The Affair Season 5 Finale Recap: The Whole Of The Moon

Photo: Paul Sarkis/Showtime.
It’s Whitney’s (Julia Goldani Telles) wedding day in Montauk and Noah (Dominic West) is planning the hell out of it — planning like his relationship with his family depends on it. He choreographs that flash mob she inexplicably wants to dance to The Waterboys’ song, “The Whole of the Moon.” He handles the set up of various programs and delicate white things. He helps his son Martin, who has been missing since about season 3, write his toast. He gets Colin’s (Max Fowler) mom on a flight. And then Noah leaves, like the exile that he is, and goes back to a motel room so tragic it could only exist in a writer’s mind. 
Apparently Noah stayed in Montauk after that, because when we travel forward to Joanie’s (Anna Paquin) POV, he’s an old man running the Lobster Roll. Joanie stops in when she runs out of gas and orders a cup of coffee. The restaurant is empty and Noah calls Montauk the end of the world. When Joanie mentions that she grew up in the town and her mom worked at the restaurant, Noah looks at her like he knows her.
We flip back to the wedding from Helen’s POV; all the gowns are different and she and Whitney are fighting. Her mom shows up to throw some fuel on the fire but after the Butler/Solloway bullshit dies down, Helen walks Whitney down the aisle. They’re doing what Noah told Colin this family does: be brutal on each other, but show up when the time comes. Sierra (Emily Browning) gets her happy ending, she’s at the wedding with the director of that movie she was cast in. Colin is, can I cannot stress the insanity of this enough, wearing a plaid three-piece suit. The flash mob happens and finally there’s something everyone on The Affair can agree on: the choreography. Whitney’s friend who is acting as the wedding band is Mason Jennings and, while she’s listening to his song “Race You to the Light,” Helen has a realization. She races herself over to the saddest motel in the world to tell Noah how much she loves Pringles. Just kidding, she’s there to drop a rant analyzing her own behavior like she’s never been in therapy (which was a whole plot point in season 4) and tell Noah she still loves him. Is this the emotional equivalent of “it was all a dream”? Will Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” play when this monologue is through? 
Back to Noah and Joanie, whose interaction can be summarized by saying he gave her some glib advice, she dropped a bomb on him by revealing that Alison (Ruth Wilson) was killed, and he’s like omg. Joanie rushes back to her dad’s house to get a rifle (a true omg) and ostensibly go kill Ben (Tony Plana). EJ (Michael Brown) shows up, thank god, to force Joanie into some exposition and slow her trigger happy ass down. Does revealing you’ve got a husband to someone who has been tracking you mean the two wrongs are canceled out or just that you’re both jerks? EJ is right about not owing your life to your parents when he talks Joanie down off the ledge. Another holy crap moment: EJ is Sierra and Vik’s (Omar Metwally) baby. This was a reveal worth coming to the series finale for! And it certainly explains his obsession with her family and his interest in trauma — and movies. 
Armed with the knowledge she just told Noah she was reading his book and is “loosely affiliated” with the author, she walks back to the Lobster Roll. Noah fills in a lot of blanks for Joanie about Alison — there is so much Cole (Joshua Jackson) didn’t tell her or mischaracterized. A long conversation across generations happens and the crux of the conversation rears its head: that surely love can echo across our DNA and psyches if trauma can.
Across town and several decades back, Whitney figures out who actually planned her wedding and, after a dramatic conversation with her siblings and new husband, realizes she’s being a lot. While everyone else has seen Bruce (John Doman) as having a rough day, Whitney remembers a moment of clarity and a deep conversation about love. So Whit orchestrates a Solloway family sneak out and, as Neil Finn’s “She Will Have Her Way” (appropriate) plays, they run to the motel. Sadly, no one realized Helen was still not at this wedding and they find their parents having sex. So, like little adults, they sit outside and eat the cake they snuck out. 
Back across time and the bay, Joanie heads home to her family to fix it. Noah, meanwhile, is sitting at Helen’s gravesite, reading her the book that Stacey (Abigail Dylan Harrison) wrote. We flashback again, to Helen and Noah saying their I dos as they decided to give their relationship another try. Which feels weird, thanks more to the #MeToo plot/timing than anything. But it seems to have stuck the second time around. As for Joanie, she goes back to her clapboard house and her daughters, and reconciles with her husband. Somehow the series ends with old Noah doing the flashmob dance by himself in front of the ocean while a cover of “The Whole of the Moon” plays. It ain’t Journey, thank god.

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