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S02.E01: 201


ApathyMonger
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It was insane to me for Helen to offer her parents' money to support Noah post-divorce. (Would they even give it?)

I'll have to rewatch this, was this during Helen's POV or Noah's?  If Noah's it could be that he saw her trying to control his choice of where to live with her parents' money and that she had always used that money to control him.

 

If Helen's POV, she may have thought she was offering a solution that would work well for the kids and was being generous so he wouldn't have an excuse not to see them.

 

From Helen's POV, again, she is used to making decisions about the kids with Noah, and now she tries to do that again, not understanding just how broken their connection is at this point.  

 

And Noah, feeling some guilt over what he's done, has to make her out to be controlling and cold, in order to not feel like he's a terrible person. 

 

It's pretty much a universal reflex for people leaving relationships to rewrite their history with the ex to make it look like they needed to leave or that they were right in leaving.  The person they were closest to in the world now has to be diminished somehow so that they can live with what they are doing. 

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Helen doesn't seem to be so into Max so I suspect she's just accustomed to having money and is hanging onto Max for that reason. (gold-diggers aren't always poor women looking for a sugar-daddy)

 

I guess I don't see Helen as a gold-digger; that seem much too purposeful for her.   Sure she's used to not worrying about money, but she has no doubt her parents will take care of her and the children, just like they've always done. 

 

I think she is in shock, is allowing herself to be takena dvantage of by Max,with her mother colluding in this.  Is he also her drug dealer?  DId he slip her something at the dinner?  I was distracted, not completely watching, so apologize in advance if I am mistaken.

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Helen doesn't seem to be so into Max so I suspect she's just accustomed to having money and is hanging onto Max for that reason. (gold-diggers aren't always poor women looking for a sugar-daddy)

 

 

If Helen was such a gold-digger, I would think she would have just gone for Max in the first place when they were all in college and as it's been suggested, Max was already in love with her back then. I get the distinct impression that Max, like Helen is from money, so she must have known if nothing else, they'd have his family's money if she chose him, versus Noah who was from simple means and was all "idealistic and above things like wealth" back then. And if anything, I felt Helen looked distinctly uncomfortable while at the dinner with Max and he was boasting all his accomplishments and you could almost see the wheels in her brain spinning and thinking this was exactly the type of life she'd tried to escape. 

Edited by truthaboutluv
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If Helen's POV, she may have thought she was offering a solution that would work well for the kids and was being generous so he wouldn't have an excuse not to see them.

It was from Helen's POV. I agree that she thought she was being helpful/altruistic, but it seemed to me that Noah resented Helen's parents bankrolling their life and Helen knew that. He was furious last season when she suggested that her parents kick in more (on top of the four private school tuitions that I believe Helen's father said they pay for) so he could stay home and keep a closer eye on Whitney. It just struck me as, like, "you know he's not going to go for that." 

 

Re: Helen being with Max for his money, I don't think that's it. It seems like a given that Helen's parents will keep her and the kids in the lifestyle to which she's become accustomed. In fact, I think Helen has always lived on her family's money - her store has struck me as a vanity project rather than an income generator. Noah alluded to its "negative income" in Helen's POV, and there was something about the flippant way she offered to sell it last season when they were trying to figure out how to watch Whitney more closely that made me think it was just something to do, rather than something the family actually depended on. While being with Max would net her more money, I don't think Helen is ever going to be poor.

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I think Max is just safety, and not financial safety. He's the man she's probably had the closest relationship besides Noah, going all the way back to college, and she knows he's a little more (or maybe way more) in love with her than she is with him. Her parents approve, he fits well into her circle. It's very emotionally safe to be with Max.

 

I'm sure there's a little something in there of her wanting to stick it to Noah by sleeping with his best friend, too. I expect he won't respond well.

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There isn't enough information to decide any of the issued people raise. You can't even decide whether Trevor is a brat because you don't know whether or not he hit his dad. It was on screen (sorry, I don't think there's any doubt whatsoever that it was meant to be an intentional blow.) But all scenes are unreliable because they are memories not movies. And the show always withholds other viewpoints, so we'll never see Trevor and the other kids interacting with their memories. And the same goes for everything. I'm afraid this is really the only logical conclusion: The show doesn't just deny there is no objective truth in memories, it arranges everything so that there is no objective truth in the events either. If Cole commits armed assault, there are no consequences because we can't know if he really did or not.

 

We know nothing except what they feel, and what they feel is what we are supposed to accept. Allison is a black hole of grief and suffering with an unfeeling cad of a husband. Helen is a betrayed woman. Noah feels awe at Allison, which is the right and appropriate response to her awesomeness. And I think Cole will be finally, finally feeling the loss of Allison's awesomeness, which he should feel to the end of time. Basically, it's a series of daydreams about being the most awesome free spirit in the world, the paragon of spontaneity and sensitive and natural, pure emotion, namely Alison, or the torments of being a woman constricted by family and society and devalued by men, paying the price of being the good girl as others define you, which is of course Helen.  At any rate that's what is seems to be amounting to.

 

The death of Scotty Lockhart is every bit as irrelevant as his life.

Edited by sjohnson
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DId he slip her something at the dinner?  I was distracted, not completely watching, so apologize in advance if I am mistaken.

 

 

They were pot capsules. When Max gave them to Helen he said, "For later," which I'm assuming means she can use them at home without the kids smelling pot smoke. 

 

 

I think Max is just safety, and not financial safety. He's the man she's probably had the closest relationship besides Noah, going all the way back to college, and she knows he's a little more (or maybe way more) in love with her than she is with him. Her parents approve, he fits well into her circle. It's very emotionally safe to be with Max.

 

 

To my mind, it's mostly about feeling desired. Allegedly Max has been in love with Helen for 25 years, so it must be pretty powerful (even if it's empty in the long run) to feel so very desired by someone when you've just been publicly dumped by your husband and the father of your four children. Helen is hanging on by a thread right now, but how Max feels about her - and how much he wants her - is helping just a little bit. 

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. . . the torments of being a woman constricted by family and society and devalued by men, paying the price of being the good girl as others define you, which is of course Helen.  

Actually, that could also describe Alison until the affair.

