The Affair: 208 Review

As Noah’s novel gains further popularity we see how quickly one can get drunk with power. Plus, falafel waffles—fawaffels!

This The Affair review contains spoilers.

The Affair: Season 2 Episode 8

“Is there a green light at the end of your dock, Daisy?”

We’re all natural storytellers.

We may not think that we are, but our brains have a way of putting together details from point-A to point-B to point-C that is inherently like that of a narrative. Telling a story doesn’t always mean spinning some massive yarn of fiction. Sometimes it’s as simple as looking at a piece of evidence and telling what that says to you. The Affair has used this tactic through its entirety, whether you realized it or not, by presenting these skewed perspectives piece by piece. It’s caused you to lean towards a particular narrative, choose a particular side, because that’s how being human works.

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That’s why the opening flash forward scene here is so fascinating. Gottlief and his associate are going over the details of the Scott Lockhart murder, piecing together all of the evidence that we, the audience, have also seen up to this point. After last episode’s smoking gun that Alison was (apparently) pregnant with Scotty’s child, Gottlief and co put together a very convincing story where Alison is the murderer, and frankly, it makes a lot of sense. The only problem here, and it’s a detail that Gottlief and staff couldn’t possibly have, is that we’ve never seen Alison share a remote interest in Scotty whatsoever. It’s a detail that screams to me, at least, that everyone is misinterpreting this footage and it’s not actually Scotty’s baby, but with there being two episodes left and these flash forwards being designed to mess around with you, there’s still lots of time for this plausible narrative to be built to or broken.

Back in the present, Helen innocently tries to take Whitney on a tour of colleges, and when they visit Williams, the school that her and Noah met at, she ends up turning it into a “greatest hits” of all of her and Noah’s romantic moments. While Helen is lost in the past, Whitney is far too interested in the future, going as far as making a Tinder profile for her mother (again, writing a narrative that might seem accurate, but is inherently flawed all the same, with this echoing further through the story that Whitney’s photographer friend has told her) and the actualization of what she wants to do with her life, which evidently lies outside of a college.

This could certainly be a weighty scene in a season that’s been full of weighty scenes for Helen, but it more than anything else just underscores the selfish behavior that Whitney’s been riding out all year. Her latest infatuation with being a model seems like it’ll be a good idea until the next pregnancy knocks her down rather than it smacking of independence and self-reliance. Whitney revealing that Helen’s only opposed to her idea because she wasn’t capable of such independence herself reeks more of Whitney knowing how to cut into her mother rather than what’s actually going on here.

It’s sort of amazing how much of this episode is just Helen watching Noah in a number of different circumstances. Tierney has been killing it this season and watching her face convey micro-expressions as she looks at her ex-husband is a meal to take in. As soon as the series began to even hint at the possibility of these two getting back to together I’ve been in full support of it and this episode is pretty much a love letter to that idea. As delightful as it is to see the two of them sharing sweet moments, or co-parenting together, it also feels like Noah’s about to fuck his publicist at the drop of a hat, so he’s sort of just this way with everyone (or at least anyone holding a copy of his book).

Noah’s book tour ends up coinciding with Helen and Whitney’s college tour (nice work, Eden), which conveniently provides a way for the stalwart Noah/Helen structure to overlap in a nice way. Speaking of conveniences, Noah getting asking point blank, “Do you think that love can last?” while doing a Q&A for his novel is a very easy way for the series to tell the audience where he’s leaning in the grander scheme of this series. That being said, like a lot of the moments in this show, it’s handled elegantly as hell and it’s artificiality is forgotten.

I’m always impressed at how subtly The Affair coasts through spans of time, so to see that Alison is now five months pregnant—and then glossing over the whole thing—provides a fair degree of whiplash, but it’s a testament to the show’s writing. If Alison did happen to hook up with Scotty and get pregnant with him, that moment is long passed. It’s not something we’re going to stumble upon, and I’m consistently astounded at how the show can leap forward at times and coast past certain crucial details. It has tremendous trust in its audience. And like Noah explains to a crowded room full of people, love can’t work without trust, or without faith, which is exactly what you need here in order to believe that all of this is going to come together in a satisfying fashion.

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While Helen’s side of her night out with Noah is diffused by the rose-colored glasses that she’s wearing, Noah’s half presents a much more distracted, lonely version of the night. Noah can’t get past the minor criticisms that his novel receives or the fact that he’s been overlooked for a literary award even though he’s still in a room full of adoring fans. This could be very symptomatic of Noah never being satisfied, or even when he has a good thing going on, the tiniest leaks manage to sink his ship. Watching him entertain young women who are throwing themselves at him during readings is painful considering that he has a baby on the way at home. It does show consistent behavior in him though.

These poor decisions inevitably lead into the flash forwards, which certainly come plentifully this week, as we jump forward a number of times in this episode in order to clarify a few things and advance the mystery along. It’s nice to see Helen getting all unscrupulous in order to exonerate Noah, and at least speed things up in the answers department. With Alison becoming a rising suspect just as Noah’s behavior is beginning to become more unruly and questionable, it’s still anyone’s guess who murdered Scotty (or who the father of Alison’s baby is, for that matter). One thing’s for sure though, the consequences are only mounting here as everyone begins to play faster and looser than before. The events of the first season’s finale seemed pretty substantial at the time, but it looks like we’re heading towards some even larger devastation here.


3.5 out of 5