Wednesday, 7 December 2011

The Slap episode 6 review - Manolis: It's all still quite bleak...

We all know by now that The Slap is not going to be a barrel of laughs by any stretch of the imagination.

In fact it sometimes feel bleaker than an EastEnders omnibus on a cold Sunday in December.
But unlike our favourite Albert Square miseries, there’s often a glimmer of charm somewhere too.

Still, episode six of The Slap, focusing on Hector’s father Manolis, felt like the gloomiest yet.
It was both dark and gentle - a meandering profile of an ageing Greek patriarch tiring of modern life. He's missing the country of his birth and he's mourning the passing of youth and his friends, and all while growing weary of his outspoken wife.

He’s been pulled in different directions for years and the result is there to see on screen.
Through Lex Marinos' measured performance you can see it all: torn between regret about missed opportunities, the struggle to always do the ‘right thing’ for his wife and family, and having to deal with a repressed rage (which he does so by examining a growing damp patch on the ceiling above his bed, but then lashes out at a smug contemporary while at a funeral).
Of course, we also know by now not to expect too much movement with the overall plot, even though the in-depth character studies of each episode are centred around the slap from Manolis' nephew Harry on four-year-old Hugo back in episode one.

But the moments where things do develop promise much bigger things to come.

The brief front-seat fumble between Hector and his babysitter Connie in episode four, and her subsequent drunken lie to her friend Richie that Hector had raped her, is starting to bite – Hector’s receiving anonymous texts calling him a rapist.
Hector confesses his guilt to his father, and the revelation reveals the sacrifices Manolis made for his family as a younger man.
Suddenly, Manolis' story makes much more sense to the overall series - Hector's not so different from his father after all, even if their methods and actions vary: they're both torn between their own ambitions and desires, and their role as father and husband.
Later, Manolis meets Hector's wife Aisha, to persuade her to take part in a family holiday. He tries to put his foot down but his 'traditional methods' no longer work, and it back-fires.
We hear she’s in tears but that’s good news to Manolis’s wife, Koula, who doesn't like her daughter-in-law.

Koula can't hide her pleasure so she makes her husband some Turkish Delight as a reward.

They eat them together and then later in bed they hold hands for the first time in a long time - it's not perfect, but it's who they are and it's what they've got, and, well, maybe it's enough for Manolis after all.

Great tv - again.

What next?

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