Part one of this week’s shocking episode is told from Cole’s (Joshua Jackson) POV, but let’s not beat around the bush: this episode is about Alison (Ruth Wilson). Though she never appears, her fate looms large over everything that happens.
We start off catching up on how Cole, Noah (Dominic West), and Anton (Christopher Meyer) hooked up on the road in Chicago (thanks to the commenter on last week’s recap who noted their location) and what all those flashbacks in the first part of the season were leading up to. While we’ve all been going down the dark path of waiting for Vik (Omar Metwally) to die, no one was keeping watch over Alison.
The road trip picks up in Milwaukee, WI, where Cole has trekked to from California to find Alison and tell her that he loves her. There are convenience store flowers and messy hair to sort through, but after he does he pops in where the conference organizers tell him (without asking a damn thing about his relationship to her, mind you — this has to violate privacy laws) that she hasn’t checked in. It’s day three of this conference so obviously, something is amiss. Cole runs into Ben (Ramon Rodriguez), who asked Alison to attend so they could have a romantic interlude. Obviously, those plans were dashed after Alison discovered that Ben had a wife. And here’s our first discrepancy: Ben tells Cole that he and Alison had a conversation and ended the relationship on a positive note. He doesn’t mention anything about the upsetting way she found out he was a cheater. Even without that knowledge, Cole is suspicious of Ben and grills the officer working her case about it later — if only he knew what good cause he had.
Noah tells Cole about Alison showing up in Cali and how upset she was — and the Xanax, which she is not supposed to have. There’s an interesting little interlude at a motel with Anton, a girl, and her homophobic father, but what you need to know about it is that it is meant to show us how closely Cole and Noah, once sworn enemies, are working together. Athena (Deirdre O'Connell), Alison’s mom, calls Cole to tell him about Alison’s father contacting her, but leaves the rape out of it. Noah says Alison didn’t tell him anything about it when she was in California and though his expression doesn’t quite convince me at the moment, his behavior when he visits their house in East Hampton does: they most certainly don’t know that this man is a criminal, a rapist, and also has sufficient motive to have killed her.
Joshua Jackson has two absolutely stunning moments of acting in this episode: the first comes when his character is told that Alison’s body has been found and that she is dead. The shock and grief are not only palpable, but his face also goes completely white. The second comes when Cole and Noah go to the morgue to identify her body. All of his reactions in the holding room, from not being able to open the door to the crumbling of his face when Noah confirms the body is Alison’s, are absolutely devastating. He finally finds his way to admitting he’s in love with his ex-wife, only to find out he’s too late. She is dead.
The police rule Alison’s death a suicide. There are at least three people with a motive to kill her: Ben, her father, and Ben’s wife. There is also Luisa (Catalina Sandino Moreno), who has been telling Cole he’s in love with her still for the last two seasons, and who wants desperately to be the caregiver to her daughter, could also be a potential suspect. The Affair hasn’t given us the death we expected this season, but it just potentially kicked off a murder mystery plot line that should rivet fans to their screens.
On the other hand, Alison shared her visions of the ocean with Ben earlier this season; her memory of being saved as a child as well as recalling her own son drowning. If she were to take her own life, the ocean is the most likely end. She got over her fear of the water with Ben, she claimed. Maybe, after all that’s happened to her, she decided the ocean was her fate.
Unanswered question (so far): Was the previous episode the last time we’re going to see Alison? Will we get her POV next week and find out how the last moments of her life really went? I hope so, because this is a goodbye that lacks closure as of now.
If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.