I’ve read a couple of excellent posts on this site regarding the relation of The Killing to The X-Files, most notably the link between Mireille Enos’ Gillian Anderson’s characters. I also wanted to write a blog post that could perhaps convince (to a small degree, I don’t want to exaggerate my powers of persuasion) those in the UK to tune into The Killing when it finally comes across to this side of the pond. Therefore, when I sat down with my cup of tea to watch the new BBC crime series The Fall, which is not just a British show, not just a crime drama that is quite similar in style to The Killing, but also stars Gillian Anderson, I thought I’d put in too much sweetener and was hallucinating. It was a blog post waiting to happen.
The Killing and The Fall are very similar shows in their style and execution. With the gritty and urban Belfast as its backdrop, The Fall achieves what The Killing pulled off effortlessly in breaking away from the conventional settings of a crime drama and locating the characters in somewhere new and fresh for the genre. This is a key element that makes both shows so likable – was I the only one getting slightly bored of New York and London being the settings for crime dramas? Not only that, the setting is excellent in both shows. Belfast is grey, expansive, and Seattle is rainy and moody. Perfect places to watch the hunt for sadistic killers unfold in tense, haunting manners.
Moreover, the shows don’t shy away from difficult subject matter. That is not to say that they handle the cases in gratuitous manners, they actually approach the themes with nuance and sensitivity, yet they don’t cover up the darker side of humanity. They raise important, difficult questions in the viewers which I feel are overlooked in other detective shows, and raise the shows’ calibers to much higher levels. Watching Jamie Dorian play sadistic killer Paul Spector is as haunting and disturbing as watching the Larsen family break down following the death of Rosie, and I feel that the detailed exploration of characters is executed superbly in both shows.
Of course, apart from the similarities in style, there is a central similarity between these two shows which I want to explore, given the previous posts on this blog – the similarities between Gillian Anderson’s DSI Stella Gibson and Mireille Enos’ Detective Sarah Linden. Both are feisty females, and are highly dedicated to their jobs. Whereas Linden’s dedication causes trouble for her at home, Gibson manages to be collected and composed throughout, managing to mix business and pleasure where she sees fit, yet also separates the two when required. And whereas Gibson approaches the job in a highly professional manner, Linden can be seen as become more emotionally involved in the cases, something that viewers will hopefully see more of in Season 3 as we delve into her past more.
Both characters are also morally upstanding (in most ways, and certainly when it comes to upholding the law). We’ve seen Anderson incredibly, amazingly, and all sorts of brilliantly tell a journalist where to go when snooping for information. (On the aside don’t nosy journalists make for THE most annoying characters on television? I find myself wanting to throw the remote at them. A vital character for every crime drama in my opinion). We also see Linden desperate for the corrupt cops and dodgy detectives to uphold justice and do things ‘the right way’ throughout the first two seasons of The Killing, and I’m sure that this trend will continue. I think that this appeals to current television viewers, given the constant stream of corrupt government officials and mishaps in investigations in the news. The idea that people can tune in and watch excellent detectives really provide a sense of moral and legal justice is something really appealing, and both The Killing and The Fall has this in spades. Fans of The Fall will absolutely love The Killing, and I hope that when it returns to the UK and arrives on Netflix people will dive headfirst into the dark, captivating world of Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CONNOR BRIGGS (@ConnorBriggs)
Connor is from Middlesbrough in England. His interests include writing, reading, and running. He is a massive fan of television, in particular crime dramas, and he is currently studying for a degree in English Literature and History with a keen interest in film analysis. Follow him on Twitter: @ConnorBriggs