Re-cop: The Fall, Series 2, Episode 1

I can’t say that I like The Fall. It’s hard to utter the word “like” within earshot of all those scenes of brutality against women. And sometimes the show seems to linger a little too long in the killer’s point of view, crossing the line into prurience.

But the show also lingers a little too long on Gillian Anderson’s lovely face. And I wanted to celebrate that, but I couldn’t imagine recapping the show (see above re: brutality). So I decided to cobble together a “re-cop,” in which I imagine the reactions of various fictional lady cops/lady badasses to the actions of DSI Stella Gibson.

Hmm. I think this is probably just me indulging my own crossover fanfic urges. Oh well!

1. DSI Gibson interviews Annie, the Belfast Strangler’s only surviving victim

Although Stella’s not always the most compassionate person, she does seem to be genuinely concerned for Annie’s welfare.

But just when you think she’s going in for a hug (which, admittedly, might not be very comforting to someone who was recently assaulted), she does something odd, in that very Stella way. She takes the elastic band from Annie’s braid and puts it on Annie’s wrist instead.

“Once upon a time, this worked for me. You snap the band on your wrist when your thoughts and feelings overwhelm you.”

This leads to constant and extremely harsh snapping on Annie’s part, and Stella seems to think, “Well, yes; welcome to my world.”


DCI Gill Murray, Scott and Bailey: ”I hear that snapping. It’s the snapping of your sanity. And I’d better never hear it again, if you’re keen on keeping your job.”


Detective Mary Beth Lacey: “I don’t think I even have any of those snappy thingies. Do you, Chris?”
Detective Sergeant Christine Cagney: “I think I have some other tie-ups, restraint thingies … I mean, nope, nuh-uh.”


Sergeant Catherine Cawood, Happy Valley: “Let’s all play beauty shop instead of catching a killer, shall we?”


Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada (yes, she’s a cop; have you heard of the fashion police?): “The braid was hideous. It had to be done.”


2. Stella sullies the crime scene and mentally re-enacts the assault

I’m sure UK police procedures differ from US procedures in various ways, and maybe all the CSI-ing is over and done, but it still seems weird for DSI Gibson to be picking up evidence markers willy-nilly like that.


DSI Julie Dodson and DCI Gill Murray, Scott and Bailey: “Bloody hell! Get a crew in here! Nobody makes a move without a forensic suit!”


DS Ellie Miller, Broadchurch: “I’ve no idea how or why, but I’m certain I’ll be blamed for this.”


Back at the scene, Stella is imagining the Strangler’s attack on Annie.

Gillian Anderson learned this stuff from Hugh Dancy on Hannibal.


Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal: ”You need so much therapy.”


DS Janet Scott, Scott and Bailey: “I imagined an assault once. Oh, right, no: I was actually assaulted. Similar, though, wouldn’t you say?”

3. DSI Gibson stares down a bunch of thugs

Most of us will never achieve anything close to this level of badassery.


DS Rachel Bailey, Scott and Bailey: “Respect.”


DSI Jane Tennison, Prime Suspect: “Respect.”


Xena: “Respect!”

4. Stella dons a uniform.

I mean.

It’s somewhat annoying when Burns asks DSI Gibson why she’s wearing the uniform, but her answer is completely satisfying.

“Same reason you’re wearing [yours].”


Detective Mary Beth Lacey: “We tried that a few times — remember, Chris?”
Detective Sergeant Christine Cagney: “I remember I tried out a few new bars during those times.”


PC Doris Thatcher, Hot Fuzz: “Uniforms are really just silly, aren’t they? [snorts]

Sergeant Catherine Cawood, Happy Valley: “I sleep in mine. But carry on playing dress-up.”

5. DSI Gibson does the briefing.

Stella’s a little uncomfortable at first, especially when talking about keeping her old phone active so the Strangler can call her again if the mood strikes him.

But she’s calm and commanding, if not exactly inspiring.


DCI Gill Murray, Scott and Bailey: “What are you thinking? You’re not even on your feet! And I heard just one mention of CCTV. No. I want CCTV, I want house-to-house, I want to find this bastard. Soon as.”


Agent Carrie Mathison, Homeland: “I don’t understand. There’s no board, there’s no color-coding. . . you’re wasting my time.”


6. Dr. Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) inspect Stella’s fingernails

Not only does this confirm that Stella’s not a killer, but it also confirms that we have a very good reason to keep watching this season.


