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Series / Falling Water

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Falling Water is a supernatural series airing on USA Network starring David Ajala, Lizzie Brocheré, and Will Yun Lee.

Three unrelated people - a detective, a trend spotter, and a corporate security consultant - start having increasingly vivid dreams, and soon begin to believe that their dreams are part of a larger puzzle.

This series contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Bi: When Tess brings her agent with her to Aeskyton, her mother assumes that her agent is her latest lover, and implies that she would not be the first woman that Tess has been with.
  • Animal Motif: Shadowman's appearances in dreams are usually accompanied by roaches. Shitloads and shitloads of roaches.
  • Arc Villain: Season 2 introduces the Shadowman, a new antagonist who's been stalking people's dreams.
  • Arc Words: "His Name Is James."
  • The Atoner: Burton's devotion to his Somalian friends the Mironas is born out of his guilt over accidentally killing Clinton's little brother Ronald.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of the first season, Tess and the Boy are free, but have to go on the run from Boerg and his allies. Taka and Sabine are reunited, but Sabine has no memory of what happened to her when she was trapped in her dreams, leaving open the possibility that the Green did something to her. And Burton is alive and reunited with The Woman in Red... but she's now a full-fledged member of the Green, and he's now being pressganged into their service.
  • The Blank: Tess and the Boy are regularly pursued by mysterious men without faces in her dreams.
  • Bury Your Gays: Mercifully averted; the Shadowman takes over Christy's body in order to kill Alex, but Alex overpowers her and Christy ends up in the hospital, but still alive.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Kumiko's peephole-covered sculpture was a prototype for a device that the Green uses to monitor Tess's dreams.
  • Child by Rape: In season 2, now that she has James, Tess has time to think about how he was conceived in the first place, and has grown to suspect that she was probably raped.
  • Cult: The Green certainly seems like a cult, and has been investigated as such in the past.
  • Dark and Troubled Past:
    • Tess spent some time in a mental hospital.
    • Burton spent time in Darfur when he was still in the army. Throughout season 2, he keeps having flashbacks to a mission that went horribly wrong there.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In season 2, James gains a new friend his age named Ronnie. It turns out that Ronnie is named for his uncle Ronald, who died back when Ronnie's parents were still living in Somalia.
  • Dream Stealer: Isla can't form her own dreams, so she invades other people's dreams. She also convinces Burton to reenact his dreams about the Woman in Red with her in exchange for an audience with Mr. Song.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • One of Burton's coworkers kills himself in the first episode after being caught up in a scandal.
    • The Paranoid Belgian kills himself after realizing that Mr. Song is actually Bill Boerg.
    • The Shadowman drives Brent Jenchowski to suicide in the hopes of preventing Jenchowski from identifying Shadowman's boss.
    • In season 2, Nicholas Hull is driven to kill himself in order to frame Taka and Burton for murder.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: This is Olivia's (AKA The Woman In Red) specialty - inspiring affection and trust from other people and getting them to reveal their secrets to her.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted heavily; Tess has a hard time forgiving Bill, and Burton has a hard time forgiving Woody, after their respective betrayals.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Isla. Burton actually comes pretty close to this himself, as he seems to do pretty much everything for his firm that doesn't involve negotiating deals.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Among the reasons Shadowman works for Bennett is so that he can afford to send his daughter Emily to NYU on a full scholarship.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Woody may be a vile bastard who rapes women in their dreams for fun and profit, but he is disgusted when his clients leak the story of Elizabeth Harding's extramarital affair to the press.
  • Eye Scream: Taylor Bennett dies after Shadowman manipulates one of her bodyguards into stabbing her in the eye.
  • Face–Heel Revolving Door: Taka hands Tess and the Boy over to Kumiko with the understanding that doing so would allow Kumiko to wake up and restore Sabine, but he quickly comes to regret this when he realizes that Kumiko is a fanatic of the Green and does not have Tess or the Boy's best interests at heart, and thus helps them escape.
  • Forced Sleep: This is Dr. Ginsberg's talent; he can forced people to fall asleep, or push them out of a dreaming state.
  • Fright-Induced Bunkmate: Tess used to crawl into her big sister Sabine's bed whenever she had a nightmare.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Shadowman is a literal example - Thomas Dolan was a nobody who became a living nightmare after seething with resentment over the impersonal way in which he was fired.
  • Heel Realization: In "Mothers, Fathers, Daughters, Sons", Woody grows increasingly remorseful about his role in damaging Elizabeth Harding's career.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Woody's entire business model depends upon exploiting women's sexual fantasies so that he can gather dirt of them or their husbands, and yet he is disgusted when he finds that one of the women he targeted is now the target of a smear campaign based on secrets that he mined from her subconscious.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Burton is haunted by the death of Ronald, a young boy he met in Somalia who worked as a translator for his unit and who he accidentally shot during a mission.
