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The Affair - Episode 5.07 - Review

As The Affair settles into its final stretch, the conclusions of its various storylines are getting a little clearer. Maybe the finale will throw us all off and reveal Alison has a long lost twin sister or something, but in general, we finally seem to know where the show is heading as it closes its run.

This episode begins from Noah's point of view, but it's almost as much Whitney's as they go back to Montauk to prepare for her wedding. And when I say prepare, it's more "set everything up with no budget" since money is sparse. Bruce having mistakenly spent all their revenue -how did Margaret not notice though? Surely thanks to his career as a reknowned author, he couldn't have dilapidated it completely in such short a time? Didn't she have access to a joint account or something? The mystery remains but the result is the same: they are skint-, the most Margaret can offer Whitney is the backyard and some crockery. Even with a wildly successful book and upcoming movie adaptation of which he's the screenwriter, Noah offers to cover the $20,000 tent but he balks at the $17,000 dress (at that price, surely the dress can do double-duty as a tent, if there's that much fabric?!), and Helen isn't contributing at all. The scene with Bruce is heartbreaking in its realism though, and when Margaret says she can't do it anymore, you can hear her (not so) silently appealing to Noah to help and get Helen back here too. And while Margaret and Bruce have always heartily hated Noah (the latter's memories of Helen marrying the wrong kind of man, surfacing in quite a timely manner), even having a picture of Helen & Vic and none of Noah, he's still family and Margaret needs his support.

I (naively, probably) thought Whitney wanted to have a backyard wedding because it was less expensive, but as it turns out, it's the opposite. Having some experience in organizing events, I guess when you don't rent the space, F&B doesn't get waived so Whitney has to pay for everything out of pocket and since she wants vegan options I'm assuming the whole thing is way more than she (or rather her family) can afford. This seems to be more of an American thing but it always feels a little jarring that you'd be OK with family paying for your event, while you certainly couldn't afford it. It's one thing to get help from the parents, but have them cover every little whim without contributing at all? Brat-Whitney is still alive and kicking.

Noah, who has been working on repairing his fractured relationships with his children during the whole season, does his best to make everything work and it's quite moving to see him and Whitney bonding, especially considering how difficult their relationship has been so far.
While on the trip to the bridal boutique, they even stop by the Lobster Roll, the Place Where It All Started, no less! (I have a feeling the wedding is going to end up being catered by them and Whitney will just have to deal). It doesn't resemble that place much anymore, though. From a charming, small coastal town diner managed by locals, it has turned into a generic fast-food joint. Also worth noting, as Noah and Whitney reminisce (as much as a father-daughter duo can when this is intricately linked to their family unit exploding), is that Whitney doesn't remember Alison saving Stacey from choking, but thinks it was Helen. The Affair hasn't played as much with diverging perspectives in the later seasons, but this is a nice call back as to how differently people interpret/remember earlier events unfolding. The Alison mention leads to an interesting scene with Noah unable to explain why he left his family for her, what made it worth it to him. Later on, Whitney admits to cheating in her own relationship, and not knowing how to move on from it without hurting Colin.

Speaking of differences in interpretations, when Noah and Whitney run into Luisa (current age this time, no weird prosthetics trying to make her look 70 and failing), she quickly puts Noah in his place when he acts like they're old friends. Never were, never will be, and him saying he "raised Joanie as his own for 2 years" seems to rub her the wrong way too. With good reason, since Cole is taking Joanie away from her and Montauk, and moving them both to Vermont. The show frequently seems to forget about this part, and so does Noah. On one hand, it's nice to know he remembers. On the other, what claim does he have to see her again without disrupting (even more) her already fragile childhood? At first I thought he was going to make it and see Cole and Joanie (knowing Joshua Jackson doesn't appear in this season didn't deter me from hoping), especially since during the dress debacle he saw the Ben Cruz newspaper clipping that EJ finds in Cole's stuff. But I guess not, since Noah misses their departure for Vermont thanks to an unnerving call from the journalist writing the upcoming article about his success. His ex-PR is accusing him of pressuring her into having sex with him and it doesn't bode well for the future. It seems like every time Noah is finally on his way back to stability, something from his past comes back to make him plunge again.

Some 20 years later, Joanie is still trying to figure out how, exactly, her mother died on that stormy night. Somehow, she thinks it's a fantastic idea to confront Ben Cruz at his PTSD clinic and lie about who she is. She also calls herself "Gabrielle", because this wasn't messed up enough as it is. Spoiler alert: it doesn't end well. After playing Joanie's game and putting her through a special kind of hell therapy, she blows her cover (shocking) and Ben readily admits to "killing" Alison all while maintaining it was an accident. At first, I really wanted to believe that Ben had changed and felt remorseful about what happened. But we quickly realize that not only does he not believe he should have spent time in jail for what he did, but that his (dangerous) state of mind hasn't changed at all. He blames his raging fight with Alison on a "psychotic break" and yet frames her daughter as a murderous patient to avoid, yet again, paying for what he did.

Joanie is never in any real danger of staying stuck in his clinic, but the fact that he so readily had a story prepared to tell the cops is insanely creepy. Plus, as Joanie astutely notes, Alison died with water in her lungs, meaning she wasn't dead when Ben threw her into the water. So either way, he did kill her, and it wasn't an accident since she probably could've survived had she gotten help. What Ben also fails to acknowledge when it comes to the impact of Alison's death, is that not only did he deprive young Joanie of a mother, but by making it look like a suicide, he let her live 20+ years with the erroneous notion that Alison didn't want to live enough to stay alive and raise her daughter. Those emotional bruises are far deeper than those he'll leave by almost chocking her when she attacks him. What's interesting here though, is how little importance Joanie attaches to her own life as a result. She's constantly almost looking for her own demise, and one can only wonder if at some point she will succeed, or if these recent revelations will somehow help her gain a different perspective... if it's not already too late.

With only 4 episodes left, and the finale culminating with Whitney's doomed wedding, the walls are closing in. Will Noah's career be done once and for all after the allegations against him are made public? Will Helen have to come back to Montauk to help take care of her ailing father? Will there be a vegan option at Whitney's wedding?? See you all next week to (hopefully) out!

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