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Tara Ariano

S01.E08: 8

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I do agree that there is a slight problem with the murder mystery structure, in that, we have absolutely no reason to care that Scotty is dead.  He's almost entirely unknown to the audience and what we do know seems to indicate he's a grown man with a thing for underage girls.  So Pokey the Detective (Hee! TM Tom and Lorenzo, that's bloody marvelous) being this dogged about the entire thing would work better if I could actually name one thing about Scotty other than "He seems like a complete pain in the ass and a hound-dog for teen girls.  Ew. Maybe they all killed him and just missed Oscar."  

 

 

I love the Tom and Lorenzo recaps. This is a great point about Scotty - why should I care about him? 

 

And this is why I am struggling with this show.  I need at least one character that I like and want to win.  It's too depressing to watch a show full of people I hate making bad choices.  

 

Event thought I don't necessarily "hate" these people, I sort of agree. There are lots of bad choices being made and that gets frustrating on an ongoing basis. There are elements in Noah's version that are hard to watch (classroom scene, discussion with his son). I'm not sure what this show becomes in its second season.  I may be in the minority but I think that it would have worked better as a miniseries.

Edited by Ellaria Sand

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I think Helen receiving the call makes that match up, but Noah closing the curtain doesn't necessarily, simply because their memories don't match up to that degree in most instances.  In fact, they rather wildly diverge about details like that (just check wardrobe and hair on that, among the many different 'okay, so memory is unreliable, but these things actually conflict).  

 

More than anything, I've actually convinced myself that Noah remembering his self-sacrificing confession and subsequent call to Oscar as being a thing that put an end to the blackmailing scheme is more unlikely.  Noah's memories do illustrate some sort of hero's journey within his own head.   That when (and if) Noah called Oscar, Oscar already knew the gig was up, because he'd blown it up.  In fact, I don't know why I'm taking it as gospel truth that Oscar blackmailed Noah, when you get right down to it.  

 

 

 

Oscar still would have that leverage because neither Noah nor Alison would reach out to each other to say that Oscar knew or that their spouses knew.

 

Except knowing that it would be unlikely requires Oscar to know things that the audience is privy to, but Oscar isn't.  Like they didn't part on good terms.  It isn't ongoing.  That Noah isn't meeting Alison any longer.  As for Oscar's thing for Alison, I'm equally convinced that Alison is often unreliable in her own memories.  

 

One of the things that Tom and Lorenzo pointed out, that I hadn't thought to put into words, is that Cole ping-pongs back and forth -- in Alison's memories, making the contrast even odder -- from being emotionally warm and understanding, to being oddly cool and detached.  

 

Cole's demeanor about the DNR -- going back to talking about the house appraisal in the same damned breath -- was past strange and into (again) unlikely territory.  It actually made me start to wonder if part of what I'm supposed to question in Alison's memories is her emotional stability.  Are we seeing how people acted, or how it felt to Alison?  Again, the stuff with Athena was a little difficult to believe and seems more like what it felt like to Alison, vs. how a real person would act.  

 

How much of Alison's memories come to us via a distorting emotional filter?  I don't know, but I do know that Cole veers between wonderfully tender and protective ....and so clinically cool about something (the beloved grandmother who raised his wife is on her death bed....Appraisals it is! Whaaaa.....?) that it's a little difficult and perhaps designed to be so, to take at face value. 

 

I also agree that when things become wholly irreconcilable between the two memories -- which in fairness hasn't happened that frequently beyond how one views the other -- the premise shows one of its weaknesses, which is that if you can't trust either POV at all, then why watch the story?  For me it's still very interesting, so that's not a problem. 

 

I do recall that Lost eventually screwed with that sort of thing so much -- flashbacks that kept wildly changing what we'd been shown before (Sun and Jin being prime examples of that) -- that eventually I never bothered investing in the flashbacks, because I knew there was no point, the nature of what I was being shown would be changed so much, there was no point.   I don't think this show is anywhere near that, but I do know it often irritates me as it stands now.  

 

Noah's view of Alison-the-unrelenting-sexbot can be difficult to take, particularly since he always remembers her as being dressed in a rather alluring fashion, whereas she remembers herself wearing clothes just one step up from frumpy.   So the dueling memories can get a little tough, but for now I'm still intrigued.  

 

Although, I admit, Noah's view of Alison sort of grosses me out on a regular basis, just because it is in such conflict with her own memories.  There's just something off-putting about the way he sees her as a constant predator in his memories and that's going to turn out to be way more off-putting if it turns out they are together in the future.   

Edited by stillshimpy
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I think there's a big difference between the kind of safety that Noah was talking about, and the kind of safety that Helen was talking about in Noah's memory of the therapy session.

 

Helen basically said that she felt safe with Noah because he was socially beneath her, and it was obvious that she could do better - and so she could safely assume that he'd never cheat on her, because he'd be so grateful just to be her husband.

 

I don't think Noah was implying anything as harsh as that when he talked about feeling safe with Helen

 

 

My point was that both of them were using each other to fulfill a need, basically a need to feel safe.  I didn't get that Helen thought Noah was inferior to her, just that he was a quiet person, introverted, not someone who wanted to be the center of attention, not someone who would be looking for another woman.  

 

Noah married Helen because he knew she loved him (for those reasons Helen mentioned) and Noah wanted, needed to feel loved, to feel part of a family.  His own family was fractured.

