Finally, a new perspective on the story has been introduced into the mix.
On The Affair Season 2 Episode 1 the same storytelling technique is used as was introduced in first season, but this time we're introduced to Helen's take on Noah and their relationship.
While it's not exactly groundbreaking to learn that Noah is selfish, to be given the opportunity for Maura Tierney to fully embody Helen and for viewers to get a better understanding of the spouses and the impact the affair had on their lives is a great direction for the new season.
The way The Affair Season 1 was structured, most of the storytelling (throughout the first half of the season, at least) was done in such a way that in Part One we would see events told from one perspective and in Part Two we would get the countering viewpoint, skewing events from many angles.
Because the parties were sharing their memories of events with Detective Jeffries, we were never certain if what was happening was merely a lapse in memory or if lies were being told on the part of one or another or perhaps a bit of both.
From what I understand, it was meant to be memories shared in earnest, not fabrications. While some errors in judgment might have been made in how the wildly divergent the recollections turned out to be, they will not vary so much this season.
Given the addition of two new voices in our narrative, it would seem a little more difficult to do that. We also do not appear to have a flat out descriptive situation at hand, one in which the individuals are recounting their tales to anyone in particular, so there is less reason to believe they'd have any need to alter their own versions of things.
Even when set up against Helen's viewpoint, Noah's version of events still comes off in his mind as some sort of fairytale existence, one in which the divorce mediator was full of pep and pizzazz, trying to put two divorcing people at ease. He, of course, made Helen into a sour entitled wealthy woman who always looked down at his work as a writer, making him feel less than a man, unworthy of her family and of their life together.
Adding Helen's insight to that moment opened things significantly. We've only ever seen her as the bad guy. Even as we knew she was anything but, neither Noah nor Alison did much to paint her in a favorable light. Getting to know her as an individual in her own right is long overdue. But first, that scene at the mediator.
While it's unlikely she was nearly as pleasant as she imagined herself, her view on the men in the room was probably more on point. Seeing Noah melt into somewhat of a comic book super villain as he told her he could not afford an apartment in the city and would, under no circumstances, continue to accept financial assistance from her parents in order to do was highly entertaining
The entire thing got me to wondering how much of what we know of Noah's future is taking place with the help of Helen's money and how much of his $400k advance he used to secure it. We at least know that by the time he was arrested, he had no money left to give. The apartment I recall from The Affair Season 1 Episode 10 didn't have four bedrooms (let alone five to make room for the baby), so how smoothly did the transition go between the cabin and the city?
On their own, Noah's and Helen's stories were compelling.
Noah's conversation with Trevor was heartbreaking, and Dominic West put in a great performance as a father trying to explain to his young son why he was getting divorced without blaming the boy's mother. It was powerful and one that no parent would want to have, let alone for it to end with a bloody bop on the nose.
Noah's relationship with Alison seems to be going really well, although he's hiding it from everyone while the divorce proceedings continue. That doesn't seem to be anything too far fetched under the circumstances. I expect we'll discover more of that story when we get Alison's perspective in The Affair Season 2 Episode 2.
Discovering Helen leading an active sex life with Max was surprising. Not that she had one, but her choice in partners. Max wasn't exactly portrayed as the kind of man I ever imagined the Helen we learned about co-mingling, but for some reason I also never connected Max as the one about whom Margaret had been talking so wistfully who Helen passed over for Noah.
Hopefully the cocaine-addled man Noah recalled in season one was tainted with Noah's jealousy because Max does seem to be a little more well off than he played, as well. And far more confident than the man at the bar in Montauk.
Helen, however, wasn't doing as well as she was portrayed last season. She's faltering. Again, it's not a surprise. Her entire life has been upended. Finally seeing Tierney give life to Helen's inner turmoil as well as the sexual woman Noah left behind, however, is riveting. Thank God for The Affair Season 2.
The way the hour ended, with both Noah and Helen peacefully thinking while a storm brewed overhead and then the time jump ahead where we learned exactly what happened the night Noah was arrested, reminds us that no matter how far a couple drifts, after 25 years together, there is a bond that does not have to be broken.
No matter how much Noah hurt Helen through his actions, to see him left without legal representation at a time he needed it most would likely never occur to her. How did she come to his aid? Is that where the stories will intersect with Alison? Who called Helen?
Already in the first hour we've witnessed some fine acting by West and Tierney. With four seasoned actors broadening the scope of the tale, the after effects of the affair will be certainly be brilliantly portrayed, but the mystery will no doubt be delayed in being solved, as well.
What did you think? Are you all in for the next chapters of The Affair? Hit the comments.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.