Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
It’s a very special The Affair Thanksgiving episode and it’s the time of year to think about what you are thankful for and how your family has damaged your psyche. Me, I’m just thankful this episode has so much Cole in it and also that it’s directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden, the amazing creative duo who brought us Half Nelson and the upcoming Mississippi Grind.
We begin with a fancy float-watching party at Harry’s apartment by the park. Alison is looking not super psyched, but she’s also now looking pretty pregnant and wearing very high heels. Plus, Noah is clearly the hot author of the moment, and the crowd are like moths to his one bright bulb. Here’s a fun drinking game for the episode: Drink whenever you hear a recognizable author’s name (let’s say Noah Solloway counts too, shall we?).
I’m a little confused, as usual, by the timeline of this whole thing: Like, how did they get this book to the printers and into bookshelves in such a short amount of time? I believe it usually takes longer than a few months, but I’m choosing to roll with this. Apparently there’s been nothing but positive press and even Philip Roth (drink) is impressed. One of the uptight uptown ladies asks Alison what she does, and Alison basically is like, “gestating” (interesting how eager Noah is to talk about her nursing career). His incredibly beautiful publicist, Eden (haha, of course) pulls him away, and Alison is left on her own. Someone asks if this is her first child; she hesitates before saying no. Listen, no matter how you feel about Alison, it’s these moments when you can’t feel anything but totally sympathetic for her.
A random friendly stranger starts chatting her up and asking all sorts of questions: Why does Noah’s book still say he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and four children? Is Noah even divorced yet? Eden suddenly materializes to pull Alison away and informs her the friendly lady is, of course, an evil gossip journalist for Page Six. Eden is all, ask for permission before speaking. Ugh.
Alison takes refuge in the kitchen with the waitressing staff, who are much more sympathetic and generally cooler and haven’t read Noah’s book. Alison begs Noah to leave but no, he’s working not partying and worse news: His flight in the morning has been canceled, so he’ll have to fly out that night. But first, Franzen (drink!) wants to meet him, so Alison gives up and goes home to meet her mother. Noah promises to be right behind with the turkey.
Athena looks so bananas the doorman made her wait in the lobby. Once inside the super fancy apartment Athena oohs and ahhs over the furniture and the space. She wants to know how much it cost (me too!), but Alison gives a tight smile and tells her that’s impolite. She takes Athena on a tour — the boys have their own room, Stacy has a pretty purple palace, and Whitney has never even come over. The nursery, however, is being used as Noah’s study. Athena raises a motherly eyebrow at this, but stays silent-ish about how messed up all that is.
We also learn that they got a pre-cooked turkey from Dean and Deluca, which actually sounds nice and relaxing. But for everything else they cook from a very old and weathered cookbook that was Alison’s grandmother’s, Joan. (And now we know why this baby is eventually named Joan!) Athena is still trying to figure out how they could pay for this apartment — and she’s not crazy. You need more than a 400k advance for an apartment like this. After some prodding, Athena figures out that Alison is considering selling her grandparent’s place, which probably is worth a lot since it’s on the ocean.
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Athena is horrified. She tells Alison how she convinced her own mother to bypass her in the will so that Alison would one day have a place and security of her own. She suggests Alison read the book before deciding, but it turns out that ship has sailed and the house is already in escrow. Athena looks sad.
But it’s guest time, and the first to arrive is Jane! Hello, Jane! “I can’t believe I know someone who lives here,” says Jane. They catch up on the couch and ugh, Alison wants to set up Jane with Max because Jane is apparently looking for a sugar daddy. As long as he isn’t racist or Republican. Word, Jane. Interestingly, Alison lies to Jane about going back to Montauk that fateful night. (For all you Cole as baby daddy truthers, here’s your Thanksgiving present.)
Max and Jane are instantly and disgustingly all over each other. Noah is nowhere. Athena brings the ladies into a back bedroom, so they all can listen to the baby’s heartbeat. This is a very moving scene: Alison goes last and is panicky when she’s can’t hear her baby’s heart. Athena calms her down and we see Ruth Wilson’s face show a million different things when she hears it. It is really quite something.
