The Affair season 4 episode 4 proved itself to be, once more, a fascinating journey through the lives of some of its characters.
Throughout the season, we have seen small flash-forwards to the disappearance of Alison, and throughout the episode tonight, we got a much better sense to how much it may have come about — and how Ben could be key to almost everything. Do we think that he has physically harmed her? Not so much, but he is well on his way to emotionally damaging her forever. He has found a way to break through to her emotionally in a way that nobody else ever has; yet, in the process of that, him getting her to tell him about the death of her son, and a recurring dream from her youth, carries so much more weight after finding out the truth about Ben’s marriage and other life. Cole found out about at after seeing him at an AA meeting, which completely destroys the romantic façade of the beautiful, touching, and visceral day that Alison and Ben had in the first part of the episode. That was something that felt so real, only to see a very different side of Ben in the opening minutes of Cole’s arc tonight. That was a way to show that the moment Alison learns the truth, it’s going to destroy her. Affairs have long been at the focal point of this story, but it does not appear as though they are going to be stopping anytime soon. The problem for Alison now is remaining completely in the dark.
Not telling Alison the truth about what he knows is just one of many questionable decisions that Cole makes over the course of what is a very questionable episode for him as a whole. Take, for example, his decision to go on a walkabout following the path of his own father, presumably to head out to the great rock in Morro Bay. Maybe this is an opportunity to find himself, and a way in which to ensure that he and Luisa can eventually get in a better position again. He’s struggling with priorities, though to be fair what Luisa asked of him tonight was an incredibly difficult thing — effectively throwing his relationship with Alison into the toilet to ensure that Luisa was able to get citizenship and safety in America. He still has to face, though, the fact that she only exists as a support system to him.
Still, is leaving Joanie behind on a whim to explore the world really the most realistic outcome? Maybe for a person like Cole, but his sudden walkabout is the one part of the episode that is a little bit harder to buy. Yet, these are all characters with a history of making questionable decisions and we’ve seen that with every single person this season. Alison is able to avoid Ben’s flaws because she is so enamored with the idea of him; meanwhile, Cole is so intent on fulfilling this sort of sudden, spiritual quest that he is ignoring the adverse effects it may have.
The Affair season 4 episode 4 may very well be the strongest episode of the entire season in terms of breathtaking scenery and surprising turns. It’s also the most questionable in terms of story, but there is still little questioning by us that this is one of the strongest shows on all of TV.
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