The Affair, “Episode 6” (1.6) – TV Review


helen and max

The Affair, Season 1, Episode 6, “6”

Sunday, November 16, 2014, 10 PM (EST), Showtime

The one constant about The Affair from episode to episode is the ambition of the storytelling. Now that Detective Jeffries ended his interrogations of Noah and Alison, the episode focused exclusively on the past. Even in an episode as comparatively flat as this one, it is still bristling with tension. The reason why this episode wasn’t as dynamic as any of the previous five was because it focused heavily on Oscar, my least favorite character who never seemed to fit into the show. I believe this is by design. He may become a convenient scapegoat for Scotty’s murder. Both Noah and Alison have reasons to hate him, as his perception is sharper than seemingly any of the other characters who are more bright and fun to be around. This sixth installment is very plot heavy, with very little time to stop and take account of all of the new emotional developments.

Now that Detective Jeffries is out of the picture, I’ve stopped thinking of each part as a retelling, and more like an actual memory. Maybe they weren’t going into explicit detail for Detective Jeffries, instead, they were each experiencing these memories and they told Jeffries whatever they needed. Therefore, this week starting out with Noah’s memory again, I get the sense that the differences in their memories will begin to diverge even more now that Noah is having doubts about the affair. The episode begins by immediately rebutting Noah’s last lie to Detective Jeffries about having never been to a bar called “The End,” where he is attending a wild party with his best friend Max. Max, played by Josh Stamberg, instantly fits into the show like he was always there. His first act is to buy some coke from a guy driving a Taxi cab, who happens to be Caleb Lockhart. Noah doesn’t know this yet. Max is going through a separation from his wife Val and is very down because of it. They try their best to drink away his sorrows. Alison joins them and pretends not to know Noah. This leads Max to drunkenly hit on her, and she flirts back. After Noah sends him home in a cab, he dances with Alison and they end up back at Phoebe’s house.

Noah brings up the fact that he’s leaving in a week, and demonstrates that he’s been thinking about how they can continue to see each other after the summer. She doesn’t commit, but doesn’t turn him down, either. She leaves very early in the morning, and as he watches from the balcony, he notices that she doesn’t go back toward town but instead heads to the fishing boats. He follows her like some sort of brazen stalker. He watches her pick up the cooler we’ve seen in a previous episode and take it to the taxi depot. Then he almost runs into the same taxi driver (Caleb) he was sitting in earlier when Max bought the coke and he makes the connection – Alison is a coke dealer. Back at the Butlers’ house, he finds Helen still asleep. A little while later, they discover Martin was at the Lockhart ranch starting work early. He’s only 14, so it was scary to wake up and not find him in bed. Noah asks his oldest daughter Whitney if she knows where to get coke (as research for his novel), but she isn’t helpful. In one of the most heartbreaking scenes between Helen and Noah so far, Helen asks Noah why he isn’t interested in sex with her anymore. He had been deluding himself that his affair with Alison hadn’t seeped into his actual life, but Helen feels the distance between them. He tries to reassure her, and she makes plans for them to have sex that night while her parents watch the kids.

Then the Soloway clan and Max head over to The Lobster Roll for lunch. Max kisses Helen full on the lips which I found strange, but no one else seemed to care. Now Helen gets to hear about Max’s despair over Val first hand. In another strange scene, Alison follows Noah to the bathroom and makes out with him. Instead of following his family to mini golf, Noah stays behind to have a drink with Oscar. When Scotty comes in to confront Oscar over money he owes him, he takes the money from the register and leaves. Oscar reacts by calling the police to report suspicious activity at the taxi stand right there in front of Noah. He also gives a brief rundown of the Lockharts’ history with illegal activities, dating all the way back to prohibition when their Great grandfather was a bootlegger. He even suggests to Noah that he put it all in his book, which is extremely reminiscent of what Noah told Detective Jeffries. He rushes over to the Lockhart ranch to warn Alison, but also to let her know that he feels betrayed by her drug dealing. He rushes home and immediately attacks Helen, passionately making love to her. They have finally reconnected, and I can’t decide if it’s because Noah truly misses Helen or if he is reacting this way because Alison hurt him.

