'The Affair' Visits a Haunted Island

Noah and Alison take a trip to a scenic retreat, but discover they can't outrun their pasts in 'The Affair' season 1, episode 4: '4'.

[This is a review of The Affair season 1, episode 4. There will be SPOILERS.]


The Affair changes its structure this week, as Noah and Alison venture off to Block Island in a failed attempt to get away from it all. Their pasts, however different, seem to catch up with them in this picturesque landscape. Noah continues to see himself as the man who never wanted to cheat on his wife. A down to earth guy who didn't have many sexual partners due to his mother's illness while he was in high school.

The story is genuine, since he shares it with Alison in both accounts, but what about the infidelity itself? In Noah's recollection, we only see them having sex once, whereas Alison recalls multiple encounters.

The timing and mood of Alison and Noah's "sunken ship" discussion varies greatly depending on the point of view. For Noah, this talk took place before they had their first intimate moment, but for Alison, it took place after the fact - unless the writers are playing head games by switching the timelines up. What do you think?

Either way, their relationship is in full swing now, with each person recalling moments of reluctance before, during and after "the act" was over. This might be the first time where neither character plays the role of the seducer. Sure, Alison has her moments of playfulness, but the tone of this episode was much more subdued and melancholy, as both parties recalled moments of great loss. Alison goes as far as saying that she sees herself as death incarnate. Her words about her husband's (Cole) tattoo and wanting to die every time she wakes up were haunting. Noah even claimed that the darkness he sees inside of Alison draws him closer too her.

This brings us back to the conversation near the cliffs. Noah's version is more cheerful, with tales of Alison's favorite spot on the island, due to her adventures with Tiger Lily and Peter Pan. For Noah, these sunken ships and lovely shores ring with tales of fantasy and happy childhood memories. Alison, on the other hand, recalls a ghostly mother crying for her child, with her voice being carried by the wind. For her, these cliffs are haunted but the deaths of children and invading hordes of soldiers.

Another perplexing account came from none other than Detective Jeffries. Since we must assume that the interrogations are taking place during the present day, why did he tell a different account of his marriage to Alison? Could Jeffries be a third point of view we haven't heard from yet, or is there another voice we haven't been made privy too? If you had to guess, is the detective a happily married man of twenty-five years, or just a divorced cop like he told Noah?

It feels like the more we get to know our characters, the less we understand them, which is what makes this show must-see television. Just like in the real world, people are complex and you're never sure how much truth one will be willing to share with you. Who knows, maybe both accounts are completely bogus? Only time will tell.

The Affair continues with '5' next Sunday @10pm on Showtime. Check out a preview below:

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