Phil Caruso/Showtime

Finally, the episode we've been waiting for

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December 12, 2016 at 01:58 AM EST

You guys — it’s a miracle. We finally have a Cole episode, and it’s officially now my favorite of the season thus far. I don’t think this is just about me being in the tank for Cole, either. This episode had a little bit of that season 1 magic about it, right? Is it weird that it does not feature Noah, who, ostensibly, the show is about? Oh well. NOAH WHO I SAY.

Anyway, we start with some steamy Cole sex but — surprise! — it’s Cole and Alison! Obviously a dream sequence but, not to get too technical about a love scene, but it feels like a love scene if you know what I mean. A dream more about feelings than lust and an interesting window into Cole’s subconscious. Before he can see this dream through to its conclusion (if you know what I mean and I think you do), he wakes up in bed with his wife who is not Alison and with Joanie ready to jump on the bed. Tough start to the day.

It’s Joanie’s birthday, the big five, which is incredibly significant to her parents because it means she’s survived longer than Gabriel. There was a beautiful, heartbreaking essay recently in The New York Times; it was written by a man who lost his daughter in a terribly tragic accident and about choosing to have another baby and what that means. I thought a lot about that essay while watching this episode because there is a certain kind of awful intimacy in going through something so life-altering that only one other person might feel just the same way about.

Luisa, meanwhile, is sweating every bit of small stuff for this birthday party. She’s vibrating at a very high nervous energy and is instantly annoyed when Joanie pipes up that her mother is making her birthday cake. She turns on Cole, who does the whole hey-don’t-look-at-me thing, and this leads to her rant that she can’t believe Alison would dare come to the party. Poor Luisa.

We get a glimpse of the house that Cole is building and oh, boy, it is beautiful. Again, I’ll say: Cole, the big winner on this show with Helen right behind him. Cuckolds for the win! He offers to meet Joanie with Alison. Alison, though it appears to be autumn, is wearing one of her gauzy long sundresses. There’s a court-appointed supervisor as well.

Cole watches Alison and Joanie together, wary but affectionate, as it seems as though Joanie is happy with her mom. She climbs way too high on the bars, but Cole trusts Alison enough to handle it, which she does.

That night he mentions to Luisa that he thinks Alison and Joanie are good together, which does not go over well with the missus. They bicker over whether Alison is up for unsupervised visits.

NEXT: Party time

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Two marriages collide when a tragedy brings an affair to light; the Showtime original series stars Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney.
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