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To my mind, it's mostly about feeling desired. Allegedly Max has been in love with Helen for 25 years, so it must be pretty powerful (even if it's

empty in the long run) to feel so very desired by someone when you've just been publicly dumped

by your husband and the father of your four children. Helen is hanging on by a thread right now, but how Max feels about her - and how much he wants her - is helping just a little bit.

I agree with you about Helen's need to be desired. My ex was a lying cheating asshole much like Noah and when we split up I immediately jumped into a short lived relationship with another man. The new guy was alright but it wasn't about him, I just needed to know that I could still be desired and wanted. I liked the way he made me feel about myself and just being with someone helped me get over the pain of losing my first real love. He was also way more into me than I was into him and the relationship fizzled after about two months. I suspect that the same will happen with Max and Helen. I'm still hopeful that Helen will find someone who rocks her socks off.

I'm curious to know why Helen is paying for Noah's lawyer. When Noah got arrested he was living in some fancy high rise so it didn't appear that he was hurting for money. By this time he's married to Alison and has a new baby so why the hell is Helen doing anything for him? Let his new wife pay for his lawyer and move on with your life.

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I'm curious to know why Helen is paying for Noah's lawyer. When Noah got arrested he was living in some fancy high rise so it didn't appear that he was hurting for money. By this time he's married to Alison and has a new baby so why the hell is Helen doing anything for him? Let his new wife pay for his lawyer and move on with your life.

This is why I can't drop the cancer/some other disease treated with medical marijuana theory. Max giving Helen the pot lozenge, the out-in-open smoking and the full-frontal bangs on that wig Maura wears in the Schiff scenes (it makes an appearance in episode #202, btw). I get the feeling Helen wants all her kids taken care of in case anything happens to her, therefore she does not want an incompetently run trial and/or prison. In that case getting a shark to handle Noah is the best way to go.

Edited by chick binewski
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I'm curious to know why Helen is paying for Noah's lawyer. When Noah got arrested he was living in some fancy high rise so it didn't appear that he was hurting for money. By this time he's married to Alison and has a new baby so why the hell is Helen doing anything for him? Let his new wife pay for his lawyer and move on with your life.

Good point, and now that you mention it, there was a flash forward scene last season in which it's mentioned that Noah's book is being made into a "major motion picture".

But perhaps that and the fancy high rise were all BS products of Noah's imagination.

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This is why I can't drop the cancer/some other disease treated with medical marijuana theory. Max giving Helen the pot lozenge, the out-in-open smoking and the full-frontal bangs on that wig Maura wears in the Schiff scenes (it makes an appearance in episode #202, btw). I get the feeling Helen wants all her kids taken care of in case anything happens to her, therefore she does not want an incompetently run trial and/or prison. In that case getting a shark to handle Noah is the best way to go.

You could be right be but I hope that your not because I really don't want to watch a cancer story line with Helen.

I didn't think much about Helen smoking pot in public. A lot of people smoke electronic cigarettes and vap now so she probably just figured no one would even notice her smoking or she's falling off the deep end and just doesn't give a shit who notices.

It also might be symbolic of Helen feeling invisible in her life now. Noah doesn't see or doesn't care about the pain he's caused her, her mother has come into her home and wants to make decisions for her, Max only sees her as a prize and doesn't see that she's not into him. Even the moms at the dance lesson didn't notice Helen sitting behind them at first.

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The one factor I'm having a hard time believing is how much Max is into Helen. Even though he had a relationship with her back in college and now still has feelings for her, all those praises in bed? A rich middle aged guy like that would be wanting a woman 15-20 years younger than him, just my opinion. 

Then again, I'm still surprised at how much Alison is into Noah. No matter how the show portrays him, I'm having a difficult time coming up with any sympathy for him. The fact that Helen seems calm in pretty much all of their scenes together is also puzzling.

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The one factor I'm having a hard time believing is how much Max is into Helen. Even though he had a relationship with her back in college and now still has feelings for her, all those praises in bed? A rich middle aged guy like that would be wanting a woman 15-20 years younger than him, just my opinion. 

 

Exactly. In the scene where Noah borrows 10 large to pay off Oscar, Max shared that he was banging a 23-year-old.

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The only reason I can think Helen is paying for dumbasses lawyer because Alison decided he is so not worth and dropped him quick. I really think she is just trying to keep the idiot out of jail trying to protect her kids. The divorce is already taking its toll, and having your Dad in jail might send those kids over the edge.

I am glad we are seeing more than Noah and Allison oh we are soul mates side if the story. Makes it much more interesting. I think Helen seems oddly calm in some of the scenes because she is drinking, smoking and keeping it all in. A mix of denial and trying to keep up appearances.

Edited by Texasmom1970
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Exactly. In the scene where Noah borrows 10 large to pay off Oscar, Max shared that he was banging a 23-year-old.

 

I think the belief is that Max was always in love with Helen and so even with her no longer being the 20 year old he fell in love with back in college, he's still so in awe and happy to have her. Now that said, as always with this show, yes, we have to remember that this is Helen's memory so how much of Max's actions were 100 percent accurate is debatable. That said, I do think the writers hinted at Max's being in love with Helen last season when we first met him. Banging 23-year olds on the heels of his divorce doesn't automatically negate that he is and always was in love with Helen, who let's face it, was the one who didn't want him and chose Noah instead. 

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Was it a peen double?

According to Dominic West, it was a stand-in. And since the actor's face was not part of that shot, I tend to believe the peen-double version.  I'm sure it was Josh's ass, so he certainly was naked on set that day. But the money shot? Some other dick.

 

I continue to care less and less about What Actually Happened and more about How the Characters View What Happened. I don't mind the ambiguity at all. I will say, though, if I were Helen, I'd make it a point to remember me having better hair than she's doing. Her hair is better in Noah's version! :)

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Honestly, the people I wouldn't want my kids around are those two insidious grandparents.  Sometimes, while family is family, choices need to be made and keeping them from that horrible grandmother especially would be high on my to do list though, of course, this family seems they decided to roll over for those two for the money aspect of things.

 

Everyone is fucked up and flawed in this - which is true to life, some more than others.  But, there are things a parent can control - at least for awhile - and the influence of the grandparents on how they may evolve as adults, is one of them.

