FYC: The Cat and The Mouse for Netflix’s ‘The Fall’

There are those names on the television that are pretty hard to forget, or shake off, with regards to potential Emmy nominations in the Lead Drama categories. The same can be said for Comedy. And “potential” might not be the right word either. Names like Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Julianna Margulies, Jon Hamm, Claire Danes,  are household names now – that might be five slots taken already. Recent juggernauts riding a popularity wave include Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson, Terrence Howard, Bob Odenkirk, and Kyle Chandler. Is that another five slots filled?

If that is the case, though nothing is set in stone, then with six slots apiece for Drama Actor and Actress, only one more from each can make the nominations list. Are we saying that Ruth Wilson, Elisabeth Moss, and Taylor Schilling can not all possibly be nominated? That Jeff Daniels, Clive Owen, and Dominic West will not share the list in the Actor category?

Go to that corner of your mind, you know the place, it is where you are given the freedom to think “but what if…”. That tiny chance, a window of opportunity, that choices might not go exactly the way we expected. That a Vera Farmiga or a James Spader could sneak into the mix at the last minute. Emmys breed familiar more often than not though, even with the winners. So you may have to dig really deep for that rabbit’s foot or horse shoe. You don’t have to go far though for alternatives to the so-called obvious.

They love the British over in the States don’t they (fans of Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys will be hoping they like The Americans too)? I mean, BAFTA winner Olivia Colman would likely make my own personal ballot – Michelle Dockery though, would not. I have also seen Hugh Bonneville’s name a couple of times, but as good as Downton Abbey has been I just don’t think it can keep up here. “Has been” may be the appropriate phrasing there. Will Emmy follow suit? Even fellow Brits Michael Sheen and Andrew Lincoln have little chance at all as I see it.

Step up to the plate then, Gillian Anderson (raised in England) and Jamie Dornan (actually from Northern Ireland) from The Fall. We all know both of those names for very different reasons. Due to the show’s success simmering rather than bubbling over the surface, their names are not so much synonymous with this gritty detective drama. The Fall is close to excellent, one of the very best series I have personally seen in the last twelve months. It’s gripping narrative is lean and to the point, and throws punches without warning. Had it not been for the barrage of quality drama this year, then who knows, maybe The Fall could have peered it’s head further from the ground.

Gillian Anderson’s Superintendent Stella Gibson is a rough-around-the edges but magnetic woman. A good woman, who tries hard to hide her own personal insecurities by projecting herself as a no-nonsense police detective. A damn good detective. Anderson does vulnerable and ruthless extremely well, and knows exactly when to glide between the two here. As well as lugging around her various emotional baggage, she allows her face to do a lot of the work. There are countless examples of this, but one I have touched upon before is when her watery eyes tell us that she is completely focused on her work and the people at risk, but also that she has a heart and is deeply moved by the circumstances of a potential victim. Emmy know Anderson well from her skeptical-of-aliens days, and with The Fall, some twenty years later, her acting and presence on the screen have also clearly, and mercifully, matured.

Jamie Dornan is Paul Spector, the mouse to Gibson’s cat, and a seemingly remorseless tormentor and killer of women. A far cry from that performance he made thousands sit through in Fifty Shades of Gray. I am still not sure if the undeniable contrast between these two very recent roles is a hindrance or a light-shiner. Dornan in The Fall is simply extraordinary, and I mean that as a big fat compliment. You are never going to admire a character like this, who does these awful things, and with method. Even with his role as a husband and father to contend with as an audience member. But you remain glued to this twisted murderer. Dornan makes your stomach curdle at times, but you can’t take your eyes off him (sure, he is handsome I suppose, but that’s not what I meant). Spector is a casual character, his body language and engagements with others would suggest he has no guilt whatsoever for what he has done. Even when in danger of being gunned down by thugs, caught by the police, or sussed out by his family, he remains eerily calm.

Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, then, are two names that should have been in the midst of much more conversations than they have been – and because of The Fall. Two compelling, strong, yet very opposing performances, from terrific actors doing some of their very best work. I will keep my fingers crossed for two such outsiders come Emmy nomination time, likely in the same vain I did for Jenny Slate and Tom Hardy prior to the Oscar nominations.

Oh well, the underdog game is one I enjoy playing.

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3 comments

  1. Avatar
    Mark 6 years ago

    Are you making a case for season 1 or season 2? Because the two are not comparable at all. Season 1 was great, I loved it. I don’t agree with your praise for Dornan, to put it mildly – the guy can’t act, sorry. But he can run, that’s for sure. 😉
    Two thumbs up for Gillian! 🙂
    Season 2 was not that good, with all those forced plot twists and an ending you can see coming a mile away. It felt like a remake of the famous scene from SE7EN. 🙁

    1. Avatar
      Robin Write 6 years ago

      Season Two. There are very different in the way the narrative shifts, but many shows do that. Often they have to do that. I enjoyed both seasons, even if the novelty wore off a bit with the second one. I would argue too that Dornan was better with the material in season one. But I think he does a fine job in both. Any non-performances in such gritty drama would have put massive dents into it. The Se7en comparison is something I picked up on. There was a whiff of The Silence of the Lambs and Heat too.

      1. Avatar
        Mark 6 years ago

        I’m sure that there are things in season 2 that are worth admiring, but they are annulled by the not so logical things that were happening in order to keep the “action” moving forward. “Oh come oooon” was what I felt at least 5 times during the series.
        Kudos for mentioning Olivia Colman, it’s a shame she’s not getting any traction… One scene in season 2 of BROADCHURCH is what should easily win her an Emmy if she gets into conversation. But that’s not happening. 🙁

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