Recap: The Affair Season 2 episode 6 — The ending is the most important part

the-affair-episode-8-helen-bruce-margaret Lori Acken
John Doman as Bruce, Maura Tierney as Helen and Kathleen Chalfant as Margaret in The Affair (season 2, episode 6). - Photo: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: TheAffair_206_8297

On this week’s episode of The Affair on Showtime, we hit the accelerator on our story a bit and see Helen’s and Noah’s perspective on consecutive timeframes. Our leap to the now comes sooner than we’re used to. And Alison’s sojourn home in last week’s outing takes on potential new significance, if the timing is correct.

We start with Helen, who is watching Trevor working on a school project with Stacey’s help. She tells them to clean up their work and get ready to go to a ballgame with their dad, which thrills Margaret to no end. She begins Margareting in earnest.

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Kathleen Chalfant as Margaret and Maura Tierney as Helen in The Affair (season 2, episode 6). – Photo: David M. Russell/SHOWTIME

Can we talk hair for a quick a minute, because I’m a girl? How did Margaret get back to gray so quickly after going red for her reunion? I’ve never seen a temporary dye THAT temporary — especially on white hair. But I guess … weeks have passed and she’s rich, so whatever. And speaking of white hair, why hasn’t Helen dyed the streaks out of her own dark tresses, especially since we’re in the throes of determining the fallout from how she got them in the first place? I think we can remember how they got there without them being there to remind us. I choose to see it as a bit of rebellion so her mother sees evidence of Helen’s screw-up every time she looks at her daughter.

Speaking of that, Margaret wants to know why Helen is letting her kids go to the ballgame with “that sex addict” and Helen says she isn’t exactly in a position to pull rank on him after her accidental adventures in stoned-and-drunken parenting.

Stacey breaks up the conversation, tattling that Martin’s stomach hurts again, and Margaret points out that it only happens when Noah comes around. Helen tries to get Martin to confess exactly how badly he feels, but he says it doesn’t matter — he’s going to the game and that’s that. Besides, is she asking because she’s genuinely worried about him or just giving in to grandma’s demands? Helen says it has nothing to do with Margaret. Martin gestures down the stairs where Margaret is giving Noah what-for for the millionth time.

Point made.

Helen calls Margaret off, then follows her ex out to the car to which he has retreated. They trade a few barbs and then Helen tells Noah that Martin’s still having stomach pains. Margaret appears with Martin and tells her grandson that he’d feel much better if he’d just tell Noah he hates him.

“I hate everyone,” Martin clarifies.
Understandable at the present juncture, son.
Noah pulls away.

“The only wrong with that boy is Noah f–king Solloway,” Margaret snaps, leaving her girl dejected at the curb.

In Gottlief’s office to determine what Helen’s no good, very bad day might mean to the custody situation, the Butlers bicker, undeterred by Gottlief’s admonishment that money won’t make this problem go away. Before the accident, Helen was a shoo-in for sole custody, Gottleif says. Now it’s not so simple … starting with the kids needing to talk with a court appointed psychiatrist.

Margaret prefers Leonard, the psychiatrist Martin is currently seeing. Best in the city. Already knows Martin. Margaret-approved (which is all that really matters, isn’t it?) Bruce thinks they just need to get Max to admit that he didn’t tell Helen the lozenge was spiked. Except he did. Well, it’s still his fault, says Bruce. Nothing is his gumdrop’s fault. His gumdrop just looks …done.

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John Doman as Bruce, Maura Tierney as Helen and Kathleen Chalfant as Margaret in The Affair (season 2, episode 6). – Photo: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME

No wonder Helen married such a pill, snipes Margaret, as Helen gets up and moves to the window. Look at the example her father set. Thinks he can buy everything. Including his little harpy Ina.

“I didn’t buy her, you bitch,” Bruce snarls. “I seduced her.”
Mmmm. Yes. The kids aren’t the only ones here who need counseling.

While her parents have at it, Helen gets a call from Noah. He’s taking Martin to the ER. Helen arrives first and sees Noah race in with their son in his arms. Martin doubles over and covers the floor in sewage green vomit. It bumps him to the top of the get-seen list.

The doctor suspects a perforated bowel and races a petrified Martin into surgery. In the waiting room, the Solloways bicker. Noah takes Helen to task for kowtowing to Margaret’s insistence that Martin’s pain was psychosomatic. Helen gives Noah crap for trying to reach Alison. Noah retorts that if they listened to Alison’s diagnosis in the first place, Martin wouldn’t be fighting for his life. It escalates into a shouting match. The doctor interrupts.

The surgery went well, but Martin has Crohn’s disease. It’s autoimmune, says the doctor — notoriously hard to diagnose. Akin to Noah’s mother’s multiple sclerosis. Chronic, but treatable. He’ll be in the hospital for ten days and during that time, they’ll all learn to live with the diagnosis.

