Sunday, November 16, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Affair' - After a Night Together, Noah Follows Alison and Learns a Dangerous New Secret in '6'

Showtime's The Affair - Episode 1.06 "6"

After Noah spends a night out with his best friend, Max, he discovers there's more to Alison than he's been led to believe. At home, Helen hopes to make the most of the family's time in Montauk. Meanwhile, Alison and Cole work to keep the Lockharts from danger.

Late in the sixth episode of The Affair, Noah's son Martin asks Alison if you can do a bad thing but not know why? That seems incredibly insightful to the overall narrative of The Affair's first season. Alison and Noah began their affair because of the uniqueness the other brought to the relationship. Through a distinct structure of storytelling, the show has always been interesting to watch. And yet, we're watching two people do a bad thing together. How is the act of cheating interesting over a sustained period of time? That is the struggle The Affair is always dealing with. Why are we suppose to watch and care about Noah and Alison?

This is the first episode without the flash-forward sequences detailing these events from an undisclosed time in the future. We are not worrying about what is going to happen. We are very much living in the moment of this story. We know that tensions are escalating throughout this community and specifically at the Lockharts. And now, we are let in on why this family is shady. They are all secretly drug dealers. That twist felt weird and out of place somewhat. Drugs have not been a strong part of the show. Has there even been a passing reference? That's probably to make this sudden reveal seem more shocking. Alison has had this deeply traumatic and personal tragedy in her past and that is suppose to make her a wonderfully sympathetic figure - despite her entering into this affair with Noah. We knew she was up to something with her delivery of an unknown item from the docks to the water taxi hut. And now, we know that she has been transporting drugs. It's the family business in order to keep up the ranch. That means I see everyone in that family as a criminal which probably isn't how I'm suppose to see them. It's all meant in a way to illuminate Alison not belonging in this family anymore. Gabriel died and that alienated her. Now, she wants out of the drug trade because they almost get caught and Cole says that they can never leave.

And quite frankly, I'm glad that Noah has the common sense to end his relationship with Alison following this reveal. In his side of the story, she claims that it is not want it appears to be. While in hers, we learn that it basically is. It was a byproduct of Gabriel's death. She no longer cared what happened to her. She had nothing in this world left fighting for. Now that she's sleeping with Noah, she has a reason to be happy again. He's making plans for the two of them to spend a month away together. That's a huge step for this relationship which always had the ticking time bomb of the Soloways moving back to the city at summer's end.

It's important to note that the hour builds up to the grand drug reveal too. The hour starts with Noah meeting his friend Max at a party. Before Max goes in, he buys drugs and takes them immediately. Alison is there as well and the two love birds are able to have a good time after Max leaves with the perfect excuse as to why Noah is out so late. Alison has to leave early the next morning and Noah watches her bike away to the docks and transports the cooler to the water taxi hut. He is aware that something is off. And yet, he's largely just focused on how to incorporate drugs into his book. He asks his daughter where someone would buy cocaine which has to be one of the stupidest things Noah has done. No matter how she answered that question he would be upset with her. She took a major turn as a character after starting therapy. She's no longer the annoying teenage daughter. And yet, Noah is keeping his distance from his family and not really engaged with their lives. He is focused on Alison and his book. That is incredibly apparent to the rest of the family. Helen knows they've stopped having sex and Martin doesn't even want to stay at the mansion even more.

It's all leading up to the reveal of the drug trade in Montauk. It's all done in a way to purely antagonize the Lockharts. Cole is continuing this business because of his commitment to the ranch and the generations of his family who have kept it going. We know that the family and this business are struggling financially. But to learn that they are selling drugs in order to sustain themselves, isn't the solution most rational people would come to. They even have rules to try and justify it. Alison wants out of the business. However, Noah doesn't want anything to do with her after learning the truth. Yes, she is nice to Martin and drives him home. But Noah doesn't know how he can see this latest information as anything more than deceitful and criminal. It's a challenge to the core relationship of the show. It sends Noah back to the bedroom with Helen. But it isolates Alison even further than she ever has been before. With only one week left of the summer, this could be the perfect excuse to leave behind everything that happened in Montauk the last few months. But as we all know because of those flash-forwards, that will not be possible.

Some more thoughts:
  • "6" was written by Dan LeFranc and directed by Carl Franklin.
  • Oscar has been getting increasingly creepier. Following Noah across Montauk and ending up at the Butler estate was a high point last week. And now, he's faking calling the police just to freak the Lockharts out. Plus, he actually tried to kiss Alison.
  • The Scotty-Oscar feud is being played up a lot lately. And we know that Scotty is the one who will ultimately be dead in the future. I'm still thinking that Oscar is one big red herring.
  • Max and Helen have a weird relationship. They kiss on the mouth. He's basically a new father figure in the Soloways lives after Noah decides to distance himself.
  • I love that Alison sees Helen as rich and nothing more than that.
  • As much as I was thrown by Cole's actions in this episode, I really enjoyed his rationalization to Martin that Noah only sees lame to Martin because he's his father.