The Affair ended with the television series’ finale on November 3, much to the consternation of the Showtime show’s persistent viewers who wondered whether or not the final episode for Season 5, Episode 11 would tie up the many open-ended storylines.
The entire episode took place in Montauk. Helen’s parents lived there and Whitney married her sweetheart there as she had wanted to do since she was a little girl on vacation while staying at her grandparent’s ostentatious estate.
Despite being disinvited to his daughter’s nuptials, Noah continued to prepare for the event. He became engaged in a whirlwind of activity, including helping his eldest son, Martin, write his required toast. He also made sure everything required of an outdoor wedding was put in its place; he bought Colin’s mom a ticket so she could attend her son’s wedding, and he rehearsed the flash mob Whitney had asked for as the most important element of her wedding.
The latter was an odd request, even for Whitney. She had been specific about this need, instructing the group dance be done to The Waterboys’ signature hit “The Whole of the Moon” for some unknown reason. Her entire extended family, including Sierra, began the number which would eventually include the entire wedding party and all the guests — sans Noah.
At a certain point, Helen told Noah that time was up for his part of the celebration, and he dutifully departed like the pariah he had become, walking down the road wrapped in a warm jacket and a coat of sadness. His destination was a dreary motel, but he embraced his confines with the help of fine champagne.
Joanie’s story became part of the finale plot, as had been expected since her previous appearances on The Affair left viewers wondering about the reason for her storyline. She ended up at the Lobster Roll, three decades into the future from the time of Whitney’s wedding, only to be served by the old man version of Noah, who had purchased the place in which he initially met Alison. At the time of their reconciliation, Noah realized who Joanie was, but she didn’t realize it was Noah, at least not yet.
At her parent’s Montauk home, Helen tried to help her daughter get ready for her wedding, but Whitney was rude, obnoxious, and dismissive. However, when Helen’s mom showed up, the bride bonded with her mom as she defended her before the two women walked down the aisle, hand-in-hand. The vows were said, the party started, and the flash mob ensued for which Whitney joined, miraculously knowing all the choreography.
Helen suddenly felt the need to share all this happiness with Noah, who seemed amused and then happy that his ex-wife had returned to him in all ways. She went on a rant about how passive she had been in her life and then the pair began to make love.
Back to the future, Joanie returned to the Lobster Roll after realizing her friend, EJ, was actually the son of Helen’s neighbor and the result of a one-night affair Sierra enjoyed with Helen’s partner who had been imminently dying of cancer when Eddie was born. Joanie told Noah that her mom, Alison, had actually been killed by Ben. She also told her former stepfather during their raw heart-to-heart that she had been a bad seed because that aspect of her life had been predetermined. Noah set her straight, saying that her DNA also translated into other, more positive traits across the generations, so if trauma can be miraculous in that way, so can love.
A return to the wedding found Whitney admitting she wished her dad had been there and so the Solloway kids sneaked away from the festivities, absconding with the top section of the wedding cake only for the bride to witness their parents having sex.
As The Affair reached its finale, Joanie reconciled with her two daughters and her husband, Noah read Stacey’s book to Helen’s tombstone, and Noah performed his own flash mob dance in front of the Atlantic while “The Whole of the Moon” played in the background.