Here’s the thing about a fiery romance (and, oh, aren’t they all at the get-go?). Eventually most cool into something more … temperate. Practical. A durable partnership warmed by the embers of that earlier passion if the pairing good. A daily disappointment if it’s not. In the fifth episode of Showtime’s The Affair Season 2, we see Alison’s and Cole’s take on a day that demonstrates this — and though we don’t see the same events from differing perspectives, what happens to each gives aching insight into who these two people really are at their core. If we believe what we see.
We start with Alison, who, alone again in the seaside cabin that doesn’t feel much like home, is heading for the cliff’s edge of unease. Noah is back in the city, tending to the still-ailing Martin, and the only people who currently occupy her time are Yvonne and Robert. And, unbeknownst to her, the bloom is far gone from that rosy situation, too.
Seems Yvonne loves Noah’s book, but not what — or who — inspired it. And that would be because she, too, was The Other Woman. A (former) friend of Mrs. Robert No. 1. And not about to take chances on how much Mr. Robert enjoys their comely assistant’s company.
Alison’s and Robert’s exercise-time exchange intrigues me for several reasons.
I’ve enjoyed Robert’s clear-eyed, dad-like and affectionately honest chats with Alison, and this one wasn’t much different. Were it not for his, er, salute at the end, this would have been no different. But it seemed — at least to me — to happen innocently because of their proximity during Alison’s honest tale of how she fell for Noah. He told her to stop, after all. Maybe because he just heard Alison’s heartrending take on the lusty tale from Noah’s book.
Even after Robert’s remark — “I guess you just have this effect on men” — I can’t buy the guy as a lecher. And it kills me a little, knowing Alison may have lost what she thought was a genuinely kindred spirit. One who didn’t plan to end every conversation with a grab at her panties.
Stung to the core, Alison takes off on her trusty bike, Yvonne’s mail in tow, and rattles down the gravel road. Soon enough she lifts her hands from the handle bars, once, and then again. Trying to feel like a brave and carefree child again? Trying to redirect her fear into something more easily tamed? Just reach down and regain control …
In town, the deli lady knows her from talking with Yvonne, and Alison seems unsure if the conversation was because of, or before, whatever caused Yvonne’s sudden chill this morning. She returns to the house with the things Yvonne requested and steels herself to go in — where more horrors await. Yvonne’s mood has not improved, and the sight of her grandson clearly pokes old wounds amid Alison’s new ones.
Later, Robert appears at the cabin with a chipper greeting that gives Alison hope that the day was perhaps just a bump in the road. But he’s there on a mission — most likely Yvonne’s. Seems Yvonne has another assistant in mind. She wants to work with someone “a little more professional.”
Salt, meet wound.
“I am professional,” Alison protests. Robert shrugs.
“Let’s face it,” he says. “You care about her business about as much as I do.”
Alison asks if this is about what happened at exercise time. Robert looks briefly jabbed, then recovers his … Robertness. He tells her not to make the situation something it’s not. Alison, composure crumbling, says she doesn’t understand. He looks at her pointedly. “I think you do.”
He turns to leave. But he has words of advice: “You were never meant to be someone’s assistant, kid.” I don’t see this as an insult. I think Robert connects with Alison because he sees a wearied human being like himself, a good, simple heart looking for a little lasting ease in a much too fractious world.
Alison doesn’t hear it as such (or maybe she’s just stuck on the idea that she’s not seen as legit) and she isn’t taking the slap to her already fragile self-esteem well. Charging into the main house to set Yvonne straight, she finds no one home. And Noah’s manuscript lying temptingly unattended on Yvonne’s desk. She hesitates. Removes the binder clip. Hesitates again.
The first pages are encouraging. The beginning of hers and Noah’s romance. How he wanted so badly for her to notice him.
Soon enough, this: “She was sex. The very definition of it. She was the reason the word was invented.” Pages and pages of unvarnished erotica and then: “No marriage, no matter how strong, could survive her. This was what it meant to fall.”
