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'The Slap' series premiere fan recap: One-hit wonder

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Hector” | Aired Feb 12, 2015

Each hour of The Slap, the eight-part NBC miniseries exploring the far-reaching consequences of a single rash action, will focus on one member of the Apostolou clan, a Greek-American family living in New York City. In its premiere, the show spotlights Hector (Peter Sarsgaard), one of three adult Apostolou siblings. We first see Hector in brief flashes, intersected by dreamy shots of a beautiful young woman and the sounds of slow, sparse jazz.

Then we’re in Hector’s office, which is filled with subway maps and other knickknacks related to city planning. His coworkers surprise him with a birthday cake, and everyone wishes him a happy 40h. In the middle of his toast, the birthday boy is interrupted by a phone call: It’s his department’s commissioner, telling him he’s been passed over for a promotion. Hector puts on a brave face, but later we see him dejectedly heading home.

Greeting him there are his wife, Aisha (Thandie Newton), and his elementary-school-age son and daughter. When Aisha asks Hector about his call with the commissioner, he lies and tells her he won’t hear if he’s got the job for another few days. Then the kids start wailing, but Hector begs off reprimanding them so he can go take a nap and listen to more smooth jazz (on a record player, no less. This is your first sign the family lives in trendy Brooklyn).

While under the hypnotic effects of Miles Davis, Hector has a dream that he’s making out with Connie (Mackenzie Leigh), the woman from the show’s opening moments. However, he wakes up the next morning to a house full of screaming kids and no birthday sex—Aisha’s too busy getting everything ready for his party that afternoon.

They’re hosting 20 people for this shindig, most of them family. Stressed out at just the thought, Hector reaches for his cigarettes, but Aisha tells him she threw them out. So Hector casually says he could really use a Valium. At first I thought he was kidding, but Aisha (who is a doctor) tells him he can go get some from her office, as long as he stops and picks up groceries on the way.

It turns out his Valium hankering was just an excuse to go to Aisha’s clinic, where the mysterious Connie works. On the way, Hector has a flashback (or maybe it’s another dream sequence; it’s hard to tell), during which he’s driving Connie home. He drops her at her apartment, then pays her because she’s his kids’ babysitter, which is just the most cliché. They briefly kiss.

In real life, Hector only flirts with Connie at the clinic, and, in a stroke of stupidity, he invites her to his party. He returns home, where some of his family are already waiting: his sister Rosie (Melissa George), her husband, Gary (Thomas Sadowski, who has at last been freed from Newsroom purgatory), and their 4-year-old son, Hugo (Dylan Schombing).

Just as Hector steps in the door, his mother and father arrive as well, with an ungodly amount of food, even for 20 people. After them come Hector’s cousin, Harry (Zachary Quinto); Harry’s wife, Sandi (Marin Ireland); and their kid, Rocco (Owen Tanzer). Hector’s other sister, Anouk (Uma Thurman), is the last to appear. She’s accompanied by her much younger new boyfriend, Jamie (Penn Badgley, in his first TV role since Gossip Girl).

Now that the entire family is safely ensconced inside the house, it is time, of course, for everyone to start passive-aggressively criticizing each other. Gary and Harry start arguing about the cultural versus commercial value of art (Gary is a painter, Harry is a wealthy asshole); Hector tells off Hugo for nearly breaking his precious jazz records; and Aisha is barely keeping it together under her mother-in-law’s domineering criticism.

Despite Hector and Aisha also having a brief blowup over his mother’s inappropriate gift (a family trip to Greece, with the dates already set), everyone makes it alive outside for dinner. Harry stands to make a toast to Hector, calling him the “last good man in America.”

That’s not entirely accurate, considering Hector’s adultery fantasies, but it’s true that he is an honest civil servant who genuinely wants to make New York City better. In the middle of the speech, Rosie leaves the table to breastfeed Hugo—who’s 4 years old, remember. (This is the second detail that should remind you, lest you forget for even a moment, that this series takes place in Brooklyn.) Harry and Gary are still in a fight, so Harry takes offense at Gary’s wife’s inattention to his toast. Hector steps inside to take another Valium.

Buoyed by pharmaceutical confidence, Hector returns to the party (where he finds Hugo ripping up some plants from his garden). He ignores his insufferable nephew in favor of meeting Connie (who’s at the party by now) in a secluded spot underneath his second-story porch. Their fingertips brush, and Connie jokes that Hector may be 40 but acts 28 and a half. Anouk spies them flirting.

Meanwhile, all the various kids are playing baseball in another corner of Hector and Aisha’s astronomical backyard. Hugo, as usual, is throwing a tantrum, and swinging a bat dangerously close to Rocco. Harry sees all this, and asks Gary to stop his kid before he hurts someone. Gary makes a halfhearted attempt to calm Hugo down, but his lax parenting style doesn’t cut it.

Harry, half angry at Gary and half afraid for his own son, rushes over and grabs Hugo by the shoulders. He shakes him, and yells, and Hugo kicks him. Without a thought, Harry reaches back and slaps the kid across the face.

That’s all it takes. One careless moment, one instinctual response, and all hell breaks loose. Gary and Rosie rush to Hugo’s aid (he’s fine, by the way). A screaming match quickly follows, and Harry, Sandi, and Rocco all beat a hasty retreat.

Clearly, the party mood is over, and the remaining Apostolous start cleaning up. Hector meets Connie in the backyard. The slap has suddenly brought his life into focus, and he tells her they need to end whatever it is they’re doing together. He urges her never to tell Aisha, and she agrees.

Later that night, everyone is gone, but Aisha is on the phone with Rosie, who is threatening to sue Harry. Hector doubts it’ll come to that. He is aware of how close he came to ruining his marriage, and he’s actually happy for the slap: It saved him from making a terrible mistake. He finally tells Aisha the truth about not getting the deputy commissioner job. They make up (the adult way), and afterward Hector sits outside, smoking a cigarette. Aisha cautions it’s his last one forever.

I guess everybody has to grow up sometime.

The Slap airs Thursdays at 8/7C on NBC.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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