 

I also think that's why Alison married Cole.  Cole has a large family, Cole is a part of something.  Alison's mother drifts, and she's never mentioned a father, she was looking for safety too, when she married Cole, IMO.

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OK, at some point we here kind of came to a POV that the two narratives are not two disparate testimonies given to the detective, but rather two different honestly-remembered internalized recollections. And I was comfortable with that.

 

Until this episode.

 

How does Noah internalize Alison as a cocktail waitress at a literary event, while Alison remembers herself as a coat-check girl? How does Alison remember going outside for a cigarette with Noah while Noah remembers no such thing? How does Alison's hospital memory include her mom and the mom's asshole boyfriend when Noah has amnesia about their very existence?

 

These do not seem to be two honestly-arrived-at but differing memories of the same events. Neither do they seem to be two differing accounts to the detective, because the presence or absence of mom and boyfriend would be immaterial to protecting one's ass in a murder investigation, hence no need either to invent them or deny their existence for his benefit.

 

So, if the two narratives are not honestly-differing private memories, and are not two different self-serving accounts to the detective, what are they?

Edited by Milburn Stone
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Hasn't Noah talked about Helen in glowing terms, though.? I vaguely remember him describing her as so beautiful and brilliant that he couldn't believe she chose him or something of that sort.  I thought her speech about choosing him, because he was, basically, such a boring nobody she wouldn't have to worry about anyone else wanting him, was very cold.  I was also very put off by her assertion that she could have had anyone.  Really?  No one, not even drop-dead stunners, which she clearly is not, are every man's type.

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Hasn't Noah talked about Helen in glowing terms, though.? I vaguely remember him describing her as so beautiful and brilliant that he couldn't believe she chose him or something of that sort.  I thought her speech about choosing him, because he was, basically, such a boring nobody she wouldn't have to worry about anyone else wanting him, was very cold.  I was also very put off by her assertion that she could have had anyone.  Really?  No one, not even drop-dead stunners, which she clearly is not, are every man's type.

Well money and personality are huge turn ons. And I still think she actually didn't say he was boring or lower than her, or think he wouldn't be picked by anyone else. That scene in the therapists office make me want to punch Noah, since his speech was all.about.him.

 

How humiliated he feels, how he is under scrutiny how he feels he constantly has to apologise (well duh he cheated on her on their family vacation, in tiny town-You probably humiliated her in front of the whole town idiot), and how Helen *has* to forgive him. Umm no she doesn't. You have to earn forgiveness and not once in that speech did I hear a recognition that he has hurt her.

 

There's no acknowledgement that the reason they are in couple's therapy is because of his decision. And the necklace situation is even worse. He basically gives her a reminder of the fact he cheated on her. "For sticking it out?" No.

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So, if the two narratives are not honestly-differing private memories, and are not two different self-serving accounts to the detective, what are they?

 

Good question! I'm worried that the show is going to go the "alternate universe" route. I'm sure there are holes in this theory, but I feel as if the hints are adding up:

 

  • The fact that, as mentioned above, the narratives don't seem to work as either private memories or self-serving testimony.
  • Noah's speech to Alison in Episode 2
  • Alison's reference to "Sliding Doors" in Episode 7
  • This interview with Joshua Jackson, in which he ALSO references "Sliding Doors" (hmmm) and teases about there being similarities between The Affair and Fringe: http://blogs.wsj.com...out-the-affair/   He also says this:

 

There’s a pretty subtle thing that happens early in the season of “The Affair” that people will probably notice, and maybe file away, but I’m not sure that they’ll really think to themselves, “Hmm. I should be paying attention to that,” that becomes the central story at the end of the season.

 

At first I thought this was a reference to Noah's Episode 2 speech. Then I thought it was referring to the interaction between Scotty and Whitney. Now I'm not sure.

 

Again, I can't really back this theory up with confidence, but I have a feeling... Maybe I'll take this over to the speculation thread.

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So, if the two narratives are not honestly-differing private memories, and are not two different self-serving accounts to the detective, what are they?

 

They are memories, which become hazy with time unless someone has photographic memory. Seriously, if you are an average person, how many details of a particular day 3 or 4 years ago would you remember? Most of the differences between Alison and Noah's memories are stuff that people usually don't pay attention to: what you were wearing, where you were at during a particular conversation, who said "hi" first etc. Would Noah really commit to memory that Alison worked the cloakroom that day? Would she remember that he had a tie on or not? However, these people obviously generally experienced the same things, so unless it's a wedding day (and even then some details become hazy) most of the stuff will fade away and be compensated by filling in the gaps with approximations. As viewers we have to take most things as given, otherwise we will drive ourselves crazy thinking that nothing can be true on this show.

Edited by Boundary
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They are memories, which become hazy with time unless someone has photographic memory. Seriously, if you are an average person, how many details of a particular day 3 or 4 years ago would you remember?

 

I can just about buy this when it comes to the disparity between cocktail waitress and coat-check girl. But I have a harder time with Noah's memory not including the mom & boyfriend in the deathbed room--or Alison's memory fabricating them. I really do think if it was me I'd recollect their presence or absence accurately, even if 3 or 4 years had elapsed. And I don't have an extraordinary memory.

 

However, I do see a way to reconcile this. The memories we see are what first comes to mind for each of them. Which is different from what they remember. In other words, if you asked Noah if the mom & boyfriend were there, he might reply, Yes, they were. So it's not that they are invisible to his memory. If lightly probed, he certainly would recall them. It's that they're just not who he thinks about when he thinks about that scene.

