Sunday, November 23, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Affair' - Noah Lands in the Hospital After Everyone Tries to Escape to the City in '7'

Showtime's The Affair - Episode 1.07 "7"

With the summer coming to an end, the Solloways are returning to Brooklyn. For Noah, it is a welcome relief following the recent revelation about Alison. When the Lockhart side business hits too close to home, Cole is forced to confront Alison. Meanwhile, Helen and Noah must grapple with the results of an unexpected emergency.

When it comes to extramarital affairs, it's important to examine why the two people in the affair willingly committed to it and then dealing with the aftermath of it on the respective marriages they left behind. Marriage is a union with its ups and downs. Over the years, people evolve and the relationship between the two people has to evolve as well. There's a weight to this commitment that may people take lightly. When an affair pops up, it could be the end of the union. It's certainly a reason why two people should call it quits. There has to be some reason why one of them felt the need to look elsewhere to find satisfaction. The bigger question is: Can the marriage work itself out following the reveal of said indiscretion? In the past few episodes and especially in this one, the individual marriages between Noah & Helen and Alison & Cole are vastly more interesting than the affair between Noah and Alison. Helen and Cole both learn about the affair this week. Both learn for different reasons. And yet, each act of telling the truth and the immediate reaction is very compelling.

It's not very subtle that this secret is weighing hard on Noah - especially after Oscar decides to blackmail him with the information. He can't have sex with Helen and he's having a panic attack while out on a run. He's glad that the summer has come to an end. After learning about the Lockhart family drug business, he can't stand to see or be with Alison. He wants to move past all of this. It was a summer fling and nothing more than that. The hour starts though with Whitney sharing her thoughts on her parents' marriage to them during her therapy session. She can sense that something is off between them but she wrongly believes that it is Helen having the affair. All of this is building up until Noah winds up in the hospital. Helen is trying to diagnose what is wrong with him. But there isn't anything except this major secret. For her part, Helen has seen how these kinds of secrets can effect a marriage because of her parents. And yet, she rightfully doesn't know how to react once Noah tells the truth. It leads to a fight that seems to have been simmering long before Noah met Alison. Helen's perception of what people should be is a very defining characteristic for her. And yet, it's important to remember that all of this is being told from Noah's point-of-view. He's still kind of a dick but he also sees her as being disappointed in him not living up to his fullest potential. It's that kind of stress that bottled him up until he was able to be free finally with Alison. It's not the strongest of explanations. And yet, it's the one that he is giving to help make sense of all of this for both Helen and himself. Who knows if this marriage will work but everything is out in the air now.

And then, things shifted over to Alison's side of the universe which had a much stronger beginning, middle and end. Last we saw her she was clinging onto Noah as this idea of a better life. He helped her realize that there is something worth living for instead of justing being a trafficker in the local drug trade. Noah wanted no part of her after learning part of the truth. And now, she's trying to slip back into the faithful wife role again. That's exactly what her mother-in-law wants. She learns the truth and goes into protective momma bear mode. Even after that conversation, Alison feels isolated in this world. She is a part of it but not an active member of it. She goes to dinner and then to Oscar's house because that's what this family does. It's after that that things start to implode. Oscar blurts out the truth to Cole. Cole has been a fascinating character so far. He is stuck in his ways and often says so much without saying a lot. It's that kind of distance that forced Alison away in the first place. He is happy to send her away to the city after learning the truth. It's there where Alison realizes just how much she now idolizes her relationship with Noah. Her friend even helps her stalk Noah and Helen. That's weird. And yet, it's when Cole shows up at the friend's apartment that they have the most honest conversation they've had yet. You can tell that Cole struggles expressing his feelings to Alison. And yet, once he does, we get such a stronger understanding of who he is. He has had a rough life and he has often been called upon to be the leader. He hasn't been allowed to be angry or upset. He handles this situation poorly at first but afterwards he is willing to embrace Alison again. They are both able to understand that they both made mistakes. They are on the path to evolving now as a new and perhaps better couple. 

Some more thoughts:
  • "7" was written by Kate Robin and directed by Ryan Fleck.
  • For the first time, we get scenes that are not from either Noah or Alison's point-of-view. We see the detective from the future case lurking around The End and reading Noah's book. It doesn't make a lot of sense in the moment. It's more like a way to keep reminding us that something else is about to happen.
  • The Vanity Fair article about Helen's parents is pretty amusing. I love that Noah gets a good laugh out of it.
  • What do you think Noah's letter to Alison said? The idea of knowing is probably stronger than actually knowing though.
  • It's wonderful plotting that Noah can no longer keep this secret from Helen and tells her and a few minutes later Alison's mother-in-law tells her that people that tell the truth are selfish. That's a strong reason why Alison's marriage is on the mend by episode's end while Noah's is in flux.