It’s at this moment that Noah shows up — with Eden. Booooo. Turns out Franzen (drink!) wouldn’t take no for an answer and he monologues (haha) so they’re late. Eden is being awful — very flirty and doing that whole “we” thing that girlfriends and wives instinctively hate. Also? Noah forgot the turkey. Of course. Athena tries to help break the tension by inviting Noah to listen to the baby’s heartbeat. He does and says, “Gets me every time.” This really pisses me off — do you have to remind us you have a million other children? Sometimes I just really hate Noah Solloway.
Anyway, Alison tries to rally with the help of Max who makes a toast despite Noah being on the phone with the kids and Eden not looking up from texting. Max praises Alison for being responsible for making his friend happy — and no longer a broke Park Slope dad. (Also, he shuts down Eden, which is nice.)
Alison tries to describe how she and her mother cooked everything from her grandmother’s 1927 recipe book, but people aren’t paying attention. Apparently Page Six is already running an item about Noah having a pregnant girlfriend while still married. Eden thinks the way to make this work to their advantage is for Noah to closely align himself to the events of the book.
Alison, rightly, loses it. Apparently she has read the whole book. The fight that follows is really pretty amazing especially because it’s like taking the first season and raising an idea that maybe Noah’s version was actually just his stupid book and Alison is remembering the real thing. But who knows. Then, her voice raised, she yells, “And then you kill me.” And she stomps off. Happy Thanksgiving!
Noah goes after her and she asks him, quietly, is this really what he wants? A family with her and the baby? Or does he want to run her down with his car. He assures her that this is his real life, the rest is just a story. Hmm.
In the future Alison meets with lawyer Jon. Yes, she was on good terms with Scott — it was his and Cole’s dealings with The Lobster Roll that got hectic! Hmm, I guess we’ll see about that.
NEXT: You think these people are nuts, just wait till you hear about Grandpa Silas
Cole is having sex with… Luisa! Hooray, good for Cole. But during the moment Luisa says, “Te amo.” Cole puts an abrupt halt to these proceedings. She is as confused as I am, but he shakes her off and heads to the deck for a manly gaze at the ocean.
Luisa greets him with coffee and an invitation to come to her family’s place in Queens for Thanksgiving. He’s all, pass. She tells him she’s been up to Montauk every weekend, and it’s his turn. He tells her he has plans, curtly, and when she presses him, he says he’s seeing his mother. She’s as surprised as I am. “You don’t know everything about me,” he snarls. Hey, Cole buddy, what’s up?
This girl is not one for waspy evasions. When he tries to do the whole dude I-don’t-know-what-you-mean-nothing-is-wrong thing, she says, “Well, I told you I love you and you lost your erection.” So there’s that.
Cole takes an interesting defensive position: Do you want muffins? She’s like, oh you’ve got to be kidding me, but he hightails it out of there to the grocery store. Men.
As he waits in line, he ignores a call from Scotty only to get busted when it turns out Scotty is right behind him. He immediately starts chattering at Cole: about Alison selling the house, about this nightclub, about the tattoo he’s gotten of their future logo for the never-going-to-happen nightclub (which is very, very ugly). Cole is in no mood. Scotty tries to cajole him into joining them for Thanksgiving but Cole says pass to that too, and even goes the distance by saying he’s spending it with Luisa’s family. Scotty is all, dude she’s just using you for a green card, she tried the same thing with me. Nice.
And like a bad penny, that’s when Oscar shows up to tell them all about Noah’s book. (I hate to say it, but Oscar is better looking in season 2. I know, I know.) He brags that he was a source for Noah and he gave him gold. He mentions that the drug dealing and moonshine is all in there and that Scotty should stop sniffing around the Lobster Roll.
This day sure is not improving for Cole. He gets back to the house and immediately starts jumping all over Luisa (who is a lot more patient than I would be at this point) about moving the picture of him and Gabriel. She busts him that he probably doesn’t have Thanksgiving plans and she doesn’t want him to be alone. He counters by accusing her of stealing his money. WTF dude. She’s like, listen you better apologize, but he doesn’t hear the warning in her voice. So she tells him to do you know what to himself and takes off. Mission accomplished I guess?
