There’s no need to sugarcoat anything when it comes to The Affair season 4 episode 9. Over the course of this episode, we saw how Alison died, but also how Alison wanted her future to be. She wanted something that was real, honest and healing. Instead, all she got was pain. This was a heartbreaking, exceptional episode anchored by the departing Ruth Wilson as well as Ramon Rodriguez, who played a man named Ben who is, when the dust settles, utterly detestable.
First, Rodriguez played Ben through the lens of how Alison wanted to see him, the version of a man many people may want after learning that they are harboring a secret like a secret marriage. You want to believe that they will be honest with you, that they will leave their partner for you, and that you can move past it to have the most honest, wonderful relationship of your entire life.
What made the first half of the episode so realistic is that Alison had that fantasy, but there was also still darkness in it. The version of Ben in her dream still did touch on some terrible things, including him shooting a young boy with an RPG and also what happened with his wife that caused him to stop drinking and become celibate. This was still a version of life where there were monsters and we saw some of it come up in Ben’s story. Yet, at the end the two were together and pursuing a future together. Alison was a realist after everything she went through; she understood that there was really no such thing as a perfect reality and she wasn’t trying to pursue that with Ben.
Then, there was the actual reality where Ben’s war trauma was a trigger for him to start drinking, where he was abusive and manipulative, where he was selfish, and where he would refuse to acknowledge he was married and had no intention of ever leaving his wife. It was this version who was likely manipulating and cheating with other women who all fault that they had a slice of his heart, as well. This is the version of Ben who killed Alison when she refused to give him precisely what he wanted: The pretense of control. He didn’t want anything to do with him but didn’t also want to give in to his demands. He was drinking, it was heated, and after hearing that Ben shot the RPG kid in this story knowing he was effectively unarmed, he was dangerous. Alison’s death seemed to come via a blow to a head, which is why it appeared that she hit it in the rocks of the ocean.
Ben got away with it — or at least he has for now. Moving forward from here, the question is whether or not there is any way for Cole or Noah to get justice for her. It’s going to be hard to since Alison’s existence, from start to finish, was a life of tragedy. She died knowing that she didn’t want to live the same as she once had. She didn’t know Ben was married and when she did, she wanted to find a way to end it. Yet, the moment that she called him out on it, he chose to end her first. There is only pain in seeing her go out like this.
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In watching The Affair season 4 episode 9, it was clear that the point of this episode was never about an elaborate “who killed Alison?” mystery. It was more about the decisions that got her to this point and the tragedy that ensued. It speaks to the toxicity and rage within a man like Ben more so than it does her, someone who wanted love but also someone who refused to accept it by his terms.
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