I’d like to begin this recap with some honesty — especially since you won’t find any such thing from these characters. This episode just straight-up bummed me out. What the heck, The Affair? Why are you doing this to us? At this point I don’t trust anyone’s narratives. (Except Cole, of course. Remember him? Me either.)
We begin with Helen, who clearly has decided to blow up her whole life. After discovering Noah at the lake, she packs him up and takes him home to Brooklyn. Noah is rather comatose in the car, but he finally does say he needs help. You’re telling us, buddy. But this ignites something in Helen — a need to be needed? A way to repay him for going to jail for her? Co-dependency? Perhaps all of the above. She makes up the bed in the downstairs area once lived in by Vic, and we listen to Helen exposit to Nina’s voicemail that she’s taking care of things. (The voicemail is frantic and insane, and I can just imagine Nina’s full-body eye roll as she listened to it.)
Then Helen finds Noah shipwrecked in the bathtub, and when he stands up naked and asks for some privacy, you can see this hurts her feelings. Cause if we’re all working out this whole I-know-you-better-than-anyone-else thing, this bothers her.
Vic comes home and is, reasonably, put out to discover Helen’s ex-felon husband is downstairs. He, actually, thinks of the children and about how there is a maybe murderer on the loose. (We’re all agreed Noah stabbed himself, right?) Helen promises him she’ll get rid of Noah but asks him to look at his gross neck infection. Vic does because he’s a good dude, even after Noah calls him Dr. Ruhlala. But of course, Noah doesn’t care about his neck, he just wants his drugs. Turns out he’s been popping at least 10 pills a day. Vic isn’t falling for it. He tells Helen she needs to open her eyes (agree) and that the kids shouldn’t see Noah in this condition (also agree). Of course Helen doesn’t listen — instead, she brings Noah some softer pain medication and an Ambien. Perfect.
Noah’s parole officer calls, but he ignores him, despite Helen pleading with him. She’s like, Yo, bro: What’s up with you anyway? It seems like Noah might tell her the truth but then chooses to be grouchy, telling her as he falls asleep that he’s happy he’s home. Ugh. Helen, who cannot let well enough alone, calls back his parole officer and begs for a few extra days.
In better news, Whitney breezes in looking for a tent. Why? Because she and Furkat are going camping near where his daughter (Juniper, natch) is playing at some music festival. Helen points out that it’s a little insane that Whitney is dating someone who has a daughter a couple of years older than her but you guys know all about our girl Whitney. She gives exactly zero you-know-whats. They can’t continue bickering because it sounds like a fight outside and it turns out to be Furkat beating the hell out of a fairly passive-looking Noah.
Helen helps Noah inside while Whitney puts it all together and looks thoroughly disgusted. She tells her mom she is out, for real. She says to Helen a version of what Vic did: that Helen cannot see what is actually happening. “Why do you hate yourself so much?” she asks, and then later says, “I used to think that dad was the crazy one, but now I realize it’s you.” You guys, how weird is it for Whitney to be the voice of reason?
Helen proves her point by ignoring a call from Nina (who could have come and scooped Noah up) and going downstairs and slipping into bed with her out-of-his-mind ex. Sigh. She wakes up and goes upstairs and starts making dinner. Trevor is talking about being in Jane Eyre the musical — which sounds simply amazing — and says, “First you think it’s a romance, but then it turns into a thriller.” Hmmm. Is that what’s happening here?
Vic comes home, and Helen lies without batting an eye that Noah is gone. This lie is quickly revealed when something crashes below. Vic looks at Helen and is like, I think I’m done here. He starts packing up his stuff; she begs (but not that hard, really) and then even the cactus turns on Vic. Poor Vic! Ugh. He tells Helen he’s done waiting for her. He’s done with all of this — and all he can come up with is that Helen must still be in love with Noah. She denies it. And why won’t she just tell Vic the truth about what happened that fateful night? Why? Why? He leaves, but not without an excellent parting shot: “I’ll miss the kids.”
Noah appears and is all, Oh, he’s gone? I hope it wasn’t me! They step out onto the back deck, and she’s like, Listen, you need to stop punishing yourself. I forgive you. Then — brace yourself — she suggests they start over. Oh, Helen. Helen, Helen, Helen. We had a good run, but you are officially as awful and deluded as everyone else. She kisses him, and they go downstairs and start to have sex. He stops and looks at her. She asks him what’s up, and we go right into Noah’s addled brain…
NEXT: Noah remembers things. Maybe.
It’s tempting to not even bother with recapping Noah’s memory of this day. Because guess what? I don’t believe anything. But here goes anyway:
Driving back from the lake house, Noah asks Helen to stop at Gunther’s Hunting and Fishing. There, behind the counter, is this episode’s bright spot: Lois Smith, who plays Gunther’s mom. Noah picks up a knife (great) and chats with her. He learns that Johnny never comes back to town, that he’s been married for 16 years, and that, like Noah, he always wanted to get out of town. She also gives him jerky. You are what you eat, bro.
In the car, Noah is a pill. But the real pills are almost out. You see the panic set in, but time has a fuzzy drugged-out quality. He remembers being in jail beaten up. Then he’s back in his old house and hearing his kids above them. Again, Vic comes down to check out his neck, but in Noah’s memory Vic is much more threatening. And Helen is much, much creepier. Kind of a hotter Annie Wilkes with her pills and telling him to just lay down. Ugh.
He sleeps and remembers Freaky Fraser torturing him. OR DID HE? Because Freaky Fraser seems to know a lot more about Noah than your average Google search would have revealed. He pushes Noah to snap and then beats him some more and gives him more time in the hole. Cool.
Noah wakes up in this reality and hears Whitney and Furkat on the street. He goes outside and meets the delightful Furkat, who introduces himself as his daughter’s lover boss. He starts reciting Noah’s crimes — telling him he knows them all, which he sure seems to. He punches Noah out, and Noah loses consciousness.
As he sleeps, he hears jail doors open and shut. He clearly hallucinates Freaky Fraser smoking a cigarette in the brownstone and he has the knife that Noah bought. They fight and fight and fight and… guys, I’m sort of over this.
Then, there’s Helen waiting for him upstairs. In Noah’s mind, she’s all slinky and come hither-y and is all, let’s drink. I do not buy this version of Helen in the slightest, though maybe I’m just in denial. But honestly? She’s acting more like Freaky Fraser, rattling the pill bottle at him.
Again, they go downstairs, making out. She keeps saying, “I know you,” and that clearly is not sitting well with Noah. He growls at her that she doesn’t and then the sex turns into something incredibly violent and very hard to watch as he pushes her head down, holding her down. And this is how fast the power dynamic of sex can change. After, she turns over and cries, and he stares at the ceiling.
If I can have one wish, it’s for a Cole episode next week. Thank you.