaps

The Affair

Two marriages collide when a tragedy brings an affair to light; the Showtime original series stars Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney.
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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 4
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  • TV-MA
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