Afterward, watching their boy rest and filled with the perspective and clarity that seeing your kid in a hospital bed will impart, Helen tells Noah to return Alison’s call.

“I don’t want to do this anymore,” she tells him. “I can’t fight with you anymore. It has to stop. I hate this f–king divorce. I want it over. I want to go back to mediation and I’ll give you whatever you want.”

Noah looks stunned and tells her all he wants is co-custody.

“I know,” she says quickly. “You should have that. … And you can have her, too. We have to do better. I have to do better and I will. You’re an excellent father. So call her back. I want you to.”

Helen returns home and finds Margaret sleeping on the sofa. She tells her mother that Martin is still in the hospital, Noah is taking the night shift and she is going to bed.

Unacceptable.

“You’re father and I are going through great expense to prove Noah is an unfit father and you leave Martin at the hospital with him?” Margaret barks. “What kind of message does that send? We’re in the middle of a custody battle!”

“Actually, we’re not,” says Helen. Margaret takes the news predictably well, and her daughter finally unloads.

“I don’t f–king care what you think,” Helen says, looking her mother straight in the eye. “My son almost died today because I listened to you. And all the time, he was very, very sick. But I listened to you. I always listen to you. And you talk and you talk and you talk until I can’t even think straight.”

Her mother tells Helen that she’s just overtired and orders her off to bed.

Do not go to bed, Helen. Do not go to bed, Helen. Helen does not go to bed. She has so much more to say.

“You wanted my marriage to fail. Because yours was a sham and you were jealous,” she tells Margaret, never losing the even tone she has learned to use to counteract her mother’s endless rage. But this time there is a gleaming knife’s edge to it, just barely sheathed in sorrow. “I loved him. So much. I loved him for who he was. And you convinced me that he wasn’t enough. So I hope you’re happy, now that you’ve ruined everything. My marriage. My life.”

For once, Margaret is silent. Helen continues. “I want you to leave. I hate you. I really do. And I want you to get out of my house.”

And she means right this minute.

Helen carries her mother’s bag down to a waiting car. Behind her, Margaret staggers slowly down the stairs, sighing dramatically. If her daughter cares to know, Bruce is divorcing her. Sprung in on her right after Helen left. Helen says she’s sorry to hear that and says nothing more. Margaret turns and leaves. I doubt we’ve heard the last of this.

Back inside the brownstone, Helen cries in Whitney’s arms. Really cries. Cries for all she’s lost and how she only sees now how easily she might have prevented that.

In the now, Helen quizzes Gottlief about what he, well, discovered in discovery. He tells her about the interaction that must have followed his introduction to Oscar in last week’s episode. There’s good information to be had. But it’s going to cost them. One hundred thou. Helen doesn’t hesitate — she’ll sell her house and pay it. “You have to get him off. No matter what.”

Gottlief says he understands, thanks her and calls Oscar.

Noah’s perspective begins on the day Martin comes home from the hospital. He and the other kids are at Helen’s, readying a welcome home celebration. Whitney scores a gluten-free cake for Martin’s tender tummy. Trevor angles for a dog. They all pin up a homemade banner.

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Jake Richard Siciliano as Martin, Jadon Sand as Trevor, Dominic West as Noah and Julia Goldani Telles as Whitney in The Affair (season 2, episode 6). – Photo: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME

It’s a touching family reunion. Trevor wants to know if Martin met a girl; if she died, it would make a better story. (Heh!) But true to her promise that she’s moving on, Helen keeps the festivities on a crisp timeframe, tells the kids to get to their homework and checks on Noah’s next turn for custody. Whitney says no way is she going to her dad’s place. Helen blinks, then tells Noah to just come and hang out with the kids here. She’ll go visit a friend. Yes, she’s sure.

On his way out, Noah looks back. Looks back again. His wife has just cut him truly loose. His relationship with Alison is no longer forbidden fruit. What he says he wants is now his. He has his kids, his freedom, a woman who makes him feel young and needed.

Noah pulls onto the highway, Golden Smog’s just so perfect “You Make It Easy” at top volume and a bouquet of bright flowers riding shotgun. Harry rings in, but Noah doesn’t take the call. Today is not about work.

And he isn’t headed home. He pulls into the “Solsonna Institute,” and finds Athena in Alison’s cabin. Wonderful opportunity to share energy, she tells him. The pair hasn’t been this attuned in years. She’s happy to hear Martin’s “humours” are on the wane.

Noah finds Alison in the water, relieved to see she’s wearing a bathing suit amongst plenty of nudists. He updates her on Martin’s condition, says he should have listened to her to begin with and that the experience made him painfully aware of what Alison went through with her grandma. She says there’s no need to apologize.

Well. For this, anyway.

While she eats, Noah tells her his happy news. Helen is no longer contesting the divorce or shared custody or Alison’s place in his life.

Helen eyes him calmly.

“What a relief,” she says, not sounding relieved at all. Actually she sounds like Noah just told her that he finally fixed a drippy faucet. “So we’re still a couple then?”

Noah looks stunned … and not a little irritated. Her knight in shining armor has ridden to her with glad tidings and grocery story flowers, so what’s with the attitude. They haven’t seen each other in six weeks is what gives, Alison tells him. Makes a girl wonder if she should just move on.

Noah stammers through the reasons he hasn’t been present (see also “cake and eat it, too”) and she stops him cold. “I read your book, Noah.” Well some of it. Enough.

Ouch. How? Alison tells him and he scolds her like a child. He told her not to read it without letting him explain the story first. The characters aren’t them; their meeting just inspired them. “The story is not even about you — it’s about me,” he pleads. She has to read the ending — it’s the most important part. They get a happy ending (er, even though it’s not about them. Or at least her.).

Because Harry told you to change it, she counters.

“Before you judge, will you read the whole book?” he begs.
“I won’t,” she says. But she thanks him for the clarity.

“You may be right about the sex,” she says, her eyes locked on his. “I can see why you think that. You met me at a very strange time in my life. I just quit talking to people. Sex for me became a way of feeling things without having to talk about it.” When she met Noah, she was used to using reckless behavior as a way to survive, but, having had no sex for 6 weeks, her head feels really clear.

Noah does not hear the whole of the message. Just the no-sex part.

“That’s really exciting,” he snarks. “Is that something you’re going to continue when we leave here?”

She stares at him. He looks chastened with an extra-large side of thorough exasperation. He tries again, tells her he got the place in Crown Heights that she wanted so badly.

Yes. Wanted. Now she isn’t ready to leave. She likes it here. She has responsibilities and a purpose and some peace. A new friend named Sebastian. So it’s his turn to fit into her world for a while.

He does what he can, but this is a city boy, used to city sounds. The chanting bothers him. The chimes bother him. The bird and bugs bother him. Athena bothers him. He tells her that, no, he is not at all relieved to see Alison so balanced because he thinks the whole thing is a sham. Athena isn’t offended. In fact, she looks bemused.

She tells Noah that he fell in love with Alison’s darkness and now that she’s enlightened, he’s afraid he holds no power over her. His own abandonment issues are partly to blame.

Noah has had all the enlightenment he can stand. He goes in search of Alison and finds her leaving yoga class, talking to Sebastian. As in Sebastian Junger. The Sebastian Junger. Noah is starstruck. He asks Sebastian how he can write here and his hero says he can write anywhere. Noah should try Reiki. Might help.

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Dominic West as Noah and Ruth WIlson as Alison in The Affair (season 2, episode 6). – Photo: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME

And so Noah lets Athena give ’er a go, with one caveat. If he has to believe this will work in order for it to work, they may as well stop right now. “Quite the opposite,” she says. “The treatment will guide you to belief.”

It will lead to something alright.

Athena holds a pendant over his “root chakra,” which just so happens to lurk right beneath his zipper, and says his primal energy is blocked. His kundalini. Essentially she must move said energy from his dick to his brain. Then she tells him to flip over onto his stomach, so they can make use of his chakra’s journey.

Time to embrace the darkness he fears so much, she tells him, and almost instantly he sees a vision. The same winding road. The same fog. The same figure. Only this time he sees her: a smiling Alison.

It’s time to go. He hunts down Alison and tells her so, but she says he no longer owns her. He can’t control her. She’s staying. He looks enraged and moves closer, then spins her around, pins her against a tree and takes her roughly from behind. It doesn’t bear any resemblance to passion for either party. The doling of punishment for one. A test for the other. Or maybe a test for both.

When she turns around, I expect to see tears. But I don’t. Alison looks fiercely at Noah and shares her own news. She’s pregnant.

The information makes it way easier for Noah to take Athena’s advice. In Alison’s cabin, Noah writes. Furiously. On the road, in the fog, the car runs Alison down.

He picks up the phone: “It’s done.”

So what say you? Were you glad to see Margaret finally get her comeuppance? Does Helen have the nerve — or the cash — to make it stick? That was a mighty flat belly in that bikini — especially for a second-time mom — so whose baby is in there? What of Athena’s new role in Alison’s life — for good or for drama? Let’s talk in the comments section below.

New episodes of The Affair premiere Sundays at 10/9CT on Showtime.

1 Comment

  1. Very disturbing sex scene at the end. It seemed to be about Noah taking ownership of Allison. Becoming more evident that their relationship is dominated by Noah and he wants her to be weak.

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About Lori Acken 1195 Articles
Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.