We open with Alison, waking up to coffee in bed from Noah. They're at the lake cabin, which we learn was a place that Harry has loaned to Noah. Harry doesn't know that Alison is there, though. Concerned with what the neighbors might think, Alison wants Noah to tell him.
"We have to talk about this when you get back," Alison says. "Who I am to you," she clarifies.
"You're the best thing that's ever happened to me," Noah says, before leaving to start the day that we saw last week.
Left to herself for the day, Alison steps outside to relieve herself. She notices a man fishing on a nearby dock. That seems important. Back inside, she eyes Noah's manuscript. He's dedicated it to her. Bored, she sets out for a walk.
After stopping to rest, a neighbor sees her and offers to give her a ride into town. She reluctantly accepts his offer. "It's God's country," Alison says, as the man comments on the beauty of the land. "You must be from a small town," the man says. "I am," she replies.
The neighbor, Robert, drops her off in town and offers to meet her later, to give her a ride back to the cabin. She leaves, non-committal.
Alison watches some kids playing soccer, bringing to mind her late son. She eats at a diner and asks the waitress how much money she makes, perhaps scoping out an employment opportunity.
Alison gets back home, and finds Cole waiting for her. She isn't happy to see him. He says that he's only there to drop off her things. She asks him to leave, but he sits down and begins to settle in.
"So, how've you been, Ali?" he asks. "I'm fine. How are you?" she replies, warily.
She asks if he has a weapon on him, and he offers to let her search him. "I thought ... we could clear the air," he says, "but obviously that's not something you're interested in," Cole says.
Cole wants to use the toilet, but it's broken. Noah asked Alison to call the landlady to have it fixed, but she forgot. Cole offers to fix it, but she declines. "Where are the tools? What, he doesn't have tools?" Cole asks. "I'll get mine from the truck."
Alison steps outside while Cole works. Yvonne, the property owner, stops by with a welcome basket and starts making small talk about Noah. "It's a horrible thing to love a writer. All their secret worlds, their fantasies," she says.
I would be offended by that, but I'm a writer only in the loosest sense of the word.
Cole comes out, interrupting the conversation. Oh, this sets new standards for awkwardness. Alison explains that Cole is an old friend that just stopped by to drop off some things and fix the toilet. "Is he single?" Yvonne asks. "I have a niece that would love him."
Cole retrieves their son's wooden chest from his truck and hands it to Alison. "I'm sure you didn't mean to leave that behind," he says.
Yvonne is married to Robert, we learn, as they have Alison over for afternoon tea. After the intense encounter with Cole, Yvonne insists that Alison come over to decompress. While conversing, Robert suggests that Alison become Yvonne's personal assistant.
They could use the help and Alison could use some purpose, it seems to me. "I'd be happy to help," she says. "Oh, God bless you," Yvonne says.
Alison returns home and starts making fish for dinner. Noah gets back and seems rather upset with the menu choice. He starts unloading on Alison about his day. "In a month I will be broke, jobless, homeless and I'll have lost custody of my kids," Noah says.
Alison tries to steer the conversation to a better place, and tells Noah about her new job. Noah does not welcome the news, though. "That is completely inappropriate," he says. "They're already doing me a favor and now they've gotta pay you ... . You should've said no," he says.
"Well, I didn't want to," she replies. Noah storms outside with a drink, while Alison turns to a bottle of white wine.
Noah comes back and apologizes minutes later, and they proceed to have an intense sexual encounter. How much of that is fueled by the alcohol, I wonder? At the very least, it seems that the alcohol is allowing them to go on without confronting some of the real problems in their relationship.
"It works. Did Yvonne call a plumber?" Noah asks, after using the repaired toilet.
So, is that the first lie she's told him? Will it be the last? Highly unlikely. The couple sits down to dinner, and they toast with the white wine. "To us."
We smash cut to Alison pushing a stroller through a bright, sterile-looking court building. Alison sees John, the attorney, talking to Helen. Helen walks into a room, leaving John and Alison in the hallway. "I need to talk to you ... I'm his wife," Alison says.
