It’s been a slow start, but The Affair is ready to jump into some action. After a week with Alison (Ruth Wilson) and Cole (Joshua Jackson), the show jumps back to the premiere’s final moments where they left Vik (Omar Metwally) laid out on the bathroom floor. This week we pick up with...ugh, yes, it’s Noah who is living out his wildest white savior fantasies. Before we get into all that, let’s note the video from the present that starts the episode: Noah (Dominic West) and Cole are together (woah) and not fighting (holy shit) with...Anton (Christopher Meyer) in the backseat? The unlikely duo is still looking for a missing Alison, while on the road somewhere in Philadelphia. It’s still unclear why Anton would be with them, as that’s pretty far from California, but in this present moment he’s clearly friends with Noah — and his take on the absurdity of Noah and Cole’s relationship is priceless.
When we travel back into Noah’s past for this week’s story, we find him at Compton Academy where he is totally fucking up his relationship with his boss, Principal Wilson (Sanaa Lathan). He does every idiot white dude behavior he can: he mansplains to her, he takes credit from her, he takes over talking to the press, he goes against her wishes regarding her own son (who happens to be Anton, it is revealed). Frankly, I’d love to see this episode from her POV because his entitled perspective is catching some of this shit, but there’s a lot that just flies right past him. The most infuriating moment of this storyline is watching a squadron of white police officers ignore her and listen to Noah. He caps it all off by going in for a kiss and GOOD LORD MAN WHAT ARE YOU DOING? She cuts it off, reminding him that she’s his boss and that is not appropriate. I’ve never said this about a Noah storyline before but, wow I actually can’t wait to see where this picks up. It’s not completely clear to me if she’s into it or nah. So, in two weeks maybe we’ll see a reprimand from the school board or maybe some clandestine making out in the halls. Hopefully the former, because Noah is, yet again, the worst.
Except...well, except this episode makes a very compelling case for Helen (Maura Tierney) being the worst. Vik, with all his weight loss and loss of consciousness, gets diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Helen loses her shit, as one does, and does everything he asks her not to; she won’t listen to his treatment plans (to not have any), she tells his parents against his wishes, she just wants to get him mad so he can find the strength to fight it, dammit! She’s a complete asshole in the process. I may never get over that moment in her therapist’s office, when she’s on the cusp of admitting she doesn’t love Vik enough for him to be on the list of people she can’t live without. Vik explaining to her exactly why his prognosis is without hope is beyond heart-wrenching, we need a new word. And when he tells her that the only thing he wants is to have a baby — even though she doesn’t want to get pregnant again, is way too old to have another child without invasive fertility treatments, is going to die and leave her to raise this child alone — there’s nothing she can do but agree, because she’s been a raging asshole all this time. Or is there? It’s a difficult question to grapple with, made more so because she’s unable to admit to herself that perhaps she doesn’t love him quite as much as she should.
I don’t know about you, but my fingers are crossed that she finds her way out of this. Maybe it’s Helen’s time to be an asshole.