Gillian Anderson is back – and Netflix has her.
While her former X-Files partner David Duchovny has been Californicating through So-Cal for 7 seasons, Gillian Anderson has kept her self busy. In 2013, besides her stateside stint as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier on the NBC Series Hannibal, Gillian flew over to Belfast, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland, to do a series called The Fall.
She plays a senior police detective for The Met, a territorial police service based in London’s famed Scotland Yard, on loan to Belfast, to help them with a loathsome serial killer. Season One was released all at once (5 episodes) and Netflix carried it. I wrote a post about the series on June 11th, 2013. You can read the post here .
Season 2 was produced and aired in the UK beginning in Mid November of 2014. Well, Netflix has released all six episodes of Season Two just a few days ago – at 12:01 AM on January 16th. I’ve watched all six of the episodes. My report follows.
My lead was ‘Gillian Anderson is back’. In this series – she’s a cool, and very calm Superintendent of Detectives. We already know who the serial killer is – a fact made known to us (but not the police) very early on in Season One. So you can remove the whodunit aspect from your expectations. Instead, consider that this is a psychological thriller. We learn as much about Anderson’s copper as we do about Jamie Dornan’s killer.
You may have noticed that Dornan is starring in 50 Shades of Grey which opens on Valentine’s Day. In that film he portrays a tormented billionaire with, let’s say – compulsions. In The Fall, he plays a tormented working stiff – he’s a grief counselor by day, and a volunteer at a suicide hotline on Friday nights. In this series his compulsion is that he’s a fetishistic serial killer. He’s also a husband and a father.
Anderson’s Stella Gibson is as smart as they come and fearless. While Dornan coolly plots his crimes and gets others to cover for him, Anderson coolly lays out her traps for this not really deranged killer. Let me amend that = Spector is humanized much more than you would expect. He is a doting father, and he’s quite effective in his non-criminal work.
We have a few shootouts, and punch outs, but this is mostly about long-term police slogging through details as well as long hours of keeping surveillance. You’ll learn more about full-time – 24-7 – surveillance than you ever learned in all the other movies and TV shows combined.
We also get a good deal of forensics work too. For those of you who appreciate Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife, in this series, she’s on hand as the Medical Examiner – or is it Chief of Forensics?
But what makes this show really work is the narrow divide between the hunter and the hunted.The two of them, Superintendent Gibson, and Paul Spector, are not as dissimilar as you may have believed going in. Their realities are more parallel than anything else. Whereas the killer charms and seduces women before doing much worse things, we come to learn something about his youthful days. A mother who committed suicide thereby abandoning the boy is a major sub-text for him
Gibson also has issues – as in daddy issues. She’s rather cavalier about sex, and in my opinion, she’s always trying to control all of her situations in dealing with men.
Here are a couple of quotes from Season 2 which can give you a good idea about Stella Gibson. Another police officer and Gibson are talking.
Why are women so much more emotionally stronger than men?, he asks. Gibson replies – Because the basic human form is female. Maleness is a kind of birth defect’. Now there’s a statement that really grabs you by the throat.
Or this one spoken by Gibson, as in a retelling of a prior conversation.
Why are men afraid of women – because men fear that women will laugh at them. Then – why are women afraid of men – because women fear that men will kill them. Certainly, less potent than the previous statement, but still – this is a key statement of all of us – to a greater or lesser degree.
Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson is very fit and attractive in this role. She keeps herself in trim by making swimming a daily ritual for her Superintendent Detective. Jamie Dorman’s Paul Spector also is very fit – he keeps at it by running or jogging regularly.
Gibson gives orders and expects to be obeyed; Yes Mum. At once, Mum. She’s going to solve this case no matter what. At all costs is really the case. Full time surveillance, expedited forensics, helicopters for an eye in the sky approach, etc etc.
Spector probes for weaknesses and then turns them to his advantages. He encourages a young high school girl by seeming to be interested in her. Of course he is – but he’s going let her be the aggressor, Either way, he gets what he wants. Is he using her just for sex, as an acolyte, or a fall person?
He tells young Katie:’Maybe it’s time to take the next step Are you ready to face the darkness’. And – There’s suffering all around us. Why not take some pleasure from it? If other people’s happiness pains us, why not reduce that happiness?
Yes, this is one nasty individual who is at his best when playing mind games. But Stella is not as easily persuaded as is young Katie.
If you have a chance – there’s no football this weekend in the US, then give The Fall a chance. There’s a decent size look back to season one at the outset of this, the second season, so it isn’t absolutely necessary for you to have seen the first season.
But I do recommend that you watch both seasons. Especially if you like cat-n-mouse suspense, or if you want to watch a tough lady cop who never raises her voice, then this series certainly fills the bill.
There is one downside – they’ve ended Season Two with a semi-cliff-hanger finale – a sure sign that a Season Three will happen down the road. But there’s no reason why the beginning of Season Three couldn’t quickly wrap up Season Two.