The Affair season 4 finale has come and gone, and it feels pretty clear to say that it was a thing of beauty. It was a study of grief, and it was all about learning how to overcome … if you really can.
In the closing minutes, we were left feeling that this was not only one of the best finales of the year, but easily the best one for this show since the end of season 1.
This was in many ways, an episode about emotion and understanding more so than it was action. After all, Vik did not die in the closing minutes, though we’re left with the assumption that this could still happen between season 4 and season 5. Instead, the big revelation there was Helen and Vik coming to terms with how they should have fought the cancer earlier, and how badly they both still wanted him to live. It was a time to try to establish some peace, which was in part why Helen was careful after Sierra told her that she was pregnant with Vik’s child. There were only so many ways that she wanted to handle being in this situation with him at the hospital — in allowing Sierra to tell Vik the truth about her pregnancy, she was giving Vik a chance to learn that there will be something of him left behind when he goes. It almost feels inevitable at this point. You would think that his profession would enable him to be prepared for it but as Vik noted, the moment you find yourself at death’s door, much of what you thought you knew slowly seeps out of your brain. You know nothing and can be prepared for nothing.
As Helen stood on the hospital roof at the end of the episode, maybe she saw her horizon. Maybe she saw nothing. Maybe she just wanted a moment to herself. Death changes people and she and Noah both shared a moment or two to contemplate that tonight.
In speaking further about contemplation, Noah and Cole were left with a lot to think about after Alison’s funeral. Cole went off the deep end, stealing Alison’s urn and taking it with him to his family’s grave. He couldn’t handle the idea of her departing the world in a way that was so different than what he imagined. He was so intent on giving her what he thought she deserved that he was willing to throw away Luisa in the process. They’re done now, but he is willing to stay married to her so that she can have her eventual citizenship and the life that she deserves. This is Cole trying to be remorseful for the past and do something for someone else.
As you look through the finale as a whole, it really was largely about watching characters actually try to be good to one another. That’s a nice change from the earlier seasons of the show and even parts of this one. Anton was there for Noah, Noah was there for Helen, and Cole had one of his most profound moments in the entire series with his mother at the family’s plot. These are people who may actually take something away from all of this.
Life is not perfect. This is why Ben is still out there and why there is no clarity as to what really happened to Alison. We do think that the reality is closer to what we saw in the second part of 409, but maybe we will never get answers.
For Cole, Noah, and Helen, they don’t have too much time to dwell on the past. They have to look towards the future and whatever that holds.
Oh, and for those wondering, the song at the end of the finale was “What Sarah Said” by Death Cab for Cutie.
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