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The Fall: Insolence and Wine

“The Devil, quite literally, ladies and gentlemen is in the detail. Detail, detail and detail again.”

The rhythm of this series feels meticulous. This hour situated like a low-lying field covered in fog, somewhere between a high and low pressure system. It’s both the comedown from Sarah Kay’s murder and the new possibilities that surface while the lives we are insinuated in become more restless, as a result.

When I first watched The Fall earlier this year, it was a blur, hard to process or hold onto in a concrete way. After only a month or so, I re-watched it, not satisfied that I was unable to sort out the beats of the story clearly to assign them to individual episodes. I have yet to experience any lucidity this time around either. Even watching each hour multiple times. The edits of scenes are sometimes so quick they feel subliminal, the dialogue flows from one scene to the next sometimes without a seam, like two sentences in two wildly different conversations could actually go together. This is a watery series that shows no sign of a pattern. As of yet. Though, after ‘Insolence and Wine’, I’m beginning to think that Paul is a dramatization of men’s thoughts about women. Perverted, depraved, archaic, utterly reprehensible and to the extreme, yes, but a dramatization nonetheless.

Welcome to Operation Musicman.

When was the last time a tv show featured a woman leading a taskforce debrief? Or for that matter, one where that woman is Gillian Anderson? (Wait! I know that answer!) It’s another powerful image. She has more presence, willfulness and authority than anyone in that room is ready for so that when, in the final moments of her stirring recital, when her words are the voiceover to Paul’s slinking around where he shouldn’t be, we can rest assured that she is as tenacious as he is sick.

Well-done -- for spotting the wardrobe malfunction.

I don’t think I can think of a more spot-on metaphor for what it means to be a woman than Stella doing the great share of her press conference, unintentionally, with one button more undone on her blouse than was appropriate; every nuance was expertly captured by the acting and the direction. Her mortification then shame that faded into denial in a single second when she realizes it was a floodlight on femininity. That coupled with the revelation of Paul’s actual mannequin is almost more than I can take in terms of the conversation The Fall is pushing forward about the road modern women must travel.

Man fucks woman. Subject man, verb fucks, object woman. That's OK. Woman fucks man. Woman subject, man object. That's not so comfortable for you, is it?

I didn’t breathe during the entire meeting between Stella and DCI Eastwood. Eastwood managed to grill her and leer at her, simultaneously. Bravo. I guess he didn’t notice she’s now holstering a gun. The simple (almost wooden) blocking of the scene screamed, “Let’s reverse every male/female workplace iconographic image!” Right down to the big rolling chair behind the desk that Stella sits down in at one point to deliver her final coup de grace. Each edit lined up with Stella’s dialogue to remind us: this reversal of power, that’s not so comfortable for you, is it.

The Devil Is In The Details:

* Gillian Anderson is not playing for a fucking second in this show.

* I would be fine if Reed and Stella had 10,000 more scenes together. Or a whole show that centered on their lives. Either one.


Brink: “We have a list of operational names: Eden.”
Stella: “A place where the woman gets the blame.”
Brink: “Top Hat.”
Stella: “Too posh.”
Brink: “Alamo.”
Stella: “Too Texan.”
Brink: “Musicman.”
Stella: “Too male.”
Brink: “Genesis.”
Stella: “My least favourite band. Well, aside from U2.”
McElroy: “Hey, steady on.”
Brink: “Ashdown.”
Stella: “Too foresty. What? Reminds me of shallow graves.”

Stella: “Think of it as an addiction. There's a law of diminishing returns.
The serialist, like the heroin addict, is always seeking that elusive first high, and he's doomed to fail.”

Stella: “For there are many of us gathered here today with still more to come. There is only one of him. You'd think that gives us the advantage. But it doesn't. He moves around on his own, in darkness. And we operate under the glare of media lights. Now let's make sure that we don't let anything slip through the cracks.”

Stella: “The media loves to divide women into virgins and vamps, angels or whores. Let's not encourage them.”

Paul: “Kittens turn into cats. Cats kill birds.”
Sally: “We could put it in a collar. With a bell."


  1. The "woman f**** man" scene between Stella and DCI Eastwood is one of my favorite from the entire series. Bold and completely comfortable with how "uncomfortable" it is for so many. Pointed and powerful.

  2. I agree -- that scene is absolutely excellent.

    Jamie Dornan impressed me in this episode, too. He goes about his role as a husband and father, his job as a therapist with no expressions on his face. It's clear that his daughter Olivia must be picking up on something. Maybe she senses his true emotions or something. She's screaming at night for a reason.

  3. I agree that the scene between Stella and Eastwood is outstanding. It struck me as I read this review and the comments, however, that all of us who have written are women. I would love the male perspective on that scene.

    When Olivia tells her mother about the woman in the ceiling, I shuddered. Has she seen her father's journal? If so, dear God.


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