Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Affair rekindles the love of Alison and Cole

Joshua Jackson, Ruth Wilson (Photo: Showtime)
Joshua Jackson, Ruth Wilson (Photo: Showtime)

Because The A.V. Club knows that TV shows keep going even if we’re not writing at length about them, we’re experimenting with discussion posts. For certain shows, one of our TV writers will publish some brief thoughts about the latest episode, and open the comments for readers to share theirs.

  • After a few Montauk-less episodes, we return to the end of the world this episode to catch up with Alison and Cole. In a shocking turn of character salvation, Luisa testifies that Alison should have shared custody of Joanie, basically just so she and her husband can quit talking about her so much. Alison unfortunately follows up this tremendous turn of good fortune by going out and getting a job in New Jersey, to the obvious frustration of Cole.
    The dual perspectives here, again, are what make The Affair so interesting. For Cole, Alison’s news is proof positive that her flighty nature has returned. For Alison, helping to counsel the young mother who has also lost a child is the most useful she’s felt in years, maybe ever. Sure, there must be a way to frame this so it wouldn’t be quite so devastating (maybe she lives in N.J. half the time, custody of Joanie in Montauk the other half). Because just pitching that to Cole impulsively, of course it’s going to make him blow up.
    This all points to the bigger issue at hand: Alison really doesn’t have anyone else to tell her news to. She and Cole have known each other their entire lives, and would probably still be together if the worst tragedy imaginable hadn’t happened to them. Alison tells the young mom that her affair was basically just the manifestation of her grief; the offhand comment, “It didn’t end well,” is a massive understatement. There’s a reason why she brings Cole coffee, is determined to make things right with him, because, unlike she and Noah, she and Cole will always be tied to each other.
    But that fact is likely what makes Cole’s current wife Luisa so continually pissed off. Because it’s obvious to everyone: Luisa, Cole, even eventually Alison herself, that Cole, as he so succinctly puts it, still loves, needs, wants, and misses her. Cole and Alison may be the true love story of The Affair, definitely not Noah and Alison’s entanglement, not Noah and Helen’s disfunction, not Juliette and the husband who doesn’t love her as much as he loved his first wife. Cole and Alison are constantly going to be drawn together. Cole even goes to jail rather than admit that, but then follows up by telling Alison that he’s going to stay with Luisa: “I’m not Noah Solloway. I’m a good man.”
    That merely points to Cole’s severe martyr complex. He’s the one who constantly felt like he had to save his whole family, even dealing drugs to keep the Lockharts afloat. He rescued Luisa from her life as Helen’s mom’s domestic servant. Now, instead of being with the woman he truly loves, he’s going to stay with Luisa rather than tear her life apart. But the expression on his face at the end of the episode says it all. Cole most certainly would take being a “miserable saint” over being a “happy asshole.” It’s not even a contest. But it’s still not hard to feel for him a little in those last moments. He always tries to do the right thing, but so rarely does the right thing turn out to be good for him.
  • If you’re going to tell anyone about cheating on your wife with your ex-wife, why would you let Oscar, practically your mortal enemy, in on it? Expecting this all to blow up in spectacular fashion.
  • You’ve probably heard that The Affair has been renewed for season four, and frankly, I am more than a little surprised. This season has shown that with Noah and Alison out of each other’s lives, having our Montauk and NYC people overlap is a bit of a stretch, with New Jersey thrown in for extra complication (although Helen and Alison running into each other at that bar was pretty fun). I am at a loss as to what season four could delve into that would still keep these people in each other’s lives. Any ideas?
  • And I am also left wondering what Alison’s revelation would have meant for Helen. So frustrated that Helen didn’t want to hear it, because it probably would have lightened up so much of her guilt.
  • What’s also unfortunate about Noah and Alison’s now-separate lives is that we’ve been in Montauk much less frequently this season. And I really love Joshua Jackson’s portrayal of Cole. He’s so obviously in anguish, yet insists on such a strong public persona. My favorite portrayal this season by far.
  • Next week: Noah and Professor SexFrench return!