First off, I’d like to thank those of you who wrote in last week. One of you even blew my mind a little with an answer to the wallpaper switch that was bugging me so last week. But now, a new week and new questions. The good news is that the show finally broke down and told us who is dead. AND, perhaps even more excitingly, the show has finally let Alison’s story go first!
We open with her in bed. Hot, wonderful Cole asks if she wants to come watch him surf and calls her stinko. Alison says she had trouble sleeping and wants to try to sleep for a few more hours. As soon as he leaves the room and we hear the screen door latch, Alison leaps out of bed like she’s Ferris Bueller, throwing off her shirt and hurriedly replacing it with a silky lavender slip dress. Cole comes back because he forgot something and sees that she’s not only not sleeping, she’s preening and looking to leave the house ASAP. They look at each other for a long, heavy moment. He explains he forgot his wax. It’s these little betrayals that hurt the most, right? Cole says, somewhat sadly, he’s always loved her in that dress. Oof. Felt that one.
Yet Alison seems to feel no lingering guilt as she jumps on her bicycle and rides down an idyllic path past sparkling waters and tall sea grass with a big summer smile on her face. She arrives at a house (maybe the cutest house in all the land) and starts dusting and futzing. We hear a car coming down the driveway and she quickly throws on a little mood music that she declares perfect. The show wants us to notice the music, I think, so I feel obliged to tell you it is called “Only Love” by Ken Roberts. (Sample lyric: Hey I know what it’s like to be lonely, I know how it feels / All I ever wanted was to hold you, just to make it real.) Noah is at the door and she starts kissing him and pulling him to the bedroom. He pulls her dress off and a lavender-colored bra is underneath. (When did she put that on?)
Cut to: adult activities that give Alison great pleasure. In the afterglow, Noah asks who owns the house they are in. It is a friend of Alison’s named Phoebe, who is a touring musician. Noah asks if Alison ever considered leaving Montauk, and Alison is all, duh, of course. She wanted to be a doctor but couldn’t afford medical school nor could she get a scholarship because her board scores weren’t good enough. She pointedly comments they couldn’t afford the prep classes that “everyone” takes to prepare. Noah, who knows enough to recognize a subtle jab, sets her straight: He was not some rich kid. He grew up with a truck-driving father and a mother who worked as a waitress. (Paging Dr. Freud!) He went to college on a swimming scholarship. So there. Not for nothing, the way this show deals with issue of social mobility and class is simply fascinating. The phone rings and it is the nursing home where Alison’s grandmother is. She refers to herself as Alison Bailey, for those of you keeping track of which surname she uses and when. She exposits to Noah that her mother, Athena, is in town after not being around for years and now is trying to change Alison’s grandmother’s Alzheimer’s medication. Alison works herself up in a lather over the selfishness of her mother breezing into town and stirring things up. Noah is all, chicks and their moms! They agree to meet after her shift.
Alison arrives at the nursing home and we meet Athena (played by Deirdre O’Connell), who is one of those hippy sanctimonious types. She’s amazing, of course—all long-haired and jangling bangles, and you totally believe she’s Alison’s mom because of the way Alison’s posture changes into instant sullen teen when her mother hugs her. Athena “sensed” that she was needed, could feel it all the way from Jaipur. She thinks that the grandmother is over-medicated because she didn’t recognize Athena, but the grandmother (played by the great Lynn Cohen, otherwise known as Magda from Sex and the City) instantly recognizes Alison—which goes to show that maybe Athena is just away too much. Grandmother knows a Shelley but no Athena, and Athena explains she changed her name and now works in energy healing. Oh brother. Grandmother Joan and Alison clearly adore each other, and Athena feels like the odd daughter out. She brags about her holistic private practices, but also admits she just went through a break-up, or as she puts it, they came to the end of their story. Take that, conscious un-coupling!
Athena and Alison fight about the amount of drugs given to Joan. Athena wants to take over as health proxy, and Alison is like, get real, hippie. You’re never around. Athena wants to take Alison to dinner but Alison has dinner at the Lockhearts, and apparently the moms don’t get along. A drink? Alison says she has to go take care of Phoebe’s house, which is a nice euphemism for what we know she really wants to do.
Alison heads to the restaurant in bad spirits where Jane is covering for her. Oscar comes in a little hungover and asks to borrow Alison’s phone. He can’t use the land line because he wants to talk to her brother-in-law about a delivery he’s owed. Hmmm. Sounds more and more like cocaine to me! Oscar asks if she’s still watching Phoebe’s house, which is as suspicious sounding to me as it seems to be for Alison.
It’s clearly a slow day at the restaurant and Alison is watching the clock (it is 3:45). She has a four top of annoying teen girls who debate the bread amount of breaded chicken (answer: lots) and Scottie Lockhart comes in to see Oscar. Scottie leaves 45 minutes later with a telltale sniff. Oscar is much more chipper and cuts Jane. Alison is bummed it’s not her, but then Oscar busts her for being late and, in general, acts like a creep.
