The first episode is neatly split into two parts - two, mirror stories - a he-said, she-said, about the beginning of the affair, or how Noah and Alison first met. This is a good piece of writing, with agreement on all the events, but differences on who initiated conversations and suggestions, such as who suggested that Noah take an outdoor shower - Noah or Alison.
The background is also appealing. Noah is a grade-school teacher and an author of - so far - just one novel. As his rich father-in-law obnoxiously tells him, most people have one book in them, and that's it. Noah, of course, wants more. He's happily married, with four kids, but life isn't the best it could be for him. Not only has his first book not been all that successful - good enough to get a contract and advance for the second, but no best-seller - but with four kids he's lucky if he has a chance to make love to his wife. At least, that's how he sees things. He's an attractive man, in his story, who is somewhat unappreciated by his wife but wanted by other women.
Alison's story is more profound, certainly more tragic. She and her husband (or partner) lost their six-year old son. Her husband is beginning to get over the pain, but not yet Alison. He wants to sleep with her, but she's not comfortable making love with their son still so much on her mind. She's attracted - a bit, in her vision - to Noah, but not as much as Noah thinks she's attracted to him in his vision.
Both stories are presented to a police detective, at some future time - years in the future - as Noah and Alison are being separately interviewed. In this sense, The Affair resonated with True Detective. At this point, it's not clear what the interviews are about - apparently the death of one of their partners, likely Alison's, which may be a murder.
The acting is excellent. Dominic West is his customarily superb - and I'm impressed, as always, not only with his acting but his American accent, which I first took note of in my reviews of The Wire. Joshua Jackson is back in his first major series since Fringe, but the character he plays in The Affair - Alison's partner Cole - is so far a lot less likable than Peter on Fringe. Maura Tierney as Noah's wife is good in this part, as is Ruth Wilson as Alison in hers.
The filming is Long Island seashore evocative, and the mixture of the infidelity with some kind of likely murder makes The Affair an attractive contender off to a strong start.
See also The Affair 1.2: Time Travel! ... The Affair 1.3: The Agent and the Sleepers ... 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
a different kind of affair and murder
podcast review of every 1st season episode