The Fall: Season 2, on NETFLIX, got more personal and crossed more lines than could be handled by the Paris Metro system.
Fair warning: Wide berthing spoilers as much as possible, I remain intentionally vague about Season 3’s jaw dropping specifics. That stated, if you haven’t yet seen Season’s 1 and 2, there are, indeed, a couple of giveaways included here, though not series damaging.
End of Second Season, we were left not knowing if Peter/Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) were alive or dead, or for that matter DC Anderson (Colin Morgan) who also took a slug to some portion of his body. Fatal or no, we knew not.
What we did know was that Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) was left nigh on distraught over the body of the confessed Belfast Strangler. The Chief Investigator seemed to not care (or was she unaware?) that her junior officer—the one she’d had in her bed in the not to recent past—was bleeding, also downed by a slug, not an arm’s length away.
Whatever the case, the killer lay sprawled in her arms and her mournful pleas of “Help! We’re losing him!” were painfully poignant. A disturbing conclusion to a psychologically brutal second act, which appeared to corroborate the subtle-to-sharp suggestions that DSI Gibson was, in some fashion, emotionally bonded with Spector.
Questions called for answers. Of course, there had to be a Third Act; in the form of a Third Season. However, we were called on to be patient. Other, highly touted, commitments for the series two leads prolonged the crime dramas return. But, at last, Season 3 arrived. Conclusion? We are not mad.
Don’t expect a lot of gratuitous flash. Though grim, it is more through an intimate intrusion into the thoughts and actions of the characters when no one is watching that creates the suspense. The cat in the shadows look at what they do when on their own. That is what adds to layers of expectancy that in turn breathes life into an already charged situation.
The actors have to be superb (and are) as so much of the characters’ inner lives are exposed through eye and body language. What is revealed is often shown rather than spoken. This minimalistic technique serves to elevate The Fall, overall, to more than your standard who done-it and how do we catch him thriller: the inner life ultimately feeding the outer presentation. And what The Fall’s creator Allan Cubitt (who also penned Prime Suspect 2) had in mind when he shaped it:
“I was at pains from the start to make sure that there was nothing gratuitous or exploitative in the drama. Sexual killers eroticize violence, power and death, so it’s a challenging line to walk, and different people will have different reactions to the drama.”
Cubitt walks the line by forcing us to know who these people are—both the good and the bad; much the way real detectives acquire the intimate details of the perps that they trail. Digging into their lives—both victim and suspect—getting to know their friends, neighbors, learning anything and everything about them that they can.
As an example, by the end of the first episode in Season one, we get a hint that grievance counselor Paul Spector is a creepy voyeur, but he’s also a fully-formed human being in our eyes. We’ve had a close look at him helping his patients in his work setting, his loving home life with his nurse wife and their two adorable children. We’re eased into the dark side of this man and while it is horrific, it is also far from casual.
“Why would anyone stalk and kill one human after another? It seems so aberrant, so senseless, that we seek reasons. It seemed to me that the simple idea of identifying the killer from the start would give me the opportunity to explore the psychology of such an individual in some detail – something I think is impossible in the who-done-it.”
Jumping into Season 3, we do get those, long-awaited for, answers. However, Episodes 1 through 3 plunge into the esoteric, which are, at times, puzzling and at the conclusion, some questions remain still. It is a slow build to a series of horrific events during a protracted denouement which will leave many stomachs in knots and mouths experiencing a “fall” all their own.
“I knew The Fall would disturb, but I didn’t want it to exploit.”
Be prepared for a journey of exquisite suspense for the entire 59 minutes of every episode. Cannot—stop—watching.
Yearning for the return of DSI Gibson, tortured whisper and all.
The Fall: Seasons 1 thru 3 are Streaming Now on NETFLIX..
Series Creator: Allan Cubitt (Cubitt’s full interview on women and violence on the screen HERE)
Cast of THE FALL includes:
Gillian Anderson (DSI Stella Gibson)
Jamie Dornan (Paul Spector aka Peter
Valerie Kane (Rose Stagg)
Sarah Beattie (Olivia Spector)
Bronagh Waugh (Sally Ann Spector)
Aisling Franciosi (Kate Benedetto)
John Lynch (ACC Jim Burns)
Niamh McGrady (PC Danielle Ferrington)
Stuart Graham (DCI Matthew Eastwood)
Bronágh Taggart (DC Gail McNally)
Emmett J. Scanlan (DC Glen Martin)
Archie Panjabi (Professor Reed Smith) S 1-2
Richard Clements (DC Rick Turner) S 2-3
Colin Morgan (DS Tom Anderson) S 2-3