 

I too get her asking he keep the kids from the mistress - at this point in time; not down the road.  Having worked in family law - there is nothing as contentious as custody/visitation issues in a divorce - nothing.  And, depending on how contentious the divorce is, it remains that way for the duration of time the kids are minors (and even beyond in the emotional manipulation department) - But, in reality, if they end up together together, then it's foolish to impose such a requirement.  Unless the person is deemed a potential danger, which I don't see here.  

 

As an end note - I detest talkers of that sort.  It's just creepy to me - Not sure I quite get the close up of his genitals beyond them wanting to be edgy.  I don't care one way or the other but it did seem gratuitous just for the sake of it.  

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it did seem gratuitous just for the sake of it.

 

And thank heavens for it! If there are going to be gratuitous full frontal shots of the ladies, there damn well oughta be turnabout. 

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I'm curious to know why Helen is paying for Noah's lawyer. When Noah got arrested he was living in some fancy high rise so it didn't appear that he was hurting for money. By this time he's married to Alison and has a new baby so why the hell is Helen doing anything for him? Let his new wife pay for his lawyer and move on with your life.

 

She was protecting a mutual interest.  I am thinking either Whitney or their oldest son was involved in the hit and run.

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Then again, I'm still surprised at how much Alison is into Noah.

 

 

I don't understand this either, but I think that's just my aesthetic bias getting in the way since I don't find Dominic West attractive AT ALL. I had to agree with Whitney last season when Alison admitted to her affair with Noah and Whitney said, "But he's so old and your husband is so hot!" Heh. 

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The Helen/Max thing seemed like a natural progression to me. It's a sad relationship, and probably destined for failure, but it fits. I don't think Helen wants to be alone, and Max's constant affirmations must appeal to her bruised ego. And because we only see this playing out from her perspective, we really have no reason to think he's not also still into 20-year old women, either. From what we know of him, why wouldn't he want both? She wouldn't notice that; she was blindsided before. I remember vague talk of a wedding last season and was thinking that they might actually be married in the present day clips. She's surrounded by assholes. It's no wonder she can't pick a decent partner.

Edited by RedInk
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I just watched Tiny Furniture (don't judge. it was on cable and I couldn't find the remote) and when one of the characters expresses an interest in an older man, Aura says "He's old, like a DAD."  I will now think that whenever Alison and Noah get together.

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So glad this show is back!  I find it compelling and riveting.  I watched the whole of season 1 during a "free Showtime" weekend and now I've included Showtime to my Hulu account for access to season 2 and Homeland.

 

I thought they were insinuating Helen has cancer (and if Maura Tierney is willing to play it after what she's been through cheers to her) but can't say for sure. I'm hoping this season moves a little quicker & am also looking forward to Cole's POV. 

 

From what I've read it seems Richard Schiff has a fairly big role which pleases me to no end. Hopefully Toby can shake some of Noah's bs loose.

 

I did not get that vibe whatsoever.  As others have mentioned, the weed, the booze and the meaningless (?) sex are all shown as part of her "just trying to cope" with going through a divorce. And having to deal with some spawn who range from annoying to plain awful.  

I must say I was surprised by this episode. I thought Helen was going to be drippy, but she's interesting.

 

Maybe I've been out of circulation too long, but the rich college friend is a talker? I associate that with being too young to ask your partner if she finds it sexy or not.

 

I don't think being talkative during sex has much to do with age and much more to do with personality type.  Max is somebody who likes to talk about how great he is, and hear others talk about how great he is.  Seems a natural fit that he'd be a sexytimes gabber.

 

 

I liked it, and I'm interested to see what's next. That being said, it's telling that in everyone's version, their kids are still such assholes. You could blame it on their being upset about the divorce, but it's the exact same thing I remembered most from the pilot. I'm surprised they're not fighting to make the other one take the kids.

Gosh aren't they though.  I think I'd seek a divorce from the kids too.  Except the youngest daughter. 

 

I don't understand this either, but I think that's just my aesthetic bias getting in the way since I don't find Dominic West attractive AT ALL. I had to agree with Whitney last season when Alison admitted to her affair with Noah and Whitney said, "But he's so old and your husband is so hot!" Heh. 

 

I can see where Noah could be seen as attractive in some circumstances. But DW vs. JJ? I mean, that is a no-brainer right there!  mmmmmm Pacey....  <3

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I'm curious to know why Helen is paying for Noah's lawyer. When Noah got arrested he was living in some fancy high rise so it didn't appear that he was hurting for money. By this time he's married to Alison and has a new baby so why the hell is Helen doing anything for him? Let his new wife pay for his lawyer and move on with your life.
She was protecting a mutual interest.  I am thinking either Whitney or their oldest son was involved in the hit and run.

 

Helen and Noah both seemed to know why Helen was paying for Noah's lawyer.  The look they exchanged when Helen made the announcement was candid and downright connubial.  That look is what leads me to think that Helen's generosity is more than sparing her children more pain, and that DarkRaichu may be right: Helen and Noah both know or at least believe that one of their children was implicated in Scotty's death.

 

This is why I can't drop the cancer/some other disease treated with medical marijuana theory. Max giving Helen the pot lozenge, the out-in-open smoking and the full-frontal bangs on that wig Maura wears in the Schiff scenes (it makes an appearance in episode #202, btw).

 

I'd be sorry if Helen -- the wife left behind with the kids -- were then to be visited with cancer, a storyline developed beautifully and notably on thirtysomething, 25-or-something years ago.  And while it's possible, there are other explanations for the points that chick bilinski noted above.  Max could be courting Helen with her fdrug of choice, perhaps more easily obtained and used by Helen, if it's not Helen who procures it.  Helen was smoking pot in Washington Square Park (the arch in in the background), which is close to a tautology.  And the bangs on her wig might just be a convention to signify the change in eras between scenes.  

 

The phrase, "Schiff scenes."  Yes.  Yes they are, aren't they.

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Again back to the slack penis shot of Max. At first I thought, 'totally gratuitous sex on the part of Showtime' but the more I think about that whole scene the more I'm starting to wonder if Helen was staring at his limp dick and maybe crying in the shower because Noah's penis size was much smaller but satisfied her more because she loved Noah and doesn't love Max. hahaha! I know, now I'm sounding ridiculous. But she was giving it the "I can't believe what I just did, for what?" stare. It occurred to me that Helen and Max had their affair going long before Noah and Allison. She was just going through the motions of sex as though she was married to Max. (ho-hum) LOL!

