Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones Set for Netflix

Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones is a comic book come to life featuring a female character. Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios for Netflix have stepped up to the heroine based story with this upcoming series.

Here’s the story from Marvel about the female leads.

After a tragic ending to her short-lived super hero stint, Jessica Jones is rebuilding her personal life and career as a detective who gets pulled into cases involving people with extraordinary abilities in New York City. Trish is a syndicated radio talk show host, former model and child TV star known to her adoring fans as “Patsy” Walker.

The 13 part story will air in the spring on Netflix, but I don’t know an exact date.

Krysten Ritter
Krysten Ritter

Krysten Ritter stars as Jessica Jones. She’s hung up her cape and opened a detective agency.

Rachael Taylor in a scene from "Crisis."
Rachael Taylor in a scene from “Crisis.”

Her best friend Trish will be played by Rachael Taylor. According to the publicity about Trish, she helps Jessica embark on the most dangerous case of her career.

Also in the cast are Mike Colter as Luke Cage, and David Tennant as Kilgrave.

Netflix has a deal with Marvel for 4 series. Fingers crossed, they are all lead by female characters. Melissa Rosenberg is the woman behind Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones.

Most women in actual comic books are just there because their boobs are falling out of their bras. Let’s hope that Jessica Jones on television can button her blouse and be an interesting lead character in a fun heroic romp. Krysten Ritter’ getting billing ahead of David Tennant, for heaven’s sake. She better be THE BOSS. She better be something this man can let his 7 year old daughter watch.

Rachael Taylor photo from Crisis by NBC – © 2013 NBC Universal Media. Krysten Ritten photo via IMDB.

Watch This: Red Band Trailer for Spy

In Spy, Melissa McCarthy teams up again with writer and director Paul Feig in a comedy featuring McCarthy as a CIA Analyst. She works with agents played by Jude Law and Jason Statham.

Miranda Hart
Miranda Hart image from BBC

I’m more than a little excited to see that McCarthy is working with British comic Miranda Hart in Spy. These two should be fabulous together.

Here’s the G-rated version of the trailer, followed by the Red Band trailer.

Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson also star in the Fox release, which opens in theaters May 22.

Spy image © 20th Century Fox

Netflix Doc: What Happened, Miss Simone?

Available later this year only on Netflix will be Liz Garbus’ documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? about the life of singer Nina Simone. Here’s the publicity blurb about the film.

Classically trained pianist, black power icon and legendary recording artist, Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy. In the upcoming Netflix original documentary, Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare archival footage together with Nina’’s most memorable songs, creating an unforgettable portrait of one of the least understood, yet most beloved artists of our time.

There’s another film about Nina Simone in the works – a biopic starring Zoe Saldana. This Netflix documentary will show Nina singing her own songs and shouldn’t be confused with the other film.

The two films will bring the attention of young people who might not be familiar with Nina Simone into her fandom. It seems to be the moment to rediscover the wonderful talents of the singer who died at age 70 in 2003.

Here’s the first official trailer for the documentary.

Learn more about the film and about Nina Simone at ninasimone.com.

Lost Girl: S5 E8 End of Faes

“End of Faes” is episode 8 of season 5, the mid-season finale for Lost Girl. We get some answers we’ve waited season after season for. The cast is dressed in formal wear throughout so everyone looks absolutely fabulous.

Spoilers ahead.

Tamsin with a suitcase

Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten) loads up a suitcase while Bo (Anna Silk) tries to convince her to stay. Bo says she needs her, but Tamsin is angry about being rejected for the girlfriend role and won’t stay. After delivering some snark, she hands Bo a piece of mail.

Bo's mail

The back of the envelope is sealed with the triangular spiral mark. The card inside says, “Come and join us for a gathering. Libations and fun. Dress to impress or you will be turned away.”

the gang at the dal

Trick (Rick Howland), Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried), and Lauren (Zoie Palmer) were invited to the same party. They decide to take Mark (Luke Bilyk) along. This worries Vex (Paul Amos). Vexie takes a big interest in Mark. The gang spends some time trying to figure out what the gig is about and what it has to do with the ancients. Bo is sure it’s related to her father. Trick asks what Bo’s father said to her in the Oracle Vision. She tells them a riddle her father said: The greatest evil is the greatest mercy.

Trick says even the ancients have an Achilles heel. Bo’s all for figuring out what it is.

They dress up and head for the party. When the elevator doors open, they walk into a dark room.

Surprise!

The lights come on and everyone yells, “Surprise.” Love the black balloons, such a festive touch.

A sign says Welcome Bo

It’s a party for Bo. Why does that sound so ominous?

Iris and Hera

Hera (Noam Jenkins) is getting Iris (Shanice Banton) all prettied up. She’s dressed like a little girl and he treats her like one. He tells her how to act and makes sure she’s wearing her bracelet. And look at that – Eric Roberts is special guest star.

Lauren carries science stuff in her clutch

Bo grabs a drink. Lauren whips what looks like a pH test strip out of her beautiful formal clutch and dunks it in Bo’s drink. She gives Bo the okay to sip.

Dyson wants to hunt down Heratio. Lauren gives him a syringe filled with bug spray. It will prevent another gadfly attack. Trick will keep an eye on the crowd and the clam dip. Mark is sent to look for Iris.

Lauren is going in search of blood, saliva – the usual stuff you look for at a party.

Bo

Bo asks Lauren to wait. She says, “About us, what we did the other night.”

Lauren says she knows it was a one time thing and she’s okay with it. Bo says, “But here’s the thing. I’m not. There’s always going to be a reason for us not to be together. I don’t want to put this off any longer.”

Lauren

Lauren looks somewhat confused. It’s okay, Lauren, I’m confused, too. We are giving Bo a D- in communication skills tonight.

Lauren says, “Oh boy.”

