After five seasons of twists and turns, Showtime’s Montauk-set series The Affair is about to come to an end. The penultimate episode, Season 5: Episode 10, aired Sunday and, it seems, finally put any longstanding questions or grudges between Noah (Dominic West) and Helen (Maura Tierney) to bed. All it took was the threat of a deadly California wildfire to get them to speak their truths. Some spoilers to follow.
For those who haven’t been watching—and apparently don’t care about spoilers—Noah has been in a pretty rough spot leading to last night’s episode. As his comeback success about to come to fruition, thanks to the pending release of a big-name film based on his second novel, things go askew for the embattled father and writer when he becomes the focus of a growing #MeToo scandal.
In light of harassment and misogyny allegations by several women, it seems like everyone in Noah’s orbit is turning their back on him, and even his kids are questioning his character. Things go to a really bad place when Helen learns that Noah once mistakenly hit on his daughter Whitney (Julia Goldani Telles) while he was in a hot tub with her years ago at a party in Montauk—it was the WORST, most cringe-worthy moment in the show’s history, by the way. Whitney, who was just warming back up to her dad, has now decided Noah will not be permitted to attend her wedding, let alone give her away.
Later, the fire and a related set of dire circumstances put Noah and Helen together, in peril, and they get a chance to set their past right, once and for all. While the wildfire situation is a bit contrived, if one suspends disbelief and simply enjoys the interplay between the show’s main characters, the episode is really sweet. After some push and pull, Noah eventually seeks out Helen and gets her to leave her car in gridlocked traffic and follow him into the wilderness to escape the coming wildfire. Good thing, too. It’s revealed later that everybody who stayed on the road eventually burns to death in a terrible conflagration.
So, leaving the road and heading into the canyon, Noah and Helen make their way toward safety, but they must deal with some dangerous situations during the journey. And, of course, they’re talking and resolving their longstanding issues throughout. We all knew this already, but it becomes very clear how much love remains between this broken couple, and both share reasons why their marriage may have been doomed, even without Noah’s affair with Alison. Note: In a nice nod to Montauk, and a bit of a double entendre, Helen is wearing a hat from our Hamptons hamlet that reads “The End.”
After scaling a sheer cliff face and making it to the bottom alive, Noah and Helen appear to be on their way to safety. That is until Helen gets bitten by a rattlesnake. Yes, again, just suspend your disbelief. The episode ends with Noah getting Helen to the safety of a hospital and her waking up to find him at her side. She says, “Hi, friend,” and he replies in kind. So will they only remain friends? Or will they get back together in the final episode, which takes place at Whitney’s wedding?
Also coming up in Episode 11, Cole and Alison’s daughter Joanie’s (Anna Paquin) story—decades in the future—will conclude. She’s identified Ben as her mother’s killer, but so far it looks like he’s gotten away with it. What will happen? Do we even care? With Cole and Alison off the show, this whole story line probably didn’t need to happen, but perhaps the writers will surprise us and make it feel like there is a point beyond trying to give Cole and Alison’s narrative an end without Ruth Wilson (Alison) and Joshua Jackson (Cole).
Find out how it all ends when The Affair Season 5, Episode 11 airs on Showtime this Sunday, November 3 at 9 p.m.