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