 

I can't imagine anyone who didn't watch season 1 being able to sit through even the first episode of this series. The flash back, flash forward (and I swear there was a flash sideways) would make a newbie to this series vomit from motion sickness. I watched the last season and I'm still grateful to have DVR to be able to see it and freeze the picture in juicy places.(slack penis). But I still pause and go back to listen when my mind says "wtf? did he just say 'a baby'?"  My husband has difficulty keeping up with the plot of something easy like Ray Donovan so he washed his hands of this series on episode 2 from season one. I can't even turn to him to ask 'what did she say? or who dat?'

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But she was giving it the "I can't believe what I just did, for what?" stare.

 

 

Ha! To me that look meant, "Oh my god, I can't believe I just slept with a guy who would stand there with his penis in my face right after sex while demanding a very particular type of fruit salad from room service. What a douche."

 

Speaking of Helen's facial expressions, her entire repertoire during that hotel scene was just masterful. I especially loved the look on her face while Max orgasmed while punching the headboard with his fist. My husband and I were cracking up!

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According to the actor, nope:

    

    http://www.ew.com/ar...rg-full-frontal

 

According to Dominic West, it was a stand-in. And since the actor's face was not part of that shot, I tend to believe the peen-double version.  I'm sure it was Josh's ass, so he certainly was naked on set that day. But the money shot? Some other dick.

 

I continue to care less and less about What Actually Happened and more about How the Characters View What Happened. I don't mind the ambiguity at all. I will say, though, if I were Helen, I'd make it a point to remember me having better hair than she's doing. Her hair is better in Noah's version! :)

 

Yes, I saw that, and while plausible, what's not is that Dominic West would know in the first place. It's doubtful they invited him onset to watch other actors perform a nude scene. How would he know what he went down, and why is he commenting on it anyway? Who to believe, someone who was in the scene or someone who wasn't. I think the only person I'd truly believe is Maura Tierney, who may or not have had multiple dicks staring her down that day.

 

I can see where it could have been faked, although I have to wonder why they even would have bothered. They didn't even get a clear shot. All the fuss of hiring a guy solely for his dick for a blurry two or three second shot, instead of telling the actor already on the payroll to sack up or not bothering with the shot at all? Nice work if you can get it, I guess.

Edited by TheOtherOne
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As loathe as I am to side with Noah, his perspective of the mediation, but not the mediator, rang a lot more true to me. Though his memories of the mediator as an awkward laughing hack are probably off the mark.

 

Very true, but they added such a fun, semi-brilliant detail that helps explain a lot about Helen's POV of so much:  Girlfriend's baked like a cake throughout much of the episode.  Of course everything is going to seem super exaggerated and more than vaguely weird.   Noah's essential Noahness is turned up even higher (no pun intended) than it would normally be.  He's got no emotional nuance in her POV.  Neither does the Mediator.  But that makes sense, a lot of Helen's POV is seen through a fog of being high and otherwise buzzed, as well as likely depressed as hell.   However, that mediator scene seemed closer to true than Noah's version to me.

 

It's pretty heartless to leave your wife with four kids and then get all shirty about "You might not get everything you want" when Helen icily says she doesn't want her children around Allison (which was from his POV and...damn, yeah that would be an incredibly self-centered thing to say to the a woman you ditched for another woman....as if Helen hadn't already been substantially denied everything she wanted).

 

Whereas the mediator would almost certainly not be all "Ha! Insert awkward joke here!"  ....unless he started doing that the day before and would be fired by the end of the day...mediators are very skilled at being reasonably pleasant and showing a high level of complete emotional detachment from either side, which I'm going to guess that if anyone is indulging in the pot of today (also known as the One Hit Wonder) , would really seem pronounced.  So weirdly, to me, he rang truer to me in Helen's version, just he wouldn't be that blah about it.   

It would make sense that someone would say how long they've been doing it.  "Yes, it can be hard.  Sometimes people fight over who gets the dog for Christmas, but litigation wasn't for me."  could end up sounding a hell of a lot like what Helen heard, through the haze in her head. 

 

I thought this was one of the best episodes of the series and I'm assuming, as I did last season, that Whitney killed Scotty and Noah is covering for her. 

 

Long story short there was once a drunk driving crash in front of our home where the young woman driving was blotto beyond the telling of it, but only lived a block over.   Her mother showed up before the police did, but it was the type of neighborhood where everyone had spilled out onto the street to find out what that god awful noise was, so about fifteen people heard her mom screaming "Go! I'll tell them I was driving."  

 

Normally I wouldn't think Noah would be that self-sacrificing, but he also wasn't confessing and was calling for a lawyer to try and evade over-eager detective's attempts to get him to confess.   It would be in Helen's best interest to try and make sure that Noah never had any reason to decide, "Whoops.  Can't beat this one, time to heave my daughter under the bus since she was the one driving."  

 

As for Max, I really don't care about seeing his penis or if it was a double or whatever.  It's the internet.  You're only ever two clicks away from so much full frontal nudity of every description, but my GAWD did I ever feel sorry for the actor during that, the most mortifying sex scene of all time in terms of sex-talk.  Whether it was his penis or not is really the least "well, I personally feel incredibly exposed" of pretty much everything they called on the actor to do.  

 

Also, unlike Dominic West, who has weathered gracefully, but weathered nonetheless, the actor playing Max is almost amusingly good-looking.  He looks like an old-time screen star and was seriously rocking his tux....and was still called upon to do absolutely everything to prove why a guy that good-looking and at least reasonably decent and kind (showing up at the benefit was well-intentioned, but he proceeded to be the biggest social clod ever) ....still has enough easily sussed out sleaze to have never had an emotionally fulfilling relationship.  

 

As for whether or not it is realistic for Helen to not want Allison around her kids, yeah, for the moment it is.  They are having trouble coping, Noah had JUST claimed that they weren't living together.  It's not super unusual in custody agreements to have both parties agree to only allow their children around relationships of a substantial nature. 

 

Even in Noah's own POV he's almost comically self-centered, after threatening Grandma Gorgon (good recap piece on this PTV, made me laugh several times) and traumatizing kid with the developing IBS brought on by stress, he then proceeds to emotionally devastate Theater Kid, in his memory it's a blow worthy of someone with the last name of Holyfield and when Helen comments on it?  

