Character Profile: Erin Bell

The haunted past, it’ll destroy a person. It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, the haunted past has an understated way of creeping inside of you and disrupting and destroying. Sometimes there’s just no getting over it. Forgive and forget is too easy a solution. That’s one of those cliche things you hear a pastor say at a church sermon. Easier said than done, Father. You might as well tell yourself to install a new brain and have yourself rewired. “Go get yourself a lobotomy, it’ll fix you right up!” It just doesn’t work that way. Some past events are too traumatic to ever forget. Sometimes a person doesn’t want to forget.

Try telling Erin Bell to get it over it, see if she doesn’t break your nose. After seventeen years she’s still wearing the scars of an undercover heist that’s gone wrong. They’re as plain as an open blue sky. Her wounds began on the inside, then gradually surfaced and boiled over coalescing in her eyes and on her skin where everyone can witness and cast judgement. She might appear as just another cynical, hardboiled cop. Too many drugs. Too many drinks. Too many rapes, assaults, homicides notched on her belt as a detective. But no, this is something else. This is something different. There’s something haunting going on beneath the layers of skin. It’s made her detestable and rude. It’s aged her twenty years. It’s made her absolutely ugly. She’s gone way too far south. That cheese is old and stinky. She’s just no good anymore.

erin bell front porch
Nicole Kidman as Detective Erin Bell

The complexities of Erin Bell are too many to categorize and list. She’s a psychologist’s wet dream. The healing would require years of unraveling stockpiled shame, guilt, frustration, and anger. How can one begin? Is it too late to begin? And does Erin Bell even want to be healed? Instead she takes the self-destructive route. The one with a one-way ticket to nowheresville. Where no one likes you. No one loves you. No one wants to be around you anymore. Even her teenage daughter despises and disrespects her. But they don’t understand. Someone that she confided in once probably told her that they understood, but how can anyone ever understand her pain. It belongs to Erin Bell alone. She lived it. She was there and the only other person that lived it with her is now dead.  Welcome to your own personal Hell. It’s dark and lonely down here. We hope you get better, but it’s not looking like you will.

erin bell machine gun
Erin Bell charges in, machine gun blazing!

The past has resurfaced and now she’s like a battering ram. F#*k ’em all! Kick open that door and machine gun your way inside, guns blazing, get outta the f#*kin’ way! How can a woman ever get this low? It’s pathetic. It’s pitiful. She’s dangerous. She’s a destroyer. You’d think she was a man. Seventy years ago in a mystery/crime Film Noir, Erin Bell was a man’s role. No woman character could ever be this destructive and ugly. But the time’s are a changing. Women can do what a man does, sometimes even better. They can suffer. They can hurt. They can beat themselves up. They can crash head first into a metal dumpster or pistol whip a junky suspect just as good as any man. Femme Fatales hit the road. Do not apply here you sad victims of abuse. Erin Bell is not a victim of any man’s hatred or greed, she’s a victim of her own self-inflicted guilt and shame and she’s got her own hatred and greed to atone for. Stay away men. Stay far away because Erin’s going to marinade in this anger sauce for a long while.

erin bell pistol
A pistol whipping, courtesy of Detective Erin Bell

But when is enough going to be enough? How many times can a woman knock herself down and get back up? How many times can a man…? And would a hardboiled male cop be as conflicted by the same turbulent self-loathing if he were in Detective Bell’s shoes? The endgame is in sight for Erin Bell, there’s just a few things she needs to take care of first. A murderer that needs killing. Some debts that need to be paid. A daughter that needs saving. Save yourself Erin. Los Angeles doesn’t want you anymore. Take that one-way ticket. Rest and finally be at peace.

kusama & kidman
Karyn Kusama & Nicole Kidman on the set of Destroyer

Thank you Nicole Kidman. And thank you Karyn Kusama for Destroyer. You may not know it, but you punched the crime genre square in the face. You knocked out its teeth and rearranged its incisors, canines, molars, and bicuspids to fit the 21st century. You told those tired, old movie executives to “get over it”. You bloodied and broke some noses, maybe even made some of those dinosaurs of the film industry cry. You girls are “woke”. You’ve made Erin Bell proud. Let’s just hope that she and the rest of humanity gives a good Goddamn.

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