Warning: The following contains spoilers from the Sunday, August 12, episode of The Affair.
Did the opening Fiona Apple song explain Alison Bailey’s (Ruth Wilson) death? It definitely seemed like it. The penultimate episode of the Showtime drama was split into two stories — both from Alison’s point of view.
However, it appears one was what she had hoped had happened while one was the sad truth.In the first, she went head-to-head with a heartbroken Ben (Ramon Rodriguez). She took Helen’s advice and stood up to him, telling him she knew he was married and could not see a future together. A pleading Ben apologized and opened up to her about his marriage falling apart after he returned from the war with PTSD. He told Alison about accidentally killing a young kid while overseas and how it had turned his life upside down. He also told Alison he loved her. After fixing her broken sink and making her dinner, they eventually slept together and he promised her he would never hurt her again.
However, it appears that was all in Alison’s imagination as the second half of the episode picked up exactly when the first began — her sink was still leaky. This time Ben arrived, he didn’t have flowers for her and he was lying about being married. She was also not standing up to him. She didn’t tell him she knew about his other life but instead asked him questions, just angering him and causing him to ask her what happened in Los Angeles. She became the victim once again to him and this time, when he told her the story of killing a boy overseas, he admitted he knew the kid was unarmed and did it anyway. He also began drinking again, downing multiple whiskies.
Eventually, Alison told him to go home to his wife and he snapped, asking her how she knew about Heidi. He then accused Alison of seducing him, saying the entire thing was his fault. Finally putting her foot down, Alison told him he was an adult who could make his own choices and to get out of her house. He then lunged at her and tried to strangle her. After kneeing him and running away, he caught her and threw her into the cabinet, in which she hit head first. She fell to the floor as blood poured down her head.
Ben then carried her partially unconscious body to the water. As she faded in and out, she saw the lighthouse but had no fight left. Her subconscious then spoke: “What are you gonna do, Ben? You gonna kill me? You think that scares me? My son died. He died in my f—king arms. What in God’s name do you think you can do to me that I haven’t done to myself a million times? I have been in pain my entire life. And maybe that’s what makes people think that I’m weak. And maybe that makes people treat me like some sort of receptacle for all their grief and rage and disappointment, but I am f—king sick of it.”
With that, she sunk into the water. As a reminder, the lyrics of the title song by Fiona Apple are as follows: “I have only one thing to do and that’s to be the wave that I am and then, sink back into the ocean.”
Wilson, 36, chose to leave the show with one season left, showrunner Sarah Treem told The Hollywood Reporter.
“That was a request, so that was decided basically before we started writing. It wasn’t a discovery of any kind. That was very deliberate,” she said. “And actually, we shot all of her work first. Her whole storyline was shot before we shot anything else.”
The Affair finale airs on Showtime Sunday, August 19, at 9 p.m. ET.