"What are you doing here?" she asks. "I'm his lawyer," John replies. "Did Noah call you?" she asks. "Helen did," he replies. "She shouldn't be getting involved," Alison says. "Miss Bailey, I'm sure this will all work out exactly how it should," John says.
Alison is left standing in the hallway, alone with her stroller.
Part Four: Cole
Cole is driving a cab, looking quite rough, and his passenger is Helen's father. Cole just wants to drive, but his passenger is quite chatty.
"That's the thing about living. You never get to go back, no matter how bad you miss it," Helen's dad waxes on about the town and life. "You just gotta keep moving forward."
"I'm leaving my wife," Helen's dad announces. "I'm going back, even though I know it's impossible." He tells Cole about Noah, his son-in-law, leaving his daughter. "If that poor, talentless schmuck thinks he deserves to be happy, why don't I?"
Cole has connected the dots, and starts asking about Noah, but Helen's dad doesn't have any new information. Cole drops him off, then almost runs over a boy playing in the driveway as he leaves. He gets out of the car and makes some conversation with the boy's babysitter.
Cole heads back to the office and cracks a beer. He starts to head home, beer in hand, when Scotty stops him in the parking lot. He berates him for not returning phone calls or stopping to see their mother.
"I don't care," Cole says. Scotty pressures him to resolve the situation with his house. They could all use the money if Alison sells it, he says. Cole takes off, but not before threatening to run Scotty down.
Cole gets home only to find Jane, one of Alison's diner co-workers, gathering some of her things. Cole tells her to leave him Alison's address and that he'll mail the belongings to her.
Well, we've seen how that turned out. We see that Cole is living in a trailer, outside the home.
Later that evening, he's back out in the cab. He picks up a woman who seems more interested in him than in going anywhere. She hands him her card. "I'm a private landscape artist," she says.
I'm sure she is.
"I'm very discreet," she says.
I have my doubts about that.
She then asks him to pull over so that she can get sick.
After he drops the woman off, Cole starts to drift off while behind the wheel. After a near-miss, he pulls off and snorts some cocaine. He heads back home, grabs Alison's things, then drives off to confront her.
He stops in a diner. While there, he sees Noah getting out of a cab. Cole makes a finger gun motion towards Noah.
Cole pulls up to the cabin, and walks right in through the unlocked door. He's there for only a moment before Alison walks in.
She is much happier to see him in his memory of these events than in hers. They sit down to coffee.
"I've been worried about you," Alison says. "Don't be," he says.
Alison thanks him for bringing her things.
"You look happy," he says. "Is he a good guy? Is he good to you?" he asks. "Yeah, he is," she says.
Alison brings up a long run that they took once. "That was a really good day, wasn't it?" "Yes, that was a good day."
"Are you ever coming home?" Cole asks. "I don't think so," Alison says.
"I'm sorry," she says.
"That's okay. I just needed to hear that," Cole says.
As he leaves, Alison hugs him and thanks him for coming such a great distance for her. "Promise me you'll keep in touch," she says.
"Of course I will."
Again we cut to the court building, where Cole sees Alison, holding her baby in the hall. "That's your little girl?" he asks.
Inside the courtroom, Noah is being charged with vehicular homicide, obstructing justice, and leaving the scene of an accident. Cole stares Noah down, as he's taken away in handcuffs.
Cole looks at Alison and her daughter, then keeps looking.
It seems as though Cole has a secret.
I know that Ruth Wilson (Alison) and Dominic West (Noah) received a lot of accolades for their acting in the first season, but I have thought, and think even more strongly after seeing this episode, that Joshua Jackson (Cole) is the best actor on this show.
The scene in the diner, where he sees Noah, was very effective, and the goodbye scene with Alison would have been easy to overplay or underplay, but I think that both actors hit exactly the right notes.
I was frustrated during Season 1 with how slowly the crime aspect of the story played out. We got a hint here, a morsel there, but we didn't understand what exactly happened until the very end of the season.
I find myself similarly frustrated here. I want to know more, and I find myself questioning whether or not it's worth it to sit through nearly an hour of relationship drama for just a few minutes of a crime story.
I came to the conclusion that it was worth it in Season 1, as all of the interpersonal workings were necessary to understand the impact of the crime. I trust that the same will prove true this season, as well.