Noah and Alison finally embark on the titular "affair."

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November 03, 2014 at 04:01 AM EST

Just when think you’ve got bit of a handle on what’s happening here in Affair-ville, the show flips the script around again. This time, instead of having Noah and Alison tell their versions of the same time period, their stories progress chronologically.

Let’s begin, as tradition dictates, with Noah: We find him outside the police station talking on the phone with Trevor about his essay. How old is Trevor now? Apparently old enough to be writing about Huck Finn (did Mark Twain intend it to be racist?) but still young enough to confuse similes and metaphors. The detective comes out to get Noah and here is something that I find interesting: Noah says he’ll call Trevor back later that night. Does that mean he might not live in the same house as Trevor? The detective tries to bro bond a bit, saying that he never sees his twin boys because his wife got full custody. Noah does not take the bait.

Back in the adulterating past, Noah and Alison are on a ferry to Block Island, ostensibly for research purposes. Noah gets an entire coffee spilled all over his shirt and has to hang back for a while when he sees that Alison has run into someone she knows. Once they reach dry land, she suggests buying him a new one. (Sidenote: It is freakin’ beautiful on Block Island.) Once inside they’re doing that new cutesy couple thing where they show each other items of clothing. Noah finds a shirt. Alison discovers a dress she likes and before you know it, these two are in a dressing room having a hot and heavy make-out session. As someone who worked in retail all through high school and college, I felt nothing but annoyance during this scene and sympathy for the poor shopgirl who has to pretend like she doesn’t know what is happening on the other side of the curtain. FYI: We can always hear you and, yes, we know what you are doing. Cut it out.

The two of them sit around and eat ice cream, meaningfully—and Alison is wearing the dress she was “trying on” which is distracting me because where did she put the clothes she was wearing before?—and they head to the lighthouse. Noah nerds out, hard. Alison smiles at him, not listening. The colors in this scene are out of this world, with the green of the grass set off by the blue of the sky and ocean. It is around here that I realized for the first time that Noah is actually really attractive. He’s very cute in this scene, getting excited about light beams and such. Alison agrees.

They take a walk down a path and discuss past sexual partners. Noah has only had sex with three people, which Alison cannot get over. He explains that he met Helenwhen they were freshmen in college. “That’s basically a virgin,” she teases. She asks about high school and he says that he never had sex with anyone in high school because his mother was dying from MS and he was taking care of her. She died when he was 17. (But then did he have sex with two other women freshman year before Helen? I guess it was a big year for him.) And how many men has Alison slept with? Thousands, she jokes. Maybe.

Down at the picturesque cliffs, she tells him about what family she has left. Her grandmother is in a home with Alzheimer’s. She shows him her favorite spot on the island, the Mohegan Bluffs and tells him a little bit of history about the place. (If you are interested, as I was, you can read all about them here.) She says there’s a legend that you can see a piece of a mast from a shipwreck and that as a young girl she’d pretend it was Neverland. (From Peter Pan—which, you might remember, was referenced in the first episode—not Michael Jackson’s ranch.) Her grandfather told her that if she listened closely to the wind, she’d hear Peter calling for her. Alison and Noah are all cute smiles and romantic kisses.

They go to a bar where Noah nervously downs some booze. Clearly, he’s rattled about what comes next. She tries to distract him by asking about his book and we learn that he finished the first chapter and he sent them to “Bruce’s editor,” who hasn’t responded. Noah asks Alison if she considers herself a good person and she says no, there’s too much gray area in between good and bad. He’s freaking out because he’s never cheated on Helen. “I could never convince myself it was worth it,” he tells her. Alison, reasonably, is all whatever dude. She says she never has cheated on Cole and works a little seductive magic on Noah that seems to be working till his phone rings.

It’s Helen with some sort of emergency involving her mom at home. The mood is broken and Noah starts lashing out a bit. Alison points out that coming to Block Island was his idea and huffs off. He chases her down the street and she has had it. They fight a bit in the street after he says he’s been having second thoughts. She is so desperate to get out of there that she buys a ferry ticket that goes to Connecticut instead of Long Island, which is so inconvenient it’s insane.

He drifts around on his own and goes to the island museum where the woman Alison talked on the ferry ride is working. He lamely explains he knows Alison through his wife because the women take yoga together. He’s a novelist and that’s the best he can do? The lady has some fairly pointed thoughts about how silly yoga is, people need to have sex more, and the great tradition of the older broads on this show being particularly awesome continues.

Noah gazes thoughtfully at the paintings that depict the stories that Alison told him earlier.

He gets a call from Harry, the editor, who apparently loves that first chapter. Noah’s whole mood turns quickly around. Writers! He goes back to the store (which, dude, go elsewhere) to look for something with horses for his daughter. The shopgirl tells him that he just missed his wife. And ding-a-ling, Alison walks back in. The two gaze at each other and seem to silently agree this is some sort of sign. So they start making out in the store. That poor, poor shopgirl.

To the hotel they go, where they can get a room for $250 dollars. (Hey, look, this hotel exists and this is actually the right rate! Way to go, show!) They pay in cash, which is weird, but if you’re trying to hide your behavior then it’s a good way to go. It’s a super charming room, with a nice bed and pretty floral wallpaper (I will get back to this in a moment).

Noah says he doesn’t want to hurt Alison and that he’ll never leave his wife. Alison is all, hell yeah let’s roll. And then adult things happen, which I don’t want to recap. But in Noah’s memory, this is all kind of intense and tender.

Next: What the hell is up with that wallpaper? 

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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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