First, the news if you haven’t heard.
There is an end in sight for The Affair. Showtime has announced that a fifth and final season of the show will air sometime in 2019.
So we have that seismic news to deal with. Apparently, it was always seen a five-season thing. Now the question is, how do you end it, who ends up with whom, and will everyone “sink back into the ocean” when all is said and done?
First, we have three episodes of this season to go, with the fourth season finale set to air on Aug. 19.
Who’d like to go shopping with Helen? Who’d like to go on a bonkers New Age retreat at Joshua Tree with Helen?
Me, me, me.
In Sunday night’s The Affair, thanks to the consistently immaculate acting of Maura Tierney, we rooted for Helen all the way—even when, first of all in a supermarket, all she wanted was directions to the Medjool dates. But the annoying horny-hippie assistant was helping the annoying, hot, younger woman with his recipe for “overnight oats.”
Californians, through Helen’s eyes, are even more vapidly beyond satire than on SNL.
Helen also wanted to know which aisle for the pregnancy tests. Poor Helen is still trying to get up the duff as hot Dr Vik, WHO MUST NOT DIE OF PANCREATIC CANCER, is dying of pancreatic cancer.
Dr. Vik, while he is dying of pancreatic cancer, BEFORE A MIRACLE OCCURS, was mean to Helen about why she should bother doing a pregnancy test; she’s about to enter menopause.
“Janet Jackson was older than me,” Helen notes drily to her understandably angry husband.
Sierra, the actress from next door who can’t put her bins out correctly and who fucked Dr. Vik—Helen doesn’t know; he liked her young, fertile flesh, we assume—says Helen should join her at the Joshua Tree retreat.
Helen’s from the East Coast and rolls her eyes almost back as far as Maryland. But she still agrees to go to the women’s moon circle. Sierra comes close to telling her she slept with Dr. Vik, but she doesn’t and she also feigns not knowing about Dr. Vik’s cancer, but Helen doesn’t talk about it either, so everything goes unsaid as they head to Hippydippyville.
On arrival, there’s a “blessing of the eagle feather,” and Gael the guru picks up on Helen’s toxic cynicism. And there is flirtation between Gael and Sierra, although Sierra doesn’t do labels.
“Of course you don’t,” says Helen; another cross-country eyeroll.
Helen soon wins the New Age circle over with her down-to-earth, been-there-done-that-T-shirt-bought-worn-and-ripped-up attitude. She deals with all the women’s fears (written down and placed in a bowl, as all fears should be, OK?) pragmatically and kindly, and Gael is so impressed she makes her the guru for rest of the evening. Yes, Helen is our guru too.
What does motherhood mean to one’s life? one of the women asks. Helen replies that it expands your life, not contracts it.
Later, she tells Sierra that she doesn’t want more children; that part of her life is over. She doesn’t realize that Dr. Vik has already had sex with Sierra, a woman very much of child-bearing age.
Sierra has already told Helen that she can’t help sleeping with married men because she likes how secure they seem. Helen tells her she doesn’t realize how much damage she’s doing—and Helen should know. If and when Helen finds out, I hope she lets out her inner profane guru.
It turns out though that Sierra isn’t just into Vik, because next—back at their fashionable shared yurt—she is telling Helen how much she enjoys the equality of sex with another woman. She feels she has a lot more control when shagging a woman.
And so, in the fancy yurt, with wine consumed, and flickering shadows, Sierra and Helen make love. It’s a very polite and conservative love scene, but same-sex anything is such a rarity on the show (we have the mystery of whether teen Trevor is gay too), we’ll say a faint “gee, thank you.”
So Sierra has had sex with husband and wife. After their PG frottage, Helen again warns Sierra off married men, and all the damage having an affair can do.
Then it’s off to some party, which has an isolation tank. Read: plot device this viewer did not understand in the slightest.
I mean, I guess I would leave a hippie retreat for some nearby house with a pool for Cheetos, and a really great ranch dressing, but I wouldn’t get that excited about floating and being trapped anywhere.
Before she is led to the Tank of Meaning, my favorite Helen moment occurs. A cute young guy comes over, and even as he parks his pert ass next to her is dismissed with a bored “No” from Helen.
This is The Affair, where the ambiguous powers of water and the ocean are one of the guiding metaphors of the show. Helen freaks out in the tank and upon release realizes… no, not that she is a lesbian, nor a new devotee of moon circles, not any of that. She runs home to Vik, tells him she doesn’t want him to die, and he tells her he doesn’t want to die.
Hadn’t we already established this? No one wants Vik to die.
Anywhere, no mention of the desired/not desired baby, which seems a bigger deal between them.
“Please don’t die,” Helen says. Vik promises her—AND US, US AT HOME—that he will not.
He better be telling the truth.
Then they make love passionately; not bad considering that Helen’s already done it in a yurt with the same woman just hours before that Vik had sex with last week.
In part two of this week’s episode, we were with Noah, trying to help Trevor learn to drive (“This sucks!”), and also trying to help him come out. “Your friend Brooklyn,” Noah says gingerly, before Trevor shouts at him to be taken back to Helen and Vik’s immediately.
Pissed off, Noah starts laying into Helen about not being allowed to be a proper dad to the kids. Helen, in her masterfully calm deadpan, informs him Vik has cancer. The kids know. Noah agrees to let them have space.
So which family unit can he go and interfere with next if his own is off limits?
Ah, Janelle and Anton’s: excellent idea.
The saga of Anton, the gifted plagiarist, attending or not attending Princeton continues, with Anton deciding to join the Marines.
Naturally, Janelle sees this as a terrible idea, but Anton doesn’t want to make his dad, Carl, who dropped out of university, feel bad. Anton recites how tiresome a woke childhood was with Malcolm X napkins at his 9th birthday party.
There is another confrontation with Carl, who cannot understand why Noah keeps being in his family space. Anton tells his dad that he would like to go see Princeton. Just because Carl didn’t make it there doesn’t mean he won’t. It’s a charged and painful moment, and it’s beautifully played and directed.
The conflicts of the day makes Noah go home to look at his own old scrapbooks, and then to leave errant daughter Whitney a message. He misses her, and we miss her too. Julia Goldani Telles’ name is still in the opening credits, so we have hope.
Janelle comes over, and she and Noah have really fantastic sex, and quite graphically shot good sex—the kind of hot sex that people of the same sex on TV should have too, if producers weren’t so chickenshit when it came to showing it—just as The Affair had been about 30 minutes before withHelen and Sierra.
Noah goes east with Anton. Flight delays stymie their progress to Princeton, and in Chicago Noah gets lots of messages from Cole and the news that Alison is missing.
She obviously left Los Angeles, where we and Noah last saw her highly traumatized, and is somewhere out there, not OK. All those openings of previous episodes with Noah, Anton, and Cole looking for her make sense: This is how the men got together.
Cole arrives to pick Noah and Anton up; the two men—Noah who broke up Cole and Alison’s marriage; both whose lives are now so changed—look at each other as wary, old survivors. They shake hands. Would they, do you think? Could they? But they are older, and so are we. OK, guys, you've earned your bromance.
“I’m sure she’s fine,” Noah says of Alison.
Then Cole has the final and best line of the episode: “Makes one of us.”