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The Affair “Pilot” Review

I’ve written many times on this blog about the Affair. Practically, it is the show that I most eagerly awaited this fall. I imagined it smart, intense, difficult, controversial. After watching the first episode, I can say, it is all these things and more.  

To sum it up, it is the story of Noah and Allison, two adulterers. It’s also the story of two marriages. It’s about temptations, guilt, lies, truth, sexual desire, redemption…the whole spectrum of human nature.

Noah is a writer living in New York with his beautiful wife, Helen, and their four children. He’s what you might call, a man who lives the American Dream.  Still underneath his success, there is a hint of frustration with his life, of a sense of under achievement.  Alison is a married waitress at a small diner, she has lost a child and is trying to cope with her loss.  By reading these short descriptions, one could say that The Affair’s a cliché story about two people with complicated lives finding and saving each other at the right time .  You couldn’t be more wrong. This is not a show about those people.

Early in the story, we find out that there’s been some sort of accident/crime. Someone has died, has been injured, we don’t know. It’s the aftermath of a horrible situation.  Noah and Alison are at the police station being interviewed  by a detective eager to solve the case.  As each one of them is telling his/her version of the events, the stories and the details change. Sometimes it’s exactly the opposite. For Noah, Alison is a mature Lolita, a temptress – unaware of her overt sexuality  and a victim of an abuse relationship. Alison’s story presents a Noah who is the “aggressor”, “initiator” and from her side of the story, there is no abusive relationship. One of them is lying. Or maybe both of them are telling the truth. Their truth. What is fascinating about this show is that the story shift from an omniscient point of view – as it would seem at the beginning of the series – into one which is deeply subjective, full of holes and questions. Who should you believe? Is there anyone who is blameless in what is about to happen? Noah and Alison become untrustworthy witnesses of their own lives.

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Sarah Treem and Hagai Levi Levi have stated in an interview for Entertainment Weekly, that the show is not designed as a whodunnit, nor were they interested in finding plausible suspects. and still…there are signs of peril and death from the beginning to the end.  The tone is dark, picturing a teary atmosphere.  There is a lot of water as well – the water seems to be a motif throughout the episode.  An attractive woman approaches Noah while swimming at the pool.  Alison takes long bath in her open shower, while crying her heart out. The same Alison takes a shower in front of him naked according to Noah, tempting him.  Water is uncontrollable, is dangerous, it’s lethal.

One thing, I must confess, I found “disturbing” during the episode is  Noah’s older son with his  gruesome prank ( pretend hanging himself in the bathroom) so that his father can find him. Is he depressed and nobody in his family notices? Is he just bored?  Another mystery that adds to the pile.

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