  • Incest Subtext: Charlotte is constantly going on about her daughter Tess' supposed promiscuity and bisexuality, and one of her darker fantasies involves forcing Tess to submit to a pelvic exam. One might infer that Charlotte's love for her daughter goes well beyond the maternal. It later turns out that Charlotte is not actually Tess' biological mother; Tess was left at Aeskyton and Charlotte raised her as her daughter in the hopes of taking advantage of her powers.
  • It's Personal: In "Nothing Personal", Shadowman targets Alex, taking over her girlfriend in an attempt to kill her. This results in Christy ending up in the hospital, and thus Shadowman makes an enemy of Alex.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: In season 2, Taka's new female partner Alex has a girlfriend at home.
  • Living Macguffin: The Boy. He has the power to manipulate other people's dreams on an unprecedented level. Several different factions want to use that power to their own ends.
  • The Man Behind the Man:
    • Mr. Song is actually a front for Bill Boerg.
    • In season 2, Taylor Bennett is behind the Dreamer trafficking ring.
  • Mind Rape: Woody Hammond, an Aeskyton alum, has been using his powers to enter the dreams of his co-worker's wife and carry on an affair with her in order to gather intel on the co-worker. When she realizes what he's done, she explicitly compares it to rape.
  • My Beloved Smother:
    • Tess's mother Charlotte kept ridiculously detailed records of everything that was supposedly wrong with her when she was growing up. In reality, she was studying Tess, because Tess was born with the ability to enter dreams.
    • Taka's relationship with his catatonic mother is also...complex. On the one hand, she's his mom and he cares for her. On the other hand, she's a fanatic of the Green.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • One of Olivia's other targets was a doctor involved with a mysterious job that he wanted out of. Olivia was paid to observe him, but he ended up dead. She is horrified to think that she was responsible.
    • Sabine is manipulated by the Shadowman into murdering Kumiko. When she realizes what she's done, she's horrified.
  • Named in the Sequel: In the first season, the main characters are only known by one name each (Tess, Taka, Burton, The Boy, etc.) in order to preserve a sense of surrealism. The second season, which is more grounded, reveals most of their names - Tess is Tess Brighton, Taka is Taka Matsuyama, Burton is Burton Mann, and The Boy is named James.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: In the first season, many of the characters, including Burton, Taka, Tess, Isla, The Boy, and The Woman in Red, are only known by their first names or a nickname. Season 2 unravels many of these mysteries - Burton is Burton Mann, Tess is Tess Brighton, Taka is Taka Matsuyama, The Boy is James Brighton, and the Woman in Red is Olivia Watson.
  • Papa Wolf: Thomas Dolan is fiercely protective of his daughter, to the point that he has Taylor Bennett murdered after realizing that she cancelled Emily's scholarship.
  • Shameful Strip: Woody ruins Phillip Whittaker's political career by using his powers to manipulate Whittaker into stripping his clothes off in public.
  • Shared Dream: A handful of people have the ability to enter other people's dreams. By sleeping next to each other, two or more such people can create a shared dream.
  • Slut-Shaming:
    • Charlotte constantly harps on Tess's supposed promiscuity... in order to cover up the fact that she and her friends in the Green forced Tess to give birth to a child and then took him away from her.
    • Taylor Bennett's plan for removing Elizabeth Harding from power involves exposing her extramarital affair.
  • Smug Snake: In season 2, Phillip Whittaker is a city councilman who suddenly became a contender for Mayor of New York City thanks to Taylor Bennett and her friends. After the publicity goes to his head and he tries to boss Bennett around, Bennett bluntly informs him that he's an unlikable, unimportant little man who only received her backing because she knows that if he wins, she will be able to force him to do whatever she and her friends want.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • In "Drom", Tess and Burton declare a temporary truce with Bill Boerg in order to get help in finding Lainie Whicker, a powerful Dreamer who's been kidnapped by Taylor Bennett.
    • In "Nothing Personal", Woody and Bill put aside their mutual enmity in hopes of finding a way to bring down Taylor Bennett.
  • Terms of Endangerment: Isla likes to call people "dear". She also likes to use her abilities to enter other people's dreams and screw with their heads as a way of manipulating markets.
  • Unbroken Vigil: After Taka gets a concussion while chasing a suspect, Alex insists on staying with him at the hospital. This isn't a romantic thing; she is concerned that if she doesn't stay there, he'll check himself out of the hospital. Taka takes advantage of this in order to show Alex that he truly can enter people's dreams.
  • The Watson: In season 2, Alex's muggle status gives Taka an excuse to provide the audience with a refresher course about Dreamers.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In "Risk Assessment", Taka tries to push Emily Dolan into locating her father by giving her visions of his crimes. This backfires, causing her to run screaming into traffic. Alex and Burton both call him out on this.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Woody tricks Whittaker into humiliating himself in public, Bennett decides to cut ties with Whittaker and send the Shadowman to kill Woody.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: People who die in the dream world end up dead in real life.