News broke last night that a new Christian Grey has emerged for the Fifty Shades of Grey movie, and just like the previously cast Charlie Hunnam, Jamie Dornan’s not a super megastar — yet. But he has been the star of a show: On The Fall, Dornan played Belfast’s hidden-in-plain-sight serial killer, tracked down only by the brains and determination of Gillian Anderson. It’s a pretty good show, and it’s on Netflix Streaming right now.
The Fall fits in with fellow dour murder dramas The Killing, Broadchurch, and The Bridge, certainly, but it has a stricter focus on gender politics within the world of crime-fighting — and, frankly, within the world of crime itself. Anderson’s character calls out several of her co-workers for close-minded, sex-negative, judgmental behavior, and when she finally interrogates Dornan’s character, she accuses him of plain and simple misogyny, saying that’s what’s at the root of his crimes.
We’re meant to agree with her, but that message is undermined by how tender and swoony Dornan’s Paul Spector seems. By day, he’s a stubbly, gorgeous grief counselor (irony alert!); by night, he’s a stubbly, gorgeous loving husband and father of two young children. But by late at night, he’s a stubbly, gorgeous murderer who sneaks into women’s homes, ties them up*, kills them, and then artfully arranges their bodies. He contains multitudes.
The Fall is only a five-episode series, and even if you’re maxed out on slow-moving shows that follow one central, almost fetishized murderer and the complicated — yet ultimately noble — investigators trying to track him down, it’s worth at least an episode or two. Anderson is fantastic and Dornan’s brooding evilness, almost completely masked by the markers of middle-class professionalism, is perversely alluring. Subtract the murdering, add in some kind of business empire, multiply it by Dornan’s charm as the Huntsman on Once Upon a Time, and that’s pretty much Christian Whasthisname.
*This article previously stated that Paul rapes his victims on the show; while the crimes are sexually charged, they do not in fact include rape. Still disturbing, though!