The Rise of The Fall 1 comment

the fallI recently read a 2013 UK The Telegraph interview with Gillian Anderson in which she discussed her decision to forego Hollywood after the wild success of X-Files, instead running into the open arms of the London stage. She is a secretive and shy one, some might say icy, even. And, as I discovered, she’s not a true redhead and lived in England as a child.

Anderson is also not the persona we’ve come to know and love over the years. She, like most of us, is an onion with many layers that defies the characters she’s brought to life.

As the article’s headline stated, Anderson has led as complicated a life as the characters she’s channeled over the years. While there’s a side to Anderson that resembles the strength, intensity and exactness of FBI Special Agent Dana Scully and, more recently, DCI Stella Gibson on BBC2’s The Fall, there’s also an undeniable vulnerability. Amid the feminist power she evokes in The Fall, which The Atlantic chronicled last week, I was surprised to learn in Julia Llewellyn Smith’s 2013 piece that Anderson often allowed men and love to guide her career’s early years.

She said a man brought her to L.A. as a young actress, and when X-Files ended in 2002 she moved to London to follow her stage dreams but also to be close to her boyfriend at the time. There’s certainly no shame in that, as what would all of us not do for love?

But while Agent Scully eventually fell for Agent Mulder, she could never be accused of being a wallflower. And as anyone who has watched The Fall knows, the same applies to Stella Gibson. In all of Anderson’s roles, including recently as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier on the chillingly gorgeous Hannibal, NBC’s one redeeming quality this side Jimmy Fallon’s late-night hour, she exudes a unflappable strength in any situation she finds herself in. It dawned on me that this is precisely what made her sudden vulnerability to her horrific patient Dr. Hannibal, played superbly by the incredible Mads Mikkelsen, so striking.

We all came to expect Anderson and any character she played to have balls of steel. She reinforces that belief in The Fall, as the hyper-sexual Stella Gibson, who eats men for breakfast, and even seduces The Good Wife’s Archie Panjabi (medical examiner Reed Smith).

But, as Stella’s prime suspect Paul Spector (50 Shades of Grey’s Jamie Dornan) knows full well, it’s all a façade. Perhaps, to a degree, so too is what audiences have always assumed about Anderson. She’s more Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, a role, which brought her last year’s best actress award at the 60th London Evening Standard theatre awards, than Agent Scully. Somewhere in the middle is where Anderson truly is, and so, too, is Stella Gibson, as The Fall fans are discovering.

The series is dark and foreboding, similar to AMC’s The Killing (rest in peace). And Anderson’s Gibson, one could argue, is the British cousin of Sarah Linden, which would be even more plausible had Gibson kept her Scully-esque red locks.

Like (snap!) Linden, as if channeling Stephen Holder, Gibson is damaged goods. Yet she exudes a refined confidence, arrogance even, that escapes her brash Seattle counterpart. While Linden wears her emotions and anxiety on her sleeve, Gibson conceals hers, only daringly providing a glimpse especially when she eyes a trophy she wants for her bedroom.

But there are chinks in her armor. As the series evolves, they are revealed, one by one. Just what happened in Gibson’s past? And what power does Spector hold over her? He is a therapist, after all. And something tells us that Gibson has seen her fair share of the psychologist’s couch.

What makes The Fall different than many other TV whodunnits is that we all know precisely who did it. There’s never a question about who or what Spector is or the extent of his vanity and creepiness. Yet the shows writers manage to ratchet up the drama to the boiling point that makes you as a viewer can’t wait for the next turn.

It’s like waiting for the train to actually wreck and delighting at each moment Gibson’s wheels remain on the track until the inevitable impact and her derailment. All the while Spector is the conductor. And you actually find yourself rooting for him as he pushes the throttle to full bore.

Then the final episode of Season 3 happened. I won’t give the ending a way, but you know it’s going to happen. You hope it won’t happen. But it does. And as a crestfallen Gibson sits in the dirt, holding her antagonist in her arms, one has to wonder, “WTF?”

The final season of The Killing was forced, as loose ends had to be hastily tied up. That was understandable as AMC previous canceled the show, leaving fans up a creek. Thank God for Netflix to come along and breathe life into it, albeit hastily and without vigor, providing a crutch for the show to live out its last days.

I fret for the same end to The Fall, as for the life of me I can’t anticipate where it will go next. I won’t spoil the end of last season, but let’s just say the cliffhanger makes you wonder aloud what the heck Season 4 could be about, aside from a boring, 15-minute courtroom scene ripped from Law & Order. Or could there be another movement under foot? This can’t be it, can it?

Just when you thought there were no more angles to the story, like to Anderson, might we be surprised and thrilled yet again? Like the main character, will the show reinvent itself just when you thought you had everything figured out?

We’ll know soon enough.


About Ryan Gray

An award-winning, professionally and academically trained journalist. I'm a reporter and editor of news, business, sports, and entertainment and manager of the entire production process for print, online and multimedia/interactive for my company. I drive our brands and those of our clients via storytelling and audience engagement. I also direct curriculum development for related conferences and provide quality assurance on all projects and facilitate teamwork throughout the company and convert traffic and readership into dollars. In my spare time I enjoy music, playing with my daughter, blogging and consuming great TV shows and films. Specialties: News/feature reporting, editorial direction, editorial production management, video direction, multimedia, blogging, content marketing strategy, social media, editing/proofreading, page layout, HTML, public relations, photography/videography

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