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

The Affair’s Helen and Noah unsurprisingly crawl back to each other

Maura Tierney, Dominic West (Photo: Showtime)
Maura Tierney, Dominic West (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.

  • The first few seasons of The Affair were so gripping, as they tackled relatable themes like temptation, desire, fame, and loyalty, against an attractive backdrop of attractive people and surroundings like Montauk. This season, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot, just seems like an entirely different show. Like Black Swan with novels and prison, a world where psychosis and reality are merging somehow, but none of us—not the protagonist, not the viewers—know how. It’s fairly engaging, even as we seem as stuck in the mud in episode seven as we were in episode one, with only three left that don’t offer much hope of clearing up the season. Unless it ends with Noah in some sort of rehab/mental health clinic.
  • In case you’re missing it (which I doubt), some anvil-ish references to the gothic Jane Eyre that could also apply to this show: “It’s almost like she switches genres. First you think it’s a romance, but then it turns into a thriller.” Also, Helen stashes her husband in the basement like Rochester hid his mad wife in the attic.
  • The show’s gift of dual perspectives remains effective in scenes like the one where Vic examines Noah. In Noah’s viewpoint, he’s just a poor ex-con with a broken shoulder who can’t get through the day without 10 Vicodin. In Vic’s, Noah’s an ungrateful, rude junkie out for more pills. Both of these perspectives, undoubtedly, have elements of truth in them.
  • Helen changes as well, from a put-upon, running around wife and mother who’s just trying to fix everything, to an out-and-out temptress enticing Noah with pills. Well, of course he would see her that way.
  • That final sex scene, though. Wow. That’s not anything a relationship can ever easily come back from. I feel like Helen’s tears recognized that, and also the fact that she let a perfectly nice man out of her life so that she could be with her drug-addicted, sociopathic ex.
  • Vic definitely deserves better though, and speaks for all of us when he says of Helen’s pull toward Noah, “I really don’t understand it. I have tried, but I don’t.”
  • Almost as incomprehensible: Whitney’s revelation that Furkat’s daughter is older than she is? Yes, Whitney is going to have some daddy issues, but this seems about the worst way in the world to work them out.
  • “Furkat camps?” “Why is that funny?” “I don’t know, it just is.”
  • Helen ignores that possibly saving call from Nina, right?
  • While this season is a confounding one, I think The Affair has a lot to say about the choices we make, why we make them, and where they could lead us. Noah started out as a mildly bored father of four, and has wound up in about the lowest place a person can get to, as Gunther notes in prison. Now he has another divorce and a prison record and a drug addiction and a life-threatening infection. Yes, the car accident wouldn’t have happened if he and Helen hadn’t been on that road at that very moment, but would he have taken the rap out of guilt then? Would Helen had already have had her drug conviction?
    For Helen, most of her problems can be chalked up to the fact that she just fell in love with the wrong guy in college. From a privileged background, she could have had about anyone, and she chose this broken young man that she still can’t stop herself from caretaking. Season three definitely has its frustrating moments (if not Gunther, is Noah just beating up his own self in his room at Helen’s?), but it sure offers a ton of food for thought.
  • So I’m reminded of show creator Sarah Treem’s tweet a while back: