Title: The Fall (Season #1)
Released: 2013

Fix: BAMF Feminism, Fucking Smart Cat and Mouse, Killer Thriller
Platforms: Netflix, Prime Video

Netflix Summary:

When the Belfast police are stalled in their investigation of a spate of murders, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson is drafted to investigate.

FYA Summary:

HOLY SHIZZ, Y’ALL. Holy shizz.

Allow me to preface this by saying that I am not a fan of violence-against-women procedurals.* It’s the reason why I’ve never checked out Stalker, even to support my queen Maggie Q. That strain of weak sauce reminds me of the famous Margaret Atwood quote (“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”) and the original title of Stieg Larsson’s best-known workMen Who Hate Women. And for those that do, and the shows that glorify that kind of brutal violence: I think we can all agree to give them a hearty, “FUCK THAT NOISE.”

The Fall is no violence-against-women procedural. No freaking way. 

While, yes, the central crimes are straight up violence against women, this show also treats the murder victims as who they really were: people. Women. Lives that mattered. Lives that matter.

There’s also one very intelligent, very badass, very fucking feminist sleuth at the epicentre of this show: Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson. And she is fan-fucking-tastic.

The Belfast police are stumped with a high-profile murder that only has one well-connected suspect whose name they’re ‘encouraged’ to clear. Enter Detective Superintendent Gibson to solve this shizz up. Only, she discovers something’s off. Very off. Oh, Gibson can totally clear that other dude, all right. Because she’s found herself a serial killer.

*Or the majority of procedurals, although there’s sometimes a fluffy procedural in my viewing rotation.

Familiar Faces:

Gillian Anderson as Det. Superintendent Stella Gibson

OK, so I’ve read a lot about what a hot charismatic serial killer Jamie Dornan is in this, blah blah blah. BUT CAN WE TALK ABOUT HOW FUCKING HOT GILLIAN ANDERSON IS?!!? Oh, wait; this is my post. So SÍ SE PUEDE I DON’T SPEAK GAELIC. (Neither does anybody on the show, for what it’s worth, but we are in Northern Ireland.) All is totally forgiven for not enough Dr. Du Maurier on Hannibal, now that I know what she was up to in the meantime. (Although why not both, says the greedy fan.)

There’s a reason why the Belfast police brought Gibson in — because she’s freakin’ BAWS. Seriously — my notes just say, “incredible orator, leader, Tami Taylor hair“. She is the trifecta. And she’s a kickass detective who gives no fucks what you think of her.

Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector

Look, I think Jamie Dornan is a good-looking man when he has some scruff, like when he was on Once Upon a Time. So him being all scruffy and often shirtless: that must be like, swoon city, right?! UHHHH, NO. I quickly grew immune to his charm as he did more and more serial killer things.

In the beginning of the series, I did catch myself instinctively warning Paul and cautioning him against doing something reckless, because offering unsolicited instructions to non-interactive fictional characters is something we humans like to do. But then I realized: NO, WAIT — I want this fucker to get caught! I just got so carried away with the typical protagonist mold and overlooked that, beyond heroes and antiheroes, there are villains and super serious BAD NEWS. So, Paul — go on with your poor instincts! Unless those instincts tell you to kill, obvs. 

Archie Panjabi as Dr. Reed Smith

How much do I love that this character could have very well been cast as an old white dude? I don’t know if the androgynous Anglo-Saxon moniker is an indicator of this, because I’m deathly (har?) afraid of Googling anything about this show when I’m a full series behind, but that’s a nice thought to entertain. 

Anyway, Pathologist Smith first arrives on the scene as a leather-clad, motorcycle-riding badass like that other TV role of Panjabi’s (which I actually have never watched, but I know this anyway because I consume too much pop culture). But I’ll always know her as Parminder Nagra’s sister from Bend It Like Beckham.

Ben Peel as Det. James Olson

I don’t think I’ve seen this guy in anything else, except omg IMDb tells me VAMPIRE ACADEMY WTF. But the truly important thing to draw attention to is how he reminded me of a Hot Colton Haynes. (Yes, the implication is that I don’t think CH is hot, because it’s impossible to think so once you’ve seen all of Meghan’s early seasons Teen Wolf recaps.) And also when he has a shirtless scene, I immediately thought, “HELLOOOO SIR ABS”, which makes absolutely no sense that QEII would go to the trouble of granting his stomach knighthood, but logic clearly was not at play here. This has been a lengthy distraction to say it’s better for the story to introduce him than for me to do so. 

