“The Affair” – Season 5 Episode 4 “Quid Pro Quo” Review

Spoiler alert…don’t read unless you’ve watched the episode…

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character in a dramatic series be used as a punching bag more than Noah Solloway (Dominic West)…In this episode, his beat down continues…He’s informed by his agents that he will have to share writer’s credit with the repugnant Sasha Mann…His mother-in-law continues to be the proverbial bitch while his gay son dresses in a skirt and makeup. He’s told by his daughter that mommy’s new boyfriend calls him a ‘loser’ behind his back and that is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Taking sex toys purchased by his suddenly helpful mother-in-law, he decides to plant them in the bedroom of Sasha for Helen to finally see the light after she discovers them. He does the deed but has second thoughts after he sees his reflection in the mirror holding a rubber dick…but after returning to the party he sees Helen kissing on Sasha and the jealousy reignites. He has a make-out session with the script girl who digs him and ‘borrows’ her bikini top…goes back to Sasha’s bedroom to plant the bra under his bed but this go-around he’s got red-handed by Helen and Sasha. Helen realizes Noah’s half-baked plan and calls him ‘a dick’, echoing back to the scene of Noah holding the dildo…If this was played for comedy, it works…if it was for drama, it certainly fell flat….A definite ‘eye of the beholder’ scenario here.

That look you get when everyone treats you like shit.

I didn’t have high hopes for the Whitney episode but it had merit. Whitney is still engaged to an unemployed Irish dude who sleeps all day and reads at night. She’s having trouble paying the rent but balks when Helen asks if she’s doing okay financially. Her ex-boyfriend shows up at her place of employment and gives her an invite to a party. Her social-climbing boss jumps at the chance, dragging Whitney along where she meets another smarmy dude who finances art galleries…She hooks up again with the ex-boyfriend as the smarmy guy watches…she’s informed by her ex that the guy “likes to watch” and that he has the power to help her fund her gallery…Whitney thinks about it then goes along with the program, tacitly acknowledging her lack of power in making things happen in her life. The episode ends with her holding her sleeping boyfriend, comforting him as if she’s trying to comfort herself. Some good writing at work here because Whitney’s character makes the weak choice…she doesn’t blame her parents although clearly, their broken belief systems make her susceptible to go down a path where she makes moral compromises.

That look you get when you realize that your boyfriend is a fucking bum.

Every episode has been capped by an installment of “Joanie” and a glimpse into her future in the year 2053 (?)…This go around shows her sifting through her father’s belongings and throwing out all of her family’s old pictures…even those including her mother holding her as a baby…Again, these vignettes of her are very short and don’t do much in the way of establishing her character. This still has a tacked-on feel to the story…I’m guessing it was done on the fly after it was determined that Ruth Wilson was no longer going to be on the show.