 

Thinking about this makes me realize something tangential, which is that when Noah's and Alison's memories differ, I always seem to default to trusting Alison's memory more. E.g., I think it more likely that the mom & boyfriend were there, and that Noah has forgotten them, than that they weren't there, and Alison has invented them. But now I realize I have nothing to base my default preference for Alison's memory on.

Edited by Milburn Stone
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Wow, I must really be in the minority here, because I have a different POV on two major things.  One is that of course Helen knew (or very much suspected) about the affair before Noah revealed it - it just hadn't been addressed or confirmed until Noah's self-serving "I almost had a heart attack so now I have to confess my sins" hospital scene.  For one thing, at the Butler's big party, Helen asks Noah blatantly "Was she flirting with you?" after Alison deposits an unordered drink in front of Noah.  Then after the weasel confesses, it's Helen who immediately names "that waitress - Alison?" and forces him to admit that his "fling" was with the waitress ("I knew it, I fucking knew it") is pretty much want she said.  I mean, come on - women (maybe men, too) definitely sense when something hinky is going on with their spouse of twenty years and IMO, Helen had plenty of reason to suspect Noah.  I think her icy response to Alison being in her store was exactly because she had this intuition about Noah and Alison, and seeing Alison show up in Brooklyn just added more to that suspicion.

 

The other is that upthread someone said that Treem has claimed that Noah's best-seller-soon-to-be-a-major motion-picture  (one of the clunkier cliches in this story).  is NOT about the affair.  Well then why does the detective perk up when Noah reads the passage about the blue boat that is abandoned on the way to The End, the blue boat that exists in reality?  I think Noah's novel (complete with "recollections" of Alison in a tight black dress at Butler's award ceremony) is just a novelized and expanded memoir that has been turned into fiction.  I also don't think Noah sees Alison as predatory as much as he sees her as a prisoner of all the tragedies in her life (and now, of the Lockhart clan,) who is a potential princess who he has to rescue.  Unlike Helen, who loved and still loves him, but never needed any rescuing or help from him at all.  He can be Alison's hero, while he can really only be Helen's weak and - in the Butler's eyes - unsuccessful husband.  

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However, I do see a way to reconcile this. The memories we see are what first comes to mind for each of them. Which is different from what they remember. In other words, if you asked Noah if the mom & boyfriend were there, he might reply, Yes, they were. So it's not that they are invisible to his memory. If lightly probed, he certainly would recall them. It's that they're just not who he thinks about when he thinks about that scene.

 

And that's a good point. I did mention in passing how strange it was not to see Athena in his memory but your explanation makes sense of it. In fact, it explains away a majority of the differences that we see, except for the obvious ones which aren't so innocent - mostly in the first two episodes. However, the view I've had for a while now is that the differences represent the different general impressions each had of the scene. For example the hotel room at Block Island, the wallpaper and furnishings make it stuffy to one but homely to the other. 

 

However, other instances could be explained away the same way you have. Noah doesn't specifically recall telling Alison to let her grandmother go as an act of compassion, that holding onto her won't bring Gabriel back. Noah doesn't know the impact that scene had on Alison, so he doesn't remember it that specifically compared to Alison. Noah remembers comforting Alison, reminding her to say goodbye and giving her space - which is generally true (I'd trust Alison for the specifics in this case). That's the same approach I had to the demeanour and dress differences in the pilot episode, it was Gabriel's birthday, so would she really wear a skimpy dress and seduce Noah? I'd trust her POV on this.  But what about the differences when she cut herself? He saw a little bandage on her inner thigh (we know she cuts herself) so his view that she was wearing a dress is more believable; he'd remember the detail about how she used to cut herself in order to cope with grief. Really, I believe most of the differences aren't of the malicious lets-lie-to-the-detective type.

 

 

Thinking about this makes me realize something tangential, which is that when Noah's and Alison's memories differ, I always seem to default to trusting Alison's memory more. E.g., I think it more likely that the mom & boyfriend were there, and that Noah has forgotten them, than that they weren't there, and Alison has invented them. But now I realize I have nothing to base my default preference for Alison's memory on.

 

 

As I've explained above, I take it case by case and analyse the credibility of each view before I decide which one to side with. I must say, on average, I think she's got more believable views but is not above exaggerating or even downplaying her dress sense for example; and his views aren't necessarily ego driven either. I have so much fun tinkering with the differences in my head but after a while I have realised that most differences are superficial at best. For a while now Alison and Noah's memories have not had significant differences whereby you have to take one side and discard the other. Most work in conjunction with the other. The end of this episode, for instance, we know he took her home in his car. In his POV she fell asleep on the way, so he stopped by a lighthouse car park for a while. She remembers arriving home and exchanging ILYs, which probably was more significant to her (his realisation of this fact happened sooner during his chat with Bruce and having her asleep in his car was probably a cuter memory to hold on to). 

Edited by Boundary
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The other is that upthread someone said that Treem has claimed that Noah's best-seller-soon-to-be-a-major motion-picture  (one of the clunkier cliches in this story).  is NOT about the affair.  Well then why does the detective perk up when Noah reads the passage about the blue boat that is abandoned on the way to The End, the blue boat that exists in reality?

 

I think the detective perked up because Noah's description of the boat shows that he must have seen it and must have gone to The End, which he had denied during questioning.

