SHOWTIME’S ‘THE AFFAIR’ RETURNS TO FORM IN SEASON 4 OPENER, ‘CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’!

A fractured marriage lies at the heart of Showtime’s drama, The Affair, caused by an affair whose fallout still reverberates into Season 4. Time has passed and the Solloways are now living on the West Coast in perpetually sunny California.

Episode 1, “California Dreamin'” sees Noah (Dominic West) taking up a teaching job at a Compton school to be closer to his youngest kids who are now in Los Angeles. Noah finds it difficult to gain respect from his students while under the watchful eye of the school’s principal played by Sanaa Lathan.

Noah and Helen’s relationship is at a low, with the pair struggling to get on the same page about their children or much of anything else. Noah feels pushed out of his kids lives by Helen, as their difficult communication results in crossed wires and misunderstandings which lead to arguments.

When Noah joins Vic, Helen and the kids at a Mexican restaurant, his son, Trevor (Jadon Sand), appears on the verge of coming out as gay after being preoccupied with a kid at school called Brooklyn. But Noah’s presence appears to intimidate his son who pulls back. Noah and Helen’s ensuing argument pits parent against parent, with the two at odds over their son.

AFFAIR PAUL SARKIS

Noah, a character who is hard to like or empathize with, appears to be trying to mend fences with his children, still paying for the sins of the past while trying to adjust to life in a new city where he doesn’t know anyone. A throwaway call to Allison (Ruth Wilson) might spell trouble ahead.

Meanwhile Helen (Maura Tierney) has relocated to Los Angeles and to a sprawling hilltop home that seems idyllic. She’s with Vic (Omar Metwally), who has a plum new job as a doctor which means Helen doesn’t have to work. Her two youngest kids Trevor and Stacey (Leya Catlett) live with her. But underneath the sunny exteriors, Helen is struggling to settle into her new life and Noah moving to town isn’t helping. Getting away from New York and the bad memories left there was part of the reason for the move. Therapy isn’t helping, even though Helen is trying to keep her the extent of her anxiety hidden, especially from Vic.

Helen is sure that Trevor is gay and has no problem with it although she worries that Noah won’t be as accepting. She starts feeling earthquakes, but they are in her mind. Perhaps Noah is the earthquake in her life.

While Helen tries to find balance, suggesting to Vic that they get away for a few days, Vic collapses on the bathroom floor and the episode fades to black. What has happened to Vic? Is he dead? What lies in store for Helen? For Noah?

The Affair appears to be returning to form this season after a wayward Season 3. This is a show that is as much about perception as it is about reality, exploring the joys, messiness, complexities and tragedies of life through different lenses. Maura Tierney turns in a stand-out performance as Helen in Episode 1, spelling good things for the season ahead.

‘THE AFFAIR’ AIRS ON SHOWTIME, SUNDAYS, 9 P.M.

PHOTO: PAUL SARKIS/ SHOWTIME

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