"Paul Levinson's It's Real Life is a page-turning exploration into that multiverse known as rock and roll. But it is much more than a marvelous adventure narrated by a master storyteller...it is also an exquisite meditation on the very nature of alternate history." -- Jack Dann, The Fiction Writer's Guide to Alternate History

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Affair 2.6: The End (of Noah's Novel)

A really powerful episode 2.6 of The Affair last night, with a major revelation.

Noah has been having visions all season of driving down the lonely road on a dark, foggy night and hitting someone, who suddenly appears.   The candidate who first came to mind for who that is was Scotty - but, the scene presumably was taking place in the present, in Noah's mind, and Scotty, as we've seen, is still very much alive.  So was that vision not a recollection but a premonition?  Could be, but that's a weak move in this tightly woven story.

Recently, we've come to see that the person on the road in Noah's vision is Alison.  But that made even less sense than Scotty.  Certainly Alison is still very much alive, and why would Noah have a premonition about killing her - not to mention that she's still very much alive in the future, when Scotty is dead.

Last night we got a satisfying and provocative answer: what we've been seeing is Noah's subconscious - or maybe he's totally aware of this - coming up with the ending Harry and he have been seeking for his novel.   Harry hated the happy ending.  He pushed Noah to come up with an ending that truly flowed from the story.   And now we have it.

It makes strong sense.  Noah couldn't bring himself to kill Alison in his novel because he loves her too much in real life.  So he papered over where the story was heading with a nice happy ending. Now that Alison has read pieces of the novel and professed not to like it, and also insists she won't read more, Noah's muse is free to do the right thing in the novel, and kill the temptress who "is sex" personified.

But what does this say about how Noah really feels about Alison?  He would no doubt say, if called on this new ending, that it's the characters acting on the lives Noah has given them, and not what Noah wants at all in his own life.  It looks in the vision that's now the end of the book that Alison appears on the road out of nowhere, which means Noah in the car didn't want to kill her.   But Noah the author, while resisting that ending for a long time, did come up with it in the first place, and has now put on paper.

It's not surprising that Noah has some ambivalence about Alison - we've seen this all along - but it is a little shocking to see him articulate this so clearly in his new ending.  Significantly, he types out the ending after Alison tells him she's pregnant.   He loves her, but the baby provokes the part of him that still has mixed feelings, including anger, about his relationship with Alison.

And - Noah doesn't know that Alison has slept with Cole, which means the baby could be Cole's.  I don't even want to think about what Noah would have put in his ending had he known about Cole.

Meanwhile, the ending provides an important piece of the puzzle of who killed Scotty.  It's the reason the detective is suspicious of Noah, since Scotty, like Alison in Noah's novel, was killed in a hit-and-run.   But likely all of our major characters come to know about the ending of Noah's novel.  It could have given any of them ideas, including Cole.

Probably it's a safe bet that Helen didn't kill Cole, though.  She also had an excellent half hour - her best so far - and I would have led this review with that, had it not been for the dynamite at the end of Noah's narrative.   Martin's medical crisis, and Noah's response, gets Helen to realize that Noah is an "excellent" father.  She'll share custody, and she also sends her worst mother in the world packing.

Back to Noah's ending:  here's a wild idea: could all the future scenes we've been seeing, this and last season, of Noah and Alison being questioned, and Noah brought to trial, etc., all be parts of a sequel novel Noah also has percolating in his head?   That would mean that this part of each of the now four characters' narratives we've been seeing is actually Noah's.   Too crazy, right?

podcast review of every 2nd season episode

podcast review of every 1st season episode

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