 

Noah assures her he's okay.   I can't even tell you how hard that made me laugh.  Not "I'm fine, but actually, we need to talk about the kids right now...because there were a few issues at home....both the boys were pretty upset...." instead he doesn't even mention "This? Oh, that was shrapnel from the emotional bomb I dropped on our kid. Have fun at dinner!" 

Edited by stillshimpy
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I can see Helen paying for the attorney to keep Noah out of jail to reduce the scandal.  First, it spares the kids of having to deal with it.  Second, she has already had to listen to her mother trash Noah for years.  No need to give her more ammunition.

 

I would call shenanigans on the Max/Helen relationship and his seemingly over-praising of her, only I have been in that situation.   There was a friend of a friend from high school that I hooked up with ten years later.  He had supposedly been dreaming of me for years.  His ideal of me had nothing to do with me.  Similarly I have a friend from college.  To him I am some odd ideal woman that he has always wanted.  We did eventually have sex.  My enjoyment mirrored Helen’s in that scene with Max.  His was more along the Max line.  I do assume that, based on the trashed hotel room, the night before may have been more fun for Helen.  Perhaps even a rousing and arousing good time.

I think the only person I'd truly believe is Maura Tierney, who may or not have had multiple dicks staring her down that day.

I love the way you phrased this.  

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Great analysis JenE4.

 

Wonder if they'll revisit Montauk at all. It was super interesting to me to see a place so overridden by moneyed tourists from a working class native's point of view.

 

 

I agree. I know the show's about "The Affair," but I also liked what it had to say about the "summer people" (Alison's monologue on the topic in Season 1 was a fave) and about the wealthy (they're different than us).

 

I saw Helen showing up with the lawyer as part of that "wealth" thing. In times of trouble, moneyed people circle the wagons. Of course, to a larger extent, I think she did that because he's the father of her children, and she's not going to let them see Dad hung out to dry. (Let alone any other theories I might have about whodunit.)

Edited by missy jo
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I am so pleased that we are getting Helen's POV this season! I hated that she had no perspective of her own last year, so I thought this was a strong start to the season. 

 

Allison remains a weak link for me.  I can't warm to her.  I can despise Noah yet still find him compelling to watch, but Allison just irritates me and I'm not sure why.

 

Helen is choosing to try to be civil about the divorce, so I'm glad that Grandma is saying all the shit that Noah needs to hear about himself.

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Let's get reacquainted with this heartbreaking account of a marriage dissolving, with two heartless married people moderating.

http://previously.tv/the-affair/the-beginning-of-the-rest-of-the-affair/"> Read the story

 

The recap is a dialogue now, and still terrible.  On Max: "I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop on this dude, but I already like him better in the ten minutes he's been on screen than I like Noah, one of the ostensible leads of this show."

::whoosh::

Sorry, shimpy, but this definitely proves that you can watch a show wrong.  ;-)

 

While there is certainly a lot to dislike about Noah (especially the way he's treated his wife and children), I don't find him to be all that bad.  Yeah, I guess I'm probably less evolved than others of you here.

 

You and me both...along with Sarah Treem, who wrote the episode (maybe all the episodes? not sure what Levy does).  From an interview last December: 

 

Between Alison and Noah, whose perspective do you find viewers identify with more?

Now the viewers hate both of them, which I find pretty funny. People are uniformly against Noah, and people still have some sympathy for Alison because of what she's going through — but still, they're not particularly pleased with her either. The longer the characters stay in the affair, the less sympathy people have for them. People really want marriages to work, which I think is great.

 

And what about you? Are you more comfortable writing for one or the other?

I've kind of internalized them both after a certain point and just felt that they were both sides of my own experience and the experiences that I've gleaned from talking to other people. I don't really have a preference for one character or another. I actually love both of them.

[...]

How have you struck the balance with Noah and Alison to where viewers still retain some sympathy for them despite their immoral behavior?

[...]

I'm trying to get people comfortable with the idea that sometimes making the right choices in life is not the way to feel self-actualized. [...]

What do you hope viewers take away from the season on the topics of marriage and infidelity?

I want people to take away the idea that being a human is hard, that we really have very little business judging each other's lives. We are all trying to live as well as we can, but people hurt each other a lot. This is not a public service announcement of any kind, but I think that we could all perhaps benefit from a little less judgment in terms of how other people live because I don't think any of us are saints. We're all trying our best.

 

 

It's brave of her to push this perspective, because it's not exactly a seller's market for this kind of thing.  I guess maybe they are doing okay with viewers tuning in to watch against the grain of what she's trying to portray, which is weird but if it keeps the show on the air, hey.

 

The one factor I'm having a hard time believing is how much Max is into Helen. Even though he had a relationship with her back in college and now still has feelings for her, all those praises in bed? A rich middle aged guy like that would be wanting a woman 15-20 years younger than him, just my opinion. 

 

Yeah, I wondered about this...but another post downthread makes a good point: that he might want her as a wife, someone respectable on his arm at these charity affairs, while having coke-fuelled flings with the young'uns on the side.

 

As for whether or not it is realistic for Helen to not want Allison around her kids, yeah, for the moment it is.  They are having trouble coping, Noah had JUST claimed that they weren't living together.  It's not super unusual in custody agreements to have both parties agree to only allow their children around relationships of a substantial nature.  

 

This is true, and I got a good taste of this societal judgement after my own divorce.  I find it incredibly puritanical and just flat out ridiculous.

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How have you struck the balance with Noah and Alison to where viewers still retain some sympathy for them despite their immoral behavior?

[...]

I'm trying to get people comfortable with the idea that sometimes making the right choices in life is not the way to feel self-actualized. [...]

 

 

If Noah was so damned miserable, he could have gotten a divorce instead of having an affair.  He didn't need to emotionally destroy his wife and children in order to "self-actualize," whatever that means to Treem.  But he didn't.  He chose the worst way to blow up his marriage, with the most carnage to follow.  If Treem thinks the "right choice" was to stay married and we need to feel "comfortable" that making the wrong choices can lead to self-actualization, she is wrong.  The right choice would be to leave the marriage, amicably, instead of cheating and blowing up everyone's lives so he could follow his bliss.

 

SAME for Allison.  I know she was grieving, but she, too, could and should have left Cole if she couldn't see them staying together after the death of their child instead of cheating. 

