Previously on The Affair: We all began to be convinced that baby Joanie secretly belongs to Cole, right?
We begin in the gray-toned future at Noah’s trial, and it’s a zoo of press outside the courtroom. This makes sense: If his book is as much a runaway hit as we’ve been led to believe, people probably would be interested in a big, soapy, maybe murder. (I mean, we all are, right?)
But let me pause here to really concentrate on something exciting and that is… Helen and Dr. Vic are together one year in the future! Tinder no more! This is very, very exciting to me for reasons even I can’t comprehend. Hey, at least one good thing (besides that cute baby and Noah’s rock bottom) came out of that storm.
But we’re going back into Noah’s perspective — we find him in couples counseling without Alison. His therapist, Marilyn, is played by one Cynthia Nixon! Hi, Cynthia Nixon! The following long and fascinating therapy scene is really, really wonderful. (It will probably not surprise you to learn that Sarah Treem and Anya Epstein, executive producer and writer of this episode, are both veterans of HBO’s In Treatment.)
It’s also kind of hard to recap this scene because it goes through and reveals so much. Dominic West is incredible — he starts off blithe and charming and then we’re able to watch as he slowly peels these layers off to reveal his true feelings. We learn quite a bit about what’s been going on. Here are some highlights:
Marilyn seems to be a good therapist: she presses him on why he feels so judged by the three main ladies in his life: Helen, Alison, Whitney. Noah admits he wants to sleep with Lucy Koskoff. (He does not say sleep.) Who? She’s a 26-year-old student of Noah’s (so he’s teaching again!), and he’s very tempted. He knows all the things that are wrong with him, but he still just wants to bend Lucy over his desk.
Marilyn guesses that Lucy isn’t the first temptation: Noah admits he almost slept with Eden. (Please note that Noah is either lying to Marilyn about this one point or maybe lying to himself when he says that it was he who turned Eden down when we know she was the one who declared no mixing business with pleasure until the night of the hurricane party. In fact he would have but… oh no, then we all have to relive the truly horrific Whitney hot tub incident. (And I mean seriously, isn’t this enough to keep you in therapy for life?)
He says what we’ve all been saying for the last few episodes: He thinks that deep down he might be a bad guy.
Marilyn is all, let’s go back to your past. And here is some really interesting character development. Noah’s father never cheated on his mom, but he also never took care of her once she got really sick. Noah was the one who was the caretaker right till the nitty gritty end. Noah is caught up on the point that his father may never have been unfaithful, but that doesn’t mean he was a good husband or father. He is clearly still angry not just at his dad but also that now he — Noah Good Guy Solloway — is the bad guy because of “one” mistake.
Noah has been thinking of these questions, why we live the lives that we live. He mentions that Helen (still, I would dare to say, the moral compass in his head) reads the obituary looking to see if the deceased had families. Noah’s mind was once blown by this.
His new book is historical fiction revolving around Omar Bradley, a World War 2 hero. Bradley allegedly had a wife at home but managed to have an affair with Marlene Dietrich. Noah wonders if the same drives that lead men to cheat — ”ego, intensity, drive” — also lead them to achieve? This is a fascinating idea to justify infidelity, right? Noah wants to go to France and spent six to eight weeks on research, but he can’t go because he wants to support Alison’s coursework and etc. He’s frustrated. “I want to know if it’s possible, really possible, to be both. A good man and a great man.” A.k.a. would General Bradley have stopped Hitler if he had been home changing diapers?
Man, dudes in their mid-life crises are very interesting! He rattles off a list of impressive names: Jefferson, Hamilton, Hemingway, Picasso — all cheaters! What if the only thing that separates Noah from greatness is him not sleeping with a bunch of pretty ladies??!?!? (Oh brother.)
Marilyn gently points out that Hemingway — Noah’s example of someone who never gave a hoot about anything or anyone — killed himself at age 60. A fair point, really.
