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'The Affair' recap: Season 2 finale provides answers, new twist

Prologue

Detective Jeffries reaches the scene of Scotty Lockhart's death. He steps through a broken guardrail and his eye catches a smooth stone, which he picks up and thoughtfully looks at.

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Hmmmmmmm.

Part One: Noah

Noah arrives in Montauk for Cole's wedding, and we learn that Alison is living there a few days a week while she tries to get the Lobster Roll off the ground. "I'm thinking of going to France sometime in the fall," Noah casually throws off.

I guess he's really committed to see just how good a man he can be without all those pesky morals to hold him back.

He asks Alison to come with him, and she promises to give it some thought. Alison thanks him for coming to town for the wedding, and they head off to help set up for the event.

"Here. Xanax. You look like you could use it. I'm going to have one too," Margaret says, as she slides a pill to Noah, before popping one herself and washing it down with Champagne. Helen walks in and joins her mom and ex-husband at the table, because of course she does. She says that she's Margaret's date for the event.

While Noah shows Margaret and Helen a video of Joanie, Alison walks up. Helen and Margaret hastily excuse themselves, but not before Helen gets a subtle jab in about Alison being a waitress. Noah asks Alison to sit with him, and shows her the video as well.

"I'm sorry about this summer. I'm sorry I left you alone with her so much," Alison says. Noah says that Joanie is his, too, and that it was worth it for Alison to work on the restaurant. He tells her that once they get through the night, they'll go home together, and he and Joanie will get Alison back.

Noah watches the ceremony from the back row, and the couple's vows to forsake all others and stay together in good times and bad resonate with him. They hit Alison, too, as she dashes out of the ceremony.

Noah catches up with Alison, who starts to clue Noah in as to why she's upset. "I have to tell you something. Can you just sit down, please?" she says. "I don't know how to tell you this, Noah. ... I don't know who Joanie's father is."

Alison tells Noah that she slept with Cole around the time Joanie was conceived and Noah was in the city dealing with Martin's health problems. "I didn't know if you were ever going to come back," she says, but also says she knows that didn't make it OK. "I don't want to lie any more. We've had so many secrets between us, and I am so tired of keeping mine."

Alison offers to get a paternity test, if that's what Noah wants. She apologizes again and again, but Noah isn't very responsive.

"I never cheated on you. I came close," Noah says. "You were my one, true love. ... And yes, it was hard. And yes, I hurt people, people I really love. I never thought it would all be pointless," he says. "It's not pointless. I made a mistake," Alison counters. "Well, don't take this the wrong way, but I never want to see you again," Noah says.

Ouch. Is there a right way to take that?

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Noah leaves Alison sitting outside, and heads back into the Lobster Roll, where the reception is taking place. He steps up to the bar and downs a big glass of hard liquor, then reaches for his keys. Helen interrupts him and takes the keys away. He yells at her to hand the keys over, but she declines, and leads him out to the beach.

"I never even wanted Joanie," Noah confesses to Helen, as they sit on the sand and split a bottle of Champagne. He says he thought Alison had had the baby to trap him and keep him from going back to Helen, which is news to Helen.

"Sometimes I wake up and forget the past 25 years happened," Helen says. She says that Vic has a job offer in Los Angeles, and she thinks he's waiting for her to tell him not to take it. They commiserate over how they haven't figured anything out in life yet, and then Helen takes off her dress and runs to the surf. "If we keep talking about this I'm going to kill myself," she says. Noah smiles, then follows suit, and they frolic and swim and laugh.

After nightfall, they return to the restaurant parking lot, where they argue over who is going to drive. They both admit to being drunk, before Noah finally agrees to drive. He says he'll drop Helen off at her parents' house first, and then he'll drive himself to The End.

As they drive, we see the stretch of road that Noah has seen in his recurring visions all season. An audio history of his relationship with Alison plays out in his head, and all the major events of the last three years follow. Distracted, Noah pulls over, and asks Helen to drive, saying that he's more drunk than he thought he was. Helen says that she's still drunk as well, but agrees.

As Chris Isaak's "San Francisco Days" plays on the radio, Helen sings along. "I still love you, I still want you, I still need you," the song says, and Noah looks at Helen with love. Noah reaches for Helen's hand and takes it. Helen looks at Noah.

Crash.

"It was a deer. It was a deer, Noah," Helen says, refusing to allow that anything else might have just happened. Noah grabs the wheel and forces her to pull the car over. He gets out, and sees the bloody, lifeless body of Scotty Lockhart.

Noah curses and cries, then hears a rustling in the woods nearby. Or did he? He looks hard in the direction of the noise, but doesn't see anything. He runs back to the car, and he drives off with Helen in the passenger seat.

As they pull up to Helen's parents' house, Noah tells her to go inside and go to bed. "Just forget this ever happened," he says. He gives her an alibi, and instructs her to tell her mother that she never saw him. "What are you gonna do?" Helen asks, not looking at him. "I'll figure it out. But I don't want you involved," he says.

"I love you," Helen says, then gets out of the car and steps inside.

Part 1 Epilogue

Jon shows Noah a photo of the stone that Jeffries found. It served as a placecard at Cole's reception, and was engraved with Alison's name.

Jon pulls out the paternity test results, showing that Cole is Joanie's father. Jon says that he also has a video of an altercation between Scotty and Alison the night of the wedding, and suggests that Scotty confronted her about the matter. Jon says he can build a case that Alison had a motive for killing Scotty.

"I can now put her at the site on the night of the accident," Jon says. "We're running out of time. This is my Hail Mary pass." Jon asks Noah's permission to put Jeffries on the stand.

