The Affair 1.3

Are the accents of Ruth Wilson and Dominic West beginning to bother anyone else? There’s no doubt that this is a great actress and a great actor cast nearly-perfectly as a woman and a man who are naïve and innocent in one moment and devilishly devious in the next. Plenty of Brits can handle the American accent with aplomb, and West in particular has had more than enough practice with The Wire’s McNulty and a few other American characters. Wilson is the more frequent offender in this third hour of The Affair, allowing her English English to show itself in her American English, especially in the framing scenes in the interrogation room.

She’s still perfect for Alison, though, as West is perfect for Noah, and though the third episode isn’t as good as the first or second it still moves the story forward into the promise of next week. That’s really the main reason why this show is working so far – the promise of next week. That’s not to say that the individual episodes aren’t doing enough, because they’re certainly far better than most of the drivel on television today. But the story and structure is so twisty-turny that the extended period of theorizing in between episodes is nearly as exciting as the episodes themselves, and that’s a mark of a solid and lasting series.

The sometimes-conflicting accounts of the affair that Noah and Alison relay to the detective were slightly less exciting and a whole lot slower this week, but the flash-forward glimpses did let slip a few key points with regards to the case at hand. First, it appears that Noah’s second novel might end up being an important device going forward into The Affair, beginning with his ominous mention of it to the detective: “Do yourself a favor and read my book.” During Noah’s half of the hour, he recounts meeting with a literary agent (a guy named Harry who’s popped up enough times that he might actually be an important character) and discussing this book in the early stages. It’s about an ill-fated affair, Noah says, between a city boy and a smalltown girl (livin’ in a lonely world). How’s it different? He kills her. Harry seems very intrigued by this, and while it doesn’t necessarily sound like a groundbreaking idea for a novel it does provide an interesting angle on The Affair.

The second and more revelatory slip is a name that Noah brings up: “Oscar Hodges”. Oscar is the diner owner at the little shack where Alison works, and he’s the first regular we’ve heard mention of in the interrogation scenes. That mention knocks the diner owner out of the running for possible murder victims (as we prematurely postulated in our review of episode two), but it also places him squarely in another category altogether: if Alison’s husband Cole is the murder victim, then Noah and Alison could be setting up Oscar for the crime.

Alison’s comment “I can’t believe he’s gone” would serve to evidence the fact that the victim is someone close to her. In her account of the night, Cole attends a town meeting at which Oscar’s new idea for a bowling alley hits the floor. Cole is staunchly against this idea, and he gives a Remember the Titans-style “this is our town!” speech in defense of all that is pure and purely townie in Montauk. According to Alison, Oscar gets extremely angry and nearly fights Cole. Oscar storms off and Cole gets gladhanded by some locals before taking off himself.

It’s a relatively small scene, but it could be the beginning of a depiction of the animosity between Oscar and Cole. This, again, could be truth — or Noah and Alison could be using their conflicting accounts to frame Oscar. It’s a bit obvious that Cole, the husband, would be the one to get killed when everything goes south. But for now, it’s at least heartening to see that even a slower episode of the show can be mined for such possibilities.

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