Marilyn tells him to think about whether he wants to move forward to marriage with Alison. He wants it all — he wants a family and a partner and all that but he also wants to go to France and sleep with whomever and feel alive and write a great novel. He doesn’t want to be dishonest anymore. (Hmmm.) Marilyn seems to think that Noah admitting all this is the path to being his best self.
He gets home and finds Alison doing the dishes. She apologizes for missing therapy. He thinks about showing her the divorce papers but doesn’t. He does attempt to clean up. They share a nice moment.
In the future the courtroom is looking pretty grim during lawyer Jon’s opening remarks. He paints Noah as a scapegoat and someone easy to point fingers at when in fact he’s just a good guy and great dad and husband. Even Noah’s face is like, HA as if.
NEXT: Alison faces some pretty daunting truths
We enter Alison’s perspective and find her and baby Joanie are asleep in the nursery. She rouses herself and puts the baby down and goes back to bed. She’s already awake, so she pulls out a textbook to do some studying.
The next day class seems both boring and hard, and I can’t even bring myself to write what they are talking about. (This is just one of the many reasons why I am recapping a medical class instead of studying in one.) Alison is having a hard time and asks the teacher during a break if there’s still time to drop the class. She has a day to figure it out. Her teacher urges her to stick with it. But it doesn’t seem like she’s going to as she peaces out of the class early.
And, lurking around her building, is one very strung-out-looking Scott Lockhart. Boy, this kitty cat is looking rough. Alison is wary of how nuts Scott seems but goes along to a bench for a chat. He lays out the whole Lobster Roll turned nightclub plan — how he has an investor, a hedge fund guy (I’m still going with Max!), and just needs her to put up the other half. Things go unsurprisingly dark and bad real fast though when she tells him she can’t get involved.
Scott goes from cajoling to threatening as he tells Alison that basically Noah is responsible for keeping him from his right to sell drugs and that Noah owes them. Alison is like, cool you’re done dealing drugs but clearly still doing them.
At this moment Alison’s nanny and Joanie arrive and Scott looks at Joanie’s sweet face and Cole-colored eyes and you can see the wheels starting to turn. Alison is jittery and not helping the case at all. The nanny is all, “She looks like her Daddy!” Scott is like, oh she sure does. So yeah, there’s that. Alison looks like she’s going to barf.
She asks the nanny to stay a bit longer and runs out to see Cole, who is chilling in a bar in Greenpoint. Cole looks great. They have an awkward yet sweet hug and good lord, is Alison going to tell Cole that Joanie is his? Or maybe his? But no, there’s catching up to be done, about how he’s been working construction and Luisa is managing a restaurant across the street and, oh yeah, that he and Luisa are getting married.
How great are Alison and Cole together? It’s really weird that with both original couples — Noah and Helen and Cole and Alison — you really feel the shared history and you come very close to wishing everyone were still with their original partner. I mean, have we ever seen Alison look this happy with Noah? When she notes how happy Cole is and he agrees that he is, you can see Alison make the decision not to tell him anything that would cause him to be less so. So she goes with, let me tell you about Scott being a whole jittery mess. Cole is all, who cares, I’ve washed my hands of this whole thing. (Though I do believe you can see Cole’s ears perk up when Alison casually mentions that Oscar is about to lose The Lobster Roll.)
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They talk about their good old days at The Lobster Roll and this is cute and sad and ugh, Alison is not going to tell Cole.
Luisa comes through the door, and in Alison’s mind Luisa wears a lot more makeup and is a much cooler customer than we’ve seen from Cole. I dig it. The ladies are polite, though it is tense, and Alison flees. Ugh, the conflicting emotions!
She comes home and interestingly this is how she’s remembering the day she missed couples therapy. Noah is being cute with the baby in the kitchen and tells her went to see Captain America instead. Interesting. He also wants to quit therapy. “We’re happy again,” being the reasoning.
They’re back to having a hot sex life again, that’s for sure. Things are going great till they’re interrupted by Joanie chirping “Da-da” — possibly for the first time. Well okay, The Affair, I get it.
In the future, lawyer Jon gets the lab results on that pacifier. “My oh my oh my.” I’ll say!