Dec 22 2014 12:00pm

(Spoiler!) State of The Affair 1x10

Note: This post contains spoilers of all aired episodes of The Affair, including last night's Season 1 finale.

So we’ve seen ten episodes now of this fascinating (and recently Golden Globe-nominated) drama, but we seem to have just skimmed the surface of the secrets and scandals of The Affair. The finale was a bit trickier to navigate timeline-wise than most of what came before, and though the very ending was a fairly predictable conclusion (so Alison and Noah DID end up together), there are still plenty of burning questions left for us to mull over before season two comes around:

• Happy ending aside, this affair certainly wasn’t depicted through rose-colored glasses. In recent weeks, Alison and Noah’s inability to resist each other even led them to an illicit liaison in Helen and Noah’s bed, and Alison to contemplate running off with half the money she hoped her husband would get from the sale of the ranch. Could they really have had that little respect for the spouses they spent 20 years with, or was lust/love blinding them to their selfishness? Did you end up thinking worse and worse of Alison and Noah progressively as the show continued?

• Related to that…did you find one of them more sympathetic than the other? Are Alison’s transgressions more understandable because of the death of Gabriel whereas Noah’s seem to simply be of the typical mid-life male crisis variety?

• The show’s always presented the narrative differing in ways small and large between the two protagonists’ POVs, but this week, it really strained credulity because the two accounts were so wildly different. [I’ll admit I totally cheered on Cole when he pulled a gun at Noah in the first half, and I was horrified by him threatening to kill just about everyone and himself in the second.] How could they both remember something so different in a moment that was clearly a huge one?

(Creator Sarah Treem gives an explanation to Hitfix critic Alan Sepinwall here that may appease you. But if, as she says, the real truth does not matter that much…is that just a cheap excuse to never truly have to take a stand with your story? )

• Let’s talk about that mystery plot! So the investigation did indeed heat up considerably with some flash forward scenes of the detective finding the footage of the confrontation at the abortion clinic between Scotty and Noah, and then Noah bribing the Montauk mechanic not to tell the cops he had to have his car repaired. But…we still don’t know exactly when Scotty died or how it all went down. The affair with Whitney should be kind of ancient history by the time he actually dies—so why would Noah wait years to kill him? If you don’t think Noah did it and his arrest is just a red herring, who do you think the culprit is? Could he be covering for Whitney killing Scotty in some kind of woman scorned rage? Could Scotty have continued dealing and gotten in trouble with the drug suppliers? Share your best theories with us!

• Maybe it’s my eternal love for Joshua Jackson coloring my perspective here, but of all the characters, Cole is the one who seems to be the least consistently written of the four leads. He’s tender and supportive and chivalrous most of the time, then at others, he’s a mercenary drug dealer who will compromise his small town values, or gruff and uncaring about Alison’s grandmother dying or —the worse by far—violent and crazed and threatening to shoot people. For me, the writing is a bit too mercurial for Cole, and I have a hard time believing in those latter depictions. What about you? Do I just have Pacey Witter blinders on?

• So we finally have a somewhat loose timeline for the events of S1: Noah and Alison meet in early summer, sex it up till September, then the Solloways discover Whitney’s pregnancy in late November/early December and they separate. Four months later (during which Noah slept around a lot, got fired and finished his novel), he and Helen are on the verge of maybe reconciling when she discovers Scotty was the guy who got their daughter pregnant and plans to press charges, prompting the showdown back in Montauk. (Is she the one who gives the tape of Noah threatening Scotty to the cop in the future?) Scotty is likely still alive and well at this point (if we buy Noah’s POV). At sometime in the future, the investigation continues, Noah and Alison are living together, probably married, with a child, a movie is about to be made of his book, and Noah is then arrested.

• Were you moved by Alison’s recollection of that one moment where Noah pulled her to him and she thought it was the most erotic moment of her life? Should someone just lend her some Sylvia Banks or Lauren Dane novels? (Maybe Elton from The Cosby Show has those in his bag in the Department of Education’s rubber room as well.)

• Were the writers out there amused that detention was basically what got Noah to finish his novel?

• What do you think made Alison come around on Athena? Was she just out of other options at that point? And on the other end of the mother spectrum, did you feel for Cherry that they lost the ranch or did you think she was irredeemable after blaming Alison for Gabriel’s death last week?

• Alison and Cole’s talk when she comes back to the beach house was probably the most honest either couple has been with each other in the whole show. Do you agree that their marriage couldn’t be saved? Even after 20 years together? Or did Alison give up on them too soon? What about Helen and Noah? What did you think of her wanting to take him back because her life was empty without him while he admitted to his editor that he didn’t even miss her(!)?

• What do you think the show looks like going forward? Both marriages are broken up but how soon does that fully happen? The writers have to (I’d assume) find a way to keep Maura and Josh relevant to the plot, but if they’re fully separated, that seems a hard thing to do.

• How about that ending? Were you glad to see that Noah and Alison got their (albeit temporary) happy ending (complete with baby!) in the future or not?

So what was your ultimate conclusion of The Affair’s first season? Did it satisfy? Will you be tuning in to the second season? Leave your thoughts and predictions of where it’ll go next in the comments!


Tara Gelsomino is a reader, writer, pop culture junkie, and internet addict. You can tweet her at @taragel.

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1. Daybreak
This ep kind of broke me. Maura Tierney made me cry first. She's fighting so hard to keep him. She is the hot wife, she gave him four kids, money, what else did he want? To earn it himself. I see the complete difference with him married to Alison. That beautiful home he earned himself.

Both marriages were doomed from before Noah and Allison met. Noah was eyeing Young Pool Woman in the first frame. He needed to be his own man. Helen could never give him that. What sort of woman lets her mother call her husband an asshole in front of their children? No, that was wrong from the beginning.

Same with Alison and Cole who was the second one to make me tear up. He loved and needs Alison so badly. But she can only see Gabriel on him. He even tattooed an angel on his skin. Grief is all over them together. She can't move on with him. Some couples can but she couldn't. She needed a fresh start. She needed to choose her own new start.

Maybe people shouldn't get married young. I don't know. Gabriel's death is no one's fault but it is the sort of thing to break a marriage.

I don't give a damn who killed Scotty. Really? Sleep with a sixteen year old and without protection. Very selfish. I do like that the detective is gay. Such a liar. ;-) But I don't think he's right about Noah. Noah isn't a killer. Maybe that angry girlfriend killed Scotty. Or the guy who owns the Shake Shack, I mean, Lobster Roll. :-)

Yes, Noah and Allison need to stop being assholes. Someone is dead and they really hurt their spouses. But surely Cole can find someone else (Phoebe?). As for Helen, I hope she moved on as well. She deserves better and to escape the assholes that are her parents and former husband.
2. Taragel
Ah, I just saw this! Thanks so much for commenting! It's so fascinating, isn't it? I want Cole and Helen to move on and find better as well--but then there'd probably be no show! LOL. It does seem that Alison knows more than she's letting on--her last comment to Noah that she'll get his name cleared and her plea that he believes her is rather intriguing.
3. Daybeak
I just saw this! So glad that Ruth Wilson won an Emmy! Months later I can still hear her saying, "I can't. It's too hard."

Sometimes it's just too hard. :-(
4. jade86
Speaking of Joshua Jackson aka Cole, i think you just still see him as Pacey and you can't accept him being a crazy violent character. LOL.
I'm actually happy to see Josh playing a character that is not the same next door guy. Josh is playing a very strong character and it's not inconsistent to me.
Can't wait for season two!
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