Well, that was refreshing.
The Affair Season 4 Episode 1 brought us all the way back to what made this series a hit in the first place: The fraught relationship between Helen and Noah.
It's crazy, but years have passed, and the ramifications of Noah's decision to step out on Helen with Alison during The Affair Season 1 continue to pile up.
Noah has always been a polarizing character, but he's a multi-layered polarizing character. He's a difficult character to like, but learning more about him and his thought process is arguably the only thing that makes his plot worth watching.
This first episode back highlighted Noah's flaws that were first introduced on The Affair Season 1 Episode 1.
Moving to Los Angeles was a big move for him.
I don't know what kind of sick game you're playing here, but those are my kids, too.Noah
It showed that he wanted to try and maintain some sort of relationship with Trevor and Stacey. In all honesty, Noah should have probably stayed away.
His presence in their lives has been sporadic, and it's not like he couldn't hop on a plane to visit them once in a while. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but these kids still resent Noah because of what he did.
A part of me did feel sorry for Noah because he was trying, but then there's a whole other part that thinks he should still be begging for forgiveness.
There's also the fact that Noah is lonely. He's in a new city and knows nobody aside from his family who hates him. Hell, he even tried to call Alison with the whole "just checking in" schtick.
The public school storyline has been thrown in there as a device to get viewers to think there are still some redeeming qualities to Noah, and I'm quite okay with that.
Anton is a tough nut to crack, and I want to know why he plagiarized a paper if he's one of the brightest kids in the class. Did someone else copy his paper, and Anton was ruled as the cheater?
You're doing everything in your power to box me out of their lives.Noah
The scenes at the school were minimal, but I'm all for Noah championing Anton on to become his best self. That's going to be difficult when Anton thinks everyone is out to get him.
I chuckled a little at Noah's colleague handing him the manuscript to end all manuscripts. It was one of the biggest manuscripts ever, and it showed the colleague was not opposed to looking thirsty if it meant he got his big break.
The biggest development that came from the hour was that Helen associates Noah with an earthquake. That could explain why she was subconsciously icing him out of Trevor's big night at the school.
There's no doubt in my mind that Trevor was going to come out to both Helen and Vic at the Mexican restaurant. The kid's whole demeanor changed when Noah walked in, and it looked like he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him before having to face his father.
Everytime I see you, I am just waiting for the next disaster to happen.Helen
Noah had every right to be mad about the way things played out at the school. He showed up to try and forge a relationship with his son and was left out in the cold.
Maura Tierney turned in another Emmy-worthy performance as Helen, who is struggling to make sense of her life. She successfully rebounded from Hurricane Noah, but she was not happy.
Maybe Helen looked at the move as a fresh start, and it's doubtful any fresh start she was involved in would include Noah. I genuinely believe a part of her was worried about how Noah would react if Trevor came out as gay, but it all comes back to her associating her ex-husband with an earthquake.
On the surface, her therapy sessions seemed like a waste of time because she was not ready to open up. It was eye-opening to hear her real thoughts on the move.
The great thing about Helen is that she's the voice of reason. She has absolutely no filter. She does not beat around the bush, and that's why she's one of the best characters on all of TV.
You know what, I am really trying but you are not the center of the universe, Noah.Helen
Did anyone else think Vic was too happy throughout the season premiere? From his weight loss to his grinning from ear-to-ear, it was obvious it was all going to come crashing down for him at one point.
That said, I never expected him to collapse right after admitting to Helen he would love to go away with her for a few days. There was a certain finality to their conversation.
It would be cruel to kill off Vic because he's been understanding of Helen's situation and took her kids under his wing, but it would put Helen at further odds with Noah.
I can just imagine what she would say to Noah if Vic died.
"You and your fucking earthquake ruined my happiness," springs to mind.
I liked the addition of Vic's mother, Priya. You can just tell she and Helen are going to be duking it out all season long. Priya's passive aggressive comments were horrid.
Saying that the only measure of her son's happiness is if his wife is cooking him food, fattening him up, and giving him children were below the belt.
Priya doesn't think Helen has the ability to make her son happy, and even thinks she's incapable of keeping her house in order.
Helen strutting out of the kitchen with a bottle of red and running a hot bath was a subtle way of telling Priya she did not care about her thoughts about her.
I can't believe I've gotten this far without talking about the big mystery of the season. Alison being missing is a genius way to bring Noah and Cole together.
They hate one another with a passion, and if they're willing to put all of that behind them, then something must be really wrong with Alison. There's no way she would not show up for Joanie, so I'm worried.
I was so ready to write The Affair Season 4 off because, well, The Affair Season 3 was a convoluted mess, but this opening episode breathed new life into the series and focused on the core characters.
So long as the season is told from Helen, Noah, Alison, and Cole's perspectives, I'll be one happy The Affair Fanatic!
Other odds and ends:
- Is anyone else just living for the moment Helen loses her cool with Sierra? The latter is a free spirit while the other is against all of that. They are going to clash, and it's not going to be pretty.
- The decision to have Whitney and Martin well away from the drama was a good one. Trevor and Stacey are sidelined when their two siblings are around, so it's high time we got to learn more about the younger two.
- How long will it take before Helen's parents show up to urge Helen to return to New York?
- Helen telling the kids that Noah's new neighborhood was where Charles Manson once lived was wicked, but it made me laugh so much. It seemed more like a thinly veiled attempt to get the kids to steer well clear of Noah's house.
What did you think of the episode?
Are you on board with the new storyline?
Hit the comments below.
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The Affair continues Sundays at 9/8c on Showtime.
Paul Dailly is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.