 

Maybe they're saying the book is not about the affair because it is about a murder, and AN affair led up to it, but it might not be specifically about HIS affair with Allison.

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I may be in the minority but I think that it would have worked better as a miniseries.

 

To be honest, that was the first thought that ran through my mind when learning about this series, and I still feel that way.  Miniseries seemed about right... but three seasons? I just do not know, at this point, if I'll care enough to come back for more.  I have no problem dropping shows after the first season. And this may be one of them.

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To be honest, that was the first thought that ran through my mind when learning about this series, and I still feel that way.  Miniseries seemed about right... but three seasons? I just do not know, at this point, if I'll care enough to come back for more.  I have no problem dropping shows after the first season. And this may be one of them.

 

I will be interested to see what develops in the final two episodes of this season. For example, will we see Scotty's death? Will we see Noah and Alison together in the future (defined as more than 4 months in the future). However, if it is more of the same, I, too, may drop it.

 

There are some great comments above about memory, the distortions in what we remember and in what we remember first. However, the on-going discrepancies such as coat checker v. waitress and Athena v. No-Athena become hard to reconcile. Do those discrepancies really make a difference in the narrative? At some point, we have to trust someone's "truth"...maybe not entirely but at least in part. Like many, I trust Alison more then Noah.

Edited by Ellaria Sand

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The other is that upthread someone said that Treem has claimed that Noah's best-seller-soon-to-be-a-major motion-picture  (one of the clunkier cliches in this story).  is NOT about the affair.

This isn't the first time that someone posted that the show runner clarified or elaborated on something in an interview, a tweet, etc.

I find it troubling.

 

 

I have so much fun tinkering with the differences in my head but after a while I have realised that most differences are superficial at best.

Then why is so much episode time spent on these differences? Time that might be better sent clarifying matters so that post-episode clarifying interviews and tweets won't be needed.

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Then why is so much episode time spent on these differences? Time that might be better sent clarifying matters so that post-episode clarifying interviews and tweets won't be needed.

 

To be honest, Treem doesn't have to clarify anything. I think the reason she's doing it is because they are harmless reveals, they don't affect the mystery aspect of the show. Frankly, I'm surprised at how forthcoming she is, it shows a certain level confidence at where she thinks her show is heading.

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I think Noah's novel (complete with "recollections" of Alison in a tight black dress at Butler's award ceremony) is just a novelized and expanded memoir that has been turned into fiction.

Yes, I can see this as turning out to be the case too. But I can also see this entire "story" we are seeing being about two storyline options (his and hers), and we're just seeing Noah's creative exploration of each storyline play out to see which ends up being part of his actual novel. I know, it might sound like a lame idea, but hey, that's all I got today!

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I may be in the minority but I think that it would have worked better as a miniseries.

 

I concur. Although, I could watch it if it ran for exactly 3 short seasons - with a plan to wrap up the story at the end of season 3. It's just not a concept that you can continue indefinitely without a deterioration in the quality of writing, and believability of the plot. Of course, Treem did say she would continue for as long as they would have her - which is somewhat disappointing.

 

I do wish, there were more mini-series dramas on TV but perhaps they don't generate enough revenue to make them worthwhile for networks.

 

I really respect shows like Big Love and Breaking Bad that know when to call it quits - which is when the audience could possibly tolerate another season, but shouldn't be asked to.

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Such a great discussion!   Meanwhile,  I'll put my sense of the timeline on the 48 Hours of Big Reveals in the ep 7 thread, where it belongs.

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The show's official raison d'être, "The Affair explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship", is both incomplete and misleading. First, it ignores the fact that most of this season is (properly) taken up with the emotions leading TO the extramarital relationship, rather than its effects. Second, and more significantly, "The Affair" cannot "explore" what it doesn't objectively and reliably show: the words and actions that are manifestations of underlying emotions. The purpose of the split POV device is not to make the point that memories are subjective/fallible/incomplete (duh), but to force each viewer to perform the arduous task of coming to a psychological, empathetic understanding, first of the characters, and ultimately of themself. To this end, "The Affair" studiously avoids the lawyerly spoon-feeding of "facts" and "truths" for judgment by an audience jury.

Essentially, each viewer is a therapist, having Alison and Noah as separate clients. At their weekly session, each tells you a story. As an experienced shrink, you know that clients not only lie, omit, forget, misremember, embellish, etc., but everything they say is malleable, affected by their emotional state during the session and all they have experienced since the related events, and that the emotion-descriptive words they use, e.g., "love", "hate", "care", "pain", etc., may not mean the same to them as they do to you. Furthermore, you work with the assumption that their respective spouses were also good, deserving people with their own stories to tell, and your job is to get your clients to understand their own feelings so they can make more personally satisfying decisions about their lives, not to root for any specific outcome. (In the face of all that you do not and cannot ever know for certain about your clients and especially their current significant others, you confine your rooting to such life-and-death matters as football games and rom-coms.)

But even therapists are human and subject to their own emotions, yet professional ethics demand that they suppress any feelings of attraction/repulsion toward a client in guiding them to finding their own "truth". And the experience of listening to their clients' stories and their answers to informed questions** enriches both their own expertise and personal lives.

**The first question that comes to mind, which the show may yet address in a future season when we get to spend time with the characters in the post-investigation period, is, "What do you think now about what you did and felt then?".

