The Affair Final Season Review

The Affair 2049

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Review

9

The Affair Final Season Review

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Showtime's long-running drama, The Affair, comes to its conclusion and, to celebrate the fact, somewhat questionably decides to go... to the future.

The Affair was surprisingly compelling TV, telling an ostensibly simple story of a relationship-shattering affair between two married people, and the ensuing fallout, but using a curiously effective gimmick to give it an edge: a Rashomon-esque multiple-viewpoint style, which allowed for at least two unreliable narrators in each mini-arc. The stories - and seasons - largely revolved around the four individuals wrapped up in this affair, writer Noah, his wife Helen, mother of their four children, and younger Montauk locals Alison and Cole, who are still reeling from the tragic death of their young boy when Alison and Noah decide to risk all for an illicit affair.

Over the course of the last few seasons things have become unsurprisingly complicated, seeing the titular affair implode, rekindle, and implode again, with further partners drawn into the mess, and even a murder or two. As we approach the final season there's a lot to catch up on, and it's impossible viewing without having been on the journey for the whole ride, with this last run not just jumping forward a few years in time, but actually decades. If you know nothing of The Affair, then this is not the place to start; go back and watch from the beginning: you have been warned.

If you know nothing of The Affair, then this is not the place to start; go back and watch from the beginning: you have been warned

After taking the fall for a crime he didn't commit, and saving both of the women in his life, Noah's path to redemption felt at least partly complete. An innately selfish individual, his ultimate sacrifice was a gesture that should have tipped the scales in his favour, but instead leaves him still picking up the pieces of multiple broken relationships, with Alison dead - murdered - and Helen in the throes of her own tragedy as her new partner faces his last few days on earth as a result of aggressive cancer (leaving Helen a curiously selfish gift in the form of an unborn child from a neighbour he had an affair with just to appease his parents who wanted a grandchild). Season 5 looks intimately at these dying moments - as well as a simultaneous birth of the aforementioned child - taking in the view of Helen, faced with caring for a dying partner who is little more than a comatose husk, and the view of Noah, who appears to be doing everything he can to support her (whilst trying to get a film adaptation of his book off the ground) but is repeatedly shunned by both her and their now largely grown-up children, who still want little to do with him.

Interjected with this we take a little trip a few decades into the future where we find ourselves with Joanie - Alison and Cole's daughter - who is all grown up with young children of her own, in a seemingly healthy relationship, but still clearly affected by the tragedies that have befallen her parent(s).
The Affair Final Season
A typically painful opener, this final season of The Affair - at least initially - eschews its convention of title-carding its 'chapters' to explicitly show whose point of view they are from, 'Noah' or 'Helen' etc, perhaps due to its surprise jaunt into the future. Nonetheless, it's largely business as usual, as we see the two different views of the birth, death and funeral, and feel the horrors that Helen goes through whilst also not being immune to the mistreatment of Noah (who, surely, by now is due a little forgiveness).

The Wire’s Dominic West leads the charge as Noah - perfectly chosen for the part; embracing the wonderfully flawed character whose actions cataclysmically affect all those around him - and gets ample support from the perma-trout-pout Maura Tierney (E.R.) as his beleaguered (ex-)wife. There's something of a gap here, at least so far, feeling the absence of both Ruth Wilson's Alison (busy doing both Luther and her semi-biographical Mrs Wilson) and Joshua Jackson's Cole, with Anna Paquin's (X-Men, True Blood) future-Joanie hardly filling the void given we barely scratch the surface on what her character is here for.

Considering Showtime knew this one was coming to a close, hopefully they send it out with a satisfactory conclusion

There's plenty left to unravel here, not least the unanswered murder of Alison, and this is likely where the plot will go with future-Joanie, as we take a journey with her to uncover the missing pieces of the puzzle. Nonetheless, the trip forwards in time is a perhaps unnecessary jaunt beyond the remit of what fans know The Affair to deliver, at least initially going all Black Mirror sci-fi with its surveillance-centric, oxygen rationing set-up. It's an altogether alien direction for the drama to take, and whilst future episodes could tone this down, it still feels largely unnecessary, as it's a journey that could have been taken in the near-future instead, with little such reliance on sci-fi.

With a bumper 11 episodes (all previous seasons, barring season 2's 12-episode run, were only 10) the final season of The Affair - released on Sky/NowTV weekly - looks like it will have the time to explore its various mysterious avenues, with enough limelight for both the old core characters and our new soul, and with the futurescape not too much of a distraction. Undoubtedly it's not going to be a particularly happy watch, but considering Showtime knew this one was coming to a close, hopefully, they send it out with a satisfactory conclusion.

Scores

Verdict

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7
7
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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