Bo frowns. “Oh boy yes, or oh boy no?” While Lauren attempts to figure out exactly what her answer will mean, Bo is distracted by the sight of Tamsin in a backless gown. Lauren turns, admires the back along with Bo. Bo says, “We’ll finish this later.”

Tamsin

Bo tells Tamsin she’s glad she’s here. They need her to fight the ancients.

Iris with Bo

Bo wanders into Iris’ room. Lots of action in Iris’ room tonight. It must have been the only other set for the party. Iris finds her there. Iris likes her dress, wants to touch Bo’s shiny hair. Bo admires Iris’ bracelet. Iris says, “My parents make me wear it.”

Zee (Amanda Walsh) walks in. She and Bo face off.

Hera and Dyson

Dyson finds Hera (or Heratio or whatever he’s calling himself tonight) and delivers a syringe full of Lauren’s science stuff with a from the gut move that would make Lauren proud. They do a few macho circling routines and Dyson punches him in the nose. He walks away with a nice blood sample from Hera on his knuckles.

Bo and Zee

Zee tells Bo she’s Zeus, currently a she. Bo adds, “And my aunt.”

Zee says, “Hades may have inspired this shindig, but you and I are on the same team.

Zee admits she sent the oracles to find Bo’s truth – the thing she craves above all. Zee says the thing Bo’s heart truly desires is freedom from her father. And Zee is here to grant it.

Bo asks how and why. Zee says they have to stop Hades from using Bo to end the world.

Bo and Trick

Bo finds Trick. She’s angry about what Zee told her and wants to leave. Trick turns to see Zee, standing next to the Aegis Shield, which is protection for Zeus. She says she never travels without it.

Bo and Trick are in front of a punch bowl full of the drink of prophecy. Instead of eggs, it contains the eyes of the oracles. Ick. Zee convinces them to drink so they can see what will happen if Bo does not become unbound from Hades.

Bo drinks

Both Bo and Trick drink. They see the world turn to cinders, black nothingness.

Bo's hand is black

Bo sees herself, her hand, turning black. When they come out of it, Trick says he’s never felt such complete and utter nothing. Bo says she has: in Tartarus.

Bo asks Zee how to stop what she saw. Zee says the little property of handprint on Bo’s shoulder is Hades ticket to the ground level. It gives him his power. It’s like an umbilical cord. Bo’s been feeding him an all you can eat buffet. Zee says they must act now.

Mark and Iris

Mark finds Iris on the balcony. She’s pissed off at her parents. He convinces her to leave. She knows a place they can go.

Lauren and Dyson

Lauren, who also has swabs and test tubes in her lovely formal clutch, takes a swipe at the blood on Dyson’s knuckles. Lauren says since both Bo and Trick saw the same vision, they have to try. Dyson wants what he calls collateral.

Mark and Iris kiss

Iris takes Mark to a house. When he questions her about it, she hardly has to try to distract him from his curiosity. Young, virile, and easily distracted, that’s Mark. Couldn’t they have put Iris in the light?

Table full of weapons

Zee announces that the emancipation will begin with removing the hand print from Bo’s chest. She unveils a table full of various devices. Bo has to pick the right one. If she chooses wrong, she dies.

Dyson and Trick provide info on each one she looks over. Everything there has a long, mythological history.

Bo chooses a knife

Bo chooses a dagger. Neither Trick or Dyson have seen it before.

Lauren and Tamsin

Lauren and Tamsin have Dyson’s collateral (AKA Heratio) tied up in Iris’ bedroom, just in case anything happens to Bo. They worked together to get Hera locked up, but now they are catfighting over Bo.

Lauren wants to process. Tamsin says, “I entered the game and I lost. That’s life. The best woman won.” She must have memorized that from a book, because she’s actually heartbroken. Lauren doesn’t know what to say, so she sits down beside Tamsin on the bed. Lauren discovers the restraints Hera uses to keep Iris locked in her bed.

Through brilliant intimidation, deduction, and careful reading of the script, Lauren and Tamsin figure out that Iris is tied down at night because she’s more powerful than either Heratio or Zee.

Bo is ready for the handprint removal

Bo’s on a table with Zee above her, dagger at the ready. Zee caresses oil into Bo’s skin. Skin as flawless as Aphrodite. This delays the dagger action a little. Just long enough for Tamsin and Lauren to run in yelling, “Bo, stop.” They announce that Iris is stronger than both of the ancients combined. Egads! Something’s afoul.

Dyson is concerned for Mark, who is alone with Iris. Mark is in no pain. He’s shagging Iris on the living room floor of the house where she took him.

A funeral booklet

As Mark dresses, he sees the funeral booklet for Cecilia Lawrence. He realizes that’s whose body Iris is using, and this is the Lawrence house. Iris wants to be Cece – live in this house, have loving parents.

Cece's father

Of course the parents come home that very minute. The father, Frank (Rothaford Gray) realizes this isn’t his little girl. She reaches inside his chest, does something to his heart and he drops to the floor. His blood forms the curved triangle shape.

Mark realizes it was Iris who killed all the people. She says, “They had to go to sleep.” She thinks they will wake up. Mark tells her Hera used her. She takes off the bracelet and something strange begins to happen to her. She runs.

Mark is stabbed

Mark picks up the bracelet. Cece’s mother stabs Mark with what looks like a pair of grass clippers. That’s very unsanitary. Let’s hope Lauren has lots of antibiotics in that beautiful formal clutch of hers. Mark runs.

Zee and Heratio stand on the balcony discussing whether or not Iris would take off her bracelet. She might. No, she knows better.

Tamsin interrupts this profound discussion.

Tamsin and Zee

Zee tells Tamsin to report to her super friends that Bo’s emancipation is now or never. Tamsin agrees Bo should separate from her father, in fact – make difference relationships in general.