Edited by Higgs
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This episode was the only time that I've found Noah sympathetic at all, probably because (as was noted above) he came across pretty well in Allison's version, even if it lacked the hero mojo of his own. (Really?  He'd be the one to know that the grandmother was about to die, and he'd tell Alison the exact right things to say at that moment?  Color me doubtful!)

 

Noah usually comes across well in Alison's recollection.  Especially in the way he is more articulate than he is in his own recollection, showing us the thoughtful, facile talker who attracted Alison as a man -- as anyone -- who wanted to spend time conversing and connecting with her, rather than turning away or turning her away from him, or leaving, or throwing a set-piece her way before leaving yet again.  Here, in his own account, Noah was acting from his memories of living with his failing mother before her death when he was in high school.  He knew the signs of the last stage.

 

We see him -- in his memory of that night with Alison at the hospital -- actively remembering another time at another hospital, with another woman he loved. It makes sense that he doesn't remember anyone else having been there.  Once he returned to the hospital, no one but living Alison, her dying grandmother, and his own dying mother had any substance for him.  

 

There’s a pretty subtle thing that happens early in the season of “The Affair” that people will probably notice, and maybe file away, but I’m not sure that they’ll really think to themselves, “Hmm. I should be paying attention to that,” that becomes the central story at the end of the season.

At first I thought this was a reference to Noah's Episode 2 speech. Then I thought it was referring to the interaction between Scotty and Whitney. Now I'm not sure.

 

My vote is still for Scotty and Whitney, at the Butler houseparty.  

 

upthread someone said that Treem has claimed that Noah's best-seller-soon-to-be-a-major motion-picture  (one of the clunkier cliches in this story).  is NOT about the affair.

 

I thought the point that Sarah Treem made was that neither Noah nor Alison's narrative constituted the actual narrative of Noah's novel.  That is, neither are (entirely) made up by Noah.  They are memories, not chapters. But some of Noah's research seems to have turned out to be research. Or just as good as, anyway. 

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Here, in his own account, Noah was acting from his memories of living with his failing mother before her death when he was in high school.  He knew the signs of the last stage.

 

We see him -- in his memory of that night with Alison at the hospital -- actively remembering another time at another hospital, with another woman he loved. It makes sense that he doesn't remember anyone else having been there.  Once he returned to the hospital, no one but living Alison, her dying grandmother, and his own dying mother had any substance for him.

Yes, and wonderfully described. This insight is an example of the work a viewer has to do to understand the characters' emotions, since no prompt was given in the dialogue, as could have easily been accomplished with something as simple as, "I relived my own mother's passing tonight, Alison, but I'm grateful you allowed me to be here to help you." Noah's omission of the others in attendance spoke not of a faulty memory but of the intensity of his focus on Alison. (Or, as they say at Microsoft, it's a feature, not a bug.) In this interminglig of loves, lives, and deaths, Alison became connected to a deeply emotional part of Noah's past. At that point, ILYs became as inevitable as the sunrise.
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Given the low regard he has for his father in law, it's hard to believe the "every fucking day" becomes an epiphany for Noah to go see Alison at the hospital.

Plus the guy obviously wasn't pining for that former student when he had affair(s) that humiliated Helen's mother.

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Noah's favorite book was Moby Dick.  Color me surprised/explains a lot/etc.  So Helen wanted an adoring but completely average rentboy, huh?  Geez.  No wonder their marriage is amazing.

 

Allison's version was so strange.  She's going through all of this with her grandmother and her husband is at home and has no idea? She never calls him at any point?

 

Ruth Wilson is such a great actress. I can't really say that I've ever seen her in anything else, but I never see her "acting," just the character.

 

Next week looks so good.

I saw part of Anna Karenina last week and although I didn't watch much of it, I watched long enough to catch Ruth Wilson in a blonde wig. When I first saw her I thought 'who dat? looks familiar' then 'omg....it's Alison'.

anna-karenina-ruth-wilson-1.png

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I'm relieved to know that there's only one remaining episode to this season. In the beginning it was intriguing because the memory of past events of both Noah and Alison somewhat paralleled each other albeit with minor differences. As the series progressed, the memories of past events seemed to widen in difference to the other. It was almost like two roads that run side by side for a while then gradually split into two directions entirely. Noah's memories head due North, Alison heads South. Polar opposites, conspicuously different in the most important aspects.

 

I know there must be some connection to the title of this episode "8" and the fact that it is the eighth episode in the first season, but whatever that reference is escapes me totally. Honestly, my brain was just to tired to try to untangle the meaning, if there even was a significance to the "8".

 

With the upcoming season finale episode, I'm left wondering exactly how wide the disparities between Noah and Alison's stories will end up and whether or not I'll care. 'Parallel universe' theory is beginning to sound more logical in a less than logical series.

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I didn't realize there was only one more episode. Crap!

 

I know a Season Two is coming. But I'm not feeling a satisfactory resolution to Season One can be accomplished in only one more episode. Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi may prove me wrong, though. They've brought me this far through the quality of their conception and of their writing.

Edited by Milburn Stone

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I didn't realize there was only one more episode. Crap!

There are two more episodes left this season. The finale (episode 10) is on December 21st. 

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Given the low regard he has for his father in law, it's hard to believe the "every fucking day" becomes an epiphany for Noah to go see Alison at the hospital.

Plus the guy obviously wasn't pining for that former student when he had affair(s) that humiliated Helen's mother.

