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The Affair - Episodes 5.05 & 5.06 - Review

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Season 5 seems to be the season of "whose POV are we getting this week", but I'm quite enjoying getting to experience new characters this way. After Whitney, it's Sierra's turn to benefit from a dedicated half-hour and as usual, it's very insightful to experience how she sees herself versus how other people do.

Episode 5 begins with Sierra quietly chanting encouraging mantras to herself, which I was quite ready to mock until she murmured the last one: "You are enough". Which, I'll admit, I can completely relate to, so maybe there's something to using the fake it until you make it technique. Aside from not believing in herself, Sierra has a bigger issue: little Eddie. I'm sure she loves him, but considering her lifestyle and personnality, you have to wonder at least a little as to the reasons she decided to keep him. Sure, he's Vic's only biological child, but Vic barely had time to hold him in his arms once, versus Sierra experiencing crisis upon crisis. Sidenote: Emily Browning and Kaitlyn Dever could (and should) play sisters. I just finished Unbelievable and even their expressions are similar. TV Gods, make it happen please!!
But back to Sierra: she's still auditioning for roles, and Eddie complicates matters since she doesn't have a babysitter and can't afford one (I guess? Isn't her mother paying for practically everything including her house and that gigantic car?). Her solution consists of leaving the baby on his own, in the car, since he has finally stopped crying. This made me want to hide behind my hands and not watch what was going to happen, but Sierra actually nails the audition and finds the baby safe and sound. She, however, is not sound (of mind at least) and displays worrying self-harm behavior as she berates herself for not being able to handle both taking care of her kid and getting a job.

Speaking of her mother, she's back! And not only is she back, she's Jennifer Jason Leigh. You know who else should play sisters? JJL and Connie Britton. (Hire me, Hollywood, I'm just spit-balling here!)
As expected from the little Sierra has shared about her absentee, famous actress, mother, meeting Adeline explains a lot about Sierra's issues. She constantly puts her down and makes suggestions about her acting that ultimately (and unsurprisingly) do not work out when Sierra tries to put them to use. What's more, she's a flake and when Sierra ends up getting the part in that new Leif Devlin movie, Adeline cancels on her last-minute so Eddie is once again babysitter-less.

Sidenote on the Hollywood thing: I hadn't realized you could audition for a role, get the part, and then immediately shoot a scene (the same as the audition one, to boot) in costume with several takes. Either this is a much smaller movie than expected, or they cast the lead last, or time is condensing and 3 months went by during that night, but I'm a little baffled.
After leaving her child with 12 year old Stacey (better than leaving him in the car, but still not great), Sierra sleeps with the movie's director, does coke, picks up her child at 2am, and drives under the influence until she crashes into a truck and runs off into the night. After thinking "this is not going to end well" approximately 684 times during this episode, it still ended better than I feared, but Sierra is a mess.

On the other side of the spectrum, Helen wakes up to Sasha's hairy chest. I could've done without that visual, honestly, but the sudden apparition of Jessica Hecht as a second, fantastic guest star in this episode almost makes up for it. I almost thought the pink bra was Noah's plan coming to life but no, Sasha just shoved it in the fridge (?). Never one to be ignored, Noah himself also shows up unexpectedly and declares his undying love to Helen.

"I love you, I've always loved you."

So what, Alison, Professor SexFrench and Janelle were all figments of his imagination?! Weak retcon, dude. Meanwhile, Helen is dealing with a pissed off Priya who wants to make amends with her estranged brother by introducing him to Vic's child (contrived, much?) and lashes out at Helen because she doesn't want to pretend the kid is hers (Vic's reputation would take a hit if it was revealed he had an affair, I suppose). She also comes to the realization she doesn't really have friends in LA, aside from Jessica Hecht that is. But Sasha ruins that by suddenly refusing to work with her husband on a new movie even though it was supposed to be a done deal and I can't help but hope that Helen will finally realize what a jerk he actually is.

While this episode didn't include Joanie's POV, the next one immediately starts with flashbacks to Joanie's childhood as she visits Cole's grave. We also learn that Joanie still considers Luisa her "mom" even though she and Cole broke up. The image she has of Alison and how things went down with Noah/Cole is very distorted, and I hope before that changes before the show ends. While at the graveyard, she meets EJ, an epigeneticist who is fascinated by the Lockhart family and their history of violent deaths.
However, it feels a little redundant to go through Alison's death again through Joanie's eyes, discovering that she didn't, in fact, kill herself, which we mostly already knew. But it's interesting to see Joanie struggle with such a complicated past and how it keeps affecting her even now. Anna Paquin is doing a stellar job and I wish this show was still an awards contender, because she deserves recognition.

That said, when Luisa called Joanie's family life "perfect", I couldn't believe it. How can someone be so blind? Joanie is unraveling and has been for a while. To her own admission, she's been cheating on her husband ("violent sex with strangers", no less) for years, she goes crazy when she realizes the strawberry plantation is dying, and she has suicidal thoughts linked to her mother's fate. "Perfect", in what world?!

How do you all think this will end? Will the truth about Alison's death finally come to light? What even happened to Ben afterwards? Were your hopes about Cole finally getting over Alison and living a happy life dashed when we learned he could never get past what happened? (I'll admit I didn't expect him to move on, but I was surprised that he hung on this long. He and Alison were so intimately linked, her dying was never going to set him free.

Check back in next week!

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