The Affair season 2 recap: Episode 2
We finally (finally!) get to take a peek inside Cole's head.
We begin with an unusual “Part 3,” which is from Alison’s point-of-view. It’s the third installment because it quickly becomes clear that episodes one and two are four perspectives of the very same day, which is sort of fun.
We’re in that magical beautiful house on the Hudson. Alison wakes up to find Noah bringing her coffee in bed. She expresses feeling a bit weird that she’s staying with him — he being a writerly guest of the people in the big house and who do they think she is? This appears to be a slightly odd take on the whole so-what-are-we talk, but Noah solves it by telling her she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to him. They noisy kiss for a bit, which is sort of gross, and say they love each other. He suddenly remembers he broke the toilet and asks her to help take care of it.
She apparently doesn’t want to pee in the toilet, so she goes to do her business down by the water. Interesting choices. (This also goes for her nightshirt which displays an incredible amount of sideboob.) She sees a man — from the big house? — head down the dock with a fishing pole, and she gazes contemplatively. (Like Alison could gaze in any other way.)
Wearing a teal green dress that I swear I remember from last season, she prowls around the house. Noah’s manuscript is on the desk and she sees that it’s dedicated to her (ugh, poor Helen). She thinks about continuing to read it, but gives up and leaves before being further tempted.
She starts walking down a country lane — you know the deal, beautiful greenery and cows — and she gets a blister from her sandal. This is, by the way, a detail that makes me feel like there are a lot of women who understand women in The Affair’s writers room. A truck comes by, and it’s Robert from the big house; he offers to drive her into town.
They talk about how pretty it is (and oh, it is) and how Yvonne, his wife, wants them to sell and go back to the city because she is a city girl, but he can tell Alison is from a small town and sometimes this show just makes random chitchat feel so meaningful and I can’t pretend I always know why.
NEXT: Alison gets a job — Noah doesn’t approve
They get to town (more charm), and she gets a band-aid and watches some little boys play soccer. They’re roughly the same age her son would have been, and it’s clear this is what she is thinking about, too.
At the local diner, she randomly asks about how much waitresses make, but then seems to sort of realize that’s not her life anymore. She gets home, covered in sweat and realizes someone is there. Guess who! It’s Cole.
There he is, looking large and masculine in this environment, and he’s reading Noah’s novel. There’s a lot of nervous energy between them — he’s quiet but definitely pretty hostile, and she’s jittery. It’s very awkward. But score one for Cole: When he hears the toilet is broken, he gets to have some smug high ground. He learns that Noah can’t fix it and he doesn’t even have his own tools. He goes to get his own tools from the truck. (Let the hotness of that sentence wash over you for a second.)
Now it’s ill-timed visiting from Yvonne, lady of the big house. (Note: This actress, Joanna Gleason is fantastic in just about everything I’ve ever seen her in and this role is no exception.) She’s the picture of wealth, in her shades of white and a welcome basket full of artisanal nonsense. Yvonne — no dummy — is impressed by the sight of Cole exiting with his tool kit. Of course, Yvonne has no idea she’s a witness to something so emotionally charged, such as Cole handing over the box of all things Gabriel. Woof, that one hurt. He takes off, and Yvonne invites Alison to come to the house.
By the way, the big house really is big. Robert is there and while Yvonne — a publishing big shot, we learn — chats on the phone, he and Alison continue to bond as she drops some nursing knowledge on him about how to fix his knee. And just like that, somehow, they arrange for her to take over as a personal assistant for them. There’s definitely something a little weird about this… maybe… but maybe not.
At home, a cheerful Alison makes dinner. (I wonder if Nancy Meyer has seen this kitchen because, just like the rest of this house, it is incredible.) Noah comes home, all grouchy and appears to be spoiling for a fight. He’s a jerk about dinner, asking if dover sole tastes fishy (classic dude), and tells her all his problems with a tone like it’s her fault. He also asks what the deal is with her house because they could use the money. Hmmm.
She resolutely tries to stay chipper but falters in the face of his jerkiness. She tries to distract him with news of her job, but he flips out about that, too. This is some classic class anxiety—he can’t have Alison working for Robert and Yvonne if he’s their guest. Or something. He’s all stomp stomp stomp out of the room. But he’s back in a moment to apologize, and they solve things by having sex on the counter. More interesting choices. They have a dinner out on the terrace in her recollection as well, toasting themselves.
But in the future, Alison is getting frozen out by the lawyer hired by Helen. Toby is being downright rude, actually, and treating her as an afterthought.
Next: Welcome to Coletown. It’s not pretty.
Here we are for Cole’s version of this day, and here’s a spoiler: It’s not so great. Our little pal is looking rough as he drives a taxi. I had an argument with a friend about what happens next: Cole’s next customer is Bruce Butler, who is feeling very condescending and chatty. (My friend thought this was too coincidental, but I think in small, seasonal towns such as this these encounters happen often.)
