Sunday, October 26, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Affair' - Noah Starts Researching the Town and Its Community with Help From Alison in '3'

Showtime's The Affair - Episode 1.03 "3"

With his novel gaining traction, Noah turns to Alison to help him research the local culture. But their innocent tour of Montauk proves more dangerous than expected. Meanwhile, Cole takes a stand on behalf of his community, and Helen deals with business back in Brooklyn.

The third episode of The Affair's first season is the first where I truly seem to be getting irked (just a little bit) by the fact that from Noah's perspective, Alison is the more assertive one in their relationship and vice versa in hers. It's just a subtle thing and doesn't effect my overall opinion about the show and its stories. But it is becoming more noticeable. And yet, it feels perfectly in line with the framing device of the series. In Noah's perspective, he would be the multi-dimensional character - as would she in her point-of-view. Pair them together and the overall effect of the hour helps fill in the gaps.

And yet, the third episode is most interesting because the two narratives diverge for the first time. According to Noah, the sexual affair started the night of the town hall meeting. He is fully complicit in this sexual encounter as long as he can determine the pace at which they take things. He needs privacy and is able to be with her in the way that he has been longing to. Conversely, Alison recalls the night of the town hall meeting in her bed texting with Noah and then turning over and having sex with Cole. That is a major difference. At this point in time, she's not willing to admit that it was a sexual affair. It was emotional but more importantly just a kiss with a stranger.

It was also apparent that this diversion was coming. The thought of Alison is slowly taking over most of Noah's thought process. His in-laws keep talking about their opinions about him and his process and mentality to him. On some level, that is beating him down. Whatever he does he can never seem to win their approval. Part of the blame can be placed on Noah because he engages with them. Even in his own world where he is trying to write a second novel, Alison is creeping into his thought process. He is modeling the book on their relationship. A city guy comes to Montauk meets a waitress and they start an affair. The story ends with him murdering the girl. That also happens to be an event The Affair is leading up to as well as the flash-forwards point out. When Noah does see Alison again, he is distracted by her body and her ability to speak for him. She understands the predicament that he finds himself in and yet is still willing to show him around town. When they go on that tour, he is awkward because he is so focused on her. When he returns home, he just needs an escape again. But this time he just can't crawl up to his bed and fuck Helen. He heads to the town hall for research. And yet, he misses it completely. He hasn't really done any kind of research for his book. That still remains his answer to everything that he is doing. He hasn't written a word. And yet, he has his premise and now he is willing to have sex with Alison. He is taken things to the next level in that relationship.

Meanwhile, from Alison's point-of-view, she is offering up a lot of information about the area for his book. To her, he is focused on the book - and on her at the same time. She is more than willing to help him because of the growing tension going on between Cole and Oscar, her boss at the diner. Cole wants to preserve the area as the kind of town he grew up in where the people were all very respectful of each other. Oscar wants to expand in order to make the people in town happier. It's a huge point of contention at the town hall - and both expect Alison to be in their corner on the subject. She is respectful of this town and its atmosphere. She has lived here her whole life. And yet, it doesn't seem like she has a strong opinion over what should be done about this issue. If anything, she is upset that Cole is willing to use their dead son in his argument. More than anything else, that could have sent her into Noah's arms just to be away from this atmosphere for a little bit. To have some privacy with a man who doesn't know her as well as the rest of the town does. That is refreshing. And yet, that's not what occurs. She goes home and initiates sex with Cole. She is not willing to commit to an affair at this point in time. Noah is and Alison is not. It's that kind of twist that makes The Affair so special.

Some more thoughts:
  • "3" was written by Eric Overmyer and directed by Jeffrey Reiner.
  • Noah dedicated his first book "For Helen, who makes the world seem good." That gains added weight given everything he is dealing with now.
  • Additionally, no one in Montauk has checked out his book which only odds additional pressure for his second to be even better.
  • Noah also remembers a run-in with Scotty on the dock but Alison doesn't. I'm guessing that implies he is more worried about her family while she is more worried about the community seeing them together.
  • What exactly does Helen do for a living again?
  • Things are happening more quickly in Noah's side of the story. He goes to the diner looking for Alison and then runs into her at the library later that the day. While Alison remembers a day between being at the diner and the library.
  • Alison also used to be a nurse on the pediatric floor of a hospital. That had to be brutal following her son's death. Even now, when she tries to return, it's hard on her. That was a wonderful piece of added backstory that enriches the character even further.
  • In the detective scenes, we learn the event everyone was at was a wedding as well as Alison probably having another child because she needs to check in on her sitter. Just how far into the future are these sequences?