The Affair rolled out onto Sky Atlantic with not as much fanfare as the terrible Fortitude, but in the two leading American character roles, it starred the distinctly British Dominic West and Ruth Wilson, both sporting US accents. Having first seen West in The wire – a must-see series if you haven’t watched it already, before I had ever heard of him, I assumed he was American. Hearing him now, I know he’s British and so the accent doesn’t gel as well. I know Ruth Watson is British, but out of the two, her US accent doesn’t stick out like his does.
However, we’re shown that Dominic West, as teacher and up-and-coming author Noah, is hot stuff because he’s getting the come-on from a woman who joins his lane at the swimming pool (this never happens to me). She clearly wants to hook up with him, but then spots that he’s married (oh, that ring, don’tcha know). Never mind that, though, as he’s snuggling with the missus in bed (Helen, played by E.R.‘s Maura Tierney), the moment he gets back home. And by snuggling, I mean – a bit of “how’s your father”. That’s until their younger daughter screams upstairs for mumsy.
While introducing the family, we learn that they’re going to their grandpa’s house for the summer – a whole three months away. Sounds like bliss, but while they pack up, and Noah goes looking for son Martin (Jake Richard Siciliano), the scene is interspersed with the audio of Noah seeing someone – I presumaed a shrink – about a situation… which we learn is Martin faking hanging himself in the laundry room. Noah makes out to the lad that they don’t have much money since he works as a public school teacher, yet they live in a mahoosive house while driving a people carrier! So how does that work??
Well, nothing works for Martin as he didn’t want to go to grandpa’s house, yet it’s huge, and by the sea, and that’s because he, aka Noah’s father, is also an author – and a very successful one, namely Bruce Butler (John Doman, aka Dep. Comm. for Operations Rawls in The Wire, alongside West)
Stopping off at a roadside restaurant, there’s a definite atttraction between Noah and waitress Alison (enter Ruth Wilson – as much as Noah would like to).
The episode has a fairly plodding opening 20 minutes or so, but then Noah pops down to the beach in the middle of the night as the domesticity of life is keeping him awake. He sees Alison, who asks him to walk her back to her house and then shows him her outdoor shower (and that’s not a euphemism). Like a dutiful husband, he tears himself away from her nakedness, only to return when he sees her boyfrend, Cole (Joshua Jackson), attacking her and then forcing her to take it from behind while pushing her up against the car. Noah is about to head up and knock him out when, since only she can see Noah (is he wearing an enchanted ring to make this happen??), she nods that he stays put and she’s happy for him to watch her get taken roughly from behind.
And then we’re in the psychiatrist’s room, who asks Noah what happened next… fade to black.
Part Two: Alison bears the caption, halfway through the epsiode. Umm… what was part one? We weren’t told. Presumably it was “Noah“, since the second part follows the waitress going through the same day as she wakes up, cuts her finger (hence the plaster she was wearing in the restaurant, even though – as I know from experience – you have to wear blue plasters when handling food) and has some ‘morning glory’ with Cole. They don’t appear to have a happy life, so god knows why they stay together.
She also has a mysoginist for a boss and is hiding a secret, which we later see is that today is the day which would’ve been her son’s sixth birthday, as he died aged 4.
The diner scene plays out differently, with her saving Noah’s daughter from swallowing a marble rather than him doing it. Similarly (or is that conversely), the beach scene also plays out differently.
We’re told that Cole is recovering… but from what? The flu? Or does he cover himself up with a tarpaulin at night, then he uncovered himself, and then at nightfall he’s re-covering himself? We need more information!!!
This first episode was quite ponderous, not giving much away at the start.
But episode 1 was… followed by episode 2, as Sky Atlantic showed both of them together. Unlike Fortitude, however, The Affair isn’t a Sky-exclusive series. It’s a US-made one which aired last autumn, so all ten episodes are now available online. However, I intend keep pace with the UK broadcasts.
Go to page 2 for a look at the second episode.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.