Bruno Calvo / Showtime

The Affair Ends Its Season With A French Reconnection

Look, it's been a long season. You'd take a road trip, too, if it meant getting away from Noah. ...What? Noah's here, too? Oh, man.

Our Players

Hello, I'm Previously.TV Contributor Philip Michaels.
Hello, I'm Previously.TV Contributor Lisa Schmeiser.

The Talk

So I guess time has elapsed between Episodes 9 and 10? Because we're now seeing Noah's neck sans festering pustule? He's not gulping pills by the handful? And 75 percent of the series leads are missing in action?

I wouldn't say I've been missing them, Bob.

I mean, after a season of watching Noah's downward spiral, thank heavens all those scenes of him apparently cleaning himself up happened off-camera since if there's one thing an audience hates it's being rewarded with resolution.

I just wish we had a scene with him checking in with his parole officer. "You're calling from where, now?"

At least we finally get to the bottom of Madame Professor Eau So Franch's career and marriage. I had so many lingering questions, like "Who were you, again?" and "Why are you on this show?"

I enjoyed Madame Professor Eau So Franch's segment because it was comparatively Noah-free and so much of it was in French, so I could just ignore the actual content of the episode and pretend I was watching a French film about exquisite architecture, tastefully eclectic decor, and, of course, absolutely killer un femme d'certain age style. This is what it has come to, Phil -- I was looking at Madame Professor Eau So Franch's apartment and wondering which bibelots Pottery Barn would be knocking off in the Fall 2017 collection.

You know, the film critic Mark Kermode posits that when you are spending your time obsessing on the decor and background in a scene, it's because the actual scene itself has failed to engage.

I'm not going to apologize for my love of a live-action Anthropologie catalog, Philip.

I'm just impressed that a prestige cable show is finally willing to devote 25 full minutes to tenure-track pissing contests in your average French medieval literature department. At last, we're going to have a long-overdue cultural conversation.

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So what I want to talk about with regard to this episode is how Madame Professor Eau So Franch seems to regard Noah as a sort of pleasant distraction hovering on the periphery of what matters to her -- academia and family. And how in Noah's segment, she really could not give a hoot about either. This goes along with Noah's historical inability to conceive of women as having anything better to do than, well, him.

I would love to contribute here but I cannot bring myself to care about any of Madame Professor Eau So Franch's segment. Though mad props to Sarah Treem for getting Showtime to bankroll a week in Paris.

At the risk of playing devil's advocate here, I think the point to Paris was actually this: for Madame Professor Eau So Franch, it shows that she has a life here and Noah is merely a diversion. And that's a first, because Helen built her life around Noah and Alison used Noah to blow up her old life. Here, he's merely a hobby. Not one I'd choose, mind you, but for once, he's more a placeholder than the main attraction. And in the Noah segment, the benefit to Paris was that it allowed him to resolve some of the stuff with Whitney in a setting completely free of all their old drama. So I think the episode was supposed to be about location as a metaphor for emotional context.

I absolutely hated Noah's segment. I loathe unearned redemption stories and this was one of them. The last time we see Noah he's sobbing on his kitchen floor, and now he's able to walk around the City of Lights dispensing wisdom?

Oh, I'm not disputing that. And I want to point out that in his segment, he spends all his time rescuing women from themselves and their lives. If Noah has come to terms with his mother's death and his role in it, it's more along the lines of "I am always doing women big favors."

It was his horrible speech to Whitney that really set my teeth on edge, specifically the part where he says "I should have protected you from men like me." Buddy, your job was to give Whitney enough self worth to where men like you don't even get within a zip code of her.

I do like that she goes home for Christmas. And that Vik is apparently cool with Helen killing a dude, because he's back under the family Christmas tree.

It's a Vik Christmas! It's the greatest gift of all! I'm sorry I told you to go away! I'm glad you're being pulled down by these idiots just so I can see you at Christmas!

It's a shame Furkat turned out to be a woman-hitting son of a bitch.

Let's talk about the last scene of the season, where the cab driver asks Noah, "Where to, buddy?" and Noah looks like he's been asked to solve a math problem about trains leaving different cities.

To be fair, Noah always looks slightly, petulantly confused.

That almost read to me as a cry for help. "Where do we go from here?" the writers ask. "Because, boy, did we lose the plot this season."

Honestly, this season finale could have served as a series finale: Noah drives off into whatever, wrapped in the smug certainty that women everywhere will benefit from his Noah-ness, Helen has a family and a partner who is -- let me stress this again -- totally okay with her killing a man and letting someone else go to jail for it. And off on Long Island, Alison is adulting more or less successfully and Cole is…well, one assumes he's self-destructing but who cares? Unless the next season is about Luisa realizing she could better, I'm not here for it.

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Let's do our final LVP and MVP. The LVP is Noah, for being a needy sex ghoul in Madame Professor Eau So Franch's segment and being a deluded Galahad in his own. The MVP is whatever Showtime bean counter got the expense report for The Affair's week in Paris, heaved a heavy sigh, then told an intern, "You get the receipts from Dominic West and I'll put on the pot of coffee."

I'm honestly shocked Vik didn't get a nod for merely showing up. We were both giddy as children when we saw his beautiful profile. For me, the episode LVP was Furkat because bad artists hitting women should be censured loudly and often. And the episode MVP was the poor French EMT who had to get an upright into a turn-of-the-century elevator. He had one job and he managed. That's all anyone can ask for sometimes.

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