The Fall is the buzziest show on television today — for reasons not entirely of its own making. The drama started over the weekend, when Julianna Margulies once again denied that her rumored feud with former Good Wife co-star Archie Panjabi was the reason their characters shared few scenes together in recent seasons. When the discussion turned to Panjabi’s infamous Good Wife good-bye scene — in which the two women were only in the same room together thanks to the magic of editing — Margulies insisted there was an innocent explanation: Panjabi was busy filming The Fall when it came time to do the scene.
Not so, Panjabi insisted almost immediately: The Fall wasn’t in production at the time!
All of which raises the obvious question: What is The Fall, anyway, and should you be watching it?
In the interests of informing our audience, here is an explainer that will answer every question you may have about the possibly popular BBC Two show.
What is The Fall?
The Fall is a British-Irish crime drama that follows Gillian Anderson’s DSI Stella Gibson as she hunts for a serial killer (Fifty Shades’ Jamie Dornan) in Belfast. Panjabi plays professor Tanya Reed Smith, the forensic pathologist who assists Gibson in her investigation. The role is similar to Panjabi’s character in The Good Wife in that she is once again playing a stylish, bisexual sidekick to a white woman from an iconic ‘90s television show, but it’s different in that, unlike on TGW, Panjabi still appears in scenes with her co-star.
Tell me more about this scene-sharing. Do Panjabi and Anderson actually act opposite each, or is it more CGI trickery?
Nope! As on most shows, when characters in The Fall are in a scene together, the actors playing them are often in the same room at the same time. See for yourself in these GIFs: Gibson and Reed Smith sit down next to each other, walk down hallways together, ride a motorcycle together, the works. Sometimes they even have conversations face-to-face, not on the phone!
Interesting. Have fans of The Fall considered shipping them?
Why do you think there are so many GIFs of them together? Of course fans ship them! And they’re not wrong to: Over the course of the show’s run, the two women gradually shared more and more emotional intimacy, culminating in a famous scene in season two where their characters kissed in order to ward off a creepy dude.
The way Panjabi tells it, her reaction to this kiss was what inspired her to leave The Good Wife. “When I was kissing her, Allan Cubitt, the show’s creator and director, had to say, ‘Archie, can you hold back?’ because Gillian was supposed to take me by complete surprise,” she recalled later. “I didn’t think that I was very forward in [the scene], but obviously after a while a character [like Kalinda, who is aggressive and often the initiator] starts to affect you. I thought, ‘Okay, I think it’s time to go now.’”
Interesting! What happened after they kissed?
Anderson’s character invited Panjabi’s up to her room, but was politely refused. Still, The Fall has only aired 11 episodes, so there’s plenty of time for their story to develop.
It’s had two seasons but only 11 episodes?
British TV, man.
So will there be a third season of The Fall?
A third season has been confirmed, with a premiere date later this year and a U.S. release on Netflix (where seasons one and two are currently streaming) coming shortly thereafter.
That’s all I need to know. I’m watching it!
Good for you. And we haven’t even covered how deliciously creepy Jamie Dornan is in it.
One last question: Was The Fall really shooting at the same time as The Good Wife season finale, or was Margulies lying?
It doesn’t look like it. Season two of The Fall started production in spring 2014, when The Good Wife’s fifth season was airing. Season six of The Good Wife didn’t start filming until July 2014, at which point The Fall was likely wrapping up. When the Good Wife finale was being shot this spring, The Fall had only just been renewed for its third season; production would have been months away. In other words, The Fall is not a valid fall guy.