 

I find it hard to believe that the father in law said it at all....especially to Noah.  The father in law knows that Noah still has Alison aka the woman he cheated on his daughter with, so I doubt he would say anything to even remotely try to relate with his behavior.  The father in law would show nothing but contempt and belittlement for the man that would dare to cheat on his precious daughter.  Do as I say....not as I do.  The father in law still very much considers Noah to be the lowly, poor, hired help.....so the idea that he would cheat on Helen is something that would be aghast to him.

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I find it hard to believe that the father in law said it at all....especially to Noah.

 

I don't know, I bought it. Bonding has never happened between them, but the context of this evening--in which Noah was the only effiin' one in Bruce's entire family to bother to show up to see him honored, a fact which just might make Bruce hold Noah in slightly less contempt--seemed to me to provide a setting in which some bonding could plausibly occur.

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I find it hard to believe that the father in law said it at all....especially to Noah. The father in law knows that Noah still has Alison aka the woman he cheated on his daughter with, so I doubt he would say anything to even remotely try to relate with his behavior.

Au contraire. Mr. Butler is acting in the role of a conceited, condescending, self-aggrandizing mentor to an aspiring author. As I wrote way, way upthread:

"Never trust creative or performing artists. On average, they may be the most selfish and amoral group of people in the world, because they have to be."

Edited by Higgs

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The other is that upthread someone said that Treem has claimed that Noah's best-seller-soon-to-be-a-major motion-picture  (one of the clunkier cliches in this story).  is NOT about the affair.

 

I've appreciated hearing from Treem on these issues, but I also remember Abrams saying over and over in the press that Star Trek: Into Darkness was not going to be The Wrath of Kahn.  

 

To sum up? 

 

 

Dude was lying about that.  Whereas it is possible that Treem is telling the absolute truth, it is possible she is *ahem* Kahning us.  

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I find it hard to believe that the father in law said it at all....especially to Noah.  The father in law knows that Noah still has Alison aka the woman he cheated on his daughter with, so I doubt he would say anything to even remotely try to relate with his behavior.  The father in law would show nothing but contempt and belittlement for the man that would dare to cheat on his precious daughter.  Do as I say....not as I do.  The father in law still very much considers Noah to be the lowly, poor, hired help.....so the idea that he would cheat on Helen is something that would be aghast to him.

 

I don't think Bruce was encouraging Noah to continue cheating on Helen, on the contrary he was telling him to stay put and channel that energy into his book. Noah just happened to get the opposite message and by the looks of it he gets to the same destination i.e. a bestseller.

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Yeah, I thought Bruce was telling Noah that he'd now have some writing fire.  I think that Noah may have risen in Bruce's estimation by having an affair, as odd as that sounds.  

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Bruce probably saw Noah as Helen claims to have:  subservient, there for the money and security, safe, mediocre.  He dared to risk all of that for an affair with a local waitress.  Someone like Bruce probably thinks this is the first evidence that Noah has a backbone and/or balls.

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Bruce probably saw Noah as Helen claims to have:  subservient, there for the money and security, safe, mediocre.  He dared to risk all of that for an affair with a local waitress.  Someone like Bruce probably thinks this is the first evidence that Noah has a backbone and/or balls.

 

Perfectly put.  Prior to this, Noah was to Bruce as the offspring of self-made dynamos sometimes seem to the self-maker: adorable aliens; lightweights; permanent children.  Like Helen, Noah was an adult financial dependent; unlike Helen, Noah wasn't his child. No need to dote or even feign respect.  Throw in that Noah was a fledgling writer still trying to craft  literature on Bruce's dime, and Bruce felt pretty free to let loose with the condescension and distaste.  To dismiss him -- and while he was at it, to throw any of his own self-disgust, Noah's way.  

 

But by actually rebelling against the ease and trappings of the life Bruce provided him through Helen, and choosing a lover from both men's former class, Noah caught Bruce's eye.  As a disinterested critic of Noah the character, Bruce might have said, "That's the first thing he did that ever interested me."  Now, he feels, Noah finally has some skin in the game.  

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But by actually rebelling against the ease and trappings of the life Bruce provided him through Helen, and choosing a lover from both men's former class, Noah caught Bruce's eye.  As a disinterested critic of Noah the character, Bruce might have said, "That's the first thing he did that ever interested me."  Now, he feels, Noah finally has some skin in the game.

Yes, Bruce might well have secretly admired Noah for daring a risk-all amour fou in a manner so brazen it tempted discovery**, but the act of telling Noah that he knew suggests he didn't think it should continue. Whatever the affair did to spur on the writing, its purpose had been served. Noah surely had already discovered enough of the passion, guilt, loss, pain, and chutzpah that he might have needed to become a better writer. (I am of the impression that more than a few great writers have gotten by on imagination and talent, but, hey, who am I to judge? It was going to be a MAJOR motion picture, wasn't it?)

**Check out the comments of Loren Mercola here: https://www.facebook.com/TheAffairShowtime/posts/304840993055754?reply_comment_id=304860349720485

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Bruce has at very least two reasons to believe the affair should now be set aside: his daughter and grandchildren's happiness, and his own unhappiness.

 

We don't know how much Bruce cares about what Helen wants.  From what we've seen so far, he has underwritten the marriage (or the family, anyway) and is propping up the eco-emporium: Helen's version of Noah's first novel.  For her part, Helen seems at ease with him; doesn't seem to fear him in any way; feels she can rely on him to not only get the spelling right on any check she dictates, but also babysit on short notice when she wants to fuck her husband, and is content to spend months at a time in his house -- and no matter the house or the setting, that's saying something. Helen's biggest beef with Bruce is his infidelity, or at least, the pains he doesn't take to hide it. To me it seems she mostly wishes he wouldn't put himself in the wrong with her mother, so that Helen would be able to feel freer to side with him.  If only he weren't an asshole to her fucking mother, he'd feel as safe to her as Noah.  

