We’re back to a classic Noah-and-Alison split of an episode. And speaking of classic moves, we open with Noah and Alison having a little couch sex. But hmm: Seems like Alison isn’t maybe as into it as she’s pretending to be? I don’t want to over-generalize or speak for all my sisters here, but guys, if a woman says “No, it feels great” in roughly the same tone of voice she uses to answer a stranger who asks what time it is, it might *not* actually feel so great. I’d bet all my money on Alison faking her orgasm to get this show over with, but Noah — who at first seems a little skeptical — chooses to believe her because he is a dude and it’s easier this way and this is how the fabric of society continues.
The first post-sex words are delivered by Noah: “You’re a real sphinx, you know that?” Oh, Noah, you old post-coital sweet talker! This changes to talk of jumping in the pool, an activity that Alison has not participated in thus far. Hey, I know: If your son drowned, maybe you are less excited about swimming than others? Noah, though, wants to make an issue of it and playfully/forcefully tries to drag her, and let’s just say the mood changes sharply.
Noah is a swimmer, so he swims. Here’s what I don’t understand: Noah is having underwater visions of a car running someone down. But if I have the space-time continuum right (and I am 74 percent sure that I do), we are at least a year away from Scott Lockhart’s death? Ugh, time and space, you monsters.
Noah gets back to the kitchen and is surprised to see that Alison has smoothed whatever spiky edges were cropping up and is waiting for him in a pretty dress. They smile at each other, and he declares how much he loves being there with her and that they should stay forever. What would Alison be doing while Noah writes? Being a muse, of course.
Noah tells Alison that she can trust him with anything. Anything! Tell him just one secret! She says she hates beets. She wiggles out of serious talk by reminding him they are late for dinner at the big house. He asks her what she’d say if he asked her to marry him. She jokingly responds it would depend on the ring. Noah smiles and shocks the living hell out of Alison when he actually has a ring. He goes on his knees to propose, and we are actually helped out with some time stamps during on all this. Specifically, we’re told that it’s been six weeks since the you-know-what hit the fan at the Lockhart ranch and Noah chose to be with Alison. She’s overwhelmed but doesn’t take long before answering yes, she wants to marry him.
They celebrate with Robert and Yvonne. Yvonne wants the whole story: how they met, the details, etc. Noah pauses, clearly wondering if he leads with the whole, “Well I was married with four kids when one day…” but Alison jumps in and starts to spin a romantic fable. This is a different Alison than we’re used to seeing, and Noah looks a little taken aback as she invents a story of how they met at a lighthouse in the rain. Noah looks at her as he realizes just how well his new fiancée can lie.
Yvonne expresses interest in reading Noah’s book, and this new, uber-confident Alison jumps in to say Noah doesn’t let people read it. Noah hastily tells the powerful publishing lady that of course he’d make an exception for her. He also registers that Alison is the only one at the table who goes for another glass of wine; is Noah having buyer’s remorse? Also, just a random aside here: Noah totally has the kind of social anxiety of someone who wasn’t raised well off but has had enough time among those who are to be constantly worried about breaches of etiquette.
He and Yvonne retire to her study, and she tells him about the other authors they’ve hosted. They chat about Harry and how he and Noah don’t agree about the ending. Yvonne offers to look at the book and give him her opinion. They’re interrupted by Alison who tries to get Noah out into the hallway quietly because — yay! — Whitney has arrived to stir up trouble.
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Whitney, oh Whitney, you really are my favorite teen on TV. She comes blasting in — ”You live in a freakin’ mansion?!?!” — says eeeew to just the very idea of a cabin and, in general, makes Noah scramble to get her away from Yvonne as soon as humanly possible.