Tamsin says she herself is not a relationship kind of person. She’s a free bird. Zee sees the tears in Tamsin’s eyes. She’s never seen a Valkyrie cry. Tamsin asks Zee when people stopped hurting her. She answers, “They didn’t. I started hurting them. And you’re next.”

Tamsin hit by lightning

Zee steps away from Tamsin and blasts her with a lightning bolt. May I remind you this is Tamsin’s last life. Oh, Tam Tam, don’t die!

Bo, Dyson and Lauren drive to the park. They heard Iris and Mark were there. Bo’s going one way to look for Iris, Dyson and Lauren the other to look for Mark.

Bo

As they start running in different directions, Lauren says, “Bo, wait.” Bo turns. Lauren says, “Oh boy yes.” Bo smiles. Lauren understood her meaning after all.

Everything Iris touches turns to ash – flowers, cops. When Bo finds her, she tells Bo not to get close to her. She says it’s because she’s not supposed to make Bo sleep because “he needs you.”

Iris is bummed about being a murderer. She’s supposed to bring rainbows, not create black holes.

Bo's fingers turn black

Bo, of course, doesn’t listen and tries to charm Iris into talking. Her hand immediately turns black. Bo looks behind her and see that everything Iris touched has turned black. Bo says, “The darkness wasn’t my father. It was Iris.”

Bo heads for the Dal, where Giles Trick finds the answer in a book. The storm created the chaos that allowed the nothingness to be released in Iris. While they talk, Bo’s hand grows blacker.

the box

Trick knows a story about a box that can contain evil. Maybe they can fight it with that. Bo leaves for the clubhouse, because, you know, that’s where the magic box is always found.

Vex, Dyson and Lauren hover over Mark

Bo could use a nice dose of chi for that hand, but all her chi-givers are in the park, trying to stop Mark from bleeding to death. Guess who was there rescuing Mark – one guess – yep, Vex. Just looking out for his boy toy. Mark is close to dying. I hope he hasn’t lost Iris’ bracelet, because I think it might be a really smart idea for her to put it back on her wrist.

When Bo gets to the clubhouse, she finds Zee, who was actually after Bo’s box all this time. Why do I take such adolescent glee in typing Bo’s box? Zee zaps Bo’s hand with a lightning bolt but it does nothing to her.

girl fight

They have a girl fight in evening wear for possession of the box. Bo wins. Bo pushes Zee out the door. Bo sits on one side of the door with the box. Zee sits on the other telling Bo not to open the box. If Bo opens the box, her father will walk the earth.

Bo flashes back to her conversation with Hades during her Oracle Vision. He is played by Eric Roberts. The face of Hades is finally revealed.

Hades

I’m going to try to get down everything he says, because I’m sure it’s all going to be important later. Bo talks in between his statements. “Don’t be afraid. There’s barely any time. We must be quick. . . . There are those far more wicked than I upon this earth. You must stop them. . . . Only family can destroy them. . . . Our power will decide the fate of this world. . . . You will do things you don’t want to do. The [something unintelligible] our victory overnight. . . . Sometimes the greatest evil is the greatest mercy. . . . I give you all I can. The answer lies with you. A gift.”

Bo thinks about it and begins cranking the jack-in-the-box handle. Zee, outside the door, hears the music and looks terrified. Zee moves away from the door.

Bo is surprised

The lid opens and there’s a flash of light.

Some Thoughts

I absolutely loved this episode. I love that we finally know for sure who Hades is. I loved how absolutely gorgeous everyone looked in their gowns and tuxes. I loved that it was a wonderful cliffhanging behemoth of a mid-season finale. We don’t know the fate of Mark or Tamsin. We don’t know what is in Bo’s box. (See that? I typed it again.)

We don’t know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. They’re all just family, folks. Just a little family feud.

We might know what “oh boy yes” means, but I don’t want to depend on that knowledge because there are 8 episodes still to come and “oh boy yes” could turn quickly. It’s happened before.

The first half of season 5 has been very satisfactory to me as a fan. I especially like that there are no annoying inexplicable plot lines. Everything is starting to make sense and hang together.

I miss Kenzi and I’ll be happy to see her back in the next half. I hope she shows up for more than 2 episodes like in this half of the season.

Eric Roberts had a very brief scene in this episode. I presume he’ll be back in the second half of the season with a lot more to do.

I’m pretty sure they won’t let any of the gang die, so I feel okay about Tamsin and Mark making it.

The Fall S2 E6 What is in me Dark Illumine

The Fall ends season 2 with a 90 minute episode. Whether this is really the end is up for debate in the last few seconds of the episode. Until then we have a very satisfactory accumulation of evidence for putting Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) in prison forever.

Major spoilers ahead.

A chair in the empty house
Where the video was shot

Rose Stagg (Valene Kane) was not in the burned out car they found at the end of the last episode, but the car was close enough to the abandoned house on Sally Ann Spector’s (Bronagh Waugh) parents’ property that the police finally went to look at it. There Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) finds the location where  Spector filmed Rose Stagg begging for her life.

Brian Milligan as James Tyler
James Tyler learns where his wife is

James Tyler (Brian Milligan) gets a call about where his wife Liz (Séainín Brennan) is in a women’s shelter.

There’s a reporter nosing around the Spector house as the police search it. The neighbors are talking about how Sally Ann was arrested.

James Tyler shows up at the Spector’s house because he still wants to beat the crap out of Paul Spector. He knows the reporter. Tyler takes the reporter’s car and heads off to the women’s shelter where his wife is.

Stella watches Katie's video
Stella watches Katie’s video

In the police station, Stella Gibson watches the video from the babysitter Katie’s (Aisling Franciosi) phone of the night Katie and Paul were having Skype sex. It makes Stella wonder if the story Katie has been telling and the things she wrote in her diary are actually pure fabrication.