He takes a sad man walk in town and sees Noah’s book being prominently displayed. He buys it, goes home, and immediately starts reading it, turning down pages of interest. And then he changes his mind and decides to go spend Thanksgiving with his family after all! It’s a little tense (especially because it turns out Mary Kate lost her baby and Cole has been ignoring them) and Scotty is texting mysteriously, but they’ve got grandpa’s moonshine so…
Cole makes a toast to Noah Solloway and everyone at the table is all, oh brother. He’s rip pissed though and goes to grab the book and reads it aloud. Cherry is not happy, nor is anyone else at the description of them as drug dealer relatives of bootleggers. Cole is particularly enraged at the depiction of the family feud with Oscar’s family, and how Noah told it like it was Grandpa Silas’ fault and the book says Silas was a baby killer. Well, wait a second, says Cherry. It turns out it is all true. Silas was a monster. Surprise!
Oh, but wait, it gets more insane. Cherry says the whole family is cursed now and that’s why Gabriel died, and Mary Kate lost the baby and… Whitney had an abortion? Whoo boy. She also basically tells Cole he is as suicidal as his father. Did we know Cole’s father killed himself? Happy Thanksgiving! Cole stomps off.
Scotty chases him out and begs him to stay and help, and be a part of the family and (probably most importantly) they need his money. And that’s when Whitney shows up in a cab. Perfect. Scotty hightails it out of there — there is a restraining order out on him, I believe — as fast as humanly possible with Cole as a human shield. Poor Whitney can’t even believe it. Cole, one can see, feels sorry for her. He asks where she’s supposed to be and when she doesn’t even know, you really feel it. Poor Whitney is lost. He offers to drive her back to the city.
And isn’t this an interesting pairing. As they sit in the car there’s a world of awkwardness to approach, right? Whitney, bless her, goes right for it: “Do you remember that time you tried to kill me?” Cole is like, oh no I was pointing it at your dad. But he apologizes because he’s Cole. He tells her she has to stop coming after Scott. Whitney is like, but he got me pregnant. And, she says, she really cares about him. And Cole delivers some real honest life truths here: Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they will love you back. (Raise your hand if you have figured this life lesson out by now… but imagine if you heard it and got it at 17.) Whitney is like: hey did you hear my dad wrote a book? You are in it, and I’m not.
Now this is something I never thought to consider: what it might feel like to be a fragile teenage girl and have your life blown apart and also to feel like you aren’t even important enough to your father to be lightly fictionalized in his highly erotic novel. Cole is a good man and tells her that maybe Noah was trying to protect her. He then tells her that his dad hanged himself on his 10th birthday. (Sheeeeeeeeesh.) Cole says that he used to think that meant his dad didn’t care but now he understands that maybe his father just felt like he was drowning. Good lord, we’ve all had some tough Thanksgivings, but this sure is a doozy.
Cole actually brings Whitney to Noah’s fancy apartment. Cole and Noah exchange some tense words, and Noah fake invites Cole in and doesn’t pretend to be disappointed when Cole says no. (Also for you baby daddy truthers: Would Cole do some math if he saw a pregnant Alison at this point?)
Cole heads to Queens instead. When Luisa comes to the door, Cole apologizes for his behavior and owns up that he was trying to chase her away. This might be the best apology ever plus, you know, it’s Cole. He promises he’ll never hurt her again. Luisa says okay. He says there’s one other thing: He tells her he loves her, too, in Spanish. Oh, Cole.
In the future, lawyer Jon looks at surveillance video that appears to show Alison fighting with Scotty, and Jon wonders what it is Scott was saying to Alison. Oh good, Oscar is there. Oscar is all, oh I can tell you everything, I was right there. Just pay me extra money. Jon tells him no and then Oscar tells him what Scott was apparently saying. Oh god, the answer? “That’s our baby.” The what you say? Could Scott have meant our’s as in Lockhart’s? Hurry up next week!