At the cabin, Whitney goes big, bless her: She talks about her street skills (’cause she managed to call a cab) and turns her nose up at the decorating, while managing in one breath to trash Noah for calling Helen “mom” and pivot to directly yelling at Alison. And if you think that is bad, wait till she gets a load of Alison’s ring! Kablamo! “I knew you were lame, dad. But I didn’t think you were stupid.” Pitch and tempers rise, and she attempts to text Helen this turn of events, all the while demanding that Alison take off the ring. Alison is all like, “I’ll be outside.”
Noah joins her after calming Whitney down. Alison now thinks they’re making a mistake. He guesses that something happened. She asks him whether he really wants to know things about her, for example, like how she slept with Oscar. (Oh man, I had blocked that grossness right out of my brain.) Noah is in no position to judge since wasn’t he banging half of New York at that time? Anyway, he takes that gross news pretty well. She also tells him about that time she walked into the ocean looking to drown. He tells her that she can tell him anything and he won’t give up on her. That’s nice. So she tells him that Cole came to visit the week before and that she lied about it.
She tries to give the ring back. She wants to give him a chance to get out. He asks if she’s just trying to get rid of him and makes a very pretty speech about wanting to start over with her. He begs her not to mess around.
And we cut to the train station where Noah is with Whitney. She doesn’t want to live at home anymore — between her grandmother and mother, she feels like she’s living in a coven of depressed witches. She even tries to tell her dad that it’s affecting her schoolwork. Never change, Whitney! He basically is all like, “Well, maybe if you promise not to tell mom I’m living with Alison…” Whitney tells him not to worry.
In the city Noah meets up with Max. Apparently they haven’t seen each other in forever, and Max has gotten richer and is seeing someone. Um, we know who! But he doesn’t tell Noah that it’s Helen. Poor doomed Max is really happy. So happy, in fact, that when Noah tells him that he just needs to figure out a way to afford an apartment, Max instantly gets 50K wired into his account. Of course this is self-serving on Max’s part: “The sooner you and Helen get divorced, the happier everyone will be.”
Noah shows up to the mediator’s office where no one appears to be. Instead, he gets served divorce papers. Surprise! (Note: Helen’s lawyer for this divorce, is one Jon Gottlief, a.k.a. our man Richard Schiff/Toby Ziegler in the future criminal trial.)
Next: Alison’s day includes way more dogs and guns than Noah’s
During Alison’s recollection of the happy dinner with Robert and Yvonne, she declines another drink of wine. (Well, we all like to think this of ourselves, right? But, hey, what if she’s already pregnant?) Yvonne starts pushing for a wedding on the property, and she and Robert bicker back and forth affectionately. No rush, says Yvonne, before adding the obligatory, “Unless you’re pregnant!” Alison hastily denies this. (Robert is horrified.)
Noah is all, “I already have four kids! I think I’m done.” Well that, of course, is news to Alison. She and Noah look at each other quizzically across the table…probably an important issue to discuss before getting engaged, if for no other reason than to be able to present a united front at a busybody’s dinner table!
Yvonne is all, “Just get pregnant, and he’ll roll with it” (no, terrible idea), and then Robert finally cuts his wife off from the booze. She pulls Noah into her study to talk about the book, and Alison and Robert head to the kitchen. I love Robert, I think. “Book people, so snooty!” They bond a bit, and then when he asks for scraps for a plastic bag, he lets her in on the secret of his dog, Pete. Pete is part wolf and sounds rad and has run off. Yvonne thinks he’s dangerous — he snapped at their grandchild once, but Robert thinks he’s just misunderstood. He wasn’t meant to be caged up or put on a leash. (Hmmm…a metaphor for Alison?) He puts scraps out for Pete so that he doesn’t get hungry.
And that’s when Whitney shows up — dressed differently in this memory and somehow even more scary and angry. We cut to them back at the cabin where Noah and Whitney talk outside, but their words drift back to Alison. “She’s a stupid f—ing waitress,” and so on. She’s just going full on teenage nuts, and Alison opens the box and pulls out a stone.