Colin Morgan as Tom Anderson questions Katie
Colin Morgan as Tom Anderson questions Katie

In a very calculated decision, Stella sends Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan) to interrogate Katie. Stella says she’s doing it because he looks a bit like Spector and Katie is obsessed with Spector. Katie sticks to her lies and does not tell the truth. Even when Tom Anderson explains to her that she will go to jail for protecting a murderer, she continues to lie. She’s in love. She’s an idiot.

The police find thousands of recordings of hotel guests on the desk clerk’s computer. One of them is Katie being tied up on the bed and left like that. That was the same night when Paul called Stella from Rose Stagg’s phone.

Sally Ann looks at evidence
Sally Ann Spector finally learns what the police have arrested Paul for doing.

Next it’s Sally Ann Spector’s turn to answer questions. She tells the truth. She recognizes the necklace that Paul gave their daughter Olivia (Sarah Beattie). When the police finally explain the charges against Paul to her. Sally Ann calmly looks down and says, “I’m bleeding.” They take her to the hospital where she miscarries.

Stella tries the look-alike trick on Paul Spector. She did this the last episode and she’s trying it again. She sends a nervous Officer McNally (Bronagh Taggart) to question him.

Paul Spector looks at the camera
Not buying it

Spector just laughs at McNally, looks right into the camera and says cheap tricks with a cop who looks like Annie Brawley won’t work. He says nothing more.

Tyler pulls Liz by the hair
Tyler pulls Liz by the hair

Back on the James and Liz front, James bursts into the women’s shelter. He shoves everyone who gets in his way, tries to strangle his wife, and pulls her around by the hair. In a fit of anger, Liz tells him she did have great sex with Paul Spector. Rule number one for abused women: don’t tell your abuser the lie he already believes. He won’t get the sarcasm.

James waves a gun around but leaves when he hears sirens approaching.

Olivia in the police station
Olivia is questioned

The little Spector girl is questioned. She lies. She tells the officer that she can’t tell things because they are secret. When the officer asks her what would happen if she told the secrets, she says her daddy would go to prison.

The case against Spector gets stronger when bits of unburned material from the car they found are analyzed by forensics. Paul’s now tied by evidence to other murders. Hurrah!

With the new evidence, they are finally able to bring charges against Spector for all the murders. When he hears what they have against him, he asks for Stella. He says he will only talk to her.

May I remind you how you attacked me?
May I remind you how you attacked me?

Burns (John Lynch), whose only purpose in life seems to be to tell Stella she can’t do things, tries to tell her she can’t question Spector. Spector’s a monster. Stella says he’s just a man like any other. Men like Spector are all too human. Then she reminds him that he attacked her in her hotel room the other night and clearly crossed the line himself.

Stella questions Paul
Stella questions Paul

Stella Gibson begins her interrogation of Paul Spector. It’s a very long scene with just the two of them. The pacing in this show is so deliberate, so careful. There’s space around every line, every glance. You can almost see brains whirring inside people’s heads. This long scene is the ultimate example of what the whole series does with pacing. It drives up the tension unbearably.

She asks him questions going back to his youth, to when he first began stalking women. She acts interested in everything about his evolution into a serial killer.

He confesses everything. Every one of the murders he’s charged with. He gloats over them. He talks about how godlike he feels. The camera circles them, closes in on faces, eyes, mouths, then moves back out. They talk quietly. Stella shows no emotion. Stella remains calm during the interrogation. She calls Spector a rapist and a murderer to his face without showing any emotion. He tells her everything.

When she asks where Rose Stagg is, he stops talking.

Stella looks a bit sick.
I think I’ll puke up my internal organs now

Stella steps out of the interrogation room. Burns tells her, “Well done.” She looks as if she might toss her cookies at the remark and walks off without a word. Then she goes into the room where all the murder boards are and stares at photos of Rose Stagg.

Det. Anderson in Stella's bed
Stella had a little “we got him” party with Detective Tommy Boy at the end of the day. She even let him stay all night!

That night, we see Stella writing out her remarks for the press conference she’s expecting to lead the next day. They have Spector for sure now. She stands up and we see Detective Anderson sleeping in her bed. Next morning over breakfast in bed, he asks her if she wanted him there because of his resemblance to Paul Spector.

Stella tells him the story about how the thing men fear most about women is that they will laugh at them. The thing women fear most about men is that they will kill them. She concludes by saying she hates Paul Spector with every fiber of her being.

The phone rings. Spector has given up a location for Rose Stagg. Stella and Anderson go to the police station in her car – raising a couple of eyebrows in the process. The police make all sorts of logistical plans to take Spector to the location in the forest he mentioned.

After a night in Stella’s bed, Det. Anderson thinks he can express his opinions about Stella’s decisions. She cuts him off at the knees and tells him to follow orders. He says, “Yes, ma’am,” like a petulant child.

Stella has horrible taste in men. There are so many of them waiting to fall into her bed. You’d think she could find at least one who wouldn’t be an ass afterwards.

While the police prepare to go to the forest, the reporter gets a call from his police informant that Spector is on the move. He calls Tyler and asks for his car back. When Tyler arrives, he insists on following Spector to the forest too.

Stella with Spector cuffed to Anderson behind her
Stella sets off into the trees

Stella walks into the woods alone. Behind her Spector and Anderson are cuffed together. Other police officers stand guard. An ambulance and a cruiser trail after Stella. A helicopter is overhead.

Stella calls in about the car
Stella finds the car

Eventually, Stella finds Rose Stagg’s car. An officer brings a crowbar so they can look in the trunk.

Rose is in the trunk
Rose is in the trunk

Rose is alive, but barely. When Stella radios that Rose is alive, Paul is surprised. They load Rose into the ambulance and take her away.

Stella starts back to where Spector is just as they get a call from the helicopter above them. Unidentified people are on the road. As Stella approaches, James Tyler rushes up and shoots Paul and Tom Anderson. The police shoot Tyler.

