Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Affair 1.3: The Agent and the Sleepers

For some reason, my favorite scene in The Affair 1.3 was the one with Noah and his book agent, who takes shots at fantasy and self-publishing.   The latter I can understand, coming from an agent.  After all, self-publishing would put literary agents out of business.  But why fantasy?

So why did I enjoy this conversation?  Because, it captured the arrogance of agents in general so perfectly.   And the capture of personalities - especially Noah, the somewhat struggling author, and Alison, the waitress but much more - is the great strength of this beautifully photographed and otherwise rendered series.

It's now become a little more clear exactly what we're seeing in the two accounts that make up the hour - Noah's and Alison's - and how this relates to the conversations with the police detective.  First of all, the accounts, or recollections of Noah and Alison, cover much more than the conversations we see with the detective.  I thought, at first, that the full episode was a depiction of what Noah and Alison were each telling the detective.   But there's no reason that Noah would have told the detective about his meeting with his agent, or Alison's feelings about seeing the boy in the hospital.

So Noah's and Alison's renditions are, in effect, God's-eye views of what they are experiencing, or think they are experiencing, in their lives.   But what makes this so interesting is not only when their accounts differ about what happened when the two of them are together, but how their accounts overlap in a syncopated kind of parallelism.   Noah and Alison each sleep with their respective spouses - and, moreover, not only initiate the sex by waking them up, but tell their spouses not to wake up.   Although a part of this seems unrealistic - it's doubtful that Noah and Alison would literally both use the same exact words - the sentiment expressed makes perfect sense in the circumstances.   On the one hand, Noah wants to sleep with Helen, and Alison with Cole, as a way of reaffirming their marriages. But Noah also wants to imagine he's sleeping with Alison, and Alison wants to think she's sleeping with Noah, rather than with their spouses.   Telling their spouses not to wake up enhances the prospect for their illusions.   Yet these are short-lived, because Helen and Cole each do wake up - symbolizing in a compelling way the vulnerability of the affair to reality, and/or that their affair hasn't quite happened as yet.

Also of interest on this point is that Noah goes much further in his account with Alison than she goes with Noah in hers, as if to underscore that, though powerfully attracted to Noah, she's still a little bit more ambivalent about where this is headed.   So did they actually have sex together yet or not?   This puts the relative truth of their two accounts back on center stage, where it always was, and which makes this series so good.

See also The Affair Premiere: Sneak Preview Review ... The Affair 1.2: Time Travel! ... The Affair 1.4: Come Together ... The Affair 1.5: Alison's Episode ... The Affair 1.6: Drugs and Vision  ... The Affair 1.7: True Confessions ...  The Affair 1.8: "I Love You / I Love You, Too" ... The Affair 1.9: Who Else on the Train? ... The Affair Season One Finale: The Arrest and the Rest



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