Sunday, November 1, 2015

REVIEW: 'The Affair' - Alison is Alone Again While Cole Hears About a New Business Opportunity in '205'

Showtime's The Affair - Episode 2.05 "205"

Alison is thrown by an unpleasant shift in behavior from her Hudson Valley hosts, and furious with Noah after a chance discovery about his new book. Cole rejects Scotty's plan to make money for the family, and enjoys an unexpected connection with someone new. Scotty catches Cole in a situation best kept secret.

Robert and Ivonne gave Alison purpose during her time at the cabin in Hudson Valley. Noah went there to finish his book without the distractions of his parental responsibilities. He brought Alison along because he loves her. She loves him too. That's why she went. She has enjoyed the reality that is this relationship. And yet, that relationship only exists when the two of them are together at the cabin. He still has this whole other life that is calling for him back in the city. She doesn't have any attachments to anywhere else. That's why she needed people like Robert and Ivonne to give her something to do with her days. They have become reliable friends for her. However, Alison quickly realizes that their niceness doesn't come from a place of genuine concern and companionship.

Alison chose to be Ivonne's assistant and help Robert with his rehab in order to have a job. It was mostly for the conversation and the proximity to other people. She didn't want to be alone in the cabin while Noah was off spending so much time in the city dealing with his divorce and his children. But this job was real with actual responsibilities. Sure, it's laid on pretty thick that Ivonne looks at Alison as her professional help and nothing more than that. Alison is her assistant who needs to do whatever she says. There's no relationship beyond that. Meanwhile, Robert has always been willing to listen to Alison as she deals with the complicated emotions of her relationship with Noah. It never had much of a sexual subtext until this episode when Robert gets a little too aroused by hearing the real story of how Alison and Noah fell in love.

It's all building up so that Alison once again feels isolated. She believes people look at her one way and that's it. She is a sexual being but she wants to be so much more that. It's disheartening to think that's all Robert and Ivonne view her as. But it's also very devastating when she believes that that's what Noah believes too. His book has always been based on his affair with Alison. So, Alison has every right to her horrifying reaction when she discovers that Noah's book is basically an erotic novel about their lives together. It's a discovery that sends her spiraling. She has no idea what to do or where to go. It's very foolish that she goes to Helen's house thinking that Noah would be there still living his idyllic family life. Helen hits Alison with a big reality check about Noah. Everything may be perfect right now. But there is darkness and secrets hiding underneath the surface that will come out sooner or later. Noah has been working on this book since the beginning of the series. Alison is just now learning what it's about. To her, that's the reason why he kept it from her for so long. So, she decides to flee back to the one place where she still feels at home. But even that comes with its own complications.

Meanwhile, Cole was in a very dark place the last time he was featured this season. He was overwhelmed with darkness in the wake of Alison leaving him and his family structure being destroyed. Now, he's just doing whatever it takes to get by with the day in front of him. He's not opening himself up to the world. He's not even really speaking to his family or dealing with the grief of the past year. It's gotten to the point where he's resorting to somewhat anonymous sex in order to feel anything. But even then, he is still being defined by so many things. The woman keeps wanting to call him a ranch hand. That's an identifier that's a painful reminder of the dream he used to be living. And then, the woman's husband comes home early and catches them in the act. He's lucky to get out of there with just a black eye. He's being physically harmed simply because of the poor and dark emotional state he is in at the moment.

For some strange reason though, Cole finds himself gravitating towards Luisa - who works for the woman he had sex with. Even when he arrives at her boss' house to have sex with her, Cole still finds himself looking at Luisa. She keeps popping up in his life too because she's on Scotty's boat when Cole goes to confront him about selling his house. Some convenient plot contrivances force them even closer together as Cole shows that he is a good guy in getting her bag back from Scotty as well as capable of giving her a ride to her other job at The End. Cole is so enamored with this woman that he spends the majority of the day just talking with her. They don't go all that deep. Even after a day, Luisa still doesn't know a whole lot about Cole except that he is very moody. Cole has all this pain in his past that is defining him right now even though he's trying to move on with this new girl.

Despite the events of the day though, it's still so easy for Cole to once again fall under the charms of Alison. He returns home from his day of drinking to find Alison back in their home. The home where he refuses to sleep in or sell because of the personal memories of his marriage. This is the place where Alison feels at home as well. This is where she goes in order to feel comfortable again. This is where she believes she belongs. It just comes with the mess that she left behind. Cole is surprised to see her again. But he never stopped loving her. When she unloads on him about the way she is feeling in this moment, he still wants to listen to her and protect her. He still feels the need to do right by her. This is a moment of intimacy the two of them haven't had together in a long time. It's genuine and simple - unlike the most recent sexual encounters both have had. But it's also completely complex because there's no certainty that this moment is any more real than the lives they've currently been living.

Because of the flash-forwards, the audience knows that Alison is going to work things out with Noah and get married to him. They've also alluded that Cole gets married as well - probably to Luisa. So, this moment that Cole and Alison share together isn't going to be anything more than this one moment. But in that moment, they feel at peace with each other. In that moment, they feel comfortable in a way that they haven't felt in a long time. That's very meaningful. It shows that things are still complicated even after the affair that led Alison to Noah and away from Cole. They still have feelings for each other that are only going to get more painful as they attempt to figure out what this moment means. They both still have lives. Now they just need to figure out what they want and then go after it.

Some more thoughts:
  • "205" was written by Sharr White and directed by Laura Innes.
  • Noah's lawyer goes to the detective investigating Scotty's death and wonders why he looked at his client for the crime instead of other viable suspects. An answer isn't given but it still shows that the future is just as complicated as the present. But it also includes the return of Oscar who may want to help Noah's case for some reason.
  • Alison riding her bike and letting go of the handlebars was such a chilling and beautiful sequence. In that moment, she was free and at peace with herself even though she was still hanging on to life.
  • Scotty wants to open a nightclub in town in order to generate some new money for the family so that he can stop living on his boat. But Cole doesn't take it all that seriously because Scotty is still dealing drugs.
  • However, Scotty does catch Cole and Alison together again - well, not in the act but soon afterwards. So that should be the start of the two of them dealing with the complications of this action before even understanding what it meant themselves.
  • Helen is always so well put-together in Alison's point-of-view. It could easily be cartoonish except for the important and powerful thing she has to say to Alison in that moment.