Spector dying in Stella's arms.
This is my happy place

Stella runs to Paul. She tries to stop his bleeding. She’s shouting for help. She yells, “We’re losing him. We’re losing him.” Paul lays in her arms looking up at her blissfully like it’s just the place he’s always wanted to be.

Aaaaannnnnd . . .  cliffhanger.

It’s over. The end. We don’t know if Paul dies. We don’t know if Paul makes it to the hospital and then escapes, thus creating a reason for a 3rd season of The Fall.  We don’t know if Tom Anderson and James Tyler are dead or alive. Season 2 ends at that moment with Paul bleeding in Stella’s arms.

Some Thoughts

The cliffhanger ending was intentional. Allan Cubitt recently said that there will probably be a 3rd season. More Stella Gibson can only be a good thing.

I know The Fall been criticized as an extended rape fantasy – especially season 1 when we were watching Paul Spector plan and commit his crimes. I don’t see it that way. I see a man who thinks it is his right to harm women in a world where men harm women every day. I see a woman who has the power and means to fight back and to bring him to justice. To stop him. That’s the message I see and support in The Fall.

I’ve said it again and again: Gillian Anderson is fabulous as Stella Gibson. In Gillian Anderson’s hands, Stella is calm and cool and brilliant. She’s in command, she’s effective and self-confident.

Jamie Dornan is also superb, but I don’t necessarily want to see his character still able to operate in the free world. Although – who knows what might happen next with this open-ended finale for season 2.

There were enough shots of Jamie Dornan bare-chested in The Fall for me to predict that he’s going to be a huge hit in 50 Shades of Grey. Maybe some of the fans of 50 Shades of Grey will go looking for more Jamie Dornan and find their way to this excellent series.

This series is full of excruciating suspense. It uses dialog-free scenes, music, careful pacing of action and reflection, and superb acting. So different from the big explosion filled action blockbusters, and so much better!

The Fall belongs on every “Year’s Best” list there is. Writing, directing, acting, music, sets, costumes: awards are in order for all of it.

Keefus Ciancia and David Holmes are responsible for the nerve-wracking music.

In particular, and at the very least, there should be an award for the way Gillian Anderson looks in those silk blouses! Maggie Donnelly deserves the credit for costumes. Go, Maggie!

The Fall, S2 E5: The Perilous Edge of Battle

The Fall episode 5 is called “The Perilous Edge of Battle.” Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) has fallen. If the police can produce the evidence, he’ll be out of circulation forever. It’s one of the tensest and most nail-biting episodes in this suspense-filled series.

Here are the basics of the episode. Spoilers everywhere.

Paul goes through his sopping wet house. He dries out his murder books, then burns them. He takes his computer apart and smashes the hard drive with a hammer.

Jim Burns (John Lynch) goes to see the pedophile priest in hopes of learning something about Paul. Burns can hardly stand to talk to this disgusting man, and I can hardly stand to watch the self-righteous ass tell how much the boys he abused loved it.

The actor playing the priest is Sean McGinley. He did a masterful job of being heinous. In a series about one of the creepiest, most heinous villains ever, this guy provides creepy beyond the creepy. The only useful thing Burns learns is that Paul started writing about the women he followed while still a young teen. So they know he keeps journals.

Gillian Anderson giving orders
Stella hopes to find Rose, but it’s been 4 days.

The police are watching every move that everyone makes. They have officers and cameras on all the principals. Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is still holding off on arresting Spector until they know where Rose Stagg (Valene Kane) is.

Aisling Franciosi as Katie, the babysitter
Stupid, stupid girl

Katie (Aisling Franciosi) does errands for Paul. She goes to a bank and withdraws a lot of money. She goes to Paul’s hotel room and is in the process of destroying evidence for him when the police break in and arrest her. The voyeuristic hotel desk clerk saw what she was doing. He gets arrested, too, but the police may not ask him the right questions.

Paul leaves his house wearing a back pack. He runs fast, evading a number of police who are watching him. He runs into the Botanical Gardens and goes into one of the buildings. He drops his computer into a pond. When he leaves he’s changed his clothing.

Gillian Anderson watching monitors with Control
What’s going on?

Stella is watching Paul, Katie, and everything else that happens from the police station. She’s kept in the loop with the help of a police officer known only as Control (Orla Mullan) who tracks everyone’s whereabouts on multiple computer screens.

We experience a lot of this episode with Stella as she watches various monitors showing suspects, interrogations, and cells. Stella’s anxiety and concern while following the action this way transfers to the audience, because we are feeling it with her. It’s an interesting technique to use in this episode in particular, because it increases tension. It shifts some of the focus away from Paul Spector, who’s had more than enough attention from the camera, and back to the police pursuit as they close in on him.

Tyler has Paul at gunpoint
Oh, you want your wife? Whew, is that all?

When Paul leaves the Botanical Gardens he sneaks out in a way that doesn’t use any of the exits the police are watching. James Tyler (Brian Milligan) – the guy who was beating his wife in season 1 – just happens to see him. Tyler attacks him and forces him at gunpoint to make phone calls to figure out where the women’s shelter is that his wife is hiding in. Someone sees the gun and calls the police.

Niamh McGrady as Dani
Dani is shot, but has on her vest.

Dani Ferrington (Niamh McGrady) responds to the call and realizes that it’s Spector. She’s on the phone with Stella. Shots are fired and the thug with Tyler is killed. Officer Ferrington is hit, too, but is wearing a vest. Stella tells her to just hold Spector there. The police talk to him as if he were the victim of an attack by the gunman – taking his statement. He starts to think he’s going to get away.

When Spector thinks he’s free to leave, Stella sends Officer Anderson (Colin Morgan) to arrest him for abducting Rose Stagg. No mention is made of the other women, the other crimes. He’s finally in custody.

