With just two episodes of The Affair Season 2 to go, the past and the present are converging, with Scotty Lockhart’s death still squarely in the middle.
We open episode 10 in the now, as Noah, Alison and Gottlief pull up to the courthouse for Noah’s trial to find a media circus looming. Helen walks by with Dr. Vic (really, Helen? He’s hot, but ew!). Gottlief tells Noah and Alison to follow him and not talk to anyone.
Then it’s time for Noah’s perspective on a day a year after last week’s events, when we left him stranded in the hurricane the night Joanie was born. He’s in Marilyn the therapist’s office. Alison is supposed to be there, too, but she’s late. School, Noah explains to Marilyn. She has a midterm looming and she’s nervous about it. Probably just slipped her mind.
Killing time, the two make small talk about the baby. Noah says the tot only says mama, “but I still love her. I guess.” Oh, Noah. That ego. Even in jest.
Then Marilyn says she and Noah could do the session, even in Alison doesn’t show up. He says maybe he’ll go to a movie instead. He’s been wondering if they’ve plateaued, anyway. Marilyn eyes him calmly. Perhaps they should just reschedule, then. Maybe in a few weeks, when Helen and Vic get back from Africa, Joanie’s half sibs return to her house and things aren’t as hectic.
Noah’s about ready to leave when he changes his mind and hands Marilyn an envelope. It’s what he wanted to talk about today anyway, he says. It’s his official divorce decree. Came two weeks ago — but he hasn’t exactly told Alison that, yet, and he isn’t sure why. He says that if the thing came when the pair were living in the little cabin in Cold Spring, he “would have grabbed her and run to city hall immediately.”
And now? wonders Marilyn.
He says the events of the past year have taught him to think before he acts. Still, he is ready to get married. He’s just not sure Alison is. Marilyn asks why he thinks that’s the case. He says he often catches her staring at him, especially when he’s with Joanie — “like she’s trying to figure something out.”
By now we know what he doesn’t: She isn’t trying to figure out if he wants the baby as much as she is trying to figure out if the baby is really his to want. Or maybe she already knows. Do they look enough alike to not invite questions?
In the meantime, Noah says he has done everything in his power to make up for the night of Joanie’s birth — learning to cook and keep house and support her dream of becoming a doctor. Everything but writing.
Marilyn is intrigued by the whole situation. She says he has often talked about the women in his life looking at him judgmentally — Alison, Helen, Whitney. Maybe there is a connection here that they need to explore. Might he know what that is? He might. Or maybe there’s just something he needs to get off his chest: “I want to fuck Lucy Koskoff.”
Turns out, Noah has gone back to teaching and Lucy is his best student. Hugely talented … and hugely interested in pleasing her teacher in and out of the classroom.
Marilyn says he must have been attracted to others during his marriage to Helen and Noah says yes, but he never acted on it. She wonders if now is different because he finally did sowith Alison. It’s pretty common for people whose marriages sprung from an affair, after all. Is there no going back to fidelity?
Since he’s on a roll, Noah decides to confess again: He almost slept with Eden the night of the hurricane. And the only reason he didn’t was because on the night his littlest daughter was being born, he was watching his eldest daughter make out with another girl. And when he realized it was her — and vise versa — he ran from the club. And that is the last time he’s seen Whitney.
“I am a terrible, terrible, fucking sick, bad guy,” he concludes.
Ah, Marilyn says. So he hasn’t shown Alison the divorce papers because he has trust issues with himself — not so much with her. Well, let’s just figure out where that came from, shall we? Like, say, his childhood?
Noah really doesn’t want to go there, but eventually he does.
His own dad was faithful to his mother … but that was all he did for her, especially after she fell ill. Noah says the night that Helen and Noah got married, the senior Solloway told Helen’s father that he was an artist, too, but he had to give it all up to care for his sick wife. It was a lie. Noah and his sister cared for their mom, and when his sister married and moved away, Noah handled the job himself. Dad drove his truck, watched TV and drank till he passed out. Period.
But, Noah continues, the guy thought he was hero … because he never cheated. “If that’s what being a good man is, I don’t want any part of it,” Noah spits.
Now we’re getting somewhere. Marilyn says his past has given him an understandable skepticism about fidelity as a virtue. Noah doesn’t argue it. Instead, he tells another anecdote. When Helen would read the obituaries in the paper, she would look for evidence that the person loved and was loved — family, friends, human connections and commitments. Noah looks at their job, what they accomplished, concrete checkmarks in the win column. So many matrices to measure a person’s worth and he doesn’t know which one is truest.
It’s such a quagmire to Noah that it led him to the subject of his next book: General Omar Bradley. Great man. Extraordinary life. Still seduced into infidelity by the actress Marlene Dietrich. So … just because this fearless leader was flawed and imperfect and selfish, does that outweigh his myriad achievements? Or did those same traits lead him to greatness? There is a certain kind of men that history reveres, Noah laments, and every last one of them is a cheater. So maybe … just maybe … their willingness to take whatever they want in life is what leads them to that greatness.
Marilyn wants to know how this subject matter relates to his own life. Simple, says Noah. He wants to go to France, research Bradley, live like the General did — freely and fearlessly and fucking everything in sight — and write a great novel from that. And he doesn’t want to have to lie to Alison about it.
“What if I have the potential to be great?” he ponders. “What if the only thing that seperates me from Hemingway is that Hemingway did whatever he wanted?”
Marilyn calmly points out that Hemingway also blew his brains out at age 60. Maybe Noah needs to think up some heroes who never cheated, because there are some. And maybe how there are also plenty of average Joes who cheat and stay just that … average Joes. Time’s up … but she says the fact that Noah kept today’s appointment and wants to work things out says volumes about whom he is.
Noah finds Alison at home, doing dishes. She apologizes for not doing therapy. He says it was good to have the time for his own. He does not show her the decree.
In the now, Gottlief begins to address the courtroom, but our focus stays on an expressionless Noah the entire time. We find out for certain that the wedding taking place the night of the hit-and-run is indeed Cole’s and Louisa’s. Gottlief says there is an 80 percent chance that Lockhart’s killer is not in this room. Noah is merely a scapegoat for a town that didn’t like it so much that he turned their dirty laundry into a bestselling novel. Noah just sits and stares.
Alison’s half opens with her dozing with baby Joanie in a chair in the child’s room. When she gets the child back to sleep, she heads back to bed and studies as Noah sleeps besides her. Or at least opens a book on her lap, even if her eyes aren’t on the pages.
The next day in class, she is frazzled. When the instructor takes a break, she approaches and asks him when the last day to drop the class might be. That would be tomorrow … but he really thinks that she should stick it out. Students her age who drop out rarely return, after all.
She packs up and bolts.
When she gets home, Scotty Lockhart is waiting for her on the sidewalk outside. He’s is manic — nerves? chemicals? both? — and says he has a business proposal for her. Ten minutes of her time is all he needs. See, he wants to buy the Lobster Roll. It’s in foreclosure, Oscar never fixed it up after the hurricane and Scotty already has an investor for half the cash. The other half of the money will come from her, ain’t that right?
She doesn’t say anything at first, then tells him he doesn’t look well and she’s very sorry, but she can’t be a part of this deal. He blows up at her there on the street. He knows she has the cash. And as for Noah’s new fortune, well that guy owes the Lockhart family — “What he did? It had consequences,” Scotty rages.
Just then, Joanie and her nanny, Gigi, stroll up. Alison introduces them and Gigi says she thinks the baby looks like her daddy. Scotty gives Alison a knowing look and agrees. Alison is clearly rattled. There is no way this is Noah’s kid.
Alison asks Gigi to stay with the baby and heads up the street, where she meets with a healthy, happy Cole in a bar. He lives in the city now too. Luisa manages the restaurant across the street from the bar, and he’s been doing construction with her cousin. Everything is good.
Alison says he should take his half of the house money — apparently there were no consequences to his burning the place down? — and he tells her that he doesn’t want it. Then he tells her that he and Louisa are getting married and asks after baby Joanie. Oh …and what did she want to see him for, anyway?
Alison tells him about her encounter with Scotty, and Cole says he doesn’t care about any of it, or his family and their epic dysfunction. They share a nice little recollection about sneaking into the Lobster Roll on Alison’s 16th birthday, just as Louisa walks in.
Alison greets Louisa awkwardly, excuses herself, looks back at the contented couple, then heads home to find Trevor and Stacey playing video games and Noah and Joanie in the kitchen. Noah points out that she missed therapy. She lies about what kept her from it. He lies about keeping the appointment anyway.
Later, in their bedroom, they make love like they used to, locking eyes and whispering their love for each other. Over the baby monitor, Joanie chooses that moment to flaunt her first use of “Dada.” Her parents smile and Alison tells him to go to the child. Still, as she listens to father and daughter bond over the monitor, her smile fades. Cole’s kid.
Back in the now, Gottlief lunches during a break in the proceedings. His assistant comes in with an envelope — the results of the paternity test from the pacifier Helen filched. Gottlief opens it: “My oh my oh my!”
So. We now know that that kiss on Helen’s wrist earned Vic a long-term place in her life (ew!). The wedding that marked the last day of Scott Lockhart’s life has been announced. And we know the Lobster Roll becomes Lockhart’s Lobster Roll — but is that before or after Scotty’s death? Louisa does want her own eatery. Cole does have that money in escrow. Or did Scotty get Ally over a barrel before he ended up under the wheels of a car? Also, who else thinks Joanie is Cole’s and once we find that out, he and the infertile Louisa might do something about it? Perhaps in Season 3? Sound off on your own ideas, theories and frustrations in the comments section below.
New episodes of The Affair premiere Sundays at 10/9CT on Showtime.