 

Bruce's daughter is confident in his love for her, and that says something, too.  At a minimum, Bruce probably wants to believe his sacrifice was not for nothing, and it's only Helen who can be the proof of that.  He doesn't want the upheaval of his daughter's and grandchildren's misery or anger, and he doesn't want to feel guilty on behalf of all men, or unfaithful husbands.  And Helen's a Butler: he doesn't want his child to lose.

 

What I feel more certain of is that Bruce really doesn't want Noah to win.  He doesn't want Noah to have what he himself gave up, even more than he doesn't want Noah to put aside the child that he himself brought into the world.  Bruce has made sure that his wife paid for his unhappiness. Bruce can live with making his daughter uncomfortable with how he expresses that unhappiness. What Bruce is not prepared to stand is seeing that pale imitation of himself, that would-be bard of Williamstown and Williamsburg, walk off with all the marbles.

 

And yet, I think a part of Bruce  would savor it.  Not savor Noah's audacity, or savor what Noah dared for love, but savor the pain: the wound to Bruce's ego.  If Noah won, for Bruce, the real winner would be his own self-hatred. 

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I've got to believe that there's more than a decent human being within Bruce. He really doesn't have to fund Helen and Noah's lifestyle but he does. He pays for his grandkids' education because he wishes them well. He vexes Noah about his writing because, despite appearances, he wants Noah to do well. The man handed his literary agent over to Noah, the said agent apparently wouldn't have given Noah the time of day otherwise. But wishing for Noah to win where Bruce lost (in love) will mean destroying/disturbing the life of his daughter and the future of his grand kids, I doubt that he'd be willing to go that far.

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The guy is in declining health.  He can't spend it all so why not give it to his little princess.

 

Practical reason Bruce might not mind Noah's infidelity is that Noah can draw some of the flak that used to be concentrated on him for his indiscretions.

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Here's what I think I know about Bruce Butler:

1. He depended for a time on his wife's money.

2. He gave up an affair with a student, the love of his life, for the comforts provided by his wife's money.

3. He believes that affair inspired him to write the only novel that gained him major critical success. ("First time I was short-listed for the Pulitzer. The only time.")

4. He is disappointed in his talent.

5. Having gained popular success and fortune, he has come to realize he didn't ultimately need his wife's money but he sure as hell needed that student's inspiration.

6. He therefore regrets his decision to give up the student.

7. He therefore may (unfairly) resent his wife's mere existence.

8. He (therefore?) is currently having a long-running affair.

9. He loves his daughter, as almost all fathers do, and has supported her family with a ton of money. (Well-meaning, but ultimately disastrous.)

10. For the sake of his daughter and grandchildren, and for pride of mentorship, he wants Noah to become a successful author (just not more critically esteemed than he). To that end, he hooked Noah up with his agent and may have exerted some influence in getting Noah's first novel multiple reviews, a rare and highly sought-after privilege.

11. Almost as an act of professional courtesy, he has a sniggering respect for Noah's affair and can forgive him for it, but wants it ended for Helen's sake.

Edited by Higgs
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The guy is in declining health.  He can't spend it all so why not give it to his little princess.

 

Plus, if we're to believe Bruce, part of the reason he stayed with Helen's mother was because of the lifestyle it afforded.  I take it she may have come from some money, because Bruce talked about picturing the tree that he would have had with his paramour, in her sad little apartment.  Just the way he said it indicated that life with this other girl would represent greatly reduced circumstances.  

 

It seems kind of possible that Bruce may have also married someone's rich, pampered daughter, without having come from a great deal himself.  

 

So I guess if you abandon love for material comfort and wealth, then one of the ways you might express love is through material comfort and wealth.  

 

For some reason I had it in my head that Noah taught at a private day school and seeing that he was teaching in the public school system didn't actually improve my opinion of him.  Sure, he chafes at the feeling of obligation he has towards Helen and the access to money that provides, but he's not that different from Helen, playing proprietor in her little store.  He gets to pursue his form of whimsy, because Bruce's success has primarily made his life possible.  

 

It sort of made him seem like a perpetual adolescent to me.  Really very fitting considering the inclusion of Romeo and Juliet.  That was a bit of a hackneyed inclusion though.  

Edited by stillshimpy
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Plus, if we're to believe Bruce, part of the reason he stayed with Helen's mother was because of the lifestyle it afforded.  I take it she may have come from some money, because Bruce talked about picturing the tree that he would have had with his paramour, in her sad little apartment.  Just the way he said it indicated that life with this other girl would represent greatly reduced circumstances.  

 

You're probably right. I thought he meant a different scenario, namely that if he took up with the other woman he'd have to relinquish half of everything he owned.

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Bruce referred to the Christmas tree in his wife's family's home in Greenwich (current median family income $167K).  It seems he meant Noah to grasp the implication: that both men had married into family wealth, drew on that to help support their own families while they taught and tried to establish themselves as writers, then confronted a crisis of the heart.  

