And there is the central question of whether the two people having the affair, Noah and Allison (Ruth Wilson), will get together, or stay apart. The producers haven’t implied either scenario would be a terribly good idea. We are not rooting for them, and not rooting for them. Every possible outcome—them together, them staying with their existing partners—seems only likely to bring misery.
At once deeply observed and intriguingly elusive, The Affair explores the emotional effects of an extramarital relationship. Noah is a New York City schoolteacher and budding novelist with a wife of twenty years and four children. Alison is a young waitress and wife from Montauk at the end of Long Island, trying to piece her life back together in the wake of a tragedy. The provocative drama unfolds separately from multiple perspectives, using the distinct memory biases of each character to tell the story.
Noah and Allison meet in a life-or-death moment; as they swing into town, Noah and Helen’s daughter chokes in the diner. The affair begins slowly, then careers into intimacy and depth as mutual desire and factors in their individual lives help push Allison and Noah together.
The affair has its own mystery, as much as the existing relationships have theirs; pain and pleasure is interwoven, and then, finally, at summer’s end heartbreak as Noah prepares to head back to the city. But, as fans have seen, the affair is exposed to Cole, and confessed to by Noah to Helen, and then Noah and Allison are brought together again. An end-point—the revelation of adultery, and its upsetting fallout—proved to be anything but. Power dynamics see-saw between all the main characters.
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