'The Affair' recap: A Montauk reunion for Cole and Alison

For The Baltimore Sun
"The Affair" returns to familiar territory: the Lobster Roll in Montauk.

Prologue

"I'll kill you. I will f---ing kill you," Cole says from the witness stand, as he recounts the altercation that Noah and Scotty had. 

Jon approaches and asks Cole what he feels when he sees Noah, this man that had an affair with his wife and then used his family's story to make a fortune in his book. 

"I feel nothing," Cole says. 

Part One: Cole

Cole and Luisa pull into the parking lot of the Lobster Roll, as they visit Montauk so Luisa can meet Cole's family. While Luisa answers a phone call and stays in the car, Cole gets out and tours the dilapidated property. A foreclosure sign is posted to the front door. 

We see the couple in bed in a motel room, and Luisa talks about her dream of owning a restaurant. Luisa steps out of the room to ask the maid for soap, and Cole recognizes the maid's voice. It's his mom, who has taken on a new job there. The three exchange awkward pleasantries. 

Later, they sit around the table in Cole's mom's house and look at old family photos, including some of the family ranch. Cole's mom says she's sorry that they won't be able to get married there, but Luisa says she's glad it's gone so she and Cole can make a new tradition. 

Scotty stumbles in and tells Cole that he's saved some money to buy the Lobster Roll, and he's going to meet with an investor. Cole brings up the fact that Scotty doesn't have nearly enough to buy the place. "I want you to do something good with that money. I think you should go to rehab, Scott," he says. Scotty storms out. 

Luisa, Cole and his mom go to see Luisa's mom to iron out some wedding details. Luisa's mom is Helen's mom's maid, of course, so they meet at Margaret's house. Margaret interrupts the meeting and offers to host the wedding at her place, and says she'll pay for the whole thing. 

Cole's last name comes up, catching Margaret's ear. "Did you say Lockhart?" she says. "I trust you're not the one that impregnated my granddaughter?" Cole explains that was his brother, and the meeting ends, but not before Margaret tells Cole that he's still welcome to get married at her place. 

Luisa and Cole go out to the beach to try to finalize their wedding plans, and Cole suggests that they buy the Lobster Roll, fix it up and get married there. "It's tempting, right?" he asks. He says that he has half the money they would need from Alison's house, which he didn't plan to use it but would for this. 

Luisa says they shouldn't try to get a loan for the rest, and asks what Cole plans to do to come up with the other half. "I thought we could ask Alison," he says. 

Luisa bristles at the suggestion. Cole promises that his plan wouldn't lead to him getting back together with Alison. "That's not ever going to happen. You have my word," Cole says.  

"This could be a dream come true, or the worst idea ever, I can't decide," Luisa says. 

We see Cole and Alison at the foreclosure auction, where they make the winning bid for the property. After, Scotty runs in, bottle in hand, and starts hugging Cole and Alison. "You came through. You always come through," he says to Cole,  and tries to hand him a bag filled with cash. Cole declines the offer, and says, "I'm not going into business with you like this."

"I could tell you something that would blow up your entire f---ing life," Scotty screams at Cole, as he rails against him for trusting Alison over him and stealing his idea about buying the Lobster Roll. Alison curses Scotty, and Cole throws him to the ground. Scotty collapses, crying, and Cole has second thoughts. "I will bring you in, I promise," he tells his brother, as long as Scotty gets some help. Scotty agrees. 

"What were you going to tell me? What were you going to tell me that was going to blow up my entire f---ing life?" Cole asks, as he drives Scotty to rehab. Scotty says nothing, and slumps over, passed out in the passenger seat. 

Part Two: Noah

Noah reaches over and shuts off his alarm, then stumbles to the kitchen for coffee. He settles in at his makeshift desk in his makeshift bathroom office, and opens his computer to work on his next book. He stares at a blank page, then drifts back to sleep. 

A knock on the door from Alison wakes him up, and she steps inside to shower. She tells Noah that she made more coffee for him, and that all of the kids are awake. She asks if he has time to talk this morning, but he suggests they have a date night later and talk then. 

"Hey, isn't your final today?" he asks. Alison says nothing, but Noah tells her not to be nervous, and that she'll do great. 

"I get up at 4:30 every morning, to write on the toilet, because Alison has turned my office into a f---ing nursery," Noah explains to Harry, his editor, who is pressuring him to crank out this second book quickly. Noah says that between his family and teaching, he barely has time to work on the book. 

Harry offers to get Noah out of town for a while to concentrate, but Noah says that he couldn't do that to Alison. "Some people just write slowly, Harry," he explains. 

Yup. I certainly do, and I'm just writing about a TV character's writing. 