Part Two: Alison

We see Alison negotiating with a crabber when Noah pulls up. They return to her spot at the Lobster Roll, which looks much nicer from Alison's perspective. She also seems to be wearing a different dress.

Has someone with a lot of time on their hands gone through and compared the little differences like this in the different characters' perspectives? That would be great.

Alison tells Noah that she wants to keep the restaurant open year-round, which is different than what they had talked about when Alison presented him with her business plan. "I like the work," she says, adding that she'll bring Joanie out there with her when Noah goes to Europe. Noah storms out in a huff, while Luisa arrives to dress for her ceremony.

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Alison tests the microphone for the ceremony, and Cole joins her. They sit on the beach, and Cole tells Alison of all the anxiety he's experiencing. He chalks it up to coming down with something, but Alison says he'll feel better the next day.

"She can't have kids. Did you know that?" Cole says. "No, I didn't," Alison says. He says that they've talked around the subject, and considered adoption in a few years, but he's still uneasy. "I think I always thought I would get to be a father again," he says.

"You and I were so young, and we didn't know what we were doing," Alison says. She asks Cole if he's sure that he loves Luisa, and he says that he is.

"This is not the same thing. You're a man now, and you know what you want and how to protect it," Alison says. "This is your chance to be happy again, Cole. You should take it." Later, Alison watches with a tear in her eye as Cole and Luisa pose for pictures on the beach with Luisa's giant family, then walks off, alone.

Inside the restaurant, Alison grabs her placecard stone and puts it in her pocket. She sees Helen and Noah looking cozy and starts to walk over to them, but Scotty enters the building and grabs her attention. She watches Scotty hug his family, then Noah interrupts and asks if they can talk.

They sit down and Noah tells Alison that her business arrangement isn't going to work for him. "That wasn't the deal, Alison," he says. "I want to raise Joanie together, I want to get married," he says. "Let's settle down, be happy, be normal." Alison says she wants that, too. Noah shows her the video of Joanie, and Alison stares at Noah, looking at Cole's daughter.

Alison runs out of the wedding ceremony as Cole and Luisa recite different vows in this version of the truth. Later, she sees Scotty at the reception. He apologizes for how he behaved the last time they saw each other, and asks her to forgive him. He tells her that the Lobster Roll was like a beacon of hope for him while he struggled through rehab, which puzzles Alison. I guess Cole didn't clue her in that he was bringing Scotty on?

"Seriously, you guys saved my life," Scotty says, as Cole walks over. Cole tries to steer the conversation in any other direction, but when he glosses over the idea that Scotty is their partner, Scotty snaps. He tells Scotty that he told him what he needed to hear to go to rehab, and that their arrangement was anything but legally binding. Alison tries to soften the blow, but Cole leaves and tells Scotty not to ruin his day for him.

Scotty grabs a glass and drinks from it, then takes a bottle and glass outside. Alison follows and asks him to give her the glass, but he refuses. "How's your kid?" Scotty asks. "Someone is going to tell him, Ali, and it's either you or me ... that's our baby," he says before walking back inside.

Alison walks back inside, and passes Oscar. She stands next to Noah, while Scotty grabs a microphone and sings "The House of the Rising Sun" with the wedding band. "Joanie's not your daughter," Alison whispers to Noah, while Scotty sings. "Joanie's not your daughter," she says again, but louder this time.

Alison leaves the reception, and walks along that fateful stretch of Montauk road. She sees Scotty, sitting along the roadside. He stands and menacingly asks her to cut him in on the Lobster Roll, and says he'll forget he ever saw Joanie if she does. "I'll think about it," she says, unconvincingly, then admits that she was just saying that. "Why do you get to get away with everything and not me?" Scotty asks.

"I want to sleep with you," Scotty says, and steps toward Alison. She pushes him away and slaps at him, but he keeps advancing. Alison shoves Scotty into the road, and into the path of Noah's car.

Noah gets out and stands over Scotty's body. Alison steps into the woods, but makes eye contact with Noah, who seems to see her. "I pushed him. I pushed him. I pushed him," Alison whimpers, not quite loud enough to be heard. Noah gets into the car and it pulls away.

Alison returns to the restaurant and carries on as if nothing ever happened. Moments later, she sees Noah, who asks her to dance with him. They step onto the dance floor and stare at each other for a moment. Alison asks whether or not there was damage to the car, and Noah says there wasn't much.

"I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry," Noah says. "Don't cry," Alison says.

"I love you."

"I love you too."

Epilogue

Noah tells Alison that Jon wants to put Jeffries on the stand. Alison tells him that if he does, the law will come after her. "Just tell the truth," she says. "I can't. Because she's the mother of my children," Noah says.

"Then you'll have to choose," Alison says.

They enter the courtroom, and Noah whispers something to Jon. Jon consults with the prosecutor and the judge, then calls Jeffries to the witness stand.

Noah looks back at a pained Alison, then stands up and asks the judge for permission to speak.

"I'm guilty. I killed Scott Lockhart," he says.

Alison and Noah stare at each other as the courtroom erupts into pandemonium.

Final thoughts

As finales go, this one was great. It provided resolution to the great mystery of the series, but still managed to manufacture a cliffhanger.

Dominic West and Ruth Wilson were sublime, and Joshua Jackson and Maura Tierney played their supporting roles to perfection.

My one real criticism of the episode, and of the season as a whole, is that the dialogue is not written to the level of the performers delivering it. Its a notch below the interesting themes and ideas the show explores.

I enjoyed this season immensely, and I think the show made the leap from promising to good this year.

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