×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

TV Review: ‘The Affair,’ Season 2

With:
Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney, Joshua Jackson, Josh Stamberg, Julia Goldani Telles, Jake Siciliano, Jadon Sand, Leya Catlett, Kathleen Chalfant, John Doman

Mixing adultery with a “Rashomon”-like approach to telling its story from complementary but varying perspectives, “The Affair” aroused considerable devotion in its first season, which was tempered by a finale that hit several questionable and discordant notes. The series returns having doubled down, literally, on its central device, expanding the number of storytellers, while continuing to spoon out details regarding its central mystery at a rate that should wrap up around, oh, 2019. Thanks to its stars and writing, the show remains eminently watchable, but this is a drama that clearly must be accepted on its own narrow terms.

Perhaps appropriately, the program has a struggling author at its center, since “The Affair” might be more novelistic, mostly for good but also ill, than anything else on television. The changing points of entry to the story – which now include not only Noah (Dominic West) and Alison (Ruth Wilson), but their respective spouses Helen (Maura Tierney) and Cole (Joshua Jackson) – resemble a book that keeps shifting narrators, in the process leaving sizable gaps in the reader/audience’s knowledge of the narrative.

For those catching up, Noah was vacationing with his family when he met Alison, a waitress still quietly devastated by the death of her son. Their torrid affair, filled with pay-cable-worthy coupling, was eventually exposed, shattering both of their relationships, the repercussions of which are still being felt as the new season begins. (Two episodes were made available, and Showtime has posted the premiere early online.)

There was also a mysterious death, which provided the serialized spine of the series. Yet while season one revealed the victim, questions linger about the culprit and ongoing investigation, in a manner that was engrossing at first and now risks feeling a little too much like the premium version of “How to Get Away With Murder.”

That disclaimer aside, the new tidbits that are drizzled out – exploring not only Noah and Alison’s romance, but also new frontiers for Helen and Cole – do a capable job of reeling viewers back in, thanks in no small part to the strength of the cast. (Wilson won the Golden Globe for her performance, and while that organization tends to look favorably on Brits, her omission from this year’s Emmy nominees was a glaring oversight.)

Although the writers putty in gaps with each new episode – especially in the closing moments, an obvious means of building suspense for what comes next – based on season one’s conclusion and the way this flight begins, those yearning for greater clarity should fasten their seatbelts for a long, rather bumpy ride. The most unexpected plot, meanwhile, comes in the section devoted to Helen, with Tierney wonderfully conveying her discomfort at having her seemingly idyllic life so upended even as she endeavors to move on.

On the plus side, “The Affair” is ambitious and meticulously executed, a grown-up series that allows its characters to be flawed and unhappy in a very real, sometime profound way. Even so, those late-season speed bumps and this opening salvo don’t elicit quite the same level of passion that the show initially provoked – making the viewing experience more than a casual fling, perhaps, but falling somewhere in the middle of that nether realm between mere fondness and true love.

TV Review: 'The Affair,' Season 2

(Series; Showtime, Sun. Oct. 4, 10 p.m.)

Production: Filmed in New York by Showtime.

Crew: Executive producers, Sarah Treem, Hagai Levi, Anya Epstein Jeffrey Reiner; co-executive producers, Abe Sylvia; producer, Sharr White; director, Reiner; writer, Treem; camera, Steven Fierberg; production designer, Ford Wheeler; editor, Todd Desrosiers; music, Marcelo Zarvos; casting, Julie Tucker, Ross Meyerson. 60 MIN.

Cast: Dominic West, Ruth Wilson, Maura Tierney, Joshua Jackson, Josh Stamberg, Julia Goldani Telles, Jake Siciliano, Jadon Sand, Leya Catlett, Kathleen Chalfant, John Doman

More TV

  • Jee Young Han

    NBC Comedy Pilot 'Like Magic' Casts Jee Young Han in Lead Role

    Jee Young Han has been cast in the lead role of the NBC single-camera comedy pilot “Like Magic,” Variety has learned. The project is a workplace comedy that follows an optimistic young woman (Jee) pursuing her dream to be a headlining magician in the eccentric and ego-driven world of the Magic Palace. Related ‘The Affair’ Finale [...]

  • Sharon Case from The Young and

    NATAS Announces 2019 Daytime Emmys Pre-Nominations for Drama Performer Categories

    The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences have announced the pre-nominations for all of the drama performer categories ahead of the 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. “The Young and the Restless” lead the pre-nominations with 21 candidates, but “General Hospital” and “Days of Our Lives” are close behind with 20 and 19 candidates, respectively. [...]

  • Childrens Hospital

    'Childrens Hospital' Team Reunites at Netflix for Comedy Series 'Medical Police'

    The team behind the Adult Swim series “Childrens Hospital” has come back together at Netflix. The streamer has ordered 10 thirty-minute episodes of a new scripted series called “Medical Police,” which is written and executive produced by Rob Corddry, Krister Johnson, Jonathan Stern, David Wain. In addition to his onscreen role, Corddry created “Childrens Hospital,” [...]

  • mike colter luke cage portrait

    'Luke Cage' Alum Mike Colter Joins CBS Drama Pilot 'Evil'

    Mike Colter has been cast in a lead role in the CBS drama pilot “Evil” from Robert and Michelle King, Variety has learned. Colter will play David DaCosta, a Catholic priest in training, tasked by the Church to assess unexplained phenomena to see if there is a supernatural or scientific explanation. Related ‘The Affair’ Finale [...]

  • Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue

    Watch First Trailer for Motley Crue Biopic 'The Dirt'

    Netflix has dropped the first trailer for its Motley Crue biopic “The Dirt” — based on Neil Strauss’ best-selling history of the legendarily bad-behaved ‘80s metal icons — and it looks like the film pulls no punches in terms of the band’s famously sordid history. In this two-minute trailer, we get glimpses of singer Vince [...]

  • man-in-the-high-castle-season-two-rufus-sewell-amazon

    Amazon's 'The Man in the High Castle' to End With Fourth Season

    “The Man in the High Castle” is coming to an end. Amazon Prime Video said Tuesday that the dystopian alt-history series will end with its fourth season, which will premiere in the fall. Related ‘The Affair’ Finale Signals Warning of Wrong Turn (SPOILERS) ‘The Affair’ Golden Globe Wins Cap ‘Exhausting’ First Season for Showtime Drama [...]

  • ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the

    MyFrenchFilmFestival Prizes ‘Tomorrow and Thereafter,’ ‘Diane Has the Right Shape’

    Actress-director Noémie Lvovsky’s “Tomorrow And Thereafter,” a heartfelt homage to the director’s own mother, and Fabien Gorgeart’s “Diane Has the Right Shape,” about one woman’s surrogate motherhood, both won big at the 2019 UniFrance MyFrenchFilmFestival which skewed female in its winners and viewership, making particularly notable inroads into South East Asia and Latin America. Opening [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content