Without serious help, both Helen and Noah are in danger of losing everything.
Both of them cracked under pressure on The Affair Season 3 Episode 9. Helen's parents falling in line with Vic proved too much for her, and keeping the secret about Scotty's death was no longer of interest.
Noah, on the other hand, had to face over 30 years worth of lies that had been building up inside him. Now that the truth is out, can either of these two start putting their fractured lives back together?
Helen was reeling after her night with Noah. After facing off with Vic and his decision to leave, the only thing she could think of to do was to get out of the city.
In hindsight, it probably wasn't the best move. She's never gotten on well with her parents, and they simply fell in love with Vic during the dinner they recently shared. They couldn't stop talking about him.
Yet even when Helen admitted Vic left her, she didn't get the expected life lessons from Bruce and Margaret, because they're starting their own new journey together.
Margaret: We admit it. We failed you as parents.
Bruce: Your mother and I, uh, we've been seeing a therapist.
Margaret: He has made us see everything so much more clearly, and now we realize how utterly responsible we are for how disastrously your life has turned out.
Bruce: We want you know that we're here for you now, for whatever you need: vacations, clothing, counseling.
Margaret: You're a good person, Helen, despite your upbringing, and none of it, none of it, is your fault.
Helen is used to being blamed for her terrible marriage with Noah, for picking the wrong man, for not doing much of anything right. The incredulous stares she had for these new parents proved she had no idea who they were becoming.
This time, it was Helen who ruined the family dinner. You could see the steam coming out of Helen's ears as both her parents and children spoke angrily about Noah, and the more they said that was negative about Noah and positive about Vic, the worse it became.
Then Helen snapped.
Helen: You didn't do anything wrong, and neither did your dad.
Helen: It was me. I hit Scotty Lockhart. I was driving, it was not him. I don't know what I was thinking.
Elder son: You were driving?
Helen: I'm sorry I lied, but I can't keep lying.
Margaret: What is this nonsense?
Helen: I'm sorry. I need you all to know. And I need the Lockharts to know. I mean, my God, his poor mother. I, I, I have to tell her.
Of all the things to consider doing, telling Cherry about Scotty wouldn't have been high on my list. Other than the connection as mothers and seeing pies sold at The Lobster Roll, I can't think of a single thing that would push Helen in that direction.
Cherry wasn't a character who was easy to identify with, even when all of her children were alive. Seeing her through Alison's eyes was difficult, and through Cole's eyes no better.
Now I'm not saying Helen should continue to keep the secret, but sharing it because of Cherry? No. Think on it a bit more.
Margaret and Bruce were imploring Helen to think about her kids. What good would seeing another parent go to prison do them at this point? Did they have to live through another trial when Noah already served time for the crime?
They had valid points, all of them. But it didn't stop Helen from locking them up in the panic room (are panic room supposed to be marked as such?) and sitting like a stalker in front of Cherry's house contemplating a future in which she told the grieving mother the truth.
When Alison met with Helen on The Affair Season 3 Episode 8, she didn't tell Helen about being on the side of the road and pushing Scotty. Since Helen knows the truth, we know Alison remembered it incorrectly.
Helen took it pretty well, and it told her a lot about Noah and what he didn't tell her about that night. Allowing her to live with the guilt of making him miserable for the last four years took a hit on Helen. As it should. But it should have taken a bit of the guilt about killing Scotty away, too.
It didn't. I was disappointed that Helen drove the car after drinking, proving she learned nothing from the whole incident. Then again, maybe she learned as much as Noah has learned. If she's somehow tagged for something else, she'll welcome the punishment.
Helen: I just...I don't know what to do. I don't know how to live with this.
Vic: You just do.
It's hard to imagine whether or not Vic will help Helen get through this. If he really loved her, a day or so shouldn't have changed that.
But knowing the woman you love has been hiding a secret the likes of Helens could possibly change your feelings in a heartbeat. And I don't know how Helen lives with it. The guilt, the expectation that every policeman on the street might be coming for her would be overbearing.
How people commit crimes of that magnitude and walk away, I'll never know. We can see what it's done to Noah.
His father knew he killed his mother, and possibly even knew he murdered her. Then again, Noah, even by self-proclamation, has always known the power of his charming personality. On a mother who loved him more than anyone it would have been so easy.
As I've said all along, Noah stabbed himself in the neck. What I didn't expect was that he had fallen so far so quickly as to make the entirety of his prison sentence a living hell in his need to punish himself for a murder over 30 years ago.
He chose Gunther because in Gunther he saw himself. How fortuitous that he was a guard at the very prison he was incarcerated. Noah needed only to see his face to concoct the perfect, tragic scenario that would finally lay his guilt out on the table.
John Gunther was from the same hometown, he was also a swimmer, and he was now holding Noah captive for his crimes.
As soon as Noah visited John's wife, it was obvious she was a happy person, in no distress. If someone was married to the man Noah was with in prison, we couldn't have expected that sunny disposition.
John is a good father, and from the way he handled Noah's visit, a good man.
He could have done a lot worse to Noah than simply disarming him and sending him on his way. Yet even when Noah was aggressively questioning the guard, John's eyes were filled with understanding and compassion. He was hardly the character we had come to know during The Affair Season 3.
That's because that character was a figment of Noah's imagination. He's someone created to get from Noah the deep, dark secrets he's been unwilling to share, even with himself. He told Alison taking his mother's life was a mercy killing, but in his heart, Noah knew he had murdered his mother.
What else could he do to himself other than make himself pay for the terrible things he did? His attempts to fight himself off no longer worked. He was an inmate, not the charming fellow who could win everyone's hearts.
Everywhere he looked, Noah saw his demon. His demon took the face of John Gunther, because it was easier for him to process the man who was once so much like him, now pegged the antagonist in the live he lives, completely as one with him in the manuscript he was writing.
Noah has done a fabulous job of severing the ties with those who loved him. Nina is still on his side, but Noah has some owning up to do before people are going to be able to help him through what is one of the biggest revelations he's ever had.
He can't do it on his own, or he'll continue to ponder his sanity. Without a touchstone, he'll be questioning everything.
What do you think? Can these two find their way back, not to each other, but to life? Will there be another time jump for the finale? Were you surprised by the events of this episode?
Hit me up in the comments. This was a big one.
If you missed any of the season so far, watch The Affair online to get all caught up. One more to go this season and then onto The Affair Season 4!
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.