Bronagh Waugh as Sally Ann Spector
I lied. I lied.

The police then arrest Sally Ann Spector (Bronagh Waugh) because they know she lied about Paul’s alibis. When she gets interrogated by the police at the station she tells the truth. Or what she thinks is the truth.

Katie doesn’t get questioned yet because they can’t yet find an appropriate adult to be with her.

When Paul is questioned he is insolent but totally silent. He doesn’t even ask for a lawyer. Maybe he still thinks he smarter than our girl Stella. Pffft!

Gillian Anderson in tears
This is awful to watch

Paul’s phone has video of Rose Stagg begging to be released. Stella watches it with tears in her eyes. The begging goes on and on and on. The camera slowly closes in on Stella’s face as she watches – the terror and horror of it reflects in her eyes, her face. Suddenly Paul Spector’s face is on the video, saying, “Why the fuck are you watching this? You sick shit.”

There’s DNA on the scissors (the ones with Paul’s fingerprint) that belongs to the guy he stabbed. They’ve got him for that murder, now.

Paul is put in a cell for the night and Stella has a brainstorm.

Stella undoes McNally's hair
What are you doing to my hair? Can a girl hope?

She finds Officer McNally (Bronagh Taggart). She undoes McNally’s hair without asking her permission. The moment is sensuous and charged, and not something a superior should be doing to a junior officer without explanation.

McNally holds her breath. Stella looks her over carefully, and says, “There’s something I’d like you to do.”

Bronagh Taggart as officer McNally
I’m a cop. I fit your profile. Take a good look

Stella gets McNally dressed up in a short skirt, brushes her hair and adds some lipstick. Paul’s exact type. She sends McNally into his cell to announce he’s being further arrested for the murder of Joseph Brawley and the attempted murder of Ann Brawley. McNally leaves and Stella watches Paul react to having the young, dark-haired, beautiful officer in his cell.

The last scene is the police finding the burned out car that Paul drove with Rose in the trunk. When they look in the truck, it’s full of all kinds of stuff. It’s hard to tell if there’s a body in there or not. One of the bits of stuff in the trunk might be an arm.

I’ve said several times how much I love Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson. I hope she continues as a character with new cases. But maybe her future cases could involve crimes not about sexual predators. My nerves can’t take it.

The Fall S2 E4: The Mind is its Own Place

Episode 4 of The Fall begins with the forensics people digging through DS Stella Gibson’s (Gillian Anderson) hotel room. They take her computer and her dream diary to examine for clues. As this is happening, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is reading her diary from the photographs he took. It isn’t even my diary and his intrusion into her dreams makes me feel invaded.

The incubus atop a sleeping woman.
The incubus atop a sleeping woman.

Stella prints out the image Paul installed on her computer as wallpaper. It’s a painting of an incubus atop a sleeping woman. She and her supervisor Jim Burns (John Lynch) assume the figures are meant to be Stella and Paul. Really now, did Allan Cubitt have to pick a painting of an incubus for the bad guy? Because there’s a certain succubus I’m fond of and I don’t want the bad reputation of this incubus spilling over into her Fae world.

Stella shows Burns the CCTV from the hotel of Paul, Stella and Burns entering her room. They realize Paul was in the room for 45 minutes – including the time they were discussing his childhood in a group home. Therefore, he knows they are on to him.

Burns apologizes for his drunken behavior the night before.

Stella talks about her personal diary and her physical needs.
Stella talks about her personal diary and her physical needs.

Stella says, “I nearly made the same mistake as you last night.” She’s referring to her advances to Tanya Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) but he doesn’t know that. She concludes, “We all have physical, emotional needs that can only be met by interaction with another person. Trick is to ask someone appropriate to meet them.”

Karen Hassan as Annie Brawley in The Fall
Karen Hassan as Annie Brawley

Stella hears the story of how Paul went to a client’s house – Liz Tyler – in season 1 and encouraged a client to report her husband’s abuse. Stella clicks to the fact that Paul is a bereavement counselor. She learns that it was Paul who went to counsel Annie Brawley (Karen Hassan). He’s scheduled to go again.

Stella rushes to the hospital, drags Annie from her room in the nick of time as Paul arrives. Stella and Annie talk after Paul leaves. Annie finally remembers how she saw him the night she thought she lost her driver’s license. She realizes he is the man who attacked her. Now they have him!

The police go talk to Liz Tyler (Séainín Brennan) again about Paul’s advice as a counselor. She’s in a women’s shelter. When they talk to James Tyler (Brian Milligan) he’s belligerent and angry. He thinks Paul Spector had sex with his wife.

Spector’s daughter is missing him terribly. Paul’s wife Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh) tracks him down at the hospital by opening his mail. He goes off with her to see the kids at a birthday party.

The police have enough evidence now to send in a technical team to put cameras in the Spector’s house. While they are doing it, one of the cops falls through the ceiling of the master bedroom. As Burns puts it – a colossal cock up! To cover up this disaster, Stella tells them to make it look like a pipe broke in the attic so the house floods. The police leave without finishing.

When the Spectors get home from the birthday party, Paul sends the wife and kids to her parents. Their sopping wet house isn’t safe. He suspiciously examines everything in the house. His handwritten journals of all his murders are still there.

There were two odd things about the cop falling through the ceiling. They showed the cop walking around in the attic. It was all 2 x 12 joists – with no insulation. If he had misstepped or fallen, he wouldn’t have broken through those 2 x 12s. A foot might have broken through the ceiling, but not his whole body. Secondly, when Paul found his murder books, they were between the joists above the bed in the master bedroom. They were not in the ceiling in his daughter’s bedroom where he normally put them.

Stella hears about a dead woman found in the woods
Stella hears about a dead woman found in the woods who might be Rose

The police find a body of a woman fitting Rose’s description in the woods. Stella rushes to the scene, filled with guilt. She meets a handsome young officer: DS Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan). Later she asks to have him transferred to her team.