Niamh McGrady as Const. Danielle Ferrington

Confession: I actually don’t know her from anything either, and I didn’t even catch her name until near the end, only referring to her as Ginger Beat Cop in my mind before that. I also don’t want to spoil it, but I love her storyline and how she ends up crossing paths with Gibson. 

And lest my parade of pretty people mislead you, there are tons of other actors in this as well — incl. many male characters of different ethics and values, in case anyone (probably unfamiliar with this site) is conflating pro-women with anti-men because LAWL, that’s not what feminism is at all. I just don’t really know my UK actors, and I’m scared to even look at a cast list out of fear they’ll list the duration of that character’s existence on the show because OMG SPOILERS. Although I will say that most of them are not minorities, because Belfast is really freaking white.

Couch-Sharing Capability: Surprisingly Great

I actually more or less binge-watched this with my mom, and even having to hurriedly explain a scene or provide backstory for something she wasn’t paying attention to earlier didn’t detract from my enjoyment, because I needed someone to KNOWWWWW what was going on and understand the plot to talk to me ASAP.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: None Required (Maybe), Except for Toasting Motherfuckin’ TRUTH

Admittedly, I have a high threshold for on-screen violence and fake corpses, so maybe that will make someone else more uncomfortable. There’s also a scene that cuts between two people having sex and the serial killer ritual, which, while disturbing, was an effective juxtaposition that didn’t merely exist for shock value (AHEM, How to Get Away with Murder). OH, and the horny babysitter. Between her and how the fictional children from this series are going to be fucking TRAUMATIZED, you might want to drink. A lot. (No physical harm is done to the kids, but they’re still having a pretty fucked up childhood.)

Besides that, there aren’t really any occasions that you should need alcohol. But here are a few examples of lines that are worth raising a glass and a fistpump for (transcribed as best as I could, so apologies for any mistakes!): 

[Re: adulterous affair — just the double standard of what’s going on here] 

Matt: “You didn’t think to ask?”

Stella: “He didn’t think to tell me.”

Stella: “I’m not interested in judging. Just in finding the killer.”

Stella: “You try to justify what you do, but it’s just misogyny.”

And OMG the Subject vs. Object speech! So much more than a grammar lesson, y’all. 

Use of Your Streaming Subscription: SO VERY EXCELLENT

If, by some chance, you haven’t gleaned how I feel about this show yet, I’ll go ahead and state so now: I FREAKING LOVE IT. And is it kind of evil of me to want to recommend this to Ezria fans for the babysitter storyline? Or have Netflix recommend it to them automatically, for a different interpretation of an age-inappropriate older man/underage girl relationship? YES, PROBABLY DEFINITELY YES. Although no less evil than reminding everyone of serial killer Christian Grey before they see Fifty Shades

ANYWAY; BACK TO THE FALL. Series 1 was absolutely engrossing, with literal jaw-dropping moments that I did NOT see coming at all. The intricate dance between Gibson’s pursuit and Spector’s evasiveness is mesmerizing — how the tables are constantly turning and the upper hand is being tossed back and forth between the two leads like a hot potato. And amidst this tense, thrilling chase — there’s sly, well deployed humour. 

All that, and this show gives you a totally rational and not at all paranoid reason for keeping a detailed inventory of your underwear drawer. THE MORE YOU KNOW.

So have y’all seen Series 1 of The Fall yet? PLEASE NO SPOILERS FOR SERIES 2 — not even hinting at good/bad/indifferent it is, no matter how well-meaning you are. I literally just finished Series 1 last night and quite obviously, I AM STILL PROCESSING AHHHHH. Series 1 friends, LET’S DISH (with clearly marked spoilers for potential newbies)!

Mandy (she/her) lives in Edmonton, AB. When she’s not raiding the library for YA books, she enjoys eating ice cream (esp. in cold weather), learning fancy pole dance tricks, and stanning BTS. Mandy has been writing for FYA since 2012, and she oversaw all things FYA Book Club from 2013 to 2023.