Seriously, Though: WTF Happened to ‘The Affair’? We Have a Theory
Get out the red string & the mystery board cos we’ve got a conspiracy brewing.
Truthfully, Season 4 of The Affair—for the most part—has probably been our favorite season of the show. But that’s true only up to a point—and a very specific point at that. While we found plenty to love within the season’s emotional exploration of a damaged woman, #MeToo narratives, and tragic love stories, we also hated how throwaway they treated the final moments of the show’s best character.
Ruth Wilson’s Alison Bailey was initially killed off-screen. We experienced her death through the devastated reactions of her two ex-husbands, forced to contend with the tragic news while on an unlikely road trip together to find her. It was a unique way to kill off a main character and one that made the final shock of Alison’s confirmed death all the more unexpected and jarring.
By the next episode we were given answers as to why and how this tenacious woman died—and it was senseless. Alison was brought down by a drunk and violent man and killed in the clumsiest, most meaningless manner possible, banging her head against a table in the midst of a tussle. But the strangeness of the narrative starts to take on an even larger mystery when you take into account the behind the scenes drama that appears to have surrounded the character’s death.
Firstly, showrunner Sarah Treem suggested to The Hollywood Reporter that Alison was killed off because Wilson “wanted to leave the show.” A few weeks later Wilson confirmed she did want to leave The Affair but hinted at some bad juju behind the scenes, telling Gayle King on CBS This Morning, “I did want to leave but I’m not allowed to talk about why.” However, Wilson dismissed the suggestion it may have been due to the pay disparity between herself and West telling King flatly, “I’ve never complained to Showtime about pay parity.”
Showtime then backed up against Wilson’s statements by telling Deadline that Alison (the most interesting character on the damn show) had to die because “everyone agreed the character’s story had run its course,” particularly as her character “had finally achieved self-empowerment.” As if that’s the end moment of every woman’s life.
Of course, Wilson was having none of it. Speaking to The New York Times, the actor reiterated that “there is a much bigger story” behind her leaving the show. Adding to this clusterfuck of mystery is the fact that Joshua Jackson also appears to have left the show as a series regular.
At the end of September, Entertainment Tonight reported that the extremely easy-on-the-eyes actor will likely not be returning for the fifth and final season. Apparently, Treem has made arrangements so that Jackson can return for one single episode to wrap up his storyline. Jackson is said to have left “on very distinct terms” and doesn’t want to return—which sounds to us like he may have exchanged some very strong words with some very powerful people, flipped them the bird, and left the studio in a blaze of glory, but what do we know?
Well, there is one thing. In 2016, Wilson and Jackson were spotted enjoying an epic eight hour drinking session together. It caught our eye because Rupert Murdoch’s burning dumpster fire of a tabloid The Daily Mail seemed super hung up on the fact that Jackson was newly single at the time having just broken up from Diane Kruger.
Naturally, the paper seemed convinced Wilson and Jackson were enjoying some romantic rebound fling together. But as anyone who has ever indulged in an epic drinking session with a co-worker can likely identify from the pictures—these two weren’t likely flirting, but probably drinking off an especially bad day at work.
As the gossip rag told it, the two were seen drinking at the restaurant from 3pm until 11pm when they went back to a hotel together. Probably to eat some greasy food, dance to some guilty pleasures, and pass out on the bathroom floor after dry heaving for half an hour (we know this dance well). It’s the date of the drinking session that’s most interesting, though. The paper reported the boozy sesh on August 24th 2016—just a few months before the Season 3 premiere, and so presumably this took place towards the end of the shooting schedule for the season, too.
There’s every chance in the world that whatever led to Wilson’s exit may have taken place around this time and that Jackson is more than privy to the details of what happened—which is why he was seen drinking with her and why he’s also leaving the show, despite Cole’s story requiring far more than one episode to wrap up. We have no idea what happened but we do know that a potential eight hours worth of drinking to get over it means it must have been something near the top of the “work-is-shite” scale.
We also know that Season 5 isn’t exactly shaping up to be a great ending for the show and we’re just happy it’ll all be coming to an end soon. As far as we’re concerned, the show is over without Alison or Cole, anyway.