Reed Smith arrives at the crime scene.
Reed Smith arrives at the crime scene.

When Tanya Reed Smith arrives the conversation is businesslike. Stella asks her if she’s okay being the one to examine the body. They both dread finding Rose. Reed Smith says she’s okay to do the exam.

It isn’t Rose. Both Stella and Tanya breath a sigh of relief.

Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector.
Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector.

Katie (Aisling Franciosi), the super-stupid teenage babysitter, thinks she’s in love with Paul. She’s rewriting her diary to give him an alibi for every night of the strangler’s murders.

Paul studies up on Katie’s girlfriend Daisy (Tara Lee).

Paul wants Katie to come to the dark side and do something awful to Daisy. He wants her to learn to take pleasure in other people’s suffering. His pupils are the size of dimes as he talks to her. He’s aroused by the thought of getting her to do something evil.

You want to fall asleep in the room with me? Sure.
You want to fall asleep in the room with me? Sure.

At the end of the long day, Stella goes to Tanya’s office at the morgue. They do not talk about what happened the night before. Stella goes to sleep on the couch in Tanya’s office. Is she waiting for Tanya to finish up so they can leave together? Not clear. Tanya wakes her up to tell her she’s going to change clothes. While she’s changing, Stella wanders into the morgue and stares at the body of the woman they found in the woods. Just then, DS Tom Anderson calls her with the news they found a suicide note. The woman is not one of Paul’s victims.

Tanya finds Stella and asks what she’s doing. The last line of the episode is Stella’s answer, “Wondering where Rose is.”

Gillian Anderson’s performance in this episode is amazingly nuanced. Tiny movements in her expression write emotions in subtle but powerful ways. This character Stella Gibson is a tough cop, calm in every situation. She’s not one to show emotion. But we see it in Gillian Anderson’s face even when Stella Gibson thinks she’s hiding it.

They’re close to catching Paul Spector. I don’t want this story and Stella Gibson’s story to end. She’s a fabulous character and I don’t want her story to end when Paul Spector is caught. I could watch her forever!

Another Dead Lesbian and the Question of Representation

Warning: Last Tango in Halifax spoilers.

My mission on this blog is to mention, support, and promote things I like. I usually don’t mention things I don’t like. Today is an exception. I want to talk about something I don’t like: the kill-the-lesbian trope.

This subject is fresh on my mind because Kate McKenzie was killed off on Last Tango in Halifax in episode 4 of season 3, but I could have written about the topic once a month since the birth of the blog and still have plenty of subject matter.

When I recapped the episode in which Kate died, I did it as a straight report on the story as writer Sally Wainwright wrote it. It’s her story, her creation. She can write it as she wants. (I took to heart a tweet from Shonda Rhimes about fans who think they can tell her how to write her stories.)

I don’t want to tell Sally Wainwright how to write a good story. She knows. She’s written wonderful female characters in Scott & Bailey, in Happy Valley, and in Last Tango in Halifax. I thank her for all of them.

I think this character is part of a larger discussion about media in general and LBGT / woman of color representation in particular.What I do want to explore are the implications of picking this particular character, Kate McKenzie – played by Nina Sosanya – to die. I think this character is part of a larger discussion about media in general and LBGT / woman of color representation in particular.

Kate’s death means that a story about this lesbian couple – one of them a woman of color – is over. There will be no married life struggles, no child raising drama, no representation of two brilliant successful lesbians living a normal life in modern day Britain.

Kate’s death means that a woman of color in a leading role as a lesbian is gone. Her presence in this story, not just as a lesbian but as a woman of color, was significant to many people and to society as a whole. The number 1 search term that brings people to this blog is “Nina Sosanya.” The number 1 post on this blog week after week is about Nina Sosanya. This says to me that she represents something to a majority of people interested in Last Tango.

Kate’s death means that Celia – played by Anne Reid – doesn’t have to grapple with her homophobia, her racism. Kate is gone and with her an important and much needed character arc for Celia.

Kate’s death means that Caroline – played by Sarah Lancashire – will live without love from now on, will grieve for what she’s lost from now on.

Interviews, Quotes, and Comments

Sally Wainwright

Sally Wainwright’s first interview after the episode was with Diva Magazine. When asked why she killed off Kate she said,

It was a really massive decision. And it just felt it wasn’t as… [long pause]. It didn’t give the series as much emotional impact as we normally like to give the audience. I suppose that’s why we made that decision. But I am sad, and I’m really aware that I’ve upset a lot of people.

Later, she was asked why Kate and not John (played by Tony Gardner)? Her answer,

The narrative was that Caroline and Celia had fallen out so badly with Celia not going to the wedding. They weren’t going to speak to each other ever again. Narratively, nothing can ever bring this mother and daughter back together again. And then of course when there’s this huge, massive catastrophe in the family, people do rally round. People do get back together. So it was a narrative decision. It was more about the relationship between Celia and Caroline, and what that gave us.

Celia and Caroline fight regularly and viciously. And make up. That’s been part of their narrative all along. I find it hard to believe that someone had to die for them to make up.

When asked if Caroline would meet another woman, Sally Wainwright answered,

No. And she’s not going to meet another man either.

Nina Sosanya

Nina Sosanya’s first interview after Kate’s death was with Cultbox. When asked for her reaction when she heard about Kate’s death she said,

I was warned before I read the script – which was kind of them – and my honest initial reaction was ‘oh that’s a good idea!’, because the drama is great, but then slowly it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be in it anymore! So that was a bit of a slow burn, but it was off for me because from an outside opinion I could completely see why that’s a great story turn.

But it was quite devastating to have to say goodbye to that relationship, particularly with Sarah, because you build up a working relationship that’s quite unique. It was really sad.

