‘The Affair’ Recap 2×2: Schrodinger’s Broken Toilet

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The Affair. (photo: Showtime)

Part One: Vinnie

I might just be in this mindset because I bumped into four Time Lords, two Batmans and a child-sized Hulk this morning on the way to work (hooray New York Comic Con!), but is Cole basically a super villain now?

Firstly, I think they’re hinting pretty hard all of a sudden that Cole, not Noah, ran over handsome statutory rapist Scotty Lockhart  with his car. I mean, the hints started off subtle. My Affair-theory ears first picked up when Bruce Butler (who is back, baby, and he’s leaving his wife) told Cole he can tell Cole hasn’t been a cab driver long because of the way he drives. Oh, yeah, Cole is a cab driver now. Womp womp womp.

And then the signs slowly got A LOT less subtle one-by-one, starting with Cole almost running over a small child. That could possibly be foreshadowing, because Scotty Lockhart has the mind of a small child. But wait! If that wasn’t understated enough for you, Cole later tells Scotty “You have three seconds to get out from in front of this car or I will run you the fuck down.” That might be foreshadowing, if saying a plot point that actually happens later counted as foreshadowing. And then, after he picks up that scary demon girl from V/H/S in his cab, Cole falls asleep at the wheel and drifts to the wrong side of the road. That might be foreshadowing because, um, actually okay that’s not even foreshadowing; that’s a giant neon sign that spells out the word “VEHICULAR HOMICIDE.” (A sign I bought at Hot Topic in high school for like 10 bucks).

But one murder-via-taxi cab does not make you a super villain.  That actually just makes you a fairly average taxi cab driver. No, the super villain vibes came during Allison’s portion of the episode. Oh, yeah, The Affair is now split up into FOUR POV’s. Which sucks for marketing, because “There Are Four Sides To Every Story” doesn’t roll off the tongue as well, and also just isn’t true? But anyway, Cole stops in to drop off Allison’s things, and Allison remembers this as something like a trip to Hannibal Lecter’s office. In Allison’s memory, Cole was basically a comic book nemesis. He’s just in her house when she gets there, talking in this monotonous voice and ending every sentence with Allison’s name. “Hello, Allison. It’s been a long time, Allison. This world will one day bow to me, Allison.” They should have started the scene with Cole turning around in a swivel chair, like this.

Not one second after I typed that joke into my notes about the swivel chair, Cole sat down in an actual swivel chair. It’s a miracle he wasn’t also stroking a white cat.

Honestly, besides Cole’s surprise drop-in, Allison’s viewpoint was pretty uneventful, unless you’re a huge fan of watching Allison stare longingly at things like children and men on docks. We met the couple who owns Camp Chrystal Lake…excuse me, the couple who owns the house Allison and Noah are staying in. They offer Allison a job as their personal assistant which, despite being a step up from “crab waitress,” Noah still calls “fucking weird.” Oh, surprise surprise, when Noah shows up in Allison’s viewpoint he’s a big fat failed novelist-shaped dick, a departure from Noah’s memory last week of sublime dinner and slow-dancing by the lake. Eventually they get through their problem of “being an awful couple” and have make-up sex on the kitchen counter.

Um, I’m pretty sure we just watched a baby get conceived, by the way. Jump cut from the counter sex to current day Allison wheeling her and Noah’s child down a hallway. Besides, something like 7 out of 10 impromptu unprotected kitchen counter sex sessions lead to pregnancy. I’ll look up the exact numbers from the study later. (note: Vinnie did not look up the numbers from the study later).

This scene was actually…kind of funny? Allison runs into Jon Gottlief, who tells Allison he’s representing Noah legally. Allison responds like “NO, THAT CAN’T BE” as if she was Luke Skywalker reading a paternity test. I’m thinking Gottlief probably swooped in to Helen and Noah’s divorce proceedings and got Helen a butt-ton of Noah’s book money. That would explain Helen paying for Noah’s defense in the first place. It would not explain why Allison reacts to everyone in this episode like they’re the damn Joker explaining his plot to gas Gotham City.

To be fair to Cole, at least, he comes off less threatening and more like the friendly neighborhood hobo in his remembrance of all this. Allison is actually happy to see him when he stops by. Like, they hug and everything. “Promise me you’ll keep in touch,” she says to him, as if it was the last day at camp……..Chrystal Lake.

Really, the most interesting thing from Cole came in the current day story, when he decided to show up at Noah’s trial. He arrives just in time to see Noah charged with “obstruction of justice, leaving the scene of an accident, and vehicular homicide.” I’m still not totally convinced it was Scotty who was killed, and I’m now not even sure Noah killed anyone. But if this face doesn’t scream IT WAS ME, IT WAS ME ALL ALONG then I don’t know what does.

COLE

Part Two: Drew

Oh weird, I didn’t pick up on any of that at all. In fact, the only part of the murder still up for debate is whose death Noah is being charged for. Because when Alison tells Cole “I’m so sorry to hear about your brother, Scotty, getting run over by that car,” or whatever the fuck she said, it kind of implied that the reason they were all there was to watch the criminal proceedings on an entirely different vehicular manslaughter charge.

But joke’s on this show, because I could literally give less of a tenth of a shit about the murder case. No, what The Affair is about, for me, isn’t a Who Done It or a meditation on the fallibility of memory–which I guess in this episode would imply that two different people could not just have completely different emotional imprints on how a certain situation went down, but some sort of Schrodinger’s Cat-level water closet conundrum. Does Cole fix the toilet in his version of the story? If not, HOW DOES THE TOILET GET FIXED BY THE TIME NOAH GETS HOME???

This show, miraculously, is pulling itself away from the more murdery, subjective elements–though obviously, they still exist–and becoming this whole Upstairs/Downstairs dance that I really, really love to watch. Look at Allison, still acting like The Help! See how it pisses off the Upwardly Mobile Noah, who is so desperate at being seen as the type of man who rubs elbows with Salman Rushdie at the PEN Awards. How dare Allison take a job as an assistant to the Baker’s Wife from Into the Woods (the original cast, obvi), especially when Allison didn’t even recognize her as being Mrs. Famous Publishing Lady.

“I like you!” laughs Famous Publishing Lady’s husband, which is not going to be a problem at all down the line, haha, no siree! Once he just does his knee-stretching exercises correctly (which Allison can teach him, because remember, she was a nurse??), I hope that her practice avoiding Cole in small spaces lets her out-maneuver the next midlife crisis erection in a small but tastefully decorated, well-appointed kitchen.

Oh and look, it’s that guy from Gotham and The Wire. I literally have no memory of him being on this show before. But haha, I guess I just proved The Affair’s point! Memory, y’all! It’s a bitch!

‘The Affair’ Recap 2×2: Schrodinger’s Broken Toilet