“Pure love cannot sustain in an imperfect world.”
This causes us to wonder: is there really “pure love” between Noah Solloway and Alison Lockhart, or is it merely an escape for them, an escape from the problems and people in their lives? Or, is Noah referring to the fact that their respective relationships eventually had to crumble because, well, that’s how the world is? What’s important here is that there is no clear cut interpretation, just as there is no clear cut story about the affair or about the murder in general. Reality, after all, is not always objective.
“8” explores those ideas of pure love in several scenes, the first of which is one of my favorite scenes of the series. As Noah and Helen’s therapist–Blair Brown! Nina from Fringe! I hope you meet Cole!–listens, Helen asks her husband whether he knows why she married him. The answer? She saw him as “safe”, someone who would never cheat, someone who she married not mainly because of love. It’s very unflattering, and Noah responds by saying that he always knew her reasons. The thing about Noah, though, is the fact that he always has to prove something to himself; he always has to portray himself in the best light possible, and that’s an idea that snakes throughout both his professional and personal lives. It’s also an idea that we see quite often through the differing perspectives of the show.
So, Noah heads back to Montauk, and whaddya know: he runs into Alison. It’s now winter in the show’s universe, which is a key point because while summer represents a fun, carefree time, winter is chilly and icy, devoid of warmth. In order to find that warmth, you must look to the people around you, and we see that Alison seems to be closer to Cole than she was before; this is exemplified when they cuddle together–and have sex–in the warmth of their bed. So, we get an inversion of sorts from the beginning of the series: there was an icy distance between the two during the summer, but now, they’re getting a bit closer. Sure, there are still quite a few problems–the ranch, Alison’s grandmother, Noah himself–but there is some progress here.
“8” is not only concerned with spousal relationships, but also with parental relationships. Alison’s grandmother’s death draws a heartbreaking connection between her and Alison and Alison and Gabriel, and through this, we also get to see what an insufferable person Athena is. She makes her own escape of sorts at the end of the episode, stating that she can’t wait a few days because she needs to go someplace else. “A daughter losing her mother…such an archetypal wound.” Alison’s all, “Oh, shut up.”
In addition, Noah goes to Bruce’s Literary Society Award dinner, and we find out that Bruce had his own Alison a while back. Here, we see the intersection of work and private life, as Bruce tells Noah that he used the Michigan student as his jumping off point for his book, for his creativity. It’s important to note that Noah hasn’t been writing for a bit, and while that could be chalked up to the fact that he’s trying to “stick it out” with Helen, it’s also an indication that Alison–and Montauk itself–is the source of his creativity. Flash forward to the present, and we see that the advice has been heeded. Noah’s doing well, but it remains to be seen what exactly it took to get him to that point. Was it pure love? Was it an imperfect world? Was it both? Was it neither?
Two more episodes, folks.
-So, is Whitney pregnant?
-We get the time jump in this episode, but I definitely would be interested in an episode that, say, gives us Noah and Alison stories in which they never interact.
-Martin staying in public school is good for Noah because he doesn’t have to ask Bruce for any more money.
-Well, since it’s Romeo and Juliet, I guess Noah and Alison are bound to commit suicide for love at some point. Good for them.
-Also, what’s key about the above tragedy is the fact that Romeo and Juliet are not necessarily the epitome of true love; rather, they are in love with an idealized version of love, something we can apply to Alison and Noah.
-I hate leaks.
-Interesting where Alison is sitting at the memorial service. She’s not with the family.
-Well, there’s Detective Jeffries, putting together the pieces of the murder in the present day. I hope that eventually, we start noticing him in the background behind a bush or something, with binoculars held up to his face.
Photo credit: Showtime, The Affair