The Affair feels like a completely different series after this hour, doesn't it?
For starters, we only got Noah's perspective on The Affair Season 3 Episode 1, and wasn't that the first time? That means we have to take some of what we saw with a grain of salt because of the way Noah sways things in his favor.
But the good news is that after spending three years in prison, Noah isn't all that hot on himself. While he's always been a bit self-deprecating, the only thing I'm guessing he is portraying as a little more dramatic than in actuality is Helen's clinging nature.
Helen never gave up on Noah, that's true. And if he really told her to wait, as he recalled from the first time she visited in prison, he may be reading more into her actions than she's really trying to convey. Maybe he needs to believe someone still wants him.
Helen: What about me? What am I supposed to do while you're in here?
Noah: Just wait.
Because the Helen we finally got to know during The Affair Season 2 was a hell of a lot stronger than the woman we only knew during Noah's scenes from The Affair Season 1. I can't imagine her putting her life on hold to wait for Noah.
The way Noah was being portrayed, as just a beat behind the rest of the living, played well for a man who just spent three years in prison. It seems appropriate that you might still be catching your breath after two months, soaking in what you had lost.
And for Noah, the losses keep on coming, the blows don't appear to be stopping.
His father died, and his prison life haunted him even at the service as he sees remnants of the guard who closed the door on him outside. He sees him everywhere, and Noah begins to wonder what is real.
We learn by the end of the hour he's real enough that someone has attacked him in his own kitchen, and maybe Noah should have talked to his parole officer about what he was seeing. What would it have hurt?
I'm also wondering why Noah spent the entirety of his sentence behind bars. It's odd that anyone does their full sentence these days. Surely we're going to find out just what happened to haunt him so, and why Noah is sucking down muscle relaxants and tugging on his right shoulder. Was the capped guard responsible?
I enjoyed the reintroduction of Noah's sister, and it must have been living with her that was keeping him safe. But when his father left his house to Noah, Noah knew there would be too much bad blood between Nina's husband and him for him to continue living there.
And yes, Noah's dad really would leave the house to the son who was never there. If you don't have family who has gone through the same thing already, you likely will at some point. Always remember, families are weird, and the more a parent has to fight for a child's love, the more that parent can love them. No idea why.
Plus, after the way Noah struck down Audrey's writing in class and because of the conversation he and Juliette were having about safety and security, examining how safe and secure Noah was at any given moment was important.
Unfortunately, all Audrey has revealed here today is how shockingly unoriginal her inner life actually is. It would probably behoove you to get off your couch and go outside and risk some life interactions so you could observe the idiosyncrasies of actual behavior. Better yet, leave campus. Go visit some struggling neighborhood and try to see how real people deal with real problems and try to write about that. Or don't. I don't care, just, just don't bring your diary in here again. Who's next? Why are you crying? Why was she crying?Noah
While I really love Juliette, I cannot stand Audrey. Everything from the way she whines to the way she smokes her cigarettes bothers me. But I liked that she brought up the controversial part of Noah's book that was based on the scene when Noah essentially raped Alison against that tree.
Consent or no consent is always an issue these days. It's a trigger point. But Noah's analysis of it was right, as was Juliette's. There is a gray area, and stopping your every movement to ask for consent isn't sexy. When someone clearly says no, they should be heard, but if they don't, they might be enjoying the battle of wills that is taking place with the person they love.
I think the difference comes when someone is in an otherwise loving, trusting relationship and nobody is being physically hurt. Eroticism and desire can come in strange forms, and not only of the sexual nature.
The two things out of those conversations that were the most disheartening to me were the young men poo-pooing the idea of eroticism without sex and Audrey suggesting there isn't a moment in her life she doesn't feel safe. What the hell is that?
I didn't grow up feeling unsafe, but it wasn't because men didn't take liberties or attempt to. It was because I knew I would not allow them to get what they wanted. Life is a challenging struggle, but I wasn't raised in a bubble.
School didn't have safe zones. Kids were paddled when they were bad, humiliated if they didn't do something right, kids formed cliques and bullied. We toughened up and learned to fight back. Not in a physical way, but in a way that let people know we weren't to be messed with.
Now, when everyone is supposed to be supported and lifted up at all times, instead of coming out better for it, they're feeling worse. If Professor Solloway had talked to me in class like he did to Audrey, it would have ensured I was going to be the best student in there. Nobody got away with that kind of behavior without me proving them wrong.
So to find Noah was talking one way and feeling more like the students than he let on was interesting. He had been so beaten down in prison that he broke out in a cold sweat at the sight of a man who may or may not have been his guard.
Coming up on The Affair Season 3 Episode 2, we'll be checking in with everyone two years after Noah's lockup. What did you think of the premiere, and what do you hope to see as the season plays out? This may be the last, don't forget.
If you want to watch The Affair online, you can do it right here via TV Fanatic.
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.