“Your pride cost him his life. It should have been you.”
For several weeks, we’ve seen Alison attempt to move on from Gabriel’s death, and we’ve seen her appeal not only to her own husband, but also to Noah, about simply starting over and building new lives for themselves. When she made this appeal to Noah while standing on his doorstep, she was rejected, the door shut in her face as he told her that he couldn’t keep the affair going. When she made this appeal to Cole, the tension immediately bubbled to the surface, and the quiet rage burst through as he stated that there was no moving on. In episode 9, Alison is once again forced to confront the past, forced to confront the day on which her beloved son left the world forever.
And man, what a heartbreaking story it is. Every week, Ruth Wilson takes her performance to a new level, and her monologue in the doctor’s–played by a wonderful Jeffrey DeMunn–office is absolutely sublime. Although it may be hard to sympathize with her when she’s, say, having sex with Oscar, it’s completely understandable because she has this inherent need to dig herself deeper into her hole. It’s difficult to watch as she gets into bed with someone like Oscar and as she cuts herself again and as she recounts the story of Gabriel’s secondary drowning, but it’s in line with who she is; it’s also clear that Cherry’s influence has a profound effect on her, and it’s Cherry’s vile words that almost drive her to suicide.
Of course, this being The Affair, there has to be a connection in the Noah storyline. I kind of wish the show would pull back a bit on these, as the scene in which a man jumps off a building to his death–paralleling Alison’s suicide attempt–is too overt and unnecessary. However, I do like Max’s reaction to the whole situation, and he reminds me of Tyler Perry’s character in Gone Girl; here, we have observers, people who can look at this from the outside, people who can look at this all and laugh because he or she has no ulterior motive. The season has illustrated how every person in these various families has become swept up in the affair in one way or another, and it’s nice to see the reactions of those who aren’t all in just yet.
Aside from that thought, the two storylines this week both contain instances in which someone says “It isn’t your fault”. The first is said by Alison’s doctor to Alison, and the second is said by Noah to Helen. That line seems to apply to all facets of the show in general, as people tell themselves that when they make excuses, when they don’t want to face the cold, hard truth. The two aforementioned instances are a bit more tender and genuine than that, but they’re all tied up in the affair in some way, in the pain that led to and resulted from those summer nights in Montauk.
In the end, everything truly unravels as Noah tells Helen that he’s leaving her, and what follows is Helen Solloway at her most terrifying; “You brought her here?” is a really chilling line. Noah’s still chasing that idealist fantasy, and his commitment to that chase is what brings it all crashing down to brutal reality. As he stands on that train platform, his face falling as he sees Cole standing behind Alison, he realizes that everything may not be as simple as it may have seemed first. For Alison, she does what she knows how to do best: escape. She looks at Noah, quickly averts her eyes, and steps onto the train…alone. We don’t know yet where she’s going.
– “Is it true love? Then it’ll last.” Interesting point brought up here, considering last week was all about Romeo and Juliet and how “true love cannot sustain in an imperfect world”.
-So, we see that Detective Jeffries is fudging the truth a bit as well.
-Noah comes clean to Helen, but Alison doesn’t come clean to Cole.
-I get the criticisms that this episode is really “soapy”, but man, it is so compelling to watch. Also, what separates this from normal soaps is the truly marvelous acting.
-I don’t really know what to think about the pregnancy storyline. It makes for some wonderful scenes for Maura Tierney, but it hasn’t quite worked for me yet. The show tends to like to fall back on cliches like this at times, so hopefully we see some more interesting ideas here; I’m sure this baby ties into Scotty’s death somehow.
-In Noah’s story, the whole apartment scene is predictably not present. He has to look good, after all.
-One more episode. Any predictions? I’ll be covering the season finale–“10”–right here next week. Join me then.
Photo credit: Showtime, The Affair