The Affair (Showtime) Episode 5 Review: Becoming Someone Else

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Just when I thought I knew how The Affair worked, the series upended its format. In one hour, the victim was revealed, the order of the perspectives was swapped and Alison and Noah’s interrogations came to an end. Even with the reveal that Cole’s younger brother Scotty was the one hit by the car, The Affair became more twisted, the motivations more muddled and the story denser than ever before. While episode four brought us an outing where Alison and Noah’s stories synced up entirely, episode five returned to the unreliable narrator format as the characters themselves rejoined the real world. Carrying on an affair is easier if it can be done in private, but when family drama, flighty mothers and Oscar are present, life gets complicated.

The introduction of Alison’s mother Athena, a trippy energy healer with a penchant for causing mayhem, raised serious red flags. She immediately sussed out that Alison was having an affair when she ran into Noah leaving the house where Alison and Noah sneak off to for sex (curiously, Noah never mentions meeting Athena in his version of the day’s events). She also proves to be a disruptive force in the lives of the Lockharts and Alison’s grandmother. While she has the personality of a hurricane, Athena gave us a new perspective on Alison. She sees something shifting in her daughter, a need for adventure and a thirst for something new. From her outsider’s perspective, Athena believes her daughter is becoming someone else, someone more like Athena– a person who does not crave security and who may no longer want to stand by her husband and his desire to preserve his family’s legacy.

It is almost as if Alison has passed a breaking point. Even taking into account that she is an unreliable narrator, the story Alison is crafting of the affair and the summer depicts a woman in transition. From her appearance in the future it is clear her life changed after Scotty’s death. Her hair, her clothes, her demeanor– she became someone else, maybe a truer version of herself. The affair gave her a chance to move forward and away from the small town life she knew. But how does Scotty fit in?

My suspicion is Scotty and the rest of the Lockharts are not as wholesome as they appear. After Alison transported the “fish” it was obvious the family deals in drugs or something else illegal. The perpetually nosy and unsettling Oscar is part of their operation, but his lack of trust in the Lockharts has made him an easy scapegoat in both Alison and Noah’s retelling of what went down before Scotty’s death.

As for Scotty, we know that he is both working around Noah’s (possibly unstable) eldest son and flirting with Whitney. Most of Noah’s portion of this week’s episode was tied to Whitney and his desire to teach her to be a good person. The scenes between Dominic West and Julia Goldani Telles were wonderful. Noah’s desire for Whitney to be accountable for her actions which led to a local girl attempting suicide gave us a brilliant scene in which a tearful Whitney asked her father how she could “un-asshole” herself. His response? Stop doing bad things. A piece of advice that even he cannot follow.

With Whitney becoming a larger part of the story, the idea that Scotty could cross a line with Noah’s underage daughter is entirely possible. If Scotty did become too close to Whitney, if he hurt her or involved her in something illegal and dangerous, what would Noah do in response? Or if Whitney did something that could truly jeopardize her future would Noah and possibly even Alison be willing to cover it up?

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