Nina didn’t know at the start of series 3 that she was going to be off the show is how I read that. Assuming she really is off the show. In episode 4 – the funeral episode – she was there as she appeared in Caroline’s grieving visualizations. She may be around for a while in Caroline’s imagination.

When asked about playing Kate as a ghost she said,

Yes, that’s quite an interesting thing to play, because you’re not really playing the character anymore, you playing it as imagined by someone else. So that was a challenge, it was quite good really.

 And would she work with Sally Wainwright again? Yes, definitely!

Lady Parts

A powerful post on Lady Parts deserves a reading. It’s titled Lesbian Lives Matter. Read the entire post, please. Here’s a bit of particular interest.

There is great division in the lesbian fan community right now. Some people are very angry from years of disappointments and have banned the show, much like they did with “The L Word,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Chicago Fire” and countless other shows that let us down. Some do not want to bite the hand that feeds us and are worried that the show might be canceled and Caroline might never get another chance at happiness.

Well, I don’t want the show canceled, but I do want this to be a teaching moment, for Wainwright and everyone who follows her. I want us to scream loud enough, I want them to hear, and I want to finally earn their respect. Lesbian lives matter. Queer lives matter. Stories on television matter. They give voice to those who are struggling to be heard, and they give a face and a familiarity to the Other.

I Want to Have Them Here

A Tumblr blog called “I Want to Have Them Here” posted an piece called In Memory of Kate McKenzie.  They suggest an action that would be an example of what Lady Parts called a teaching moment.

. . . it wouldn’t be right to let this wonderful couple and all that they represent, simply fade away without their significance being recognised therefore we are proposing a highly visible demonstration of our gratitude for the gift that is Kate & Caroline and our appreciation of the two sublime actresses who portrayed them so skilfully and honestly.

We are co-opting the phenomenon of Lovers’ Locks, a symbol of everlasting love. It says a lot about how we would have preferred the script to have gone as well as a warm embodiment of our feelings for the characters and their relationship as lesbians.

The suggestion is to put lover’s locks in a fence near the Red Production offices at in Salford in England. (The address is in the article.) I think this is a quiet, gentle act that could build into news that many writers and producers would notice and think about.

After Ellen

The final quote comes from a piece on After Ellen by Elaine Atwell. Elaine is mad as hell and doesn’t want to take it any more, as are many fans who are fatigued by the kill-the-lesbian trope. Here’s a quote:

. . . writers, producers, and showrunners have no qualms at all about taking our faith and our love and our loyalty and shoving it right back in our faces. Sure, they love us when we offer nothing but praise. They collect the GLAAD awards like Greek gods courting temple sacrifices. They eagerly repeat the stories of how their characters gave real life people the courage to come out. They pat themselves on the back so hard and so often it’s a wonder they’re not all in a constant state of cramp. But when we dare to object, when we express fatigue or frustration with being force-fed the same tired cliches again and again, then the same queer women who formed a vital part of their fan base become a nuisance. When we complain, they call us shrill. And when we try to sneak the characters under our T-shirts and spirit them away to the worlds of Tumblr or fan fiction, places we know we can at least keep them safe, they call us crazy.

Shows with lesbian characters should all be bowing before “After Ellen” and thanking them for all the support, the articles, the recaps, the free publicity, the interviews. When “After Ellen” gets mad, much of the lesbian population gets mad with them. A teachable moment.

What is the kill-the-lesbian Trope?

There’s a wiki called TV Tropes. It has a page called Bury Your Gays. This page, with it’s links to other similar pages, is an education in the frequency with which the trope is used to kill off gay characters. Read and get educated. A quote (emphasis mine):

Please note that sometimes gay characters die in fiction because in fiction sometimes people die (this is particularly true of soldiers at war, where Sitch Sexuality and Anyone Can Die are both common tropes); this isn’t an if-then correlation, and it’s not always meant to “teach us something” or indicative of some prejudice on the part of the creator – particularly if it was written after 1960. The problem isn’t when gay characters are killed off: the problem is when gay characters are killed off far more often than straight characters, or when they’re killed off because they are gay.

Under that are examples from anime, comic books, fan works, film, literature, TV, music, theater, video games, web comics, web original, and western animation. Open and look at all of them. If you’ve heard of this trope before but never really seen it documented, open and look at all the examples. An educational moment.

In the TV section alone, examples come from Chicago Fire, True Blood, Will and Grace, Ally McBeal, The Andromeda Strain, Battlestar Gallactica, Bramwell, Cold Case, Damages, Dark Angel, Dirty Sexy Money, Foyle’s War, Hex, Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, House, Lost, The Sopranos, Supernatural, Veronica Mars, Warehouse 13, Boardwalk Empire, The Tudors, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hemlock Grove, The Killing, American Horror Story and more and more. Now Last Tango in Halifax can be added to the ever growing list.

The Issue of Representation

Pop culture and representations of society and its multitude of individuals in our media matter. LBGT representation, women’s representation, men’s representation, the representation of the handicapped, the disabled, the old, the representation of people of color, the representation of races, religions, belief systems: it all matters.

Television, film, YouTube, advertising, media of any kind teaches us who we are. Teaches us what our culture believes we are. Teaches us what we can and cannot be.

Taking the route of killing off yet another gay character teaches us that gay people are expendable and not worth keeping around. It’s a plot device that needs to be examined by every creative person who writes for TV, film or any other medium. It matters how LGBT characters are handled in the media. Representation matters.

Why Are We So Attached to Kate?

Update: 8/20/2015: Why do we mourn so angrily when our favorite characters are killed off? Here’s a fascinating article at The Mary Sue called The Psychology of Fandom: Why We Get Attached to Fictional Characters that explains what’s happening in our brains and thoughts when a favorite character departs suddenly.

[Note: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com in a slightly different version: Another Dead Lesbian TV Character and the Question of Representation.]