It’s an Alison/Cole split this week for an event-filled episode. And who saw all this coming?
We begin with Alison, who wakes up alone in the magical house on the Hudson that seems less magical without Noah. She leaves him a fake, cheery voicemail, asking what the deal is and realizes she’s late for work at the big house.
Things there seem quite odd and strained. Yvonne starts snapping at her immediately — and we can see she’s about three-quarters of the way through Noah’s manuscript. She throws a little passive-aggressive shade about Alison’s short shorts and is generally unpleasant about just about everything. Alison asks how Noah’s book is, and Yvonne gives her a long look. “It’s fascinating.” Uh-oh.
Alison works with Robert on his knee exercises, and he’s as nice usual. When she asks if Yvonne is mad at her, he assures her that she’s not. Part of his therapy is Alison massaging his upper leg (uh-oh again), and they get to chatting about cheating on spouses. Turns out Yvonne and Robert had their own torrid affair back in the day, and Alison starts telling Robert — whom she really seems to trust and let her guard down around — the real story of her and Noah. She sort of goes into a daze and starts talking about how much she tried to resist Noah but couldn’t due to their wild sexual love connection. Robert’s eyes sort of glaze over and go black as she’s talking and talking about this wonderful connection, and when she comes back to herself, she and Robert both realize she can’t keep touching him because he’s, um, very excited. (The erection shot here is sort of funny, but this is an upsetting scene, so not really). It’s awkward all around but certainly not helped by Robert saying, “I guess you just have this effect on men.” Ugh.
She takes off on her bicycle to town, experimenting with letting go of the handles and trying to shake off the weirdness of what just happened. In town, she picks up the food that Yvonne requested, and the chatty lady behind the counter realizes who she is and let’s her know that Yvonne has talked (positively) about her and how she and Noah might get married on the property. You can sort of see Alison thinking, phew, maybe i was wrong about what I was picking up before.
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But back at the house, Yvonne is still treating her like she’s some sort of idiot and generally ignores her when she’s serving the family their food. She goes back to her cabin, and Robert surprises her with a visit. And ooof: He goes into a lame thing about how Yvonne found a better assistant — someone who just graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop — and oh yeah, he doesn’t need her to help him with leg exercises anymore. So, anyway, nice knowing you! This is basically a more polite version of what happened with Pete, the wolf dog. She tries to fight it and says she’s doesn’t understand, and he’s like, “Oh, I think you do.” Poor Alison. She runs up to the house to talk to Yvonne and figure out what sort of misunderstanding has occurred.
Instead she’s sees Noah’s book on Yvonne’s desk, and she figures out what we have already suspected (right?): This change of attitude is somehow coming from how she’s been depicted in this book. And as she flips through, every page she lands on is basically calling her sex-on-a-stick and a siren who lures helpless men with four children to their destruction. Quite frankly, Noah’s book sounds sort of smutty!
Alison, understandably, is quite upset. She even wrecks Yvonne’s office a little bit and leaves Noah a much less cheerful voicemail to call her ASAP. She packs a bag (also understandable) and catches sight of herself in the mirror. Her bra is hanging out a little bit, and you can see her looking at herself, trying to figure out if this is all men see when they look at her.
She takes the subway to Fort Greene and — I can’t believe this one — rings Helen’s bell. Bold move. Helen, looking as composed as usual, comes out. Alison has maybe lost her mind as she takes a bit of a tone with Helen and asks where Noah is. Helen agrees with me. Alison tells her she wasn’t trying to steal her husband, she didn’t make him do this, and she is sorry. Helen shuts this all down, incredibly coldly and with deadly accuracy. Helen starts painting a picture of how Noah can seem great but then he starts taking his fears out on the woman he’s with. “And then you become the enemy just because you know who he is. And then one day, somebody is going to show up at your house, thinking they fell in love with the greatest guy on earth.” And on that note she drops the mic, basically — excellent touch showing those bleach streaks in Helen’s hair — and closes the door behind her.
Alison is a wreck. She gets on a train, looks at her engagement ring, and tosses it in her bag. When she exits, we see that she’s run back to home, which still feels to her like Montauk.
Next: Cole falls for a new lady only to have the old one show up….