Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Looks at the Shows You Should Have Watched (and Still Can) and Gives a Serial Update

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Catch Up TV... Missed the TV Moment Everyone's Talking about? Alastair McKay Looks at the Shows You Should Have Watched (and Still Can) and Gives a Serial Update

Article excerpt

Byline: Alastair McKay

EMOTIONALLY, The Affair (Sky On Demand) is a car crash, viewed through a mask of fingers to a soundtrack of fingernails scratching down a blackboard. It is also a murder mystery, or an investigation into a road accident in which a car failed to stop. There is a detective, who operates as a moral interlocutor, keeping things straight-ish. And there is a marriage, collapsing as a man and woman choose to focus on their incompatibility rather than their love.

That's a lot of potatoes to fit into one pot, and there were signs towards the end of the first series that the story was going off the boil. The early episodes, in which Noah (Dominic West) and Alison (Ruth Wilson) fell into a clandestine relationship, were compelling and discomfiting.

As the story developed, and waitress Ruth was revealed to be a drug dealer from a family of nogoodniks, the murder mystery was foregrounded, and it was hard to see how the show could sustain another series. After drugs and guns, how much more punishment could the philandering dolt Noah endure? The answer is: quite a lot. The second series reframes events. It does this in the first instance by reminding us that The Affair is a story about stories, lies and events viewed from the (warped) perspectives of the characters. Noah, after all, is a novelist, whose questionable skill at making things up is at the root of events. The novel he is writing is oddly similar to his own experience, though we are never quite sure what that is.

Episodes of The Affair are split in two, and the events differ depending on who is describing them. So here's Noah talking to his editor about the last chapter of his book, in which he has changed the ending to something less dramatic. Noah calls it "two people sitting down to dinner with an unimaginable secret between them". The editor is unimpressed and suggests he thinks again and reinstates the murder. …

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