There’s nothing like a good Thanksgiving celebration to make you appreciate your family – or send you spinning into depression with the realization that you don’t really belong in one, as the case may be.
This week’s episode has jumped several weeks ahead: from Alison’s announcement of her pregnancy last week to a very sizable belly and a new swanky apartment. But of course, once again, nothing is as it seems.
Over the last few weeks we’ve seen Noah blow up his entire life to build a new one with Alison: he plows on with the divorce, he jeopardizes his relationship with his kids and he throws himself into his writing, to produce what is apparently a must-read bestseller that propels him into author celebrity. He’s doing pretty well for himself: new home, a loving fiance, a baby on the way. His chance for a do-over.
Alison, on the other hand, leaves behind a life that was in shambles anyway and plunges into the life of privilege any small-town girl would wish for herself: a new husband-to-be, a posh apartment, rubbing elbows with the elite, a second chance at motherhood.
Yet she seems as unhappy and lonely as she’s ever been. At the cocktail party, she’s more content to sit in the kitchen with the staff than chit-chat with his new acquaintances. It seems like this entire episode was meant to drive that point home. Noah might have been the one taking the bigger risk with this relationship, but his risk paid off. He even has an awful new publicist to rival his own character in terms of obnoxiousness. Alison’s place is his life is little more than a muse, his key to success. She allowed him to become her life, and disillusionment was soon to follow. She doesn’t even seem surprised any more: whatever spunk she displayed at the Yoga retreat before settling into her new life appears to have been replaced by a sense of surrender. She not only accepts the status quo, she even further cements it by letting go of the one thing that bound her to her roots – and her past life with Cole – much to Athena’s chagrin.
Speaking of Athena, when did she turn from crackpot mom to wise friend and confidant? She asks all the right questions, reveals that she was the one responsible for Alison’s inheritance, yet all her advice seems to fall on deaf ears. Alison has made her decisions and will stick to them, even if she realizes she’s making a mistake. Anything to defend her choices, however wrong they may be. She’s determined to make this work, much like she’s determined that this Thanksgiving dinner be a success: she even whips out her grandma’s 1927 cookbook to prepare the feast from. Her grandmother clearly meant a lot to her, but not enough to make Alison keep the house. Is she that devoted to Noah, or is she just trying to sever all ties with her past?
Throughout the entire first half of the story, I kept wondering why these two are together. They don’t appear to actually love each other. Noah clearly puts his career ahead of Alison, to the point where she’s about to pop and he still uses the nursery as his home office. Alison is clearly not happy; she resents his book and what it says about his perception of her, she doesn’t feel comfortable around his friends, she has none of her own, and she has a baby on the way that isn’t Noah’s. She could have had an out, like Athena points out, but she’s given that up as well.
Much like Alison is trapped inside her new future, Cole can’t seem to be able to let go of his past. He struggles with it throughout the second half; he’s trying to push Luisa away, because he’s afraid of letting any one new get closer. He’s scared because he has feelings for her, and look how well this turned out last time. He sums it up perfectly in his line to Whitney:
Just because you love somebody does not mean they have to love you back.
He’s still haunted by Alison, as much as he is haunted by his own family; the family he’s eager to defend against the preposterous lies in Noah’s book, only to find out that they were true. Everything he thought he knew about his grandfather was a lie, his father killed himself on Cole’s 10th birthday, his brother is desperate to get his hands on Cole’s cut of the house sale, and his mother had been covering up this sordid past all along. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
Instead of spiraling into the darkness, however, he chooses to try and leave the past behind him. Taking Whitney home is the perfect excuse for him to go into the city and spend the holiday with Luisa. His apology is even more gut-wrenching than his reaction to his family secrets. Taking his cue from his own words to Whitney, it seems like he’s finally ready to accept that Alison has moved on and do the same thing.
If only things were that simple: Oscar reveals to the lawyer what we suspected since last week: Alison’s baby is Cole’s. Looks like we’re in for more complications and even more drama in the coming weeks.