It’s all about Alison (Ruth Wilson) this week, and though the revelations that come are troubling, it has also been calming to go into her world this season. There is something about her worldview and where she is at in her life that is enjoyable to be a part of. Perhaps it’s just that she’s happy, especially after her stressful arc of working to get both her daughter and her sanity back last season. I’m not the only person who feels that way: Noah (Dominic West) has kept in touch with Alison and her daughter, we learn in a quick Skype conversation. Keep the information that he sent her an opened ended ticket to California to visit tucked in the back of your mind, though, because it is going to come up again. Given the whole “oops, that’s not your kid” situation, Alison interprets their relationship as being very warm, which is both interesting and unexpected.
The big point of tension is Alison finally talking about her son’s death in a substantive way. We knew how it happened previously, but when she tells Ben (Ramon Rodriguez) about it as they play with EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy) techniques, we get some insight into why it broke her marriage to Cole (Joshua Jackson) so completely. He was drinking and flirting, he told her he was watching the kids. She trusted him. She left, to get a blanket. While she was gone, it happened. That will do it; how does a couple regain trust after that? It makes Cole’s remark from two episodes ago, when he told Alison she had made their son’s death her whole identity by choosing this career, all the more callous. He’s clearly forgiven himself, while Alison is still working through guilt she feels because she suspects she missed a sign by not heeding the warnings in her dream that this drowning death would happen. Ben absolves her of that responsibility, but let’s not put him in the good guy column just yet.
If you were sitting at home wondering about it, EMDR is a real thing that’s recommended by the American Psychiatric Association for treatment of PTSD. It works by having a subject focus on a traumatic memory, briefly, and use triggered eye movement to desensitize the memory. Unlike Alison’s experience, a person would focus on one memory for an entire session, or up to three sessions, rather than jump around. And, get this: part of the process in a session is asking the person to scan their body while recalling the incident. Helen (Maura Tierney) would not approve.
Back to not-a-good-guy Ben: so, he’s got a wife. We find this out when we flip to Cole’s POV and the two meet at an AA meeting he drags the kid who drew a dick on his face to. When Cole meets Ben again at Alison’s house, he agrees to give the man his space and time to reveal the information to Alison, “the right way.” No, no, no, no, no. Wrong choice, Cole. That is not how any of this works as as a human being in their 30s who has gone through some serious shit with Alison. It is deeply shocking that he would think it’s okay to withhold information like that from her, no matter how affecting he found Ben’s little share in AA. No. Is Cole jockeying to be the new Noah?
The final tidbit here is that Cole and Luisa (Catalina Sandino Moreno) are still fighting, so he takes his mom Cherry’s (Mare Wittingham) advice and offers to go on a walkabout (speaking of white people nonsense). And that’s how Cole ends up in California.