Dialogue in The Serpent – responding to questions part 3.

This article is available to watch / listen to on Youtube below.

So, this is the 3rd and final part of looking at questions in The Serpent, and techniques writer Richard Warlow uses when his characters respond to them.

I can see 3 techniques in this section worthy of noting.


Technique 1: Responding with action: in this section of script, Charles and Ajay have kidnapped a backpacker, Teresa. Ajay isn’t sure of the plan. So he asks Charles. Charles responds with an action – he points out to sea.

Technique 2. Seduce – in this section Charles is looking for a partner in crime. Charles, having just shared a deep dark secret with Ajay for the purpose of building trust, that he once killed a taxi driver the same way, is asked by Ajay Did they look for you? Did they catch you?
– to which Charles replies No one has ever caught me, Ajay. Which is true. One of the rare occasions where someone answers with the truth. In this post dissecting the dialogue in Dexter we can see that when someone tells the truth it can be when a character relinquishes power in order to draw the person into their trust. In a way, here, Charles is relinquishing power if, indeed, the story he told, the murder confession is true. If not, he is simply deceiving Ajay with lies, which, paradoxically, is probably closer to the truth. If, therefore, Charles has been lying the whole time, with his murder confession, yet pretending to reveal a great truth about himself, it only accentuates his psychopathy, and his powers of manipulation.

Technique 3: Euphemistic

Our final example, then, of techniques used by Richard Warlow when his characters respond to questions in episode 1 of The Serpent, is where Charles uses a euphemism in order to conceal his heinous intentions. Here’s the moment:

No. Better than that actually means No. I’m going to kill you. His better than that softens the blow. If the meaning of euphemism is “the use of a word or phrase to avoid saying another word or phrase that may be unpleasant or offensive” (Cambridge dictionary) then we might say Charles phrase here is euphemistic.

In my opinion this is a fascinating choice by Richard Warlow. He has the choice to have Charles respond to this question in any way he wants. He has Charles give Teresa one last glimpse of false hope before she meets her dreadful fate. Superb.

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