Alison now knows what we do about their relationship: Noah saw — sees — things so, so differently. And that’s why her day (and maybe her life) went so, so wrong.
She slams books and knickknacks from Yvonne’s shelf and makes a stammering call to Noah. Voice mail. Alison packs a bag, and on her way out the door, goes nose-to-nose with her reflection in the mirror. A single tear falls.
She takes the train into the city, arrives on Helen’s doorstep, rings the bell and waits. The scene that happens next is a stunner, start to finish. Alison, face weary and wounded, once-fiery hair bobbed, mussed and fading, stands face-to-face with the jilted Helen. But the woman scorned is the very model of black and white certainty, from her expensive-looking clothes, to the white stripes from last week’s follies now looking edgy and stylish in her glossy, dark hair, to the way she sees what is happening here.
Alison tells Helen that’s it urgent that she speaks with Noah. Helen eyes her calmly. “You have a lotta balls coming to my house, ” she says. But she hears her rival out.
Not even Alison sounds like she’s sure of the words she is saying: “I wasn’t trying to steal your husband. … I didn’t make him do this … It just happened … I’m sorry.”
Helen is unmoved. “I don’t know what you’re in the middle of and I really don’t care,” she says, then hands Alison a heaping helping of reality about what she already likely knows. That Noah has a knack for making his issues someone else’s fault. And if you’re first in line …
“… you become the enemy, just because you know who he is. And then one day? Somebody is going to show up at your house, thinking they fell in love with the greatest guy on earth.” She excuses herself. God, I hope we see Helen’s take on this next week! I can’t imagine what that ironclad wisdom will sound like from her own perspective, if this is what we got from the wounded woman bitch-slapped all the way back to Montauk by it.
He pulls his cab into the driveway of a tony house and rings the bell. A young woman answers the door, the same one whose — child? charge? — he almost ran over in the Butlers’ drive. Her name is Luisa. And the ride Cole is there to provide has nothing to do with his car. Or her. He’s there to there to service Tori, the lady of the house and the same tipsy fare who propositioned him a few episodes back. Apparently he’s been taking her up on it.
During the deed, Tori can’t seem to stop calling him “ranch hand” — a gut-punch for any number of reasons — even when he tries to bang her into silence. When she finally does suggest a way to put her yammering face to better use, in comes her enraged husband, home early from his golf game. Oops. Cole grabs his duds and runs.
In the morning, he awakens in his trailer to a trio of real estate agents casing the house — at Scotty’s behest. He orders them to leave and hunts down his brother at the docks to discuss the situation.
Lighten up, Scott says. He has a plan, and it’s a good one. Turns out Oscar lost his loan for the Lobster Roll and the land he planned to turn into the entertainment complex. A quick sell of the house for up-front money and that real estate could be theirs for a nightclub, grins Scotty. It’s a new world, pal. Kitschy Montauk is over. It’s the Lockhart brothers’ chance to go legit.
Scotty also has company — Luisa. Turns out he is her boss at The End, which he’s now managing (that’s news to Cole). And she’s none too pleased to discover he deals drugs on the side. She storms off, leaving her bag on the boat. Cole comes to her rescue, retrieving her stuff — and a plea from Scotty not to make a play for his girl — then gives her a lift to work.
While she changes into her work clothes — an airy aqua dress — Cole quizzes her about her tie to Scotty. Same as his to Tori, she snaps. F–cking. That’s all. She says she can’t believe how stupid she has been and how she would sue Scotty and bleed the Lockhart family dry if she wasn’t undocumented. What am I missing here? Sue him for what? Blackmailing her into sex for keeping the secret that could send her and her mother home? That doesn’t seem like grounds for a court case. Just being an epic ass.
In any case, Cole tells her that illegals can, too, sue American citizens. She’s shocked at his candor. Asks him what happened between the brothers. Cole just sighs. He watches her walk into the club, begins to pull away, then parks his cab and takes a seat at her bar. Has a drink. Then another. Another. Then dinner. Day turns to night. “I’m not my brother,” he tells Lusia. “Just thought you should know that.”