The deck conversation between Noah and Alison is quite different, too. (Also, Whitney Ubered from the city, which of course she did!) Noah seems a lot less confident in their plans, and they both seem a little battered and sad and confused. She asks him what is the worst thing he’s ever done. “This,” he says, which, yeouch! Alison says she’s done a lot of things. We know, like Oscar! In Alison’s recollection, that’s as far as this conversation goes.
She sleeps on the couch and wakes up to a whole new personality of Whitney. A chipper one, making breakfast. She tells Whitney she’s not so into the whole evil stepmother thing; she just wants to be her friend. Whitney responds with a terrifying grin. Then she gets down to business by asking her new friend for a very friendly favor: She wants to get in touch with Scott Lockhart. He changed his phone number, and there’s a restraining order against him coming near her, but that doesn’t deter our hero teen. She, like, loooves him, and she manipulates Alison masterfully.
Up at the big house, Alison is helping organize manuscripts, but Yvonne is way more interested in the drama from last night. She’s distracted by the physical therapist storming off after getting fired by Robert when she gets a call from a neighbor. Apparently a dog that looked like Pete murdered all their chickens. They argue about the dog catcher — if he finds Pete he’ll put him down. They pull Alison into it, and finally Robert is all, “I’ll go kill my own dog.” Yvonne retires to read a memoir by a tsunami survivor, and Alison gets sent out with Robert to commit dog murder.
They walk through some pretty woods and have some real talk. She tells Robert she doesn’t need to get married again and explains that she was married once before. Then she gets even more honest and tells him the story of Gabriel. The whole story, more than she’s even told Noah (and just when I had successfully blocked my brain from knowing about “secondary drowning”).
Robert is wonderfully sympathetic. “That’s the worst thing in the world, kid.” It turns out the stone she’s been carrying was Gabriel’s. Alison says she thought that if she went somewhere else or was with someone else, she’d feel differently but now is realizing it’s not so easy. And Noah doesn’t quite understand. Robert counsels that sometimes we don’t need to have our person understand absolutely everything about us. It’s okay to be baffled sometimes by the person you love. This seems like sound advice. It gets more depressing…about how lonely life is. But the bottom line is that marriage can help you feel less lonely.
We hear the great howl of Pete and they head to a meadow and the cutest dog ever comes bounding in, delighted to see Robert. It was around now that I decided if I saw a dog murder, I’d be quitting this show. But Robert shoots into the distance, and Pete scrambles off, more chickens in his horizons. Yay, Pete. Sorry, chickens.
Alison decides to face her own fears and pulls off her clothes and jumps in the pool (which does look very nice, by the way) for a swim. It’s quiet and peaceful, and she floats on her back and looks at the sky. Noah comes home and sees her in there, and she’s no longer a sphinx but a siren. He takes off his clothes and joins her, and they start going for it in the nice saltwater pool. Bad guest behavior? Possibly. Romantic and hot? Absolutely. In the, um, middle of things, Alison sees Robert come out to his front steps, take a look into the distance, and then turn around and go back inside. Does he see them there? Unclear.
And now we’re in the future: The lawyer (whom I will try not to constantly call Toby, but no promises) has them sit to talk about the case. It’s time to tell him what really happened! Noah tells him that he didn’t kill Scott Lockhart. Toby is all, “uh-huh, tell me another one.”
So it turns out this all happened the night of Cole’s wedding! That’s right, Cole’s wedding! Noah doesn’t know why they were invited; but he was in a bad mood, and he and Alison had a fight and she left. Noah says he went to look for her and hit a deer. Me and Toby have the same reaction: “Was Scott Lockhart riding the deer at the time?” No. We’re reminded that the mechanic sold Noah out, but why on earth was he bribing a mechanic? Noah is like, “Well I knew it would look bad; my daughter was involved with him and no one would believe me.” This is not a great defense. Alison gives him an inscrutable look. The lawyer is all, “Well, time to find out who did.” Guesses? ‘Til next week!