 

Just because you are miserable with your marriage doesn't mean you have to hurt other people by cheating.  You can "self-actualize" in a less selfish and far more effective way by being honest with yourself and everyone else, and leaving.  There is nothing "self-actualizing" about lying and deceiving and betraying the people who love you.

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Just because you are miserable with your marriage doesn't mean you have to hurt other people by cheating.  You can "self-actualize" in a less selfish and far more effective way by being honest with yourself and everyone else, and leaving.  There is nothing "self-actualizing" about lying and deceiving and betraying the people who love you.

 

 

This. As I've said before, I'm hardly so puritanical as to balk at people having an affair. I mean I grew up watching soap operas with my mom and who doesn't cheat on soap operas. And hell I like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt just fine and despite what has been said by all the parties involved, including Jennifer Aniston, I firmly believe Brad and Angelina got together before he separated from Jennifer Aniston. The fact is yes, as humans we are all flawed and sometimes we don't always make the right choices. We sometimes choose what is selfish and easy. I get all that.

 

That said, I firmly believe that even in the worse situations there is some level of kindness you can have. And THAT'S my issue with Alison and Noah. It's not that they cheated, it's that they are both unlikable, selfish and at times cruel assholes. Treem has made it clear since last season that she apparently expected people to like her leads and was shocked so many didn't so I'm kind of whatever at this point about anything she says. And I'm sorry, YMMV but using her words as some proof that others' opinion is wrong doesn't fly with me. 

 

Art is subjective. And as I've said many times with regards to this show, when so much of your audience doesn't agree or see the characters the way were supposedly meant to, then in my opinion, as a writer, you screwed up. Something, somewhere went off from the conception to the execution. 

Edited by truthaboutluv
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Wow, do I disagree with that. Most people don't like abstract art, or James Joyce novels. Hardly anyone watches the Sundance show Rectify, and most who try it find it dull as dirt. That doesn't make any of those artistic failures! Far from it.

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Helen doesn't really like that tool she's sleeping with.

 

So in her POV, she's still in love with Noah but going through the motions.  Even though he's breaking her heart, she will pay for his lawyer to keep him out of jail.

 

In Noah's POV, Helen is a condescending, emasculating bitch, who uses daddy's money to remind him how inadequate he is (in all the senses of the word), such as when she offers to rent him 4-bedroom Manhattan apt.

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Wow, do I disagree with that. Most people don't like abstract art, or James Joyce novels. Hardly anyone watches the Sundance show Rectify, and most who try it find it dull as dirt. That doesn't make any of those artistic failures! Far from it.

 

I never said people not liking something makes it a failure. What I said is when a writer/creator of a show suggests that the audience was meant to feel one thing and the majority doesn't, then something failed in the execution. Maybe it was the acting, the writing, the direction or something. And for the record, I personally have little interest in reading Treem's media and interviews because I watch the show to draw my opinions and conclusions. I don't need to read about how she said this or that, like because she said it, it must be so. And that if my views and opinions somehow don't align, they're wrong. That's why I've said art is subjective. 

Edited by truthaboutluv
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Sorry, shimpy, but this definitely proves that you can watch a show wrong.  ;-)

 

No, it simply proves that people can watch a show in a manner with which you personally disagree.  That's not the same thing as you being right and the other person being wrong.   There is no universal truth about the way in which something should be watched, received, interpreted or examined.  

 

Your points are valid for you.  Mine are for me.  Everyone else's are for their own individual tastes too.  

 

No one is the arbiter of how someone else can or should feel about something.   

 

Dude, one of these days were both just going to end up having to program in a keystroke shortcut on this one.  You get to be absolutely completely, without question right for your own opinion, for yourself,  but reception of entertainment is down to individual tastes.   Opinions, milage, worth and many, many other things will vary.  Some will argue that cats are better.  Some prefer dogs.   Some say cake.  Others pie.   

 

You get my drift, but I have to admit to chuckling, so well done on the attempt ;-) 

Edited by stillshimpy
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though not seeing him spiraling over Alison

 

Oh wow I would never characterize any spiral Cole is in being primarily or only about Allison, as invested as he was in his FAMILY I think that is fucking with him just how much he put into the family and the house/ranch, including alienating his wife/wrecking his marriage, and lost all of it. Betrayed by Cherry and her mulitple mortages, betrayed by Scotty who's screwing a teenager, betryayed by his wife who's screwing the teenagers dad...he had such a house of cards going emotionally, he was only dealing drugs to save the ranch, he was only saving the ranch to save his family legacy, he was only focused on the family legacy because he lost his child. 

 

 

I think Max is just safety, and not financial safety. He's the man she's probably had the closest relationship besides Noah, going all the way back to college, and she knows he's a little more (or maybe way more) in love with her than she is with him. Her parents approve, he fits well into her circle. It's very emotionally safe to be with Max.

 

I think so too, and I actually really like Max, I think they're both indulging in the comfort of familiarity, being with Helen is as he stated a lifelong dream/fantasy, deep down inside he knows there's a reason it never happened before, and won't sustain now.

 

 

A lot of people smoke electronic cigarettes and vap now

 

Helen was using a one-hitter, not an ecig or vaping, if she were vamping the pot would have been oil and she would have loaded it in and there would have been a lot more "vapor" coming out of her. I think her terrible wig is more evidence of possible cancer thing than her smoking weed, it seemed like both she and Noah indulged now and  then last season. I DO think she's probably hitting it a bit more  along with the wine, to self medicate, but it doesn't seem out of control in any of the timelines.

I thought it was weird how much this was praised for stuff happening since the pacing often felt deadly to me. Helen in the park smoking dope, Noah sitting on the dock of some bay. Meh.

 

I do love that Noah continues to be an unmitigated asshole even in his own narrative. 

 

 

She was protecting a mutual interest.  I am thinking either Whitney or their oldest son was involved in the hit and run.

 

Yeah I thought about that too, I can see her helping him out anyway because Noah really does have rainbows coming out of his dick and that's why he's so damn dreamy both Helen/Allison are helplessly hooked on him, BUT  yeah I was thinking she's worried Whitney/Martin did it or KNOWS Whitney/Martin did it. 