Investigator Kalinda Sharma, The Good Wife: [chuckling] Why did I never try that line with Alicia?

Agent Clarice Starling: “Sometimes when I’m not dreaming about screaming lambs, I dream about fingernails that aren’t broken from clawing their way through something. But your thing is interesting too.”

Sigh. And now I’ve reminded myself why these things just aren’t funny or recappable. But I amused myself with this anyway, so I just might do it again. Unless I go insane trying to figure out how Gillian Anderson can be even more beautiful than she was 20 years ago.

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a new long-term love

major spoilers for Albert Nobbs

I have a handful of lifetime loves: celebrities who seem to have entered my consciousness just as early as the sun and the moon, and with no less brilliance. Sonia Manzano (Maria on Sesame Street) was mi primer amor; Carol Burnett, Julie Andrews, and Barbra Streisand were close at her heels. It took me a little longer to become aware of Meryl Streep, but because I’m certain we were together in a past life (let me have my fantasy, please), I count her among the early lights. These five are my pantheon, my pentateuch. They remind me where I come from and what I value: warmth, humor, talent, smarts, integrity. And hotness.

Recently I realized that a much younger woman (she’s only 50!) has taken her place among these luminaries.

Janet McTeer has those admirable qualities in spades. And she’s supremely sexy, with a voice that’s silky yet husky; lips that curve readily into a smile and just as fluidly into a smirk; eyes that shimmer with that incisive, playful, unswerving lust for life that inhabits Oscar winners (and she really should have won this year — sorry, Octavia).

And then there are her curves. Have you seen Albert Nobbs yet? If you have, or you haven’t and you don’t mind being spoiled, please enjoy:

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NSFW alert

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NSFW alert

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you should also get a glass of cold water

or maybe a cigarette


I first embraced (OK, only mentally) those curves more than 20 years ago, in the form of Portrait of a Marriage. She lightly trips the boundaries of gender in that miniseries much as she does in Nobbs, swaggering and swaying as it suits her, donning angular uniforms and billowy skirts as comfortably as she stretches in her birthday suit (and I’m so, so glad she’s comfortable with that). And seducing a woman with the kind of dashing confidence that reduces me to an empty-headed heap of gratitude.

That dashing quality — not exclusively English, but often found hitching a ride on the tweedier parts of the gene pool — permeates her performance in Albert Nobbs. She’ll make you forget Glenn Close even exists (and this is a very serious statement coming from me, because my appreciation for Ms. Close borders on unhealthy). In the film, McTeer’s character represents truth, self-knowledge, courage, freedom, and love. And handsomeness.

Even in her smaller, less obviously dashing roles, McTeer is unforgettable. Today I saw The Woman in Black, which is a little snoozy when she’s not on screen — but mesmerizing when she is. That’s how I felt about her performances in Mary Stuart and God of Carnage on Broadway: when she was offstage, it was just another day, but when she showed up, it was suddenly Christmas.

And Glenn Close seems to be just as enchanted as I am: she’s given McTeer a part in the upcoming season of Damages, as well as the part of Very Good Real-Life Friend. (I interpret this photo slightly differently.)

Given McTeer’s stunning performance in the UK crime drama Five Days, I think we can expect her to set off similar fireworks in a legal drama — especially if she plays someone in charge. Maybe she’ll battle Patty Hewes for dominance. Yow!

So now that I’ve realized I’ve been in love with her for more than 20 years, I’m more than happy to give Janet McTeer a primo spot in my personal cinema firmament. Actually, I don’t have to give it to her: she’s already taken it, with that dazzling aplomb that I can’t quite capture in words. So I’ll end this with a brief video clip (from Portrait) and an amen.

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her quiet eye

The Observer

Completely protected on all sides
by volcanoes
a woman, darkhaired, in stained jeans
sleeps in central Africa.
In her dreams, her notebooks, still
private as maiden diaries,
the mountain gorillas move through their life term;
their gentleness survives
observation. Six bands of them
inhabit, with her, the wooded highland.
When I lay me down to sleep
unsheltered by any natural guardians
from the panicky life-cycle of my tribe
I wake in the old cellblock
observing the daily executions,
rehearsing the laws
I cannot subscribe to,
envying the pale gorilla-scented dawn
she wakes into, the stream where she washes her hair,
the camera-flash of her quiet

— Adrienne Rich, 1968

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