Monday, April 23, 2007

How not to foreshadow

So, I've still been watching Heroes, and episode 3 led to some students having a party some 30 miles from home in the middle of nowhere, where we see them having a bonfire, drinking kegs and enjoying themselves.

Now then, we've been building up to Claire Bennet (the cheerleader) and her boyfriend's (Footballer Jock) relationship, with Claire's father advising he'd rather she dated a nerd. Boyfriend has a heart to heart about wanting to cheer Claire up, and the two go off to a secluded area to talk.

Now then, I personally had some sense that what was coming wasn't going to be pleasant - suspecting him trying to have his wicked way with our little protagonist (she's already been set up as popular, but with her new responsibilities she's trying to keep her head down and just survive the school day; meanwhile another cheerleader keeps trying to get Claire's boyfriend's attention, so... hmm). As far as the boyfriend goes, we have no concrete evidence that he might try to push the limits, just that he's a guy.

That's all fine and good, except for the fact that as soon as Claire and boyfriend walk out of shot, a lonely, distressed-looking girl steps into shot and watches them leaving, her expression pained and troubled.

What the?

Even before we see further events unfold between Claire and her boyfriend, we have suspicion of the worst kind. Why? Because it is blatantly obvious that the writers are setting up something untoward to happen. Making it this obvious ruins suspension of disbelief and really makes the mechanics of story visible.


The outcome is that the boyfriend tries to rape Claire - other things happen, but that would be over egging the spoiler - next day, the lonely girl reappears and has a brief talk with Claire that the same thing happened to her. Later the boyfriend admits the other girl was a "slut" and he's called her that to other people, just as he will about Claire.

This could have been done far better, by showing the lonely girl from the beginning of the episode, being outcast by the other students, name calling, and the such like (not necessarily by the boyfriend, as this would take away any audience identification from him too soon), perhaps Claire could have raised the point - 'Is it true that you two... did it?' 'Yeah, I didn't want to, but she forced herself on me. I don't want to talk about it, because so-and-so said she's been putting herself round a bit.'

Etc, etc, not quite like that, but you get the idea. The audience doesn't need such clear markers.

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