Sunday, December 21, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Affair' - Cole Confronts Noah at Lockhart Ranch While an Arrest is Made in the Future in '10'

Showtime's The Affair - Episode 1.10 "10"

The disappearance of Whitney spurs Helen to scrutinize Noah and his relationship with Alison and her family. Cole searches for answers at Lockhart Ranch. Meanwhile, Detective Jeffries makes significant progress on his case.

The framing device of The Affair has often been the most intriguing facet of the show. Splitting time between seeing things from Noah's point-of-view and then Alison's has been interesting in seeing how memory works. Both characters see this universe differently. Those differences helped build character intimacy. However, as the show became more focused on plot, it was hard to determine how exactly we our suppose to see Noah and Alison as a couple.

Additionally, all season long we have been getting glimpses into the future where Noah and Alison are separately answering questions in regards to the murder of Alison's brother-in-law, Scotty. At the start of the season, these scenes were very valuable because they provided insight into what both characters were feeling at the beginning of their relationship. Eventually though, the detective let them both go and we followed him around town looking for clues. The problem was a considerable lack of urgency in these scenes as the season went along. The detective is so focused on this investigation that we have very little knowledge about. The present-day story wasn't building towards the event of the investigation. So it left things awkward in how we are suppose to be seeing these moments of the future. The season concludes with Noah and Alison being happy together in a great apartment with a baby and the detective coming to arrest Noah. And yet, this action is so emotionally empty. These sequences keep alluding to things but have never shown something of vital action. It shows that these two will be together in a major way in the future. But why is that important?

I'm much more intrigued in the emotional complexities within Noah and Alison's respective marriages. The tension that Noah has with Helen and that Alison has with Cole is a much stronger driving action of the finale. It's in those couples dealing with their issues that provides the show moments of legitimate interest. Noah and Alison are barely together at all here. And yet, we are to believe that they will end up happy together in the future because they see each other for who they really are. I'm just not buying it. The Affair needs to show us actions explaining how Noah is a better person when with Alison and vice versa. Just because Alison is not with Cole doesn't mean she has to be with Noah.

The parallels of each marriage continue to be of interest though. Four months has passed since Noah left Helen and ran into Alison and Cole at the train station. During that time, none of them have had any interactions with anyone else. Noah has been having several casual flings and finishes his acclaimed book but at the cost of his job. Alison has run away to rediscover himself but that means she has to spend more time with Athena. They both return to their partners and things diverge from there. Helen needs Noah to come back to be a support system for her. Taking care of four children has been really hard on her. The kids may not respect Noah anymore but Helen needs him back in their lives. Noah is happy to be a husband and father again. Elsewhere, Cole is expecting Alison to return to town with some clarity over their marriage and a willingness to try again. That's not what happens. She just wants to sell the house and not really deal with Cole. She can no longer stand to look at him because he is just a reminder of Gabriel. She doesn't want to forget her child but she also wants a chance at happiness. It's just too hard to be with Cole.

The grand emotional piece of the finale comes upon the revelation that Whitney and Scotty were having a relationship and the three Soloways end up at Lockhart Ranch. Once there, Cole pulls a gun on Noah. It's an empty threat. We know that both Noah and Alison will survive because of the flash-forwards which does take away from the unpredictability of the moment. To Noah, he has a right to attack Scotty over what he has done and Cole is simply protecting his brother. To Alison, Cole points the gun because of his inability to accept their current situation and places all that blame on Noah. It's a much more powerful sequence in Alison's side of the story. Joshua Jackson absolutely sells the desperation that Cole is feeling in that moment. Only Alison could pull him out of doing something really horrible. And then, she falls back into the arms of Noah. She saves Cole's life and then immediately slaps him in the face. Obviously there's more story to how Noah and Alison get together happily in the future. And yet, I just wished the season had ended with the two of them hugging after surviving Cole instead of some trumped up cliffhanger that has little emotional value.

Some more thoughts:
  • "10" was written by Sarah Treem and directed by Jeffrey Reiner.
  • The finale opens with Noah at the swimming pool and running into the same woman as he did in the opening minutes of the premiere. And then, he sleeps with her too.
  • Where did Cherry go when Noah and Helen came to get their daughter in Alison's point-of-view? She was planning to appeal to Helen's maternal instincts and then she just vanished long enough so Cole could pull a gun on them.
  • Even Whitney is confused as to why Alison would cheat on her husband with Noah. Or as she puts it - Noah is old and Cole is hot.
  • Alison's sister-in-law was absolutely in the right for calling Alison out for trying to breeze back into town and act like nothing has happened at all with the family.
  • That's it until next year for Season 2. This season has been interesting to discuss. What are your thoughts? How long until you think we'll see the night of Scotty's death?