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I just don't like Helen.  I'm not sure if it's because MT tends to grate on me.  I think she's spoiled and I think she's a snob.  And as awful as she knows her mother is, she chooses to have her around the children daily.  She can barely stand her mother, and I don't think grandmother is beloved by the children.  Why subject them all? She has the money to hire whoever she chooses.

 

I typically empathize with women left for a younger woman, but I don't think Allison's age played a part.  They've also made it clear that Helen was the beautiful girl everyone wanted - and she knew it.  She seems to have loved keeping Max drooling after her all these years (yikes, that kiss of greeting in front of the kids last season), and probably dangled him for awhile before deciding on Noah.  She chose a man she felt beneath her, who was too boring and too grateful to ever stray.  She's always undermined him in front of the children, never really backed him up with her parents, and she sort of treated him like a faithful little dog. In fact, a year ago Helen would have responded like the ballet lady - he'd never cheat, I'm the best thing he's ever had.  I think the only difference between her and her mother is twenty-five years.   That's not fair, I think she's a better mother, but she's got her mother inside, that's for sure.

 

 Helen's expression when the thunder was breaking out and Noah dream about driving in the rain, it just seemed like the two were linked. It would explain why Helen would hire an expensive lawyer for Noah, even after he's since married and had a kid with Alison.

 

I think her expression was in response to the painting being removed - the one that Noah's grandfather painted.  Doesn't mean your not right, though.

 

This was a very strong opening for the new season!  Noah looks a lot better (in his version, anyway...lol, but the actor got in shape.)  I enjoyed seeing him push past his mother in law and take the scraps that he wanted.  His youngest son was very endearing, but Noah was really stupid to blunder through telling him about the divorce right there.   I'm very interested in what is going on with Martin--maybe one day Martin and his older sister could even have 1/2 episodes. 

 

As for the mediation, I'm sure the truth was somewhere in the middle of both of their accounts.   But of course Helen's mother is the same either way. Helen seems to have decided to have her own affair to work through her feelings, but is detached and not sure what she's gotten herself into.  It is funny how Harry is both paying for Noah's place and in his view wooing Helen. It looks like she's taking medical marijuana, but is that just for depression, or is she sick?

 

Next episode looks like it will be 1/2 Alison, 1/2 Cole, which sounds great.

 

I immediately assumed she was using medical marijuana for stress, but illness is interesting.  I'm ashamed to admit, I really thought Maura was looking .... something.  I stopped and switched off of HD.  I'm reluctant to mention it, but it's certainly not a crack at her age, I'm not that much younger.  I'm now wondering if they deliberately made her look wiped out. 

 

I actually think the kids came across mostly okay in this episode. I just feel sad for poor Martin who was clearly already struggling with a lot of emotional stuff before Noah's affair with Alison and subsequently leaving Helen and now is so buried in issues he can barely leave his room. Witney while whiny and bratty, I was on her side with the argument with the grandmother. It is her college essay and I agree with her that having a gun pointed at you would traumatize many and rank as a major moment in her life and more importantly she should be able to write whatever she wants.

 

And I noticed that she corrected her Margaret's insistence that Noah pulled the gun on them (she would think that). And I personally cheered the little boy punching Noah in the face. No, I don't condone bad behavior in kids but I'm pretty sure it was an accident. He was upset and didn't want Noah to touch him and he accidentally hit him. And at the dinner table, they all just seemed very sad and confused by what's happened to their family. But it was nice when Helen got a little smile and laugh out of them. 

 

Has the hit and run already happened?  He's acting the part of a classically overburdened guilty person.  He was already disturbed when the show started, so it's hard to tell with this kid.

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Cherry (Allison's MIL) said two completely different things last season IIRC.  Before she found out about the affair she told Allison that it was Allison and Cole's strength that kept the family strong after Gabriel died.  After she learned about the affair she accused Allison of contributing to Gabriel's death by not taking him to the hospital (because Allison was a nurse and thought she knew more than she did).   No way Allison is supposed to ever have been a danger to kids.

 

First of all Helen can get anything she wants from her parents financially - she's going to inherit their entire estate anyway.  Second, Helen's mother is a complete control freak and would probably grudgingly pay for Noah to have a place suitable for the little princes and princesses to stay.  Specially since said spoiled brats would possibly tell grandma all about Noah and his girlfriend, which would be more ammunition for granny and her spitefulness - not that some of the spitefulness isn't utterly deserved by the seemingly unredeemable Noah.   

 

Yeah, I find the suggestion that Alison would endanger the kids ridiculous.   The Solloways win no parental awards, IMO.  Helen was way too permissive, and although Noah wanted to be more of a disciplinarian, he was too gutless to see it through.  Noah was undermined by Helen and the in-laws, and again he was too gutless.  Helen knew Whitney was running around with a "fast" girl.  Noah saw this girl drinking alcohol, and half-heartedly reprimanded her.  Whitney bullied a girl, and Noah punished her - against her mother's wishes.  Whitney is able to sneak around and carry on an affair, get pregnant, and actually schedule an abortion right under her parents' noses.  Helen only figured it out because she was worried Whitney had an eating disorder.  Whitney was absolutely full of herself, and that scene with her sitting with Cherry, nose in the air, above it all as she makes the mess even messier - can't stand the kid.  Certainly her grandmother's granddaughter.

 

Alison's own doctor told her Gabriel's death was an accident.  And she's certainly no more responsible than Cole, who let him drown in the first place.  Alison was good to Martin even after he deliberately set a horse free.  Alison is completely self-destructive, but she was very good to, and responsible for, her grandmother.

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And she's certainly no more responsible than Cole, who let him drown in the first place.

 

 

How did Cole let Gabriel drown? If Alison can be forgiven for the situation as an accident after not taking the child to the hospital, especially being a nurse, how did Cole let him drown?

 

Alison was good to Martin even after he deliberately set a horse free.

 

 

I thought that was Cole. I never got the impression Martin had much interaction with Alison while working on the farm. It definitely seemed like he was spending his time with Cole which is why Cole was the one who told Noah in Noah's version of things, that there was clearly something going on with Martin. To which Noah, nice guy that he is, told Cole he'd seek his advice when he had a teenage son. Said this to the guy whose wife he was screwing behind the guy's back and who he knew had recently lost his young son. 

