It's safe to say the fifth and final season of The Affair is taking its sweet time providing answers to some of our questions as the story comes to a close. In fact, the future storyline featuring a grown-up Joanie Lockhart (Anna Paquin) introduces even more questions than we realized we'd have: like what happened to her father, Cole Lockhart. (Joshua Jackson)
Early on, Joanie says that she misses her dad, so we know he's no longer in the picture, and the final scenes of Episode 4 finally reveal he's dead, fairly recently from the date on his headstone.
So, how did Cole die on The Affair?
While we don't yet know the cause of death, we can put a date on his death, thanks to his headstone. Also, at one point, while Joanie is cleaning up the house, she throws out a tray full of medications, leading us to conclude Cole died after a long illness.
Considering the history of depression on his side of the family, and how emotionally distraught Cole seemed for much of Season 4, it definitely wouldn't have surprised us if Cole had met his end much sooner. But it turns out Cherry was right that her son takes after his mom, not his dad. It seems he lived to be 74 years old and was probably alive to become a grandfather to Joanie's daughter, Madeline.
Luisa's return could offer even more information about Cole's death.
Photos from the seventh episode, airing Sunday, Oct. 6, show the Holloways back on Long Island — presumably for Whitney's wedding.
On a visit to the Lobster Roll, Noah encounters Cole's second wife, Luisa. While there's no ruling out a small guest performance from Joshua Jackson, he was not included in any of the press releases about Season 5, so it's safe to assume he won't appear at all this season. But Luisa popping up again could provide some answers about Cole's fate.
Grown-up Joanie may also continue to fill in the blanks — at least we hope so. So far, the small scenes we've seen in the future haven't really given us much, nor have they been particularly compelling. However, a few details about the years that elapse between the original storyline and the time jump are beginning to come into focus.
While we'll most likely have to wait a couple episodes to learn what role, if any, Luisa plays in Cole and Joanie's lives moving forward, it's clear Joanie's dad kept her mom's memory alive. The old Lockhart house, where Joanie is staying for her job, is practically a memorial to Allison with photos everywhere.
While Joanie and Luisa will certainly be able to provide details about Cole's life after Allison, Noah may play a role in helping Joanie discover what happened to her mom. The preview for Season 5 seems to portray Noah telling Joanie that her mom was a survivor. Since it's only audio, we don't know at what age Noah and Joanie have that conversation, but the headstones revealed in Episode 4 have made the show's timeline clearer than it ever has been.
Now that we know Scotty died in 2017, when Joanie was around a year old, we can better place the storylines of Season 5 in time. It turns out the non-Joanie parts of Season 5 take place a few years after our current year of 2019.
We know this because, in Vik's video for the family, he mentions entering their lives "8 years ago." Since that was around the time of Joanie's birth (which we now know to be around 2016), that would make it 2024 in the non-Joanie scenes of the show.
That means when Noah bumps into Luisa, he could also interact with a slightly older (but not yet adult) Joanie. Depending on how much further into the future Whitney's wedding will propel us, it could be a teenage Joanie he's speaking with.
Noah's role in Joanie's life has always been a bit murky since it was revealed Cole was her biological father, but it would be nice to learn Noah maintained some connection with her, especially since there's really so little to like about his character now, if there ever was anything before.
The Affair airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime.