Just when you think Noah Solloway can’t get any more despicable, there he goes and acts like a major douche once again.
The penultimate episode of this season of The Affair follows Noah, Alison, Helen and Cole during a nasty storm, but that’s the least of our characters’ problems.
Helen finally gives in and follows her teenage daughter’s advice to give internet dating a shot, but she gets stood up. The waitress correctly (but rather rudely) points out that she’d better better off trying match.com instead of tinder, and the guy sitting alone at the bar, who picks this embarrassing little exchange to interject, is none other than Dr. Ullah, who operated on Martin a few weeks back.
I can’t decide if what made this conversation so awkward was the obvious sexual tension between the two (even the waitress approved!) or if it’s simply bad etiquette for a doctor to profess his preference for scotch and quickly provide his home address when a patient’s mother offers to send him a thank you gift. Either way, knowing the reason why Helen was there in the first place, he just flat-out suggests a romp in the sack, and Helen happily obliges. What’s a date anyway, if not an audition for sex?
Hot sex aside, the doc is a bit of a jerk – well, a pretty big jerk if you ask me. He makes horrible comments about a patient’s ‘needy’ mother (but then he is perfectly nice to Martin); he drinks pretty heavily before his shift at the hospital; he’d rather go outside and face the storm than stay at Helen’s in the company of three children (why is he a pediatric surgeon again?). When asked if he’s a nice guy that acts like a dick or a dick that asks like a nice guy, his cynical reply is that it’s up for interpretation: if the good he does outweighs the bad stuff, then he’s a nice guy. If not, then dick it is.
If dr. Ullah’s dickness is up for debate, it’s pretty cut-and-dried when it comes to Noah.
Not only is his novel wildly successful, now it might even be turned into a movie. He and Enid go to a ‘storm party’ hosted by a Hollywood producer, and it’s as debauched as we imagine such parties would be: lots of booze, lots of nudity, lots of sex, and plenty of obnoxious people, including his friend Max. Helen had been a good influence on Max and he’d been acting like a much nicer guy earlier this season, but now he’s back to his douchey self.
Although momentarily annoyed by his friend, especially when Max brings up the 50 K he loaned him for the apartment, Noah just shoos him away and continues to have a merry time. Not once does he bring up his pregnant wife or even checks his cell phone for messages: it’s party time for the man of the hour, complete with shots, lines of coke and half-naked women dancing around. When it’s announced that the roads are blocked and everyone will have to spend the night, Noah doesn’t even flinch – nor does he think of checking in with Alison.
After a drunken grind on the dance floor with Enid, she decides to throw her ‘no mixing business and pleasure’ rule out the window and hook up with her client; no complaints from Noah there. In his coked-up stupor, he wanders over to the pool, where everyone is happily naked, so he just strips and dives in himself. As he looks around, a girl-on-girl make out session grabs his attention, and he walks over to them like the creep he is, making himself perfectly at home right next to the girls to watch the action (and possibly get in there if he’s lucky?).
I fully expected one of them to turn around and tell him to f*ck off, but I didn’t see this next bit coming: the annoyed girl is none other than his daughter, Whitney. Whoa. She angrily (and disgustedly, I guess) yells at him to leave, and he scuttles away. I can’t tell who’s more embarrassed by this surprise encounter, but at least it sobers Noah up enough to finally check his phone and realize Alison is at the hospital and going into labor. He stupidly ventures out into the storm and his car gets stuck in the mud when he tries to circumvent a roadblock.
Poor Alison. Not only has Noah been largely ignoring her since his overnight success, now she has to have the baby all by herself: the roads are closed, Noah is off somewhere throwing a tantrum, and she decides that nope, I don’t care how dilated I am, this baby stays in.
(Is it me, or is every kid in this episode acting like a grown up while the adults act like babies?)
Despite Alison’s refusal to have the baby before Noah gets there – and, oddly, no one tells her that the roads are closed so that’s not even an option at this point – the doctor’s not having it. Alison pushes, albeit half-heartedly, stopping long enough to tell the doctor she doesn’t want the baby, and in the end gives birth to a beautiful little girl.
Okay, really? I’m so annoyed by Alison I could slap her upside the head if she wasn’t in enough physical pain already. She’s been unhappy with Noah since before the pregnancy; the minute they left their own little bubble at the cabin by the Hudson and actually had to contend with the real world, things turned south for those two. She’s been carrying her ex husband’s baby all this time, mostly ignored by Noah, clearly not content with her situation. Now she actually admits she doesn’t even want the baby, although it’s left up to us to decide if the statement is caused by Noah’s absence, her own remorse about the deceit, or just simply the pain getting too much to handle.
So why the hell does she stay with him? Better yet, why didn’t she leave earlier? I’ve ranted before about how she’s incapable of being on her own and would rather stay in an unhappy situation than try and take hold of her life, but being forced to have your baby without your partner by your side should have been the last drop(the shot of her hand holding on to the bed rails instead of squeezing Noah’s own really drove that point home, much more effectively than her screaming and crying). Yet, in the flash forwards, she’s still with him. She’s not just lonely and co-dependent, she also seems to be unwilling to change that. I don’t even pity her at this point, I’m just mad at her for not growing a pair.
Alison’s screams, meanwhile, provide an interesting soundtrack for Cole’s own personal hell. He spends his last night at his recently sold house with Luisa, but he’s unable to follow the conversation. He spaces out as she babbles on, plagued by his memories of the house, Alison, their life together, and most importantly, Gabriel. Later, he and Luisa have condomless sex but she then confesses he has nothing to worry about because she’s infertile. Cole tunes out again, not even listening to her painful story, and somehow makes this all about him (taking a page from Noah’s book?) and the supposed ‘curse’ his mom was talking about on the Thanksgiving episode about no more Lockhart children. Um, okay.
Then it gets even crazier: Luisa is annoyed and decides to walk home, and Cole gets stupid drunk on his grandpa’s moonshine; he breaks a few jars all over the house and sets it ablaze. As we keep switching back and forth between Cole and Alison, he sees the ghost of Gabriel through the window.
Uhh. Well, this escalated quickly. And it’s a bit out of character, isn’t it? Cole has always been self-destructive, but arson? Hallucinations? This is Leftovers-crazy territory, and it doesn’t really work for me.
And then we see Alison cradling her newborn baby, when the doctor announces that Noah is finally there. Should he come in? Not yet, says Alison. She’s in no hurry to see him – he did leave her hanging on the most important night of her life, after all; whatever misgivings she was having about motherhood are gone the minute she holds Joanie in her arms.
Aside from being slightly annoyed by almost everyone acting like an idiot in this episode, I’m getting a bit bored with The Affair. It’s been two seasons and we still don’t know who the hell killed Scotty, the flash-forwards are moving painfully slowly, and the actual timeline either lingers on one moment too long or quickly speeds up and offers little to no explanation about how we got from point A to point B.
Even worse, the show seems to employ the switch in perspective format (that made it stand out to begin with) only occasionally, or at least much more loosely. We’ve gone from wondering whose version of the truth is portrayed more accurately through their memories to simply trying to figure out who is acting more like a spoiled brat and who wins the prize of most tortured character. This past episode might as well have been a Lifetime movie.
Hopefully next week’s season finale will get the show back on track and maybe even present some kind of resolution.