The set-up on The Affair, up until now, is that our characters usually appear more considerate, are more sympathetically portrayed, in their own 30-minute segments. Certainly Noah usually seems like more of a mentsch in his story than he does in Alison's, and Alison a little deeper and more loving in hers than in Noah's. Cole's first half hour in the series earlier this season was a real eye-opener - the contrast between him as a hurt and complicated human being in his story was in marked contrast to how he had appeared in Alison's a week before, where he was all but physically threatening. And Helen was more sympathetic in her story in that same episode (2.2) than she'd been any time in the first season.
To be sure, Helen's reasons for behaving so badly last night are crystal clear, and explicated powerfully by Helen when she asks Noah why he's "doing this" to her and the kids. Noah is no doubt to blame for leaving Helen and his family in such disarray. But no one including Noah forced Helen to drink and drug herself and drive - and, even worse, drive the kids. That she made that bad decision is of course just another example of how off-kilter the affair has made her - but she still should have known and done better.
The kids are also foremost in Noah's story. He, too, was a little reckless in driving the kids to hither and yon after he comes to their rescue from Helen - but he was far more in control than was Helen, and didn't do anything to endanger them. The kids are the reason he was even willing to spend more time away from Alison, but the hour resolves with Noah now having a great set of cards in his hand for his negotiations with Helen, and Alison, who even tries to help when Noah's son gets sick, appearing better than ever.
I hope we get a half hour for her next week.
podcast review of every 2nd season episode
podcast review of every 1st season episode