Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Slap episode three review - Harry: TV drama as washing machine (in a good way)

Episode three of The Slap, Harry, seemed to remember that it's part of a full series with an over-arching plot - namely, the consequences of that eponymous slap.

It was Harry who carried out the slap at the 40th birthday barbecue of his cousin Hector, and with this being Harry's episode, it picked that up and ran with it, and managed to mix in all sorts of other bits and bobs that other tv critics might describe as "powerful" and "dynamic" and "absorbing".

In truth, cos that's how we roll here on tv-ooh - truthfully, The Slap episode three was all those things, just like episode one and two, but unlike episode two and its perhaps slightly-off-the-point character study of the confident but fragile Anouk, Harry's episode - charged and angry as it was - took us right back into the centre of the story.

(Although The Slap looks like Clever Television which may mean the events seen in Anouk's episode may yet come back to affect us all.)

So we see Harry working out his reaction to that slap - he's a successful businessman with a swish house and model-like wife and seems to have it all, but he's also got staff who have stolen from him, and a wife who won't have full sex with him due to an apparent fear of pregnancy, and all the while he's roving around moments away from exploding with rage.

He visits a mistress, he visits a lawyer, and he visits Anouk to try and get her to talk to the police about what she saw at the barbecue (she agrees that the kid he slapped, Hugo, was swinging a cricket bat, but she won't speak up through loyalty to Hugo's mother Rosie), and then Harry's son witnesses violence from Harry against his wife.

Eventually, Harry's persuaded to visit Rosie and her partner to apologise for the slap - but the venom he's met with from Rosie - who also clocks the fact that Harry's got a violent temper and that his wife probably lives in fear - is surprising as it is shocking. She's in no mood to forgive.

It's this that helps give The Slap its impact - characters you think you're getting to know suddenly shock you, viewer sympathies switch, and nothing is black and white.

Harry's casual racism and violence are tempered - but not excused - by his love for his son and a struggle to find his place in his family; whereas Rosie, still breast-feeding her brat son at the age of four, seems intent on vengeance at the expense of keeping the peace amongst the group, while her deadbeat partner Gary has approached a tv news programme (A Current Affair on Nine, detail fans - think Panorama) in what looks like needless stirring. It's hard to know where you are.

It's all a bit of a washing machine really.

In a good way.

Related stories:

The Slap episode seven review - Aisha: Another part of the jigsaw
The Slap episode six review - Manolis: It's all still quite bleak...
The Slap episode five review - Rosie: confusing sympathies in the toughest episode yet
The Slap episode four review: Connie - this week it's a coming of age drama, with scenes in a vets
The Slap episode two review - Anouk: It was good; we liked it
The Slap episode one review: Where logic and emotion collide, sort of, at a barbecue

What next?

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