She tells him she’s from Queens by way of Ecuador. Came over with her mother. He tells her he has no story, but she presses. He says he was born here just like his father and grandfather — “and your son will be Chinese,” Luisa jokes. Cole freezes, then stands to leave. “It was a joke,” Luisa protests. “My son is dead,” Cole snaps, his face a study in irreparable pain.
She convinces him to stay, start their acquaintance over. She tells him that she plans to go back to school, get her degree in hospitality and eventually run her own restaurant. They end the night by toasting “something else.” Well now. That would make a mighty fine name for a club, wouldn’t it?
Cole drives home, a faint smile on his face, and sees lights on in the house when he pulls into the drive. He grabs a bat from his trunk and heads inside, where he discovers Alison sleeping prettily in his bed.
He wakes her and she reflexively asks if “we have anything to drink.” He notices — “We?” She rephrases the question, declines the family moonshine and then purges her pain to her friend. The one who hoped — believed — she would come back home. “I’m afraid there might be something wrong with me,” Alison says. “Does everyone just think I’m a slut?” He doesn’t know what everyone thinks. “Do you?” Of course not.
Alison tells her estranged spouse that she worries that people don’t see her. They see a sexed-up confection, a sure score — not someone to know better, care about, invest in. When she was a child, she was sure she would make her mark on the world. Now, she is sure she is nothing.
“Not to me,” he tells her, and there isn’t a shred of doubt that he means it. In this moment, she has honesty. She has someone who listens to every word. She has someone who wants to build — rebuild — a life and a home with her, and ….
…she says she should go. He tells her to stay. It’s her house after all. (Read: the reason he’s not selling It’s her home and she may come home to it.) She asks him to stay, too, and he kicks off his shoes and crawls into the bed, gathering her into his arms. And then, the girl who worries that everyone just wants to screw her allows Cole to screw her. Or is this making love? The tender score would seem to indicate that. I don’t know what I think.
Afterward, contentedly nursing a beer on the deck, Cole smiles out at the ocean when Scotty strolls out of the darkness. Just a little drop-in, he says. Maybe talk a bit more about his plan? Cole tells his brother that, no, he can’t come inside and Scotty think it’s because of Luisa. “She is mine,” he barks. “You take everything for yourself. Your pain. Your loss. Your kid.”
Alison shows herself.
Cole lets Scott leave without admonishment — or instruction to keep this discovery to himself. It’s probably a mistake. It’s very likely a large one.
In the present day, Gottlief approached Detective Jeffries in a western-themed eatery — says he saw Jeffries’ car in the lot and thought he’d drop by on his way to discovery to see if the cop has “arrested any other innocent men.”
And speaking of that — isn’t Jeffries aware that half of the people in Montauk wanted Scott Lockhart dead? So why zero in on Noah? Whitney, says Jeffries. Well, yes, that was a mess, says Gottlief, and Noah beat the bum soundly for it. Understandable behavior for a livid dad, but certainly not cause for murder. Now brother Cole, on the other hand, had his business plan pilfered by his very own brother.
Jeffries tells Gottlief that he’ll see him in court and leaves. A waiter appears. It’s Oscar, sporting a shirt that reads “Lockhart’s.” Say what?! He asks Gottlief if he’s really Noah’s lawyer, and if he thinks the guy will go free. Gottlief wonders what’s it to him? Oscar lays something on the table and walks away, revealing the sign on the restaurant wall. It’s Lockhart’s, alright. Lockhart’s Lobster Roll.
So what say you, The Affair faithful? Would Yvonne really be threatened by the girl in the book, knowing the girl who has been in her home? Robert — lech or merely messenger? Should Alison have peeked? Should Noah have shared the book’s content from the start? Why does Luisa want to screw Scotty? Why does Luisa want to sue Scotty? HELEN! What did Oscar give to Gottlief? And which Lockart lays claim to the Lobster Roll. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
New episodes of The Affair Season 2 premiere Sunday nights at 10/9CT on Showtime.