Phil Caruso / Showtime

How Thrilled Are We To Finally Have A He-Said-She-Said Story On The Affair Again?

The show finally remembers one of the gimmicks that makes it watchable, but forgets to answer a half-dozen burning questions in this episode.

How thrilled are we that we finally got back to the competing-perspectives gimmick for an episode?

Because my answer is "pretty thrilled," but for all we know, this is just a palate cleanser before another hour of Noah Solloway: We Demand You Love Him As We Do. I do always enjoy seeing how the characters' wardrobes and demeanors change in each segment -- it's notable that Alison automatically assigns Luisa the same polished, rich-boho aesthetic she used to impose on Helen. And it's also notable that, in her own recollection, Alison's beginning to self-present with some of that same breezy chic, while in her ex-husband's recollection, she's still frumping around in ingenue-type sundresses.

Where was Cherry during her granddaughter's fifth birthday party?

Because I would have killed for a scene in which she pointedly inquires as to the happiness of Alison's marriage to the man who killed her son. At the party where Alison gets to watch another woman host a celebration for her daughter and be the one who cuddles her when Joanie blows out candles. It would have been interesting, in a Godzilla-versus-Mothra way, to see Cherry and Alison square off over who's in more maternal anguish.

Exactly how big is that horse, anyway?

This episode revolves around Joanie's fifth birthday party, and since Joanie is horse-mad, there is some sort of equestrian on the premises for the kiddies. In Cole's recollection, a happy Joanie rides a wee little Shetland pony and takes a small tumble. In Alison's recollection, a fearful Joanie is forced onto a seven-foot-tall horse, and when she falls, there's blood everywhere.

Granted, Alison's recollection also focuses on her panic attack in response to Joanie's fall, so there's the suggestion that she is not the world's most reliable narrator because she's letting her freak-out drive the bus. But there's a hell of a difference between a cute pony and a horse that eats its oats off the head of a Clydesdale. Which was it? Or are we supposed to just assume that neither Cole nor Alison is capable of seeing the situation clearly?

So did Alison try to poison Luisa?

Another point of contention at the party is the homemade cake Alison brings to the shindig, since Luisa's already ordered a cake. In Cole's recollection, Luisa knew the cake was coming and shrugged, "I've already paid the baker, so...." and "too bad, so sad" goes unspoken. In Alison's recollection, the timeline is very different. She asks Cole's permission to bring the cake at a much later point in the narrative than in his recollection; he gives the green light (implying that he neither knows nor cares about Luisa's cake plans); and he mentions that Alison needs to steer clear of nuts because Luisa's allergic. Two scenes later, Alison's planning on making peanut butter frosting.

So when she brings the cake, we're not sure whether Alison went through with her spiteful little plan, and it's a relief when Luisa brings out the cake and flatly says, "Joanie's not going to eat this." But it would still be helpful to know if Alison is genuinely capable of attempting to kill her daughter's stepmother, or if she merely thought of it.

On a scale of one to "Oh, Jesus Christ, no," how bad is it that Alison and Cole slept together?

I get why Alison jumped on Cole: when she feels insecure around a woman, she gets some of her own back by asserting herself sexually. Alison's got something in her psychological makeup where she requires a man to define who she is -- even as she resents it -- and she subconsciously assumes other women do too, so when she manages to charm or seduce the other woman's man, she's diminishing the other woman's very personhood. And since Alison resents how Luisa calls her out on her shit, and she resents how Luisa's raising Joanie, she's going to ruin Luisa's marriage to bolster herself.

Alison pulls a poor-me monologue on Luisa, saying, "You can have everything -- the restaurant, Cole, the house. But don't take [Joanie] away from me. I don't deserve that. Nobody does."

Yet ten minutes later, she's walking Cole back to her bedroom, so her speech about how Luisa can have Cole? Obviously a lie.

But I don't get why Cole went along with it. There's no real explanation in his segment -- opening sequence sex dream aside, which, whatever. I've dreamt of having sex with The Avengers but you don't see me standing in the doorway of the bedroom and barking at a writhing mass of A-listers, "Avengers, my pants."

Cole is currently married to a woman who is not a hot-and-cold-running mess, a woman whose hard work and savvy have made him very rich and his daughter a very happy why on Earth would he bang the one person who makes his wife (justifiably) crazy? Why would he throw away his new, improved life on the woman who's bollixed his old life in countless ways? What is he thinking? We'll never know, because he's not Noah and therefore the writers don't care.

Why hasn't Alison divorced Noah yet?

It's not like theirs was a meeting of the minds and it's not like Noah got swole while he was doing time. There's no point to this relationship and why Alison insists on staying married, but not actually talking to her husband is yet another mystery.

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