I’ve started watching The Slap: an Australian drama which episodically follows the stories of the characters as they react to an inciting incident – namely, a man slapping a child at a BBQ that isn’t his own. Everything goes apeshit from there on it.

I realise this doesn’t necessarily sound like the most compelling of shows, and I’m not going to talk about it as a show til I’ve seen more than two episodes, but I found something interesting in the way the first episode negotiated its story lines which I’d like to briefly look at (I’ll keep spoilers out).

A few posts ago, I looked at how one might construct a multi-stranded scene, moving from character to character, trying to let the necessary story beats register organically. The Slap episode one does something like this, but basically all through the eyes of the lead character, Hector. It cheats a little bit with a voice over, but care is taken to give us a sense of a man first, and then his troubles and, only then, does the potential en-slapping feed into it. Even then, the triggers are mostly incidental: a snippy comment between two characters here, a half-heard argument about schooling system there…all certainly a little tense, but never really given its own space and all seen through Hector’s lens.

As such, when the eponymous act does occur, it doesn’t railroad through the web that has been spun around Hector’s character. It is still a shock (for the right reasons: it’s certainly “earned” as an act), but it still doesn’t seem like it will have any of consequence that it does. Which is great…it draws you in with this slap nonsense, but keeps you there with the character drama, which seems like it will only continue to pay off as the series continues.

Need to catch up on Homeland tonight. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it as an overall series…here’s hoping.

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