Okay, let’s start with a fantasy: Noah’s (Dominic West) delusion that he’s a helpful part of Janelle’s (Sanaa Lathan) life. I am just eating popcorn and waiting for this to blow up in his face. Episode 6 opens with his POV, in which Anton (Christopher Meyer) is now totally cool with him and slips him a college application essay to Princeton for feedback. It must be because Noah moved that W.E.B. Du Bois poster to a place of honor in his classroom after Anton suggested perhaps the curriculum didn’t need to be centered on old white men. Did you hear the sarcasm, because I am rolling in it. But sure, Anton is on the search for Alison (Ruth Wilson) later with Noah and Cole (Joshua Jackson), so...it could happen.
Naturally, Noah decides to follow the parent code and gives the paper to Janelle to read. He does that by barging into her office (who would walk into their superior’s office without knocking if the door was closed???), then jumps on a call to come to her defense as she’s getting reamed by a board member (again, who does that???). It must be so freeing to live a life where the world is centered on you, and I can’t wait for that perspective to come crashing down for Noah at some point this season. But, I’ve been saying that for the last three seasons and the delusions have not yet ceased.
After his son screams at Noah that he should fucking leave later that night, I’m left wondering when Noah is going to take any time at all to examine his relationship with his kids. You know, the kids he moved to L.A. to be near because they’re so important. Again: Noah’s world revolves around himself, so these little blowups happen and he shrugs them off because surely that wasn’t his fault. (Prediction: I’m almost certain we’re going to find out that was totally his fault.) So Noah heads over to Janelle’s house instead to get involved in her family argument. I have to admit that I am very intrigued by Anton’s storyline and motivations, as they’re laid out by Janelle. I’d just like to see them through a point of view that isn’t Noah’s.
Flip the script to Alison’s life, where everything is falling apart. If I ever had a day like the one Alison just went though, I would pound a lot more wine that she did and absolutely lose my shit. To recap: her birth father gets in touch for the first time in her life, asks her for a kidney, says he saved her life (reaffirming a mysterious memory from her childhood), she finds out she was the product of a rape, and then she finds out that her boyfriend is married and has a family. Calling it a lot is an epic understatement.
So Alison takes that ticket Noah sent her and goes to California, texting her mom to keep Joanie (Reagan & Savannah Grella) safe and that there’s a lasagna in the fridge. That is not normal behavior for a parent, especially not for one who fought as hard as she did to get custody of their child. That should have been the tip-off that things were about to go horribly wrong. It all spirals out of control on the plane when the guy sitting next to her gropes her and tries to kiss her, she knocks over the old lady in the next seat in her rush to get away from him, throws her wine on him when he denies it, and ends up handcuffed and in jail when they land. There’s a smart switch in the music that is sending a subliminal message as this all plays out: Alison is listening to a version of the Jason Isbell song “The Color of a Cloudy Day” (though it sounds like the arrangement and the woman’s voice are from the Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer cover) and it flips from a woman to a man after her claims that she was just sexually assaulted are completely ignored. It’s a man’s world, baby, and Alison is coming unglued all over it.
Noah bails Alison out and takes her to Vik (Omar Metwally) and Helen’s (Helen Solloway) house after she has a panic attack, for some much-needed Xanax. This moment really drives home how much we’re not seeing about Noah and Helen’s relationship, as well as giving a look at how oddly chummy these three can be now that their romantic relationships with each other are over. It also gives me the impression that Helen likes California a lot more than she’s been letting on when we see it from her POV.
Alison swallows her pride and asks Helen a hard question: why do men keep walking all over her? Helen gives a simple and to-the-point answer: because you let them. It’s a great flashback to Helen in the bar when she met Alison in season 3, when she was a Helen, seen through Alison’s eyes, who I want to have a drink with. Here’s hoping Alison goes back to Montauk and tells Ben to fuck off forever. But I suspect she won’t.