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The Affair - 5.08 - Review

After spending more time with Joanie in the latest episodes, this week's iteration is back to a more familiar Helen/Noah duality. And while ideally I would've rather had Cole and Alison as the "end-game" couple that gets back together after many trials and drama, that's obviously not going to happen now so I will take what I can get.

I mean, of course, the way Noah and Helen have leaned back towards each other during this entire season. Even while she's with Sasha (methinks not for long though), and of course he's been trying to get her back for some time now, similarly, even when he was with Janelle. It's quite sweet actually, especially since so far Helen hadn't really shown that side of herself. But when she zooms in on Noah's proud face in Whitney's bridal selfie, you can absolutely tell she's feeling quite a few (probably conflicting) emotions. In fact, she's having one hell of a day, honestly. It's her birthday, for one, and she hates celebrating it (which I completely get) but people keep reminding her of it (albeit nicely) and offering increasingly fancy ways to celebrate it.

The birthday starts by Helen interviewing for a designer job with two less than agreeable millenials who think her instagram follower number is more important than what she can actually do. They also doubt the credentials she puts forwards, namely that she worked for Carolina. The condescension is rampant, but thankfully they're quickly shut down -otherwise Helen might have ended up slapping one of them, which I was fully on board with- when the boss, Amy, comes in and confirms what Helen's been saying. And she gets the job! Now, I hadn't realized she was really looking for a job so the rejoincing feels a little unearned, but it's well deserved and quite frankly, reassuring that she now has a means to provide for her kids and herself, independently from Noah or Sasha. Someone who is not thriving, however, is Sierra. Overwhelmed by motherhood (or more accurately, as Helen explains it, suffering from post-partum depression and in dire need of some neighbourly help), she's a mess and following the car accident with Eddie in said-car, family services have assigned her a social worker. Helen finds this out in one fell swoop with the social worker starts asking her questions about Sierra. You have to admit, helping the woman who slept with your dying partner and got pregnant is quite a feat of "rising above" and Helen does it without thinking about it. She truly is a fantastic mother and person, and she takes Sierra and Eddie in without thinking about it for another second.

Which is when Sasha makes a surprise appearance and apparently expects Helen to be blown off her feet. Now, while I've been saying Sasha is a complete douche practically since he unfortunately appeared on my screen, Helen has only just started realizing that he may not quite be the catch she initially thought he was. After yelling at her for not accepting his invitation to fly to San Francisco for a romantic dinner, and half-heartedly joining her and the kids for a much quieter evening, he criticizes Stacey's dish, begins a tirade about how he could never sacrifice his sleep and then agrees with Adeline (Sierra's mother making an unwanted reappearance) that Sierra should be institutionalized. Yeah, that's quite a lot for a guy whose own estranged daughter can't even get him to give her her own money. Unsurprisingly, Helen is not impressed and while she doesn't say it, you can quite clearly hear her think "And don't let the door hit you on your way out" when he finally jets off. Now if she could just kick him out of her life, as well as her house!

Finally, after she gets rid of Adeline (no wonder Sierra is so messed up. That woman is a TRIP. Also, does Jennifer JasonLlee only ever play terrible mothers?!) Noah shows up with a smile and the birthday lasagna; which is clearly the only thing Helen wanted for her birthday anyway. Noah's eager demeanour is quite a contrast as to when his part of the episode starts and he's, to put it lightly, in some deep mess and digging deeper.
Not only is his Vanity Fair article probably going to set fire to his career and upcoming movie with all the allegations popping up, but a former student is writing a tell all about an abusive relationship with a former teacher (guess who that might be?). Instead of, you know, listening to his PR team and doing damage control, Noah pulls a Noah and tries to explain himself to almost all the injured parties. Shockingly (I know!), this does not turn out well at all and by the end of his segment, we're left wondering what, exactly, will be left of him when this is all over and done.

It feels particularly terrible too, since he's been doing so much better with his family and relationships. But I guess you can never really escape the past, especially when it's in the form of Eden (he shouldn't have touched that forbidden fruit, huh). One bright spot though, those scenes, while extremely uncomfortable (and since it was filmed, one can only imagine the impact on his public image), were shot at the Last Bookstore in LA. Which I happened to have visited for the first time a couple of weeks ago!

So, are you all excited that Helen is finally getting her due? How deep will Noah's downfall be, and will he ever climb out of the hole he's dug himself into?
Sidenote: when Helen turns off the radio, it's a segment about droughts and possible fires coming, which, if you've read the synopsis of future episodes... let's just say, The Affair might be pulling a Grey's Anatomy again weather-tragedy wise!


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