Bruce assumes Cole is some newbie off the bus from Nebraska or something and Cole doesn’t correct him — especially when Bruce starts talking about his deadbeat son-in-law leaving his daughter. Turns out, that lady we heard Bruce talk about in season 1 is back in the picture. In fact, it sounds like he’s about to leave Margaret for her. Man. The Butler hits keep coming.
At the Butler house, Bruce surprises me by shaking Cole’s hand. Cole is all, whatever, and then backs out of the driveway almost running down a little kid. This kid has an awfully hot babysitter that he notices though. Interesting.
At the taxi dispatch, one of the Lockhart boys is quietly reading a book about a robot and notices how brother Cole looks half dead on his feet. Cole shouldn’t be driving because he’s been at it for more than 24 hours and it’s not safe. Cole doesn’t seem to care. His mood worsens when he runs into Scott outside.
Scott tries to guilt him into talking to Cherry — apparently she’s living rough since losing the ranch. Cole is unmoved. Scott, pressing his luck further, brings up the sale of Alison’s house and how Cole is entitled to half. Cole tells him quietly if he doesn’t move in three seconds, he’ll run him down.
Oh well. You’ll be dead soon anyway, Scott.
Cole heads to his former house. He seems to have a much bigger belly in his own memory than in anyone else’s which is interesting. Do we always see the least flattering versions of ourselves? He sees a shadow pass the window and, poor dude, you can see he thinks it might be Alison. But no, it’s Jane. Hi, Jane! He intimidates Jane into admitting she’s just trying to get Alison her things. He sticks his big gut out at her and tells her to get lost and that he’ll do it.
NEXT: When Cole met Alison (again)
He heads to his trailer of solitude and broods on it a bit before getting back to his taxi. We see all sorts of drunk Hamptonites stumbling about. A clearly drunk lady gets in his cab and asks to be taken to East Hampton. It’s very dark out but not so dark that she can’t see the hotness of Cole in the front seat. “I like your way: You are very masculine.” Duh. She tells him that she’s a private landscape artist — how she manages to make that sound dirty I don’t know — and hits on him till she gets sick and barfs on the side of the road.
With her gone, Cole is driving around and nodding off a bit. He pulls over and does a little bit of coke (did we know that Cole does this now?) and starts driving toward Cold Springs. He stops at the diner we saw Alison at earlier and he even sees Noah on his way to the train station. He mock shoots him through the window. Oh boy.
Cole goes to the house and wanders around it. Whoever did the set decorating did a really nice job — for example there’s a random hat wall and that is just the kind of thing rich people seem to always have in their homes. Alison walks in and she looks quite different in Cole’s memory: She’s dressed like a rich person, her hair has that sort of expensive sheen, and she’s wearing a beige yet pricey-looking sweater. Their talk is a lot different in this Cole reality, too. They are much friendlier and sweeter.
In fact, these scenes sort of did me in. There’s a poignancy to their talk in the details of their chitchat. Between asking after Cherry and learning Mary-Kate is pregnant and Alison’s nervous smiles and Cole’s sweet and dead inside face, it’s pretty emotionally affecting.
She offers to make him eggs because she can tell that he’s still hungry and how strange it is — to be so close to someone and yet be so estranged. She reminds him of some long run they took before she was pregnant and how they sat by the fire and how it was a really great day. He agrees. Man, relationships.
He brings her the clothes (in this memory, no Gabriel box) and says he needs to ask her something. “Are you ever coming home?” Oh, Cole. She says no, a bit sadly, and then his face sort of collapses into itself. He tells her it’s okay and that he just needed to hear it.
He walks up the steps to leave and suddenly Alison is behind him and grabs him in a giant hug. It’s the hug between people with a lot of love and sadness and who know how to really hug each other. She asks him to stay in touch. He’s clearly devastated and his hand is all up in her hair, but he says of course he will. Maybe I cried when I saw this, maybe I didn’t.
We next see him asleep in his car. Maybe this means he’s gotten some closure and can move on? Let’s hope so.
The next thing you know we’re in the scary cold future. A very spiffy and cleaned-up Cole enters the courthouse where Alison is dealing with a little (and very cute) baby. Cole is — no surprise here — ridiculously cute with babies, even after he learns this one is Alison and Noah’s. The baby, who like everyone else cannot resist Cole, is named Joanie, which is is one of the hardest things I’ve had to wrap my head around on this show.
They enter the courtroom in time to hear the charges against Noah — who is looking terrified — and to see him taken away in handcuffs. Cole watches this with an expression I can’t quite understand… is it happiness? Something else? Till next week.