 

Bruce may have said that the way forward for Noah was to use the affair as grist for his mill, as a route to the Pulitzer short-list. He may have implied that this is what real men do, or at least, what men do in the real world.  What Noah saw was that on the evening Bruce received an award as man of the year, neither his wife nor daughter were present, and the night ended with Bruce alone in the house, sunk and immobilized within a "re-stuffed" chair that "sucked him in like a whirlpool," before limping off to sleep not in his bedroom, but in his office.  What Noah heard was, "Every fucking day."

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Noah's memories are too self-aggrandizing, while Allison's are too self-deprecating. Now I know that Noah did not save his daughter from choking in episode 1, because I don't believe that he recognized that grandma was dying so he gently awoke Allison so that she could say good-bye. He's such the "hero" in his own memories--that school scene was the worst! I was waiting for those school kids to jump up on their desks and shout out, "O, Captain! My Captain!" And damn these "adults" (spouses) ruining the PURE, INNOCENT LOVE he has with his MUSE! His entire segment was just so over-the-top. Meanwhile, Allison just sleepwalks through her stories--just taking whatever direction/feedback anyone gives her. Even when she wanted to stand up to her mother, she didn't really know how. And instead of shouting from the rooftops DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH MY SON'S TRUNK, she needs her MIL to say she's going to keep it and then she SNEAKS upstairs to look at it?! Like, why the f-- couldn't she look at her son's belongings?!

 

But I want to give a shout-out to whomever mentioned the lyrics to the theme song a week (two? more?) ago: Singer dies, falls into the water > creates a wave that causes an avalanche > man dies in avalanche > widow meets a new man > child is born. I don't think Noah and Allison will ever get back together. The affair was just step 1 in the chain of events. An accident will take place that will kill a man (Scotty). A child will be born (Allison's). Assorted other things will take place. But I think Allison will always be Noah's muse from afar--just lijke Bruce and his student.

Edited by JenE4
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Noah's memories are too self-aggrandizing, while Allison's are too self-deprecating.

...

I don't think Noah and Allison will ever get back together.

While the dual POV device has been fresh and fun, I cannot think of any discrepancy in the stories that made the slightest bit of difference between the expected and actual overt behavior of the characters that followed. Was Alison really flirty or reserved when they first met? It didn't matter a damn, as they got together on schedule, without even cuddly sexy-time pillow talk about who was the aggressor. In the last episode, Alison heard/said ILY, while Noah mutely looked at her like a rescued pound puppy. Does that mean Noah doesn't really love her and she's delusional? Please. In the latest preview, Noah "can't live without her" and is seriously considering a "starter apartment" for them. So, yes, they are getting back together. But we already know it will be over before Scotty's demise. God forbid adultery should be glamorized on premium cable by rewarding cheaters with a lifetime of happiness. Because it would strike a blow at the institution of traditional marriage? There needs to be a story to justify a second season. That's when we'll find out who killed Scotty? Maybe, maybe not. After all, Treem has said she hopes the show will run forever, and that the investigation occurs at the midpoint in the timeline of the currently planned story arc. Then there is a chance our unfaithful limey lovebirds will find a way back to each other after doing the time for their crime!! I can't wait.

Edited by AmandaPanda · Reason: removing inflammatory content
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Not much to add to this excellent discussion other than I agree with this:

 

I have one, the detective. I don't know why I like him, because he's had very little screentime, but I do.

For some reason, I love the detective too.  I like that he's clearly smart and clever.  I like that he's black so he stands out in this small town (I know the other waitress was black, but otherwise the town is pretty darn white).  I feel like he is slowly and compentently piecing the plotline together.  I believe he will give us answers eventually.  An outsider's "truth" of the events.

 

I also love, love, love that Bruce can speak Spanish!  I don't know why that tickled me so much, but the fact he found out about the affair from his cook/housekeeper and her gossiping cracks me up.  Maybe it is the fact that Bruce actually paid attention to his hired help and felt them worth listening to.  

 

I sort of hope Blair Brown has more to contribute.  Her active listening in that scene was very satisfying.  She played it just right in my opinion.  

 

And I love that one moment of humor in the show--Maura Tierny's blurted "Are you bulimic?"  HAAAAA.  I would TOTALLY do that because I just don't have the patience for games.  I also sort of love that she seemed to know all about eating disorders, as if she had been discussing them with her friends for several years.  I suspect mothers of teenage girls really do fret about such things along with good grades and not getting pregnant and avoiding drugs.  

 

And Higgs, your breakdown of Bruce was great.  I wasn's sure about him marrying for money however.  How did you find out Helen's mother had money?  

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.I also love, love, love that Bruce can speak Spanish!  I don't know why that tickled me so much, but the fact he found out about the affair from his cook/housekeeper and her gossiping cracks me up.  Maybe it is the fact that Bruce actually paid attention to his hired help and felt them worth listening to.  

 

I sort of hope Blair Brown has more to contribute.  Her active listening in that scene was very satisfying.  She played it just right in my opinion.  

 

I feel I must be going soft in the head, because I don't remember Bruce speaking Spanish, I don't remember the housekeeper gossiping and Bruce learning anything from it, and I don't remember Blair Brown turning up! If anyone can provide a refresher on these points, I'll appreciate it.

Edited by Milburn Stone

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Bruce told Noah his route to learning abut the affair: Helen told her mother Margaret, who was overheard talking about it by the housekeeper, who Bruce then overheard talking about it on the phone with a friend back home, and Bruce speaks Spanish. 

 

Blair Brown played Noah and Helen's marriage counselor.  

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