Harry suggests that Noah set aside his more serious idea for this new book, and crank out a sequel to "Descent," because "maybe that is the writer that you are." Noah will begrudgingly consider the idea. 

After the meeting, Noah runs off to Alison's school, with flowers in hand, to surprise her after her final. But he quickly learns that she isn't there and dropped the class weeks ago. He returns home, looking for her, but is interrupted by a text message from Oscar, which includes a photo of Alison and Cole together at the Lobster Roll auction. 

Noah dashes off to meet up with Oscar, who fills him in on where he took the photo. "I have a sixth sense about that girl. I always have," Oscar explains. "After all this time, do you still not know her?" Oscar asks, when Noah expresses his disbelief over Alison not cluing him in.

"I got a secret for you. That whole wounded bird thing? It's an act," Oscar explains. "It wasn't Gabriel's death that broke her heart. She never f---ing had one." 

While out on Montauk, Noah pays Max a visit at his beach house there. "I'm looking for Alison. I've lost her. She's gone," Noah says, explaining why he's in the area. "Do you think she's an evil person or something?" Noah asks, looking for his friend to help make some sense out of this. 

Max explains that people leave relationships for any number of reasons, and that doesn't make them evil. He then ribs Noah for only coming to him with his troubles. 

Noah agrees to try to make the friendship less one-sided, and the conversation continues. "I can't trust her. How do you have a relationship with somebody you can't trust?" he says of Alison. "You could always go back to Helen," Max offers, but Noah clues Max in about her new boyfriend. That has to hit Max hard, and he asks about Dr. Ullah. "I don't know, I'm not f---ing him," Noah says. 

Max asks whether Helen is in love, and Noah reacts. "Why do you care, Max?" No response. "Why do you care?" No response. "Did you f--- my wife?" No response. "Did you f--- my wife?" Noah asks again. "Your ex-wife," Max says, before Noah throws a glass at his head. 

"I love her, Noah. I always have," Max says. He knows he shouldn't have slept with Helen, but "when you left, I thought, maybe this is what was supposed to happen all along. ... She's not your wife. You left. Twice," Max says. "All you wanted, all you've ever wanted, is more. I wanted her. But she didn't want me, man. Oh, she still wanted you."

"The reason nobody loves you Max, is without your money, you're invisible, you're f---ing nothing," Noah says, before leaving. 

As Noah drives through Montauk, he reaches the fateful stretch of road, the one that he sees over and over again in his visions. He sees Alison walking there, and accelerates to hit her, before a call from her snaps him out of the daydream. 

Noah walks into the Lobster Roll — where he first saw Alison — and sees her sitting at a table, waiting for him. She explains what she did, and Noah simmers. "And you thought it was totally okay to make such a life-changing decision without asking me? Now I see why your first marriage fell apart," Noah says. "I'm sorry, but this is what I want to do," Alison explains. "Every summer, they mint money here," she says, trying to convince Noah that her investment was a good idea.

"Do you love me?" Noah asks. "Of course I do," Alison says. Noah says if that's the case, then not to go through with this idea. "I'll write another book quickly if I need to, just not this," he says. "It's already done," Alison says, refusing to back out. 

"Look, you're so lucky. You know exactly what you want to do with your life. I don't. I just know I want to do something," Alison says. "I don't want to just be your wife or Joanie's mother." Alison says that she's spent the last six weeks walking the city, trying to figure herself out, but so far all she's figured out is that she misses home. 

"This is who I am, Noah," she says. She says that she hasn't figured out all of the logistics of where she'll live, or where Joanie will live, or where Noah will be, or how they'll split their time, but that she hopes they can work on all of that together. 

"Can we? Please?" Alison asks. 

Epilogue

The prosecutor and Jon approach the bench, and the prosecutor says that she wants to call a witness not on the list, one who will provide new testimony about Noah's car. 

We see Max on the stand, and he testifies about the night of the accident. He says that late that night, he heard a car outside and it set off his motion lights. "And whose car was it?" the prosecutor asks.

"Noah Solloway," Max says. 

He explains that Noah must have thought that Max wasn't home, because Max's car wasn't in the driveway. He says that he looked out the window to see Noah, hosing off the front of his car. "It was him," Max says. 

The prosecutor asks what Max found in his driveway after Noah drove away. 

"I found blood," he says. 

Final Thoughts

The fine performances here made up for what otherwise would have been too big of a narrative leap for me to buy. Perhaps if we had spent more time with Alison this season, I would have understood her restlessness better, and would have a better understanding of why she did what she did.

The Max and Noah story was well-acted, and came to a satisfying conclusion. 

Stay tuned for the super-sized, 70-minute finale, next week. Set your DVR accordingly. 

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