Welcome back everyone! Who remembers anything? Not me. (My recaps from last season, which I can admit I myself had to read for a refresher, can be found here.) There’s a long, long “previously on” that takes us through the last two seasons and ends with Noah taking the fall for both the women in his life and heading to jail. Sing it, Fiona Apple!!
Okay, so this episode begins and ends with Noah and Noah only. But really, it’s always been all about Noah, so why not? He’s looking a lot gaunter and sadder than we are used to, and we soon learn that three years have gone by and he’s only been out of prison for two months. Yeowza. His father has also died, and he’s living in his sister’s house. Noah sort of skulks in the back row of the funeral, and Helen and three of the kids (where’s my Whitney?) arrive. Martin ices Noah out hard. Noah ices Helen in return. Hmmm. But then Noah is all distracted by a shadowy figure creeping around the graveyard.
When Noah stands to give his eulogy, we learn that prison may have taken the eloquence away from our old pal as well. He fumbles around and admits he and his dad never got along; it was bad when his sister left for school, but once they went fishing. Shout out for the priest’s response: “Thank you, Noah, for those…. words.” The funeral concludes, awesomely, with everyone singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
After the service we learn that Noah has been ducking Helen’s calls, that Stacy is afraid of him, and things are not looking all that sweet between the Solloways. Things back at the house aren’t much better as Noah discovers many of his father’s friends think he killed his father by being generally awful. We learn also that Noah has to take muscle relaxants for his arm, that he’s teaching part-time at a good university, and that Nina hates his beard and believes him innocent.
Noah dreams of prison. It does not look awesome. He does, however, shave the beard and hears his sister and her husband fighting about him. Turns out his father left the house to Noah, even though it’s always been Nina who took care of everything both emotionally and financially. His brother-in-law seems like a jerk, yet makes some compelling points about how unfair this all is. Poor Nina. Maybe in the seventh season we’ll get her perspective.
Is Noah supposed to be teaching at Princeton maybe? A.k.a. your humble recapper’s hometown? Big beautiful campus, gothic buildings, snooty students, etc. Noah tells his sister he’ll move out and get his own place, and he stresses that he doesn’t want his father’s house.
Noah is teaching creative writing. Duh. And look who is in his class! It’s Sarah Ramos — a.k.a. Haddie Braverman from Parenthood — playing Audrey. Love her! She earnestly reads a story that is written the way most of us in college tried — earnestly and a little bit like Raymond Carver. Noah is only half paying attention because he sees the same shadowy figure on campus that he saw earlier. As the kids compliment Audrey on her great wind and weather imagery, Noah can’t help himself and snorts. Then he completely trashes Audrey’s story. It’s rough. His class looks at him in disbelief and Audrey cries and runs out of class. Noah genuinely seems buzzled about what just happened.
Noah sees a notice for cheap student housing. (I apologize for my nerdiness here, but the area code on this notice is 562, which is California. For those who are interested, the Princeton area code is 609. I’ll stop now.) Noah walks back and goes into the chapel, which has that nice dreamy chapel feel to it, and lays down in a pew.
He dreams of a time that Helen comes to visit him in prison. It’s obviously from the early days — he appears as the cocky breezy Noah of old, and it’s Helen who can’t deal. Helen thinks she can get him out. Noah is all, it’s not that bad, I have my own cell, lots of exercise, good stories for my next novel, etc. He’s like I’m pretty tough, and I owe this to you… after what I put you through. He thinks they won’t keep him for the full three years (flash-forward says they sure do). She’s like, what about me? He just tells her to wait. Hmm.
NEXT: Noah meets a sexy French lady
When Noah wakes up, he’s in some cute French lady’s class. She’s Professor Juliette Le Gall, and she is played by Irene Jacob, and she teaches courtly love. Oh, boy. We listen to her lecture about the conscious and subconscious. Don’t you just love it when the show tries to talk directly to us? “We see the fictional shadow self become a manifestation of the writer’s own depravity. A shadow of a shadow destined to be destroyed by its creator.” Mmmhmmm.
Turns out that the professor is super psyched to meet Noah and believes they are kindred spirits. She tells Noah that some students and faculty are not excited about him being there. “You are a murderer, yes?” (Here’s the thing about French accents: Everything sounds adorable and chic. I want you to try and imagine that everything Ms. Le Gall says from here on out is said in a hard core Boston accent and see how you feel.) They go to a cafe and discuss their ennui and make some very rude cracks about New Jersey. Noah talks about how coddled these young students who were born post 9/11 are — he’s just getting warmed up when he starts seeing that same damn figure again. Stalker or has he lost his mind? Lady Le Gall invites him to a party that evening at her house.
Noah meets with his parole officer, and we learn he’s just teaching one class per semester. He thinks it’s going well. She stresses that he needs to stay employed, that she needs to see where he’s living, etc. Parole life. He asks if anyone — oh, let’s just say a guard — might know where he is? She says no way.
Noah goes to a liquor store and LOSES it when he, yet again, sees a familiar creepo creeping toward him. And in the brief second we see his creep’s face — lo and behold, it is Brendan Fraser!?!? Noah drops the wine, and the maybe Fraser leaves.
Noah arrives at the lovely home of professor ooh la la. Guess who opens the door? Audrey! Looking an AWFUL lot like young Alison, btw. Not a coincidence I’m sure. At dinner, there’s a big discussion about rape over dinner as the candles burn down and the wine is drunk. There is a foolish young white man talking about how scary it is to be a man these days. Audrey passionately tells him off. Juliette makes eyes at Noah down the table. In her great accent, she talks expansively about women being in charge in love, and it’s all very sexy while she seductively eats a piece of fruit. Repeat: She is literally biting into fruit. (Replay it with the Boston accent, I dare you.)
Audrey aggressively brings Noah into the convo: asking him about things like courtly love and assault and asks him about that chapter in Descent where he has sex with his wife against a tree. Oh, yeah, remember that?? Noah tries to throw words like shame and desire around together and makes things worse but Juliette takes his side and calls his protagonist courageous. Oh, boy, we really are in Noah’s mind now aren’t we?
Noah goes outside where Audrey is smoking and she really looks like Alison to me. It’s weird. He apologizes for his treatment of her and asks if she really feels unsafe in his class? She gives him a withering look and is like, dude, what you don’t know about women in general is that we feel unsafe all the time. BTW, this is true.
And then Juliette takes him away for a tour of the house, and we all know what that means because this is Noah: Juliette throws herself at him. “I was beginning to think there was no one interesting to talk to in all of New Jersey.” (I don’t approve of this Jersey bashing at all, show.) They make out for a little bit; it seems hot and heavy and all, but Noah stops it and runs out of the house.
He walks home, consumed by visions of life in prison — life a lot scarier than he made it seem to Helen. He gets back to his own cheap student housing, and he’s nervous, looking over his shoulder, remembering his cell, thinking people he’s passing are Shadow Fraser.
He makes a call — to Alison — he says he knows he’s not supposed to contact her but needed to hear her voice. So that’s interesting…
He goes inside, he’s jumping at shadows. But maybe he wasn’t being all that paranoid? Because it sure looks like he just got stabbed in the neck. See you guys next week!