It's a Cole and Madison memory split

By Sara Vilkomerson
January 15, 2017 at 11:00 PM EST
David Giesbrecht/SHOWTIME
S3 E8
B
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Well? Not quite as excruciating as last week, I guess? Which isn’t to say I wasn’t saying oh nooooo at least three different times during this one. And, if we’re being positive for 2017, there’s the sheer fact that we got to spend some time with Cole, finally. Let’s dive in and sink back into the ocean, shall we?

It’s an Alison perspective (which I never ever trust, if only because of what she imagines herself wearing all the time). She’s at a court hearing about whether or not she can have unsupervised visits with Joanie. The surprise hero? Luisa, who takes the stand and makes it clear she thinks that Joanie should be with her mother. This takes Cole almost as much by surprise as Alison, and Alison watches Cole and Luisa fight on the lawn outside. But, no matter: Alison’s lawyer tells her that Cole’s agreed to shared custody. Smiles all around!

Alison drives out to Cole’s building site with coffee and muffins. He’s not having it. (Related: Who looks sexier counting tiles than Cole? Who, I ask you, who?) However the siren call of Alison and muffins is too much for Cole and they chat for a bit about Alison’s lack of consistency. It turns out he’s mad because she lied to him about seeing Noah. (If only he knew the half of it!) She continues to lie, btw, about how long she saw Noah for. He’s like, I just can’t trust you. Correct. 

Alison gets a call from her therapist. There’s another patient that can use her wisdom. Alison drives to New Jersey (getting so much play this season) and talks to the young mother who lost her daughter and is now on suicide watch. Alison is like, listen I get it. Instead of killing myself, I decided instead to have an affair and thus wreck a lot of other innocent people’s lives! The girl is like, yeah no that’s not at all what I was saying. In truth, she seems to really be comforted by Alison.

Alison drives right back to Cole, who is at the Lobster Roll and excitedly tells him that she thinks she’s going to be a grief counselor. In New Jersey. Cole is like, um, how’s that going to work with shared custody? He then gets mad as that clearly hasn’t crossed Alison’s mind. He says, “Why can’t you just be happy and say thank you?” (Alternate tag line for this show?) He’s calls her chaos and stomps off.

She goes to a bar and is all, I need a drink and guess who shows up? Helen! Wearing rather adorable glasses. Helen suggests a Long Island Iced Tea as their drink of choice, and this seems like a real down market call for Helen. I see her much more as a martini person. Or an old-fashioned. Also, I can’t believe I spent so much time thinking about Helen’s cocktail choices. Anyway, she sidles up beside Alison.

Helen is acting just a wee bit nuts, and I hope we see why in a later episode. She brings up the fact that she was delighted to hear that Joanie was not Noah’s daughter. She reveals that Noah has been staying at the brownstone, which seems to surprise Alison. She pretends that Vic is still her boyfriend, which surprises me. But then Alison shocks the stuffing out of Helen when she tells her that she saw Noah a few days earlier. However, they smile at the idea that they’re both now divorced from Noah and clink glasses. Helen asks: Who was he with you? Alison calls him charming and ambitious and very smart and a man who could take care of things. Helen laughs at this and is like, yeah, no. I found him to be insecure and somewhat spineless. Alison is all, hey, he sounds like a whole other person with you! (And, in case this wasn’t clear enough, Jenny Lewis’ “Just One of the Guys” plays in the background.)

Helen is like, people see what they want to see. Alison takes this time to sincerely apologize for all of it. And Helen is big enough to say it wasn’t Alison’s fault. She thinks she stopped making Noah feel important. (Now I’m really not sure if I trust this memory.) Alison tries to talk about the night of the murder and Helen is not hearing it and walks off.

That evening a local cop comes to her house to tell Alison that the New Jersey cops are re-questioning Cole about the night of the stabbing. He was seen at a New Jersey toll booth. Dun dun DUN.

NEXT: Cole is tempted by the fruit of another

It’s a Cole memory, hooray! We join him and Luisa in their argument outside the courthouse. Everyone is wearing different clothes. I’m totally with Luisa who is like, the path of least resistance is best. Always.

Cole drives out to his house and finds a stop work notice on his building. He’s real bummed about this. With classic bad timing, Alison arrives. In Cole’s mind it’s donuts and why these paths diverge on the subject of snacks, I have no idea.

He shuts her down pretty fast and she leaves, but it should be noted she’s a much more confident creature in Cole’s memory. He goes to find the new building inspector who is Timothy not Tim, and ole Timothy is not feeling Cole’s vibe (which is crazy). They bicker about new surveys and about getting roofs on a house before winter. Timothy is unmoved.

Cole gets home and Luisa is like hey, let’s have a baby. We can adopt or use a surrogate. And I’m raising my hand for a question now: Why wasn’t this always on the table? Cole chooses to plead exhaustion and defer the conversation for another time.

Oh look, it’s our exposition guy, Oscar! He comes out ostensibly to yell at Cole about not shutting down the work stoppage, but really he’s here to have amazing insight about how much Cole just wants to get with Alison. He counsels against this as I again wonder when we all became friends with Oscar. “Shut it down,” Oscar tells him. Meaning everything, I suppose.

Alison again shows up to work to tell Cole about the grief counseling. She’s much more annoying in Cole’s memory. But the conversation goes pretty much the same way. But this time she makes the not untrue point, well if I’m crazy, you get to be sane.

So he decides to lean in to his own crazy, and he comes home and tells Luisa he’s ready to start a family. Luisa, no fool, is like whoa dude. Take a breath. But before he can even do that, the cops show up and are like, we know you were lying. They talk about the picture of him by the tollbooth near “Livingston University.” Cole makes the mistake of being aggro with the cops, and they haul him off to… the local Montauk jail? Sure, that makes sense. And that’s where Alison goes to see him. (Not his actual wife, but Alison, it should be noted.)

And here comes the part that had me full body eye-rolling to the point of pain. He admits that — surprise! — he was actually just in New Jersey to try to talk to her therapist. Because phones don’t exist. Or confidentiality agreements. Sigh. And this would all be too easy if he was just easier. (Also, why do they keep saying go up to New Jersey when I believe it is geographically down. Anyway.)

Cole was like well seeing you with Joanie made me think about us getting back together. Oh, brother. He’s like, I can’t tell them that because then I have to tell them everything. Um, no, that’s not true either. He gives a whole speech about loving her and oh I can’t even recap this scene — it’s too frustrating. But, the point is, he’s like I’m not Noah, I can’t do it. She’s like, it’s your call. Since when? And what? Everyone is acting so weird.

He goes home, and Luisa wakes up. He tells her the truth about his New Jersey trip. She says, why did you lie for so long about something so simple? ANOTHER tag line for The Affair! He gets into bed, and she’s like I still think you are still lying. He’s like no can do tonight.

But he can’t sleep so he gets up and gets Alison out of her house, and tells her that he’s choosing Luisa. She’s like, but we keep coming back to each other. She also says that this is more about Cole’s fear in not being the good guy. Would he rather be a happy jerk? Or a miserable hero.

He sits on the beach and thinks for a while. But in the morning, he’s home and making breakfast for Luisa. She’s relieved to see him and says of course she’ll still have him. But boy, is that not a look of happiness on Cole’s face. Can’t Cole be happy? Sigh.

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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