Autodidact: self-taught


The Fall

by V. L. Craven

The Fall

I can be a little slow on the uptake with popular media. Sometimes it takes a prod or two. This article about shows featuring British women taking control finally got me to press play on some television that had been in my Netflix queue for awhile. So that’s what I’ll be reviewing in the upcoming weeks.

First up is The Fall .

DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is brought in from the Met in London to help the Belfast police on an unsolved murder. The night she arrives there’s another murder, which is initially treated as a separate incident, but which Gibson connects to the original case. When they realise Belfast has a serial killer on their hands she’s assigned the full case and they begin looking for previous killings that could be the work of the came person.

Simultaneously, we watch the killer (Jamie Dornan) living his life, playing with his daughter, doing his job, stalking the next woman. He likes to break into their homes once or twice and hang out, leaving one small thing out of place, before the night of the actual kill. And when he discovers his pursuer is an attractive woman he becomes intrigued and wants to engage.

Stella Gibson is the coolest detective on television. Not sunglasses and leather coat cool, but never raising her voice no matter the situation cool. Utterly unflappable. She has her one big fault, though, as all television detectives do. I’ll not spoil it for you, but it’s not something I’ve seen before. She’s also operates within a moral grey-area, which is refreshing to see in a woman, as usually it’s male leads who get to decide they’re not going to operate within social mores. Gibson lives her life and eloquently calls anyone on their double standards.

Dornan’s killer, Paul Spector, is chilling in that dead-behind-the-eyes sort of way. He plays the part well and there are moments it’s clear ice water runs through his veins. But the more Gibson pushes him–even without knowing what he looks like–the more his exterior begins to crack.

The secondary characters are also used well-enough, though I would like to see one in particular, PC Danielle Ferrington (Niamh McGrady), developed more in the next series. The relationship between the two women is a dynamic that could be something viewers don’t see every day.

It was interesting to watch something set in Northern Ireland that wasn’t entirely based around politics. They were always questioned as a motive, as would be expected, but when you live in a place where there’s a constant threat of violence it becomes more commonplace and The Fall shows that. During a scene when people are throwing glass bottles at an ambulance trying to save someone’s life, Gibson comments to a police officer, ‘This is one fucked up city you’ve got here.’ And by the time she says that you’re right with her, as the show does rather paint most people from Belfast as violent lunatics just looking for a reason to turn someone into a stain on the pavement, including some of the police.

Nevertheless, it’s compelling watching and I’d recommend it to fans of Prime Suspect, though it’s less gritty.

The second series is due to begin in November, so roll on November.

[Vulture also has a longer list of places to stream shows about British women getting things done –not just on crime shows.]

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