Sooo… it’s taken me a while to write this post and flesh it out. I watched The Affair Series 2 before Christmas. I wrote down what I thought about it in my little notebook and I haven’t revisited it until recently. I came across a teaser for series 3 and then I watched a couple of series 2 clips as a re-cap. But anyway, I find myself finally blogging my thoughts about this series.
If you press the ‘continue reading’ link there may be some spoilers. You’ve had the warning 😉
Series 2 is heavily centred on Noah, although its done in a fairly subtle way. We still get to see Alison’s view of events but we now have Cole and Helen’s to contend with as well. This series explores the effect that an affair has on a family, friends and the wreckage that has to be re-built afterwards. The affect on the kids is something that I felt was explored particularly well. Whitney is the typical rebellious teenage wild child and acts up continuously and has some amazing retorts to her parents arguments when being scolded for her behaviour. Martin, Helen and Noah’s oldest son, has something physically wrong with him and Helen and Noah blame each other for it. Is it just stress or something more serious? they constantly argue about it.
Helen is struggling to be a single parent, raise her kids and find herself in the mess. Alison is the step-mother who is easily manipulated because she doesn’t really have any say in parenting Noah’s kids. She desperately wants to be accepted as a part of Noah’s life. Noah is the father and ex-husband who is the bad guy in his kids eyes, he hurt their mum, he left them. Why should they listen to him? Even Helen’s mum gets involved in parenting; painting Noah as the bad guy and telling Helen what to do. I like how The Affair explores the aftermath and doesn’t hide how difficult it truly is for all parties involved. Bringing up kids is hard work especially when the family unit has changed dynamic. It is tremendously hard for mum and dad to be a united force.
I liked how I’d hate both Helen and Noah for different reasons. It was hard to empathise with any one character as they are all very well rounded and very real. I love how The Affair constantly challenges my opinions and sways me from one character to the next. It’s certainly a very grown up, well thought out technique with regard to the filming and editing. I imagine it was difficult for the actors as they had to play extreme versions of their characters depending on who’s perspective the scene was played from.
Helen rose in my estimations which I was glad of. Helen’s character was the one I admired the most, not because of her situation but all the emotions she went through, hitting her lowest point and then pulling herself together. She was suddenly emotionally complex and got her spark back which is in complete contrast to how simple and insular she seemed in the first series. But, I guess we are now seeing Helen from Helen’s point of view, not just Noah or Alison’s. Her character gained that fiesty, sassy female strength that I admire but it did take a while for it to kick into gear.
The best part for me, was that in finding herself again she and Noah re-connected. They were suddenly confiding in each other, gently laughing and smiling in the way that only old friends and loves know. I don’t think Helen really catches that Noah is falling for her again, if she does know she certainly doesn’t let on. I ended up really liking Helen, feeling sorry for her and really wanting her to pull herself together and carve a new life where she’s genuinely happy.
She was the most honest character out of everyone. Not afraid to admit her failures and quite clearly coming into her own. She helped Noah reconnect with his kids again, but not in a manipulative way. She was willing to put her and Noah’s differences aside and come up with a strategy on parenting their rebellious teenage daughter Whitney. She was also not afraid to tell Noah to sort his own problems out with regards to his kids. Again, she shows that sassy female strength. She doesn’t like Noah for cheating on her because lets be honest – cheating is a brutal betrayal of trust but she is willing to put the past in the past and focus on how they can still be a parental unit. Helen despite not wanting to, still loves Noah. She knew they needed some kind of equilibrium and understanding to move forward.
Alison isn’t someone I identified with in the series. I kind of liked her in the first but in this series she is insecure and it is obvious she is hiding something. She’s sort of living in a dream that she hasn’t woken up from yet. Noah is this lustful, strong willed man who wants her and she’s completely wrapped up in her little fantasy world. She doesn’t like it when reality kicks in, she is pregnant and living in his apartment in NYC whilst he is off doing his book tour. She doesn’t really have anything for herself anymore. If things ended badly with Noah, she’d have nothing except their baby.
