'The Affair' Season 5 Episode 9 dissects the #MeToo narrative with Helen giving Noah yet another chance even as Whitney fuels the fire
As six women accuse Noah Solloway of sexual assault and emotional manipulation, we see an ex-wife hoping his claims of innocence are true, while his daughter abhors the man he has become
This article contains spoilers for Season 5 Episode 9
In the wake of Noah Solloway's #MeToo accusations, there's an ex-wife trying to be a good mother, protecting her children from the claws of journalism.
On the other hand, there's a daughter trying to be fierce as her entire world crashes and burns after what she thought was finally a ray of bleak sunshine in mending her relationship with her father.
As the mother-daughter duo of Helen and Whitney come together, even though they are miles apart separated by the California wildfires, it finally looks like there might be hope for Noah Solloway, contrary to what the very explosive Vanity Fair article about him might reek of.
We begin tonight's episode with a much-needed peek into Helen's (Maura Tierney) narrative as Petra — the author penning the Vanity Fair piece on Noah (Dominic West) — reaches out to her for comments on their marriage and the subsequent divorce.
As Helen slowly learns the murky details of what the Vanity Fair piece is actually turning out to be, we see her face second-hand scrutiny as the ex-wife of a once imprisoned man, who has now been accused of sexual assault by six women at least.
We see her torture and torment, shuttle corking between her instincts as a woman to be in solidarity with those who have finally found the courage to come forward with their allegations.
At the same time, there is her basic instinct as the person who was one in love with the same man the entire nation seems to abhor overnight. The internal conflict in Helen is probably a tale too common.
However, it is the first time we get to see a woman battling one of the most difficult inner struggles and Tierney does a damn good job at portraying just how miffed and torn her character is in a crisis like this.
That Sasha (Claes Bang) is still being a prick trying to butt in doesn't help either. With the forest fires and Helen and Noah's son Trevor getting into a fight at school for obvious reasons, Sasha decides to take Trevor and Stacey from school to his residence at Malibu.
Helen, who was busy trying to give Noah a piece of her mind, while being as considerate as she could, decides it is best to be with her children in times as delicate as these. Luckily, going over to Sasha's place only opens her eyes in times as dark and gloomy as these.
Sasha finally convinces Helen to give out a statement, which talk show hosts pretty much butcher to a sorry piece requesting privacy. And if you thought that was bad, get this: Sasha was most likely the spark that lit the fire swallowing up Helen's personal life in flames right now.
When Petra called him about Noah's article, he slipped in Helen's speculations about him and Eden sleeping together on his book tour — only to add on to Helen's guilt.
Complain as much they might about how Noah still manages to ruin everything in their lives without even actually being there, the fact that somebody else's overbearing presence in their lives is causing this, is ironic.
Helen has given Noah an earful, pretty much asking him to "f**k off", ever since her children's privacy began getting jeopardized over the recent allegations against him.
Still, the fact that she picks up Noah's call after noting Sasha's indiscretion in the whole matter — all over some silly writing credit on a movie — gives us hope for Noah once again.
Even after Helen's entire image as a giddy-eyed girl on Noah gets sashayed across Hollywood over talk shows and whatnot, there's a certain cadence with which he composes herself in front of her children.
They are Noah's children too, after all. And maybe some times it is okay to believe the man accused — or that's what Helen feels here at least.
In a like mother, like daughter situation, Whitney (Julia Goldani Telles) is no different. It starts off as a clear shock, transcending to revolted disbelief, and soon impeccable distaste for her father in the wake of the Vanity Fair story.
Stuck in the JFK Airport when her flight to LAX gets delayed by the fires, Whitney decides to go see Furkat only to find out the deplorable man he can be.
As the two talk about the article, a young girl clad in nothing but a sarong draped around her body appears from the basement, asking Furket whether they are done with "work".
This probably changes Whitney's mind about just how blurred these lines of what's appropriate work relationships are in the industry, empowering her with the confidence to remind him that he had physically assaulted her back in Paris.
And for Furkat to sit there chastising Noah, while he treats his "models" with such utter disregard for respect, is not just hypocritical, but also quite bold and heavy — like your regular wake up call.
The way Helen feels about all the other school mom's judgmental gaze upon her while she drops her kids off at school is paralleled by Whitney's cab ride to the airport — squished between two men who can't seem to show enough decency to stare away from her cleavage.
And while the entire episode reeks of a common air of discomfort of the torture a family goes through together when something like this breaks out, it is these moments of absolute transparency — exhibiting all emotions upfront while layering it with conscience that tonight's episode of 'The Affair' excels in.
When Whitney finally gets a flight, she is seated in an aisle next to Audrey Nelson — a former student of Noah's, who is one of the women accusing him of assault in the Vanity Fair piece.
But unlike her mother, Whitney takes matters directly in her hands. In that, she is impulsive and a go-getter like Noah was in confronting Eden in the previous episode.
Whitney sits next to Audrey on the flight and confronts her whether she knew about the family she would be tearing apart with her accusations, to which the now acclaimed author replies in the affirmative.
But Whitney is also Helen's child and uses tact and crafty ways to word her own confrontation, which automatically puts Audrey under scrutiny. The hardest part of a victim coming out in the open is the lack of belief they are showered by especially if the accused is a man in power.
But in Audrey's immediate expression upon being confronted by Whitney, we don't see a fear of being targeted — it's more of a fear of being busted for a lie she most likely is cooking up, and once again, that helps restore faith.
The best part about the episode, however, proves to be the multidimensional narrative into the entire #MeToo movement. There's victim shaming, but also victim reasoning about how it is time that the smidge of doubt needs to stop.
It explains why it is important to listen and to ponder on the timing of a person actually speaking up, whenever they do that is. Because Noah's words are the truth, the episode doesn't turn his narrative into the gospel.
There's equal amounts of doubt in Helen even as she drives back to him through thick smoke. And there's a pinch of salt sprinkled through every thought that courses through Whitney's mind after she has a conversation with Audrey, and that's where the episode stands apart in terms of taking a stand.
With Whitney realizing that Noah was the reason why she felt it was okay to be objectified by Furkat, and accusing Helen of never being able to let go of Noah, regardless of what he did, is the way the episode balances things out when it comes to who we should believe.
The almost two-hour long run time is justified purely because of that. 'The Affair' airs on Sundays at 9 pm only on Showtime.