The Affair season four premiere unleashes an earthquake on California


The Affair is back, continuing the story of Noah Solloway, Allison Lockhart and the other characters suffering the consequences of their affair.

If you’ve seen The Affair, you know that episodes are split into two pieces. The first half is seen from a single perspective character and the second half switches focus to another character. These perspectives often clash and contradict. The audience is able to interpret the two parts and come to their own conclusion.

Before Part One, we were given a peek into the future. Noah and Cole were getting into the same vehicle and talking about how Allison is missing. How we got to this point and what it entails is certain to be one of the core threads of season four.

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Noah and Helen are the perspective characters of the season four premiere of The Affair. Both are now living in Southern California. Helen’s boyfriend got a good job in Los Angeles. Noah moved to Topanga Canyon, giving up everything to be close to the kids. Except Helen and the kids want nothing to do with him.

Part One begins and focuses on Noah. He’s stuck in L.A. traffic. He’s on his way to his modest job working at a public school in Compton. He’s struggling to connect with the kids and fails to impress the principal during her sit-in. He puts one of his students, Anton, on the spot. He presses Anton to participate and read to the class. Instead, the student stands from his seat and almost knocks him out. Noah later learns from another teacher that the student had to repeat the class after plagiarizing a paper.

Noah, trying to be present and involved with his children, shows up at their son Trevor’s parent-teacher night but the security guard won’t let him in. Apparently, he’s not on the list. Helen, Vic, and the kids come out eventually but have no sympathy for his efforts as they’ve yielded no results. It seems everyone feels like Noah is injecting himself into their lives. Even Noah knows it’s true, but he believes it’s for a good reason. Vic invites Noah to join the family in a Mexican Restaurant. He gets lost on the way but gets there eventually. Helen makes a strong implication that Trevor may be gay.

From Noah’s perspective in The Affair, Helen appears to be coercing Trevor into coming out to the family, promising they’ll accept him no matter what. Noah pulls Helen aside and tells her that it’s not her job to force him into coming out and should let him decide when and how to do so. Helen believes Trevor would’ve already told them if he weren’t intimidated by Noah.

Noah admits that he doesn’t know Trevor and Stacey anymore, but he’s trying to make up for it and get back on the same page with them.

Back at home, Noah calls Allison and leaves her voicemail. With nothing else to do, he reads Anton’s paper. He’s trying to figure the kid out.

The next day, Noah demands that Anton stay after class to talk about his essay. Noah said it was too brilliant, and given how little Anton participates, he questions whether or not it was plagiarized. He gives Anton a prompt, expecting him to fail. Only Anton really is brilliant and easily proves he was the author of the essay. Impressed, Noah tries to apologize but the damage is already done.

Part Two focuses on Helen. We hear her before we see her. She’s doing a breathing exercise, to settle her anxiety. We can see it on her face and in her eyes, especially in the moments when no one’s watching.

And she’s been feeling earthquakes. Or she hasn’t. She can’t tell whether or not she’s feeling the tremors or whether it’s a weird psychological manifestation of her anxiety.

Helen spends the episode trying to trace the source of her anxiety. She’s still adjusting to life in California. She tells her therapist that everyone here is crazy to live on a fault line. The right earthquake would be the end of everyone. The therapist questions whether or not there’s a personal earthquake she’s fearing. She confesses to the therapist that she thinks her son is gay. She’s worried because she thinks that Noah will be upset and blame himself for not being around.

The therapist believes that she’s carrying trauma in her body from all the things that have happened to her over the past several years. Helen rejects this notion, believing that she left all that behind when she came to California.

We see dinner at the Mexican Restaurant from Helen’s perspective. Noah is late. On his own accord, Trevor nearly comes out to Helen and Vic, until Noah crashes the party. Helen goes off to the bathroom and Noah follows her.

As the exes feud in the bathroom, Helen comes to the realization that Noah is the earthquake. She’s the city on the fault line, unsafe as long as Noah is near. She moved and tried to leave the past behind, but the most cataclysmic wrecking ball she’s ever known has followed her and the kids to Los Angeles. She tells Noah that she wants to see him as little as possible. Though somewhat reluctantly, Noah agrees.

In the end, we’re left with Vic and Helen as they get ready for bed. For the first time, Helen speaks positively about California. Perhaps identifying the source of her anxiety has given her some sort of relief. She can live on the fault line as long as Noah keeps his distance.

But like the season three premiere before it, the episode concludes with a shocking cliffhanger as Helen walks into the bathroom to see Vic, collapsed on the floor. The next episode will likely pivot away from Helen’s storyline, so we may have to wait at least a couple of weeks to see what fate awaits Vic.

The season four premiere of The Affair gave us a Noah Solloway who’s failing to hold onto the fragments of his old life. It seems as if they’re all he has left, but they’d rather he left them alone. He’s failing to inspire his students. He’s giving Helen anxiety. Despite good intentions, he’s making everything worse. Where he goes from here will be interesting to see, as it appears that he’s fighting a losing battle for his kids’ respect.

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Helen tried to escape the past by coming to L.A. with Vic, but it wasn’t until she identified Noah as the root of her fears that she was able to find solid ground to stand on. Whatever happens with Vic is likely to rob her of this newfound stability.

Season Four of The Affair airs Sunday nights on Showtime.