Season 5, Episode 8
“I work, I write, I see my kids, and I try to be a good person.” That’s Noah Solloway, taking stock of his life as it now stands. “You can’t just invent reality. Certain things happen, other things don’t.” That’s also Noah Solloway, defending his version of many of the events that led to his life as it now stands.
Buddy, if you think reality is that clear-cut, you picked the wrong show to star in.
Split between the vantage points of its two remaining lead characters, Noah and Helen, this episode of “The Affair” is a return to form after the strange swerve into supervillainy it suffered last week. Or is it? Does the portrait other characters paint of Noah represent reality, or are we to trust his perspective, despite the many shortcomings he has displayed over the course of the series?
Noah’s presence is minimal at first. During Helen’s half of the episode he pops up twice: first in the background of a photo of his daughter Whitney wearing Helen’s wedding dress, then in the flesh, arriving at Helen’s doorstep, bearing her traditional birthday lasagna. The latter appearance functions as a sight gag as much as a cameo — it’s just one more unexpected thing to happen at the end of Helen’s very trying day.
Her neighbor Sierra is on the verge of losing custody of her child, and possibly of suicide. Sierra’s movie-star mother, Adeline, is preparing to ship her off to rehab instead of simply treating her postpartum depression. Helen’s movie-star boyfriend, Sasha, shows up unannounced to surprise her, then repeatedly butts heads with her 12-year-old daughter, Stacey, over the girl’s obvious preference of her dad over him. Sasha’s own stepdaughter, Christianna (Dana Drori), attempts to enlist Helen in terminating Sasha’s control of her trust fund, which he says he keeps locked down in order to prevent her from libeling him. Uh, happy birthday, Helen?