Spoiler-Free Review: The Fall starring Gillian Anderson & Jamie Dornan

Stella Gibson (Gillian Gibson) is a cop in a league of her own!
Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is a cop in a league of her own!

This show is brilliant, and really made me look at American television women in such a new and terrible light. I had seen an episode of “The Mysteries of Laura” and I know that I am comparing apples and oranges, but was really struck by the childishness and immaturity of women in their 40’s often seen in American TV and the Fall, Happy Valley, Broadchurch (these British shows) are such contrast.

We women live in a world in which we constantly have to think about our safety not only from Spector as the stranger lurking in the bushes stalking us we work on a computer in our home, but also from Spectors- the personal lying, manipulating, abusing us as he did to his wife, neighbor, grief patient, etc.

Obviously, Anderson’s Stella is simply incredible. My second favorite actress on the show? Olivia. Girl is adorable and a straight up talented actress. 

Various comments from Slate readers

Man f*cks woman. Subject: man; verb: f*cks; object: woman. That’s OK. Woman f*cks man. Woman: subject; man: object. That’s not so comfortable for you, is it?

The media loves to divide women into virgins and vamps, angels or whores. Let’s not encourage them.

 -Some of my fave lines (from Stella)

Do you love cop shows, but want something w/ a different perspective?  Do you love well-developed, multi-dimensional characters, especially strong women?  Then, you need to check out this psychological thriller (on Netflix) ASAP!  This show is NOT for everyone!  If SVU scares you, avoid this show.  The Fall contains some (troubling) images/scenes that will linger in your mind for days. 

Jim (John Lynch) & Stella have a complicated relationship.
Jim (John Lynch) & Stella have a complicated relationship.

Metropolitan Police Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) from London is flown to Belfast, Ireland (by a former colleague, ACC Jim Burns) to investigate why a certain murder case is taking longer than 28 days.  She dresses in silk blouses and black skirts (not like a man) using her brains AND beauty.  While Stella is going over routine paperwork and interviewing local detectives, a similar murder occurs.  The victim is a tall, brunette, professional single woman in her early 30s.  Rumors fly in the media that a serial killer is on the loose, and Stella springs into action. 

Dr. Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) & Stella share convo/drinks.

Archie Panjabi left ABC’s The Good Wife (which garnered her fame/awards) to play a supporting role on The Fall.  Yes, it’s THAT good!  Almost all of supporting characters are  quite strong, and we learn something about each as the eps go on.  There is eager/brave Officer Harrington, partners McNally and Martin, and the (female) victims, among others. 

Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) takes a selfie.

As for that Fifty Shades guy, well, he’s a VERY fine actor, too (I was surprised to discover).  Jamie Dornan plays Paul Spector, loving family man by day, serial killer by night.  That’s NOT a spoiler- we know who the baddie is from the pilot ep!  Paul is a hubby, dad to two young kids (Olivia and Liam), and a bereavement counselor working w/ the government.  The viewer sees two sides of the story- very unusual in cop shows (Law & Order: Criminal Intent did that a bit).  Paul truly lives two lives, fooling people closest to him while carrying no guilt.  At one point, I was reminded of the monologues that Shakespeare wrote for his more compelling villains- Edmund, Iago, etc.  Those speeches (directed to the audience) makes viewers into (unwilling) co-conspirators.   

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