Alison’s memory picks up from Phoebe’s house, completely skipping over the scene at “The End.” The main detail changed is that she remembers Noah peeing in front of her for the first time. She seems afraid when she realizes she has to go pick up the drugs, but completely oblivious to the fact that Noah is following her. We see that the drugs are stored behind a secret wall in the taxi dispatch office. She tells Caleb that Will wasn’t there that morning, which they both find strange. Later, at the ranch, Cole shows off his new mare Elizabeth Taylor (he wins major points with me for that). It appears that Martin slept there overnight, and instead of being mad, Cole goes into sweet nurturing mode. I couldn’t quite read Alison’s face for once. She was either depressed because the affection reminded her of Cole and Gabriel, or she was admiring this part of him. At breakfast, Martin appears nervous. He quips that his dad is lame because he’s a teacher, but it turns out Cherry used to be a teacher and Alison almost takes offense at the remark. It seems that Martin is trying to say he enjoys the Lockharts more than his own home. When Helen calls looking for Martin, Alison judges her as a mother. She implies that because Helen is rich, she doesn’t look after Martin the way she should. Cherry and Mary Kate try to defend Helen, and it seems to be so out of character for Alison that they both grow suspicious and/or concerned.

Another big change from Noah’s memory of the events of that day is that instead of him confronting her at the ranch, he meets her at Phoebe’s house. She can immediately tell something is wrong with him just by the way he was standing and looking at her. It was almost a frightening moment, like he was so angry he could snap. She admits to dealing coke without much hesitation while she smokes a cigarette. Noah does his best to make it clear how dangerous it is to sell drugs (duh) but she explains that the Lockharts are in debt (later we find out it’s $100k!) and drug dealing is the only way they can sustain themselves. Noah points out (just like many of the Lockhart brothers) that selling the ranch would solve that problem. Alison says they can’t, but from the look on her face, she wants to believe Noah. Without Cole there to inject his illogical but fiery passion for the ranch into the conversation, she wavers in her commitment.

Back at the taxi dispatch, everyone is cleaning the room for traces of cocaine and plan to bury the drugs at the ranch. They all leave but Alison and Caleb, expecting the police to show up. Oscar comes by instead looking for drugs as usual. Caleb tries to jump him and Alison gets caught in the middle. Oscar reveals that he knows Alison and Noah are sleeping together and tries to kiss her, saying she could’ve fucked him instead. It’s a really gross moment. She kicks both Caleb and Oscar out. Alison has never looked so shaken up. She meets Cole back at home and tries to convince him to sell the ranch, indicating the events of the day have swayed her. She uses Noah’s language, saying they could move on and start new lives. As we know, Cole is uninterested in moving on. This has always been his position and nothing will move him. Alison offers to drive Martin home. Outside the Butler house, she takes a huge risk by telling Noah that she wants to start over with him. He lets her down, saying they should just end the affair right then since he is leaving in a week. Alison looks devastated, but unsurprised.

I still find myself very invested in this story, but the heavy plot emphasis weighed down some of the pivotal emotional moments such as Noah having sex with Helen again or Alison revealing that she wants to leave Cole for Noah. I also thought that the whole drug dealing conspiracy was much more straightforward than I had hoped for. I guess the fact that they are in a small town magnifies the crime a bit, but I find it pretty unimpressive. I hate Oscar more now than ever. My favorite part of the episode was meeting Max. He’s a great addition to the cast and I hope to see more of him in the future. I also thought Maura Tierney had her best moment of the show thus far with her tearful plea to Noah to come back to her. The acting is what pulled me through the dense plot this week. Next week, it appears Noah and Alison’s lack of discretion will finally bite them in the ass as everyone finds out about their affair.

[The Roundup]

  • “Sometimes I worry you’re just a really great dream.”
  • “Max is a disaster.”
  • “Daughter, If you wanted to get cocaine around here, where would you go?”
  • “I trusted you. I put my entire life in your hands.”
  • “I missed you.”
  • “I’ve been married long enough to know not to compare your wife to a horse, but she reminds me of you. She’s majestic, stubborn, and likes apples.”
  • “I don’t fucking care what happens to me. I don’t care if I live or die, or go to jail or space.”
  • “There is no moving on.”
8.4 Great

This sixth installment is very plot heavy, with very little time to stop and take account of all of the new emotional developments.

  • Great 8.4

About Author

TV Editor - Simone is obsessed with stories and fits a scary amount of them into her routine with the help of recklessness, willpower, and caffeine. Her favorite character of all time is Malcom Tucker from In the Loop and The Thick of It for his virtuosic command of foul language. She's a feminist and a fierce advocate for meaningful diversity in film and TV. You can find her on twitter @symonymm.