'The Slap' Finale: Get Out of My Courtroom

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 

The episode opens with Hugo rooting in the refrigerator as Rosie lies unmoving in bed: Joan of Arc may have launched a crusade, but even saints and martyrs can suffer from depression. The DA calls and tells Gary they’ll be subpoenaing Ritchie’s photographs; he urges them to be gentle with the boy, noting that he’s fragile. Gary should know from fragile—Rosie is clearly unmoored. The burst of energy and good spirits she got in the initial stages of the prosecution has faded. Gary urges her to get up, saying, “Hugo needs you. I need you,” letting us know that Rosie’s mental health is an ongoing family struggle.

But this is Ritchie’s show, and in the beginning things seem to be looking up for him: He prints his photos of a children’s carousel and displays them for a student art show. He’s cheerful and optimistic about winning the school’s art prize; he and Connie patch up their friendship.

But soon a detective, dispatched by the DA, arrives for his photos of the barbeque. Thanassis, ever the pitbull, manages to get the pictures thrown out for a chain of custody violation. He also reveals what he’s dug up on Ritchie: that the boy, when living in Pennsylvania under another name, was the victim of cyberbullying. Someone circulated compromising pictures of him and his boyfriend; the boyfriend committed suicide and Ritchie made an attempt. He and his mother moved to New York and changed their names for a fresh start—a fresh start that lasted only as long as the slap and Thanassis’s investigators. Once the New York Post gets in on the action, Ritchie’s past life is made public.

Ritchie is now a pariah at school. He retrieves his books from his locker and finds “faggot” scrawled across the door. The final insult is a subpoena delivered to him in class, a notice to appear in court.

Anouk, nearing her due date, has an ultrasound that Aisha and Rosie attend with much festivity, marred only when Rosie breaks into tears. “I’ve made so many mistakes,” she says, which Anouk and Aisha take as new self-awareness that Rosie is regretting pressing charges, but no: Rosie merely means she regrets her failure of strategy thus far—such as not getting the medical evaluation or the pictures right away.

Ritchie gathers his cash, fills a prescription three weeks early, and tosses some money to older guys to buy him a bottle from the liquor store. He delivers goodbye gifts of photos to Hector and Gary and trudges back to the carousel in the snow.

Rosie fields a phone call from Connie wondering where Ritchie is, while Gary reads the photograph’s inscription, “I tried.” Gary, realizing what’s happened, races to the carousel just in time to stuff an unconscious Ritchie into an ambulance—but not before confessing his own part in the whole mess.

Ritchie recovers at an apparently miraculous rate, however, and is able to take the stand the next day at the trial. He testifies that Harry slapped Hugo while the bat was on the ground, tanking the defense’s case. Thanassis asks him why he deleted the photos, implying that perhaps they didn’t show what Ritchie is testifying they showed. Ritchie, in a moving, from-the-witness-stand-in-the-finale type speech, tells the courtroom that he deleted the photos because they showed people he admired behaving badly. “But they’re the truth,” he says, “and maybe that’s enough.”

Finally, the decision: The judge finds Harry guilty and sentences him to the brief time served. And she orders child-protective services to monitor Rosie and Gary, a slap in their faces too, so to speak.

The show closes with a scene from a year later, with Anouk’s baby’s first birthday party at Hector and Aisha’s. Koula and Mano have taken their trip to Greece, just the two of them, first class. Harry and Sandy are in attendance; the door rings and Rosie and Gary arrive. Anouk shrugs and says, “It’s my party.” Rosie and Gary immediately move to go; Hector and Aisha intervene and urge them to stay.

Amid this mild melee, adult drama swirling by the door, Hugo once again wanders unattended. Anouk beckons to him, placing the baby in his arms. Hugo cradles the child carefully, showing a tenderness and care that we haven’t seen before. A kindness, as the judge said, that seemed to be missing from the world of The Slap.

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