[This is a review of the season 2 premiere of The Affair. There will be SPOILERS.]
Showtime’s highly acclaimed The Affair thunders its way to a stellar opening with the season 2 premiere. The aftershocks of Noah’s (Dominic West) romantic affair with the lovely Alison “Bailey” Lockhart (Ruth Wilson) can keenly be felt as the Solloway family searches for some semblance of normalcy.
The Affair, much like the film Gone Girl, continues with its “he said, she said” formula, only this time, we finally delve into the mind of other characters, like Noah’s soon to be ex-wife, Helen.
Helen’s journey is one of dark shades, marijuana, and tear-laden showers, with the gorgeous veteran actress Maura Tienrny delivering a superb performance. She is being suffocated by Noah’s selfishness (depending on the point of view), while also trying to raise four children in New York City. Her mother (Margaret) is another rope around her neck, as she tries to mold her forty-year-old daughter into the woman she “ought to be.” Even when Helen is having her own kind of affair with Noah’s best friend Max (Josh Stamberg), there is little joy to be had. Unfortunately for her, champagne breakfasts with almond milk caffeinated drinks aren’t the answer to happiness.
In keeping with the themes of last season, clothing continues to be an obvious, but fun aspect of the series that is worth acknowledging. In the divorce meeting with the lawyer, Helen remembers the experience in dark shades of blue, black, and grey. In Noah’s version, the colors are bright and the lawyer is more animated in an almost comical way. For Helen, everything from sex, to parties, to even the simple act of closing a door after a late night of drinking, weighs her down to the core. When the storm finally hits, she is, for all intents and purposes, alone, but are her circumstances any different from Noah’s?
Well, as the storm descends upon the still waters of Upstate New York, Noah appears calm, as if his life couldn’t get any better. Sure, his children hate him (even to the point of his son Trevor punching him in the face), but he’s just had a good dinner and a dance with Alison, so how could life be any better?
Remember, Noah’s interpretation of events typically leans towards the bright and sunny side of things, and for the most part he sees himself as the victim. During his interpretation of the divorce talks, Helen looks sad, but no less radiant in a beautiful ensemble. Even Noah spruced himself up a bit, with a shirt, tie, and jacket. Truths remain hidden as always, so it’s hard to figure out if Noah is simply an optimist, or delusional beyond a doubt. The latter seems more likely.
Last year’s season finale showed us that Noah’s new book will eventually be a success, as we see Noah and Alison in a posh Manhattan upper-level condo. That success has come with a price in the form of imprisonment with Noah being accused of manslaughter. The lonesome Detective Jeffries informs Noah that he should take a plea deal, but surely he’s trying to trap our talented writer. In the end, Helen comes to his aid in the form of money and an overpriced attorney. The question now is why? There is a gap that needs filling in, so hopefully we won’t have to wait long before we get some answers. Either way, this should be another fantastic season, if the premiere is any indication of what’s to come.
Creators Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi promised more points of view this season and delivered exceptionally. The fear with these new perspectives is that the writers would try to cram several characters points of view into our minds each episode, but thankfully, they stuck with the 2-per-episode formula… for now. Whether or not you enjoy the melodrama that is The Affair, it’s difficult to deny the expert craft that goes into making each hour of television. Stacked with an impressive cast and even better performances, this is a show you won’t want to miss as the fall television lineup kicks up to full gear.
What did you think of the season 2 premiere? Also, what theories do you have for how this will all play out in the end? Stay tuned to see what happens next.
The Affair continues next Sunday @10pm on Showtime. You can watch the premiere episode for free below: