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‘The Affair’ Returns: What Happened to Joshua Jackson’s Cole?

Warning: This post contains major spoilers from the Sunday, August 25, premiere of The Affair.

The Affair kicked off its fifth and final season on Sunday and, needless to say, it was a doozy. The premiere featured three parts: Part One: Noah, Part Two: Joanie and Part Three: Helen.

Related: Everything To Know About 'The Affair' Final Season

The first and last parts followed Dominic West and Maura Tierney’s characters through a tough time. Vik (Omar Metwally) was dying and Helen was thrown into planning a funeral, while next door, Sierra (Emily Browning) was delivering her child with whom she shares with Vik. She did everything possible to give birth before Vik died and she did, placing the baby on his bare chest; moments later, he took his final breath.

Meanwhile, Noah met with a producer who would be adapting his book into a movie and tried to be there for Helen as much as possible. During his perspective, he really was there for her and she was appreciative; in her perspective, she scolded him for calling her resilient, pointing out that she only was because she had to be after he left their family.

Anna Paquin as Joanie and Mykal-Michelle Harris as Birthday Girl in The Affair
(L-R) Anna Paquin as Joanie and Mykal-Michelle Harris as Birthday Girl in an episode of ‘The Affair.’ Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME.

However, the third point of view was brand new: Anna Paquin’s Joanie — the daughter of Cole (Joshua Jackson) and Alison (Ruth Wilson) — was all grown up now, married with two children. The sequences take place 20 to 30 years in the future. In one scene, Joanie reveals to her husband, Paul (Lyric Bent), that she wants nothing for her birthday since she’s turning the age her mother was when she died by suicide. Later, when her husband asks her what’s going on with her, she replies, “I miss my dad.”

Related: TV's Shadiest Behind-the-Scenes Shakeups

The moment is the only reference in the episode of Cole, which makes us wonder why he’s not around. Did they have a falling out? Did he find out what happened to Alison? Is he dead? Jackson, 41, was a series regular in the series along with Wilson, 37, until last season. Both decided they would not appear in the final season.

“His contract was only ever for three years. That’s the time he agreed to give us, at the beginning of the process. Then I pitched him the fourth year and he liked it and signed on. But he was pretty clear that was going to be his last year,” creator Sarah Treem told Deadline. “He has a lot of stuff he wants to do; he’s at the peak of his career and he’s incredibly talented. And he’s in demand. I don’t want to speak for him, but I think he felt satisfied after the fourth season. And felt he had done some great work and had gotten to play a bunch of stuff and I don’t know that he felt that he had anything else to give to the character.”

Joshua Jackson as Cole in The Affair
Joshua Jackson as Cole in season 4, episode 5 of ‘The Affair.’ Paul Sarkis/SHOWTIME

However, it’s still up in the air what actually happened to Cole. He was last seen, he was driving his 7-year-old daughter out of Montauk with Alison’s ashes after the funeral. “He can’t talk about it because he loved his dead ex-wife so much. He’s a pretty reserved person, and we think he would not be the guy who would open up and tell his daughter all the craziness that happened,” Treem continued. “He would try to keep the veneer of nobility over the past. So the truth is that everything she knows about that past, is wrong.”

Related: TV Shows Heading Into Their Final Season

Tierney opened up to Us ahead of the season 5 premiere and admitted the show felt very different without Jackson and Wilson.

“I really miss them so much. We still keep in touch with each other, but I did really miss them during the season,” the ER vet, 54, said. “I mean, I still think the show is good, but I just miss them.”

The Affair airs on Showtime Sundays at 9 p.m. ET.

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