NEXT: And the dead is…
Cut to the present/future with the detective: We finally know who the mysterious victim is and it is indeed, as some of you guessed, Scottie Lockhart. Hooray! But oh, RIP Scottie Lockhart. The detective wants to know about Scottie and Oscar’s relationship and why Scottie would stop by the restaurant. Alison does not say the obvious—drugs—but that the two men were friends. Was she worried? No, she says, twisting her hands nervously beneath the table. But, she says, she should have been. Sidenote: Alison is without her little cropped jacket and is wearing an elegant black top that shows off her very nice shoulders.
Back in the sun-dappled past, Noah and Alison enjoy some beers and peanut butter off the deck of Phoebe’s house. (I keep meaning to mention this, but has anyone else noticed the show has been dropping some subtle clues about Noah’s drinking?) She asks him where he’d live if he could go anywhere. He says Sonoma and is surprised she doesn’t know where it is. He spins a yarn about them going together and she’s all, yeah, don’t do that. He’s like, but I will! Hmmm. Pretty different from Noah’s memory last week when he warned her he’d never leave his wife. He says they’d drink wine all day and then sit around in a cabin with no internet and a wood stove. Doesn’t sound bad. They talk about his teaching, and how much he loves it, how he feels he has things to offer. She smiles. Oh these two.
As Noah starts to leave the house, he abruptly asks if she’s using protection. Alison, like me, is all: really you are asking me this now?!?! But then she says of course and they joke around about STDs. He leaves and she starts to clean up but then hears voices from the driveway and oh boy, Athena is chatting up Noah. Turns out Oscar, peach that he is, told Athena that Alison would be at Phoebe’s house so she decided to show up and join her for dinner. Athena bats her eyes a bit at Noah while he lamely lies that he’s a friend of Phoebe’s. As soon as he’s gone, Athena is like, yeah, you are totally screwing that dude. Alison tries to deny it, but Athena is an energy reader and says it’s obvious that Alison just had sex. Hmm, maybe Athena is pretty good at her job after all! Athena’s attitude is totally, you go girl, get after it. She comments that Alison’s life force is back in a way she hasn’t seen since Gabriel died, and that her heart is open.
Alison starts to storm away, but thinks better of it and invites Athena along. At the ranch, Athena does a little energy work on Alison’s sister-in-law—there’s some blockage in Mary-Kate’s sexual energy center—and all the boys are bringing down boxes from the attic due to a leak. And now for awkward family dinner! Cherry mentions that to fix the roof would have cost $50,000 (ouch). She then admits she recently got an offer of 30 million for the ranch. Some of the boys are all, whoa, we’re rich! But Cole will not hear of it. The ranch has been in their family for seven generations, after all. Scottie doesn’t agree, and they start to fight. Cherry pulls Alison into the house and gives her Cherry’s wedding band. “I want to thank you for taking care of my son.” Ooof, she’s good. Cherry lays it on pretty thick about how much Cole needs Alison. I think we can file this under mother’s intuition.
Back at the table, Alison shows off her ring and Athena loses it. She comments that it’s just another reminder that Alison is “shackled” to this family. She has tons of wedding rings cause she didn’t get the monogamy gene (delivered with a sly side eye to her daughter). There’s some animosity between the moms, and Cole gets mad. Athena wasn’t around during the aftermath of Gabriel’s death, and he reminds his mother-in-law that it was his mother who fed Alison and bathed her when she was terrified of being in the water. “Where the f— were you?” Athena points her finger back at Cole and calls him a bully and Alison wakes up enough to grab her mother and hustle her out of there.
In the car Athena tells Alison she will one day regret choosing her husband over her mother. Alison points out that it was her mother who left, but Athena reminds her that she asked a young Alison to come with her and travel the world. Alison chose her grandparents. “You’ve always craved security, sweetie. Maybe now that you realize that there is no such thing you are starting to become someone else, my love.” Truth bomb.
Back in the present/future, Alison is told she can go. As she goes to leave the detective asks about the night of the wedding. Did she notice anything off about Scottie? No. Did she see him leave? No, “we” left first, she says, and drove back to the city. Hmmm.
NEXT: How’s it feel to go second, Noah?
At the Butler abode, Noah sneaks out of his bedroom where Helen sleeps. In the hallway he notices that Whitney is missing and he runs back in and wakes Helen up. She tells him that Whitney slept at Ruby’s house—oh, and since he’s up to go get bagels. Noah is clearly put out since the only place he was running to was Alison’s pants, but he agrees. Trevor stops him at the door, wanting to hang out. Noah is clearly frustrated that he’s being hassled by his family when he’s just trying to go screw his mistress. Then he feels bad and apologizes.
Interestingly in Noah’s memory Alison is wearing pants and a shirt instead of that dress. Doesn’t he usually imagine her in skimpier ware? And he’s got no time for figurative or literal foreplay since there’s bagels still to get. Alison gives him a better cover, and suggests he text Helen and let her know he’s waiting for a fresh batch of bagels. (Poor bagels, what did they do to deserve getting pulled into this mess?) Helen texts back to 86 the bagels and to get back home to deal with some crisis. Noah is undeterred in his sex mission till he gets another text about something being wrong with Whitney. In this version of events, Alison’s bra and panties match and are a deep purple.
Noah is back in the car when he gets a flat tire. He looks for the jack, but it’s gone. And look who is driving by: Oscar! He decides to keep Noah company while he waits for AAA. Great. Oscar points out that Noah is not exactly in the right part of town. He tells Noah that the Butlers were friends of his parents and were one of the first investors of the Lobster Roll, and that he even knew Helen when she was a kid. Oscar wants to be friends and to hang out later and go fishing, but Noah sort of politely shuts that down.
At home Helen explains the crisis: Whitney is bullying some kid online and the kid, Jodie, tried to kill herself. Helen wants to take Whitney—finally—to therapy. When they confront Whitney, she denies it all (is it bad that I laughed at the fake Twitter account?), and throws her phone into the pool before they can check for themselves. Noah takes charge: Whitney is to write a letter of apology, and he’s taking her over to Jodie’s house to apologize. Whitney throws a tantrum loud enough to attract Bruce Butler. Butler is all, deny deny deny and wants to get his lawyer involved. Noah is understandably frustrated by the thwarting of his good parenting. While arguing about the issue really being about money, the Butlers point out again that it’s their money that pays for the Solloway lifestyle.
Helen and Noah go outside and Helen takes the position of, oh, it’s just a few text messages. Noah throws her popular past back in her face. “You raised our kid to be a popular kid.” Noah thinks she, as his wife, should take his side. Helen says she’s on Whitney’s. Noah (rightly) points out that Whitney sounds like a sociopath. Helen (also right) points out Whitney sounds like a teenager. She reminds Noah that she’s been begging for ages for Whitney to be in therapy and he replies the problem is that they spend their summers with the morally bankrupt Butlers. They figure out a punishment, and Helen says they should go back to Brooklyn tomorrow. But Noah, thinking with a body part not his brain, panics. And… guess who drops by?
It’s gross Oscar, who has Noah’s AAA card, and smarms over to Helen. Oscar manages to drop that he ran into Noah waiting in Ditch Plains and Helen, understandably, can’t understand why Noah would be out there where there are no bagel stores at all. Noah gets nervous and tries to hustle Oscar out. Oscar wants to say hi to Margaret and Bruce and see why they don’t come into the restaurant anymore. He seems a little coked out, frankly. A shoving match starts between Noah and Oscar, which ends with Oscar saying he thought they were friends, “but you’re a douche, just like the rest of them.” Takes one to know one, pal.
Noah has had it and takes Whitney to Jodie’s house to apologize. Whitney is still being a jerk as they pull up to a decidedly more ramshackle house than the Butlers. She claims it was all Rudy, and it was just a joke, and she’s as righteous as any 16-year-old can be that Jodie is, in fact, kind of a skank-ho because she slept with Rudy’s boyfriend. (Let us all take a moment to thank our lucky stars that we are no longer in high school.) Noah is freaked out by Whitney’s lack of empathy—words and actions have consequence. She wants to know if he now thinks that she is a bad person. No, Noah says. But she’s done a bad thing. Whitney is like, well… let’s say I’ve done a lot of bad things. Noah tells her it would make her an a–hole. She doesn’t want to be that and wants to know how to un-a–hole herself. “Just stop doing bad things,” he says, listening to the words as they come out of his mouth. Just stop, he repeats to himself after Whitney gets out of the car and heads to Jodie’s front door. Step one is complete, Whitney.
Back at home, Noah tells Helen that Whitney did great. Helen’s therapist is looking for a local therapist for Whitney and says they should be having family dinners and be more involved. Noah is surly. Helen’s new natural deodorant doesn’t work (ah, marriage) and she thinks she should give up her store to be around more for the kids. She thinks maybe Noah could take the semester off. Noah sees his perceived manhood slipping down the drain as Helen points out he doesn’t really need to work because they could borrow more money from his parents. Noah says no (way). “Fine,” says Helen. “But you’re never going to be successful if you don’t write more than one book a decade.” Yeouch. She stammers around trying to walk that one back. Noah is basically like, peace, I’m out. She drops the other shoe: Just what was he doing in Ditch Plains, anyway? Oh god, the bagels are brought up again (“God forbid you don’t get everything you want”) and he runs out straight to his love shack.
Back in the future/present Noah asks the detective if this is really what he wants to know about. No, not really, the detective laughs and lets him go. Noah wants to know if he was helpful? Very, apparently. Noah asks if they have anyone in mind and the detective says yes without elaboration. Noah asks him: What makes him so sure it wasn’t an accident? The detective doesn’t believe in accidents. He asks Noah if he’s ever heard of a club called The End, which Scottie was heading to when he died. Noah swallows and twitches and said he has never heard of it. Uh-huh. The detective asks if he’s ever been. Noah’s pants burst into flames as he says never.
Back in the summer of adulterous love, Noah heads back to Phoebe’s, where Alison waits. He is somber, and she asks what is wrong. Cut to: hot sex by candlelight. In the middle of things, Noah asks Alison if she wants to run away with him. She says yes. And… scene.