This leads her to plan something of her own, which she leaves Noah out of. To be honest, I don’t blame her and I think she realises the gravity of what she’s done. Consequently, Cole falls in love with another woman but also really pulls himself together and becomes the man Alison fell in love with. I think she regrets her actions with Noah and realises that she was feeling very low indeed and Noah was an escape. Does she actually love Noah? I don’t know the answer to that but I don’t really think either of them have much chemistry other than lust. They don’t finish each others sentences or have any shared life experiences in common.
I think Alison is selfish and she doesn’t think before she acts. Why doesn’t she leave Cole alone and let him get on with his own life? She has to find a way to keep contact with him even if it means betraying Noah. She can’t let go of her old life in Montauk because she was once, happy there. She also starts to question her motives although Noah ‘blew up his life’ for Alison, she doesn’t really want the life that he wants.
Cole, Cole, Cole. I didn’t like him at all in the first series. He was a bit of a deadbeat and didn’t treat Alison in a nice way – I now see that this was Alison’s perspective and in fact, Cole didn’t treat her the way she portrayed. Both of them were lost souls but who wouldn’t be lost after losing a child? I feel sorry for him. He’s had his whole world completely torn apart and is desperately unhappy. I loved the moment when he realised what he’s doing to himself and he goes out and takes a chance on life and falls in love. It was great to see him happy and coming to terms with everything although he had to hit lower than low for this to happen.
I was astounded when Cole told his brother Scott that he was done with him. Scott seemed determined to cause havoc at Cole’s wedding and Cole just wasn’t having any of it. He took control over his own behaviour and stopped trying to control other’s. This theme constantly creeps into the plot in The Affair – you cannot control other people’s behaviour even if you want to, even if it is for their own good.
The plot centres heavily on and around Noah. He’s the main character but we now see outside influences on him. Helen’s perspective, Cole’s and even Alison’s. Noah paints himself as a hard done by but now he’s a published author he is suddenly big stuff and feeling confident. This affects his relationships with his kids, wife and even Alison. He constantly questions his own motives and he wants life how he wants it. To have his cake and eat it. He doesn’t really seem to care about Alison’s pregnancy and is angry when she converts his office into a nursery. Will he cheat on Alison? Can he be faithful to her?
He’s selfish, impulsive and doesn’t like taking responsibility. He expects his kids to respect him when he is a hypocrite and when they pull him up on his behaviour, he hates it. He is guilty. Noah is difficult to like. But do I blame him? He’s always wanted to be recognised as a writer and he’s finally getting something he’s always wanted. Everyone is entitled to a career yes?
In later episodes he softens, he becomes a bit more mellow and thoughtful. I love that scene with him and Helen on the beach drinking and laughing at themselves. He realises all the hurt and pain he’s put his family through and even admits he didn’t even want Alison’s baby. He comes to some kind of equilibrium with Helen because they have to. They still have kids together and they need Helen and Noah to still be a parental unit. Differences aside, kids come first.
I think deep down, he still loves Helen and he realises the extent of what his affair he has done.
Where does Noah’s loyalty really lie? Who does he love more? Will he go back to Helen? Who is responsible for the death of Scotty Lockhart?
The thing about The Affair is that it really hits hard on how other people affect your decisions and behaviour. Alison doesn’t really want to be with Noah as he doesn’t give her the freedom she wants. She isn’t a city girl. She isn’t a stay at home mom. She doesn’t like how Noah behaves towards her so she makes her own decisions without consulting him – but he didn’t consult her either to begin with. Its cause and effect over and over again.
The Affair has definitely broken a few rules when it comes to POV in TV Series. The actors are being pushed to play extreme versions of their characters. I like the aspect of this but this but I’m glad its not too much. Situations aren’t juxtaposed together, we might see the same court room in two episodes from a different perspective but never usually in one episode. It’s narratively balanced in that sense. I’m also glad its fairly non-linear. We’re still viewing the events leading up to Scotty’s death, whilst seeing the aftermath and leading up to the court case.
Who knows what series 3 will bring? The series ending certainly raised a few questions.
Will I watch series 3? yes.