Phil Caruso / Showtime

The Affair Returns With Noah's Arc

It's all Noah all the time, as the season premiere of The Affair devotes its energies to everyone's favorite adulterous jailbird.

Our Players

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

The Talk

I feel a little cheated, Lisa.

Why is that, Phil?

The one thought that's kept me going since the Season 2 finale of The Affair has been, "Oh boy, we're going to watch Noah in prison!" and all I got were a couple of flashbacks, most of which involved him putting on a brave face for Helen. Dammit, I wanted to see Noah being traded for a pack of cigarettes. You owe me at least that much, Treem!

Your mention of Helen has just catapulted me into the first heavy-handed theme of the night: Noah is basically a modern-day Lancelot who suffers for love. First, he tells Helen he took the fall for the group murder of Scotty because he owed to her for the suffering he had caused. Then, his new love interest--

You mean, Professor Eau So Franch?

Phil Caruso / Showtime

Phil Caruso / Showtime

That's Madame Professor Eau So Franch to you. Anyway, she hits us over the head with a monologue about Lancelot as the epitome of a suffering lover and then segues into a bit about Merlin as the wizard of narration who is also a reflection of writerly self-loathing and -- OH MY GOD, WE GET IT, WRITERS' ROOM, YOU LOVE NOAH, IF YOU GOT A HOGWARTS LETTER, HE WOULD BE YOUR PATRONUS, JUST...STOP. STOP. STOP.

I hate to disagree with you, especially when you're saying terrible things about Noah, but there are parts of this episode where -- for the first time since we began writing about this show -- not everyone is in thrall to the man.

I did find it interesting that Noah and Madame Professor Eau So Franch bond over their contempt for millennials and millennials' apparently unreasonable insistence on trying to create a sense of safety in the world. I guess we're supposed to buy the premise that living with fear makes you interesting?

All I'm saying is that something clearly happened to Noah during his time in prison -- WHICH WE WERE DEPRIVED OF SEEING, THANK YOU VERY MUCH -- and it's left him shaken to the core.

I like that character development. It feels very necessary. What struck me about this episode is it's one of the first where we notice the absence of money. Every domestic set has a run-down or cluttered feel to it, and when we see it through Noah's eyes, we see how very ill at ease it all makes him. I'm dying to find out how he lost all his Priapic! A Coming of Age Novel money.

I suspect Scotty's heirs now own Montauk.

But I do appreciate the sense of foreboding and unease that permeates the episode. I like how the funeral for Noah's father inadvertently ends up casting Noah out of his sister's house, and I like how the discussion about safe spaces amplifies all the ways people feel unsafe in the world.

The undergraduate, Audrey, could have been held up as a shallow, sheltered character. And perhaps in Season 2 she might have been--

In Season 2, Noah would have been getting read the riot act by Whitney. And I don't think it's a coincidence that Audrey bears a strong resemblance to the girl who no longer speaks to her father after he got high and tried to hit on her and her lady friend in a hot tub.

Anyhow, Audrey brings up some very salient point about how she has no comfort zone. We see that Noah doesn't either, for reasons that have yet to be entirely clear.

But, going by the knife in his back by the end of the episode, those reasons seem eminently justifiable.

Seeing Noah paranoid and agitated is one of the first times in a long time where he's felt humanized to me. It doesn't make up for him being a total shit at his dad's funeral or a bad professor or a churl to Helen.

Yeah, that flashback where he asks Helen to wait for him until he gets out of prison suggests that he strung her along somehow. Although I'm now intrigued as to what caused Alison to tell Noah never to contact her and Joanie again.

We'll find out.

Also, I understand we had a lot of ground to cover with Noah, but the one show conceit that made this stand apart from other Wealthy White People: Their Problems Are Worth Your Time Because, Wealth! And White! shows was the contrasting-perspective schtick, and I really missed that this time. I'd like to see how Noah's behavior looks through Helen's eyes.

You say that, and yet half this episode would have been Alison's.

It's an object lesson in being careful what one wishes for. If only Madame Professor Eau So Franch could explain the symbolism behind that idea to us!

Phil Caruso / Showtime

Phil Caruso / Showtime

Let's revive the MVP and LVP awards. As I pour out a bottle for Noah's father, the one character on this show who hated Noah as much as I do, let me sing the praises of Noah's parole officer, who has less than no time for his bullshit. As for my least valuable player: clearly Madame Professor Eau So Franch, who has all the time in the world for Noah's bullshit.

I think my MVP this week is shared among the female undergraduates who have no time for their male classmates' "consent isn't sexy" complaint. And my LVP is whomever is doing Helen's hair. I get that she probably burned her bridges at that one salon where she got baked and ran out with the foils. But come on -- there are other Supercuts in the big city!

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