The Third Season of “The Affair” Was Weird, But Extremely Enlightening
Described as a study of the emotional and psychological effects of an affair, the show fully lived up to that description this season, and then some.
Each season of “The Affair” has been unique. The first season was a romantic drama centered around Noah and Alison meeting and their subsequent affair. Season two became more of a murder-mystery, and this third season turned into a psychological drama. The setting has changed, as well. The first season predominantly took place in the beautiful outdoors of Montauk, while the second and third season saw some of that exchanged for the concrete jungle of Brooklyn. The same goes for the ratio of outdoor and indoor scenes.
This season was different in another way, however, as it gave us a clarity that has been withheld from us for two seasons, particularly regarding the complicated circumstances of the affair that began it all. Like the show, we will also look at this from two perspectives.
Part One: Alison
“I convinced myself that I loved you, because I so desperately needed someone to just take me away. I used you and you used me, too. That’s what happened between us. I know it’s true and you do too.”
Alison, chest-deep in a stranger’s pool during a return to Block Island, tells Noah this, and it’s the first time either one of Alison and Noah talk about the circumstances behind their affair and what it meant to them. While this is something that an attentive viewer could have deduced prior to this point, it’s significance should not be overlooked, as the first part of what Alison says is not something that can be put into question by anything we see from Noah’s perspective. It is the wholehearted and unadulterated truth, in Alison’s eyes.
Part Two: Noah
“I did love you. Yeah I fucked up and maybe it was a mistake from the start, but it was love. So don’t take it all away from me by saying it wasn’t real. You may not want to remember me, but I wanna remember you.”
During the same trip to Block Island, Noah also tells Alison what their affair meant to him and it couldn’t have been more diametrically-opposed to Alison’s perspective on it. Alison’s explanation of the affair is very pragmatic and a bit cold. Noah’s is more idealistic and emotion-filled. Alison sounds like she has already fully moved on, now focusing all of her time and energy towards Joanie. Noah, on the other hand, reveals a certain nostalgia for their time together and does not appear to have completely moved on just yet.
Bonus: Helen and Cole
A few years removed of the affair between their spouses, Helen and Cole are now both in relationships, but both have yet to fully move on. Helen still has a soft spot for Noah, and Cole for Alison. They’re both aware of it and know they’re just going to have to live with it, but this truth becomes detrimental to their relationships with Vic and Luisa, respectively. Vic cannot compete with the history Helen has with Noah, just like Luisa cannot compete with the unique pain of losing a child that forever connects Cole and Alison. It’s truly insurmountable, and both Vic and Luisa are becoming increasingly aware of it. They may not know it yet, but I would not be surprised if their lives are shaken up next season.
What did you think about the season and the finale? I would love to hear your thoughts!