QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

The Fall


My wife likes British crime shows. This one a Northern Ireland crime show. Netflix has splashed an "original" tag on the front of it, but it seems like it was broadcast by the BBC, too.

My wife watched a couple of episodes before I started to watch, and we have not finished the series. I've seen three of the five episodes of "season one" and two (so far) of season two.

I was enjoying it at first, but it's been going downhill. Not far enough that I've stopped watching it, just enough that I feel compelled to warn potential viewers.

Let's start with titles. The show title is short and vague. The episode titles are arty and pretentious. There's a good chance this was originally titled something like "The Fall of Man". In brief, there is a serial killer and a from out-of-town serial killer specialist leading the investigation.

Now the characters. The star (name before show title, and executive producer) is that actress from "X Files". Here she plays a Met(ropolitan Police) officer on loan to the Belfast Police. She's a wavy haired blonde who likes one-night stands, and has had relations with more than one married man on the Belfast Police. She is supposed to be Uberwoman, sexually attractive to all, with the sexual mores of James Bond. Her policing style makes me think of Silence of the Lambs Jodie Foster all grown up.

Also on the side of the police are an officer going for the Gerry Adams look. This guy is one of the married men who has rolled with Uberwoman. He also is a weak-spined man who trades tips with politicians for police funding. There is the red-haired uniformed lesbian who gets pulled in to be Uberwoman's Girl Friday. And a black-leather-biker-chick who is the Medical Examiner.

There's a large number of victim and victim family members, most of whom should just be acknowledged as existing. At one point Uberwoman herself pleads think of them as alive. The comment was not directed at the audience, at least not in a break-the-fourth-wall way. There's also the it-was-just-rough-sex-no-a-murder-attempt Ex-Girlfriend. (In one of many coincidences, Ex-Girlfriend is pals with Medical Examiner.)

Then there is The Killer, a trim bearded fellow with a very trim body. He grew up an orphan, he has no real friends, he works as a counselor. Apparently he mostly counsels troubled women. He "has a type." That type is the Snow White look: white skin, straight black hair, and a touch of vivid red. The Killer is married, long enough to have a Daughter about five or six, but the wife is not of the type, which feels weird. The Daughter just might be the only person The Killer really cares about.

The teenage neighbor who babysits, however, she is that type. (Babysitter is taking the role of the daughter's friend from American Beauty.) She oozes sexiness, comes on hard to The Killer, but is really the virgin. The Killer fabricates a story of a relationship with Babysitter when his wife catches on that he has a lot of unexplained time in his schedule.

The archetypes start to feel rigid after a while. And the story has a weird sexuality to it. At one point Babysitter visits The Killer at a cheap motel. The motel keeper is revealed to have a special lens to help him spy on guests through the door peep hole. Spineless Gerry Adams tells Uberwoman that he'd have left his wife for her. Lesbian sidekick might have a thing for Uberwoman. The Killer is apparently attracted to Uberwoman even though the hair is all wrong.

There's more arty overhead shots and parallel cutting than the story needs. It doesn't use nudity or gore much. (I think The Killer has the only nipples shown on screen.)

Having just watched the middle act of the three-act overall story arc, I'm going with a rating of 25 tropes out of 50.

Open questions: will Ex-Girlfriend be killed? Will Babysitter tell the police what she's figured out? Will Babysitter be killed? Will The Killer be caught alive or killed? If alive, will he have a weepy apology to his Daughter? Will Spineless Gerry Adams suffer for his moral lapses?

Pretty much certain: Lesbian will not sleep with Uberwoman. (Uberwoman's loins will itch for the rest of the story.) Wife will not be killed and will not get an explanation or apology. There will be an overhead shot of The Killer after the resolution, either his body, or him being escorted by police.

Possible bonus: having referenced Nietzsche and the Inferno already, there will be one more high literature reference just before the resolution. Maybe Faust?

Prediction: Lesbian will have some sort of life changing event in the final episode.