'The Affair' Season 3 Finale Reunites Whitney & Noah In Paris
If there's one perspective I wasn't clamoring to see in The Affair Season 3 finale, it was Juliette's — but, alas, you can't always get what you want. When the episode kicks off, Noah has apparently made a miraculous physical and mental recovery from that incident in which he stabbed himself in the neck during a psychotic break. He's casually enjoying croissants and exploring bookstores in Paris, and viewers are left to wonder whether or not his probation officer knows he left the country. It was disappointing, but not especially surprising, that Alison and Cole were left out of the episode entirely — both characters were underused this season, and the finale was no exception. But, after a seriously underwhelming Part 1, Whitney and Noah reunited on The Affair and their interactions were some of the most moving, compelling moments of the entire season.
Whitney, who's in Paris for an art show with her insufferable boyfriend/boss Furkat, is understandably displeased when Noah reaches out to her. To be more specific, she gives him the warm greeting of, "what the f*ck are you doing here?" and it's hard to blame her. Noah gives it another shot that night and heads to art show, where he witnesses Furkat slap Whitney straight across the face during an argument on the street. The incident is ugly and painful to watch, but it leads to an honest, open conversation between Noah and Whitney — and it's a reminder that she's possibly the only character on The Affair who holds her dad accountable for his deplorable actions.
As father and daughter stand by the Seine, Whitney attempts to defend Furkat, but the conversation quickly shifts to what's really important — the effect that Noah's actions have had on Whitney. When he tells her, "love isn’t supposed to bring you pain," Whitney rightfully jumps at the opportunity to tell her dad just how much pain he caused Helen — and it's a heartbreaking moment when she expresses that he simply walked away and she was left alone to watch her mom suffer. Noah's pathetic defense is that he never hit Helen — and yet, his own perspective in Episode 7 showed him rape his ex-wife, and he admitted in the premiere's seriously awkward dinner party that he "didn't know" whether or not Alison had actually consented to an aggressive sexual encounter depicted in Season 2.
Noah's response to Whitney is probably the most honest thing he's said during the entire series: "I failed in the most important job I had, which was to protect you from men like... men like me." Still, it's hard to let Noah off the hook simply for owning up to what viewers already know — and it seems like Furkat's sole purpose on the show was to make Noah look slightly less terrible. Whitney, who has always been in a hurry to establish herself as an independent adult, shows her own childlike vulnerability when she asks her dad to please just bring her home to Brooklyn.
As Noah drops Whitney off at Helen's apartment, he tells her he loves her and she responds with a smile and a "thank you" — a painfully realistic depiction of the long, complicated path to repairing a relationship with a parent.
Unlike Seasons 1 and 2, which concluded with deliberate, jaw-dropping cliffhangers, the Season 3 finale left us with messy loose ends — does Whitney know that Helen was driving the car that killed Scotty Lockhart? Helen blurted out the truth in front of her three youngest children, so I assume she received this update — but it seems strange that the topic didn't come up during her conversation with Noah. And, it's hardly a cliffhanger when Noah gets in a cab and realizes he has nowhere to go — rather, it seems indicative of the fact that the show's writers have lost their way just as much as their characters.
Season 4 has been confirmed, and the show's future is far from hopeless — but, if there's one thing that became abundantly clear in Season 3, it's that complex characters like Alison, Cole, and Whitney deserve far more screentime and character development. When The Affair sinks back into the ocean later this year, let's hope Noah is no longer the show's main focus — his plotline has played out and it's time to focus on the other fascinating characters.