THE FALL on Netflix, May 28
Posted at 8:28 AM (PDT) on Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Haunting New Serial-Killer Thriller Heading to Netflix

by Jace Lacob
The Daily Beast
May 22, 2013

BBC Two’s ‘The Fall,’ starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, debuts on Netflix on May 28.

It is virtually impossible to talk about The Fall-BBC Two’s addictive and provocative serial killer drama, which begins streaming stateside on Netflix on May 28-without mentioning the ghost in the room: Prime Suspect.

The allusion to Prime Suspect, a massive hit on both sides of the Atlantic, is well founded. For one, The Fall is the closest that television has come to capturing the taut alchemy of Prime Suspect: part police chase, part psychological portrait of the hunted and the hunter. At the time of its premiere in 1992, Prime Suspect captured the institutional misogyny of the Metropolitan Police and placed at its center Helen Mirren’s Jane Tennison, a knife-sharp detective who wasn’t content to hover at the edges of a “man’s world.” Over the seven seasons that Mirren portrayed Jane, viewers came to see her as a brilliant, if flawed, protagonist, who somehow remained tethered to the glass ceiling that she had shattered and who turned to drink and sex to dull the loneliness of her life.

In The Fall, we see both the hard road that Mirren’s Tennison had to walk but also the women-both fictional and real-who followed Tennison’s path in the 22 years since she first appeared on screen. Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, played here with precision and grit by Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), joins this tradition as a confident and headstrong copper who flits between steely logic and rational detachment. To call her emotionless is to miss the point: Anderson’s Stella has real and vivid emotions, often deeply so, but she’s far more calm and rational than her male colleagues, a capricious and sensitive lot who can dodge bullets but can’t avoid wounded egos.


Anderson—in her first television series regular role since Dana Scully on The X-Files-is mesmerizing as Stella Gibson, delivering a first-rate performance that does not elide Stella’s femininity, but instead uses it as part and parcel of her innate strength. Stella Gibson may be a flawed protagonist in the mold of Jane Tennison, prone to the same icy temperament, but, unlike Mirren’s sleuth, Stella doesn’t have to hide her femininity nor does she have to act like a man in order to advance her ambitions. She is instead a puzzle to be solved in her own right. Stella’s nonconformity and assiduity are perfect companions to her desires, and she doesn’t apologize or feel guilty for fulfilling those needs. For Anderson, this is a role that she was born to play: uncompromising and flinty, radiating a ferocity and tough conviction.


When it debuted in the U.K. last week, The Fall became the highest-rated drama premiere in eight years for BBC Two, and a second season renewal is said to be close, though nailing down Anderson’s schedule now that she’s booked as the female lead in NBC’s Crisis may prove to be tricky. But putting aside the vagaries of scheduling, what is certain is that this spellbinding psychological thriller, which remains enticingly (or frustratingly) open-ended at the conclusion of its first season, is more than worthy of your rapt attention this summer.

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