 

They've also made it clear that Helen was the beautiful girl everyone wanted - and she knew it.  She seems to have loved keeping Max drooling after her all these years (yikes, that kiss of greeting in front of the kids last season), and probably dangled him for awhile before deciding on Noah.  She chose a man she felt beneath her, who was too boring and too grateful to ever stray.  She's always undermined him in front of the children, never really backed him up with her parents, and she sort of treated him like a faithful little dog.

 

 

Much of this image of Helen though came via Noah's version of things. And she seemed to get worse in his version, the deeper he got into his affair with Alison. And this is the same man who in his version, Alison was pretty much a scarlett temptress practically panting and ready to jump his bones every single second she was around him.

 

Noah's memory of the first time he met Alison had her in a too short waitress outfit and later her smoking and practically flinging her ass in his face on the beach and later undressing before him and inviting him to join her in a shower. If their timelines of their first meeting matches, the first day these people met was the first anniversary of Alison's son's death. Anyone actually believe that's how she acted that day towards Noah? But that's how he remembers her. 

 

So I'm wary to judge Helen too harshly based on the memory of clearly selfish and arrogant man (he's this way in his own version of things), looking to justify his affair. Of course his wife was a snob who emasculated him and never made him feel like he was worthy of her. Poor, poor mistreated Noah. But as I've said, this is what gets me about Noah because even in his own versions of the situation he was awful. Helen emasculated him, well he was dismissive and condescending to her. Such as when he essentially inferred that she was so boring to him because he'd heard all the things she was saying to him before. And you actually see Helen shrinking and feeling smaller and insignificant in that moment. 

Edited by truthaboutluv
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I thought that was Cole.

 

That was Cole.  Cole was actually pretty darned kind to Martin, all things considered.  He was angry, but he was an appropriate level of angry and then switched to simply trying to be decent to the kid -- who had done something so puzzling that endangered, among other things, the horse also.  

 

 

 

How did Cole let Gabriel drown? If Alison can be forgiven for the situation as an accident after not taking the child to the hospital, especially being a nurse, how did Cole let him drown?

 

He didn't.  The story was careful to make sure that both parents were both blameless and a bit guilty at the same time.  The reality is with kids accidents freaking happen.  That's just the real deal of parenting and there are situations where it can end tragically, but neither were being negligent, they just couldn't be as hyper-vigilant as they needed to be to save the kid, not because of issues of blame, but because something bad shit happens, even when you love your kids very, very much. 

 

In a friend-of-friend capacity I know someone who -- worst nightmare ever -- backed over his three-year-old daughter in the days before backup cameras.  To make it a truly hideous situation, he was and is an ear-nose-and-throat specialist.  So the poor guy was a doctor and had to immediately swing into Physician mode trying to perform cpr and all life-saving measure he could as he waited for the ambulance and his wife stood there praying and crying.  I mean, what a freaking nightmare all around.   That couple stayed together, had another child together and are -- as far as I know -- still together.  In the great blame game of why that happened instead of "Why didn't you look more closely?!? Why?"  or "Why weren't you watching her if you KNEW I was pulling out??"  they both managed to find the "because you can try to be, but you will never be able to be perfect and prevent everything....and sometimes that has tragic consequences." 

 

The one thing I liked about this story with Gabriel is that no one was ultimately to blame other than rotten luck and the kind of mistakes we all make.  Just most of those mistakes don't end up costing a life.  Kids are reckless.  Parents aren't prescient or omniscient.  

 

As for what Cherry had to say, pretty much no matter whose POV, Cherry had a manipulative agenda, pretty much all the time.   I don't take her word as gospel on anything, because anyone who involves their children in a drug selling business to keep her own home loses all right to start judging anybody else as a fit or decent parent, or person.  You don't ask your kids to risk jail for you.  It's sort of a universal truth among parents. 

 

By the way, on how apparently it's being deemed as ridiculous that Max could be that into Helen....sure he could.  She looks good for starters and please, let's not get into the whole "but clearly younger is hotter" thing here, because that's reductive.  Sure, he was bragging about having sex with a 23 year old, but that doesn't mean he had much to talk to her about.  

 

But they added in the character detail that explains it with Max, outside of any perceived appeal about Helen .  This aside from Maura Tierney being in smoking hot levels of shape for someone her age, who is also a cancer survivor...hell, she's in great shape for someone a lot younger than she is, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I've never personally found her beautiful.  I can totally see how she would be viewed as desirable though.  However, they structured in a detail for Max's character that makes it believable:  He was all psyched up over acquiring that hotel.  Fought for months to make the deal.  Woo hoo, time to party!  The guy doesn't take losing out on what he wants well and celebrates when he perceives a victory. 

 

He wanted Helen years ago, he lost out to Noah.  That would rankle a man like Max.  He's someone who sees value in acquiring what he wants and probably who he wants, so he sees it as a personal victory.  Not likely to last, and god knows that's for the best for both of them ,because Helen did not look like she was into it, but they made it believable that Max would think of her as a prize to win.  He'd already lost once and that's via Noah's POV, so there's that to consider.  We know there's some truth to the whole "he wanted her all those years ago" and seemingly kept making it known in the years after.  

 

He's kind of icky to me because of that, but yeah, I think his level of being into isn't about Helen as Helen, but Helen as the much sought after acquisition. 

Edited by stillshimpy
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Kathleen Chalfant does an excellent job portraying Helen's mother, Margaret Butler.

 

Boy, does she ever. I've never loathed a character so much in my life.

 

Will have to look her up on the imdb to see what other characters she's played. I bet they're nothing like Margaret.

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Will have to look her up on the imdb to see what other characters she's played. I bet they're nothing like Margaret. (re: Kathleen Chalfant)

 

Milburn, Kathleen Chalfant is best known for her stage work; she made her name originating the role of the lead, Vivian Bearing, in Margaret Edson's play Wit  when it opened off-Broadway in 1998. The role was later played by Emma Thompson on HBO and by Cynthia Nixon in a recent Broadway production, but Chalfant owns it.  Prior to that, she was also nominated for a Tony for her role(s) in the original Broadway production of Angels in America.

 

And you're right -- she has as much breadth in her range as she does without, in her physique.  In person?  I met her at a work event and she was like her gaze: incisive and gracious, both. 

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I've been watching this over the past few days, after seeing the first five episodes a few months ago.

I hate Noah. I was happy to see Helen's side of things, finally. The differing views are interesting.

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