Starring: Jamie Dornan, Gillian Anderson, John Lynch
Summary: Taking place in Belfast, Northern Ireland, serial killer Paul Spector is being hunted by the police force led by Superintendent Stella Gibson, but whenever they feel like they’re getting somewhere, Spector is one step ahead of them.
Genre(s): Crime, drama, thriller
Providing one of the best exports to come from Britain as of late, The Fall is a series made up of two seasons that follows the journey of charismatic serial killer Paul Spector and the people trying to catch him. Stella Gibson is the head of that team – a Metropolitan Police Superintendent who’s moved onto the case after 28 days of no progress.
Attacking young, brunette and professional women in the city of Belfast, Spector is from the outside looking in, a family man with a wife, two children and career as a bereavement counsellor. Despite that he’s allowed his urges to kill take over, making him one of the most dangerous people in the city, and someone Stella is determined to bring to justice sooner rather than later.
Stella Gibson is brought in from the Metropolitan Police, supervising a review in a murder case that’s been open in Belfast for 28 days. With the world clueless, serial killer Paul Spector is on the outside a respected family man, stalking young lawyer Sarah Kay in a bid to make her his next victim.
Though she is urged to look at the killing of Alice Monroe as a single case by A.C.C. Jim Burns, Stella soon realises following the successful murder of Sarah Kay that nothing here is that simple, whilst Spector continues to hide the evidence of his crimes in the roof above his daughter’s bedroom – something that threatens to be exposed when his daughter has recurring nightmares.
One interesting character we’re introduced to in the first few episodes of the season is the Spector’s family babysitter, 15-year-old Katie Benedetto, who expresses her sexual desires and interest for Paul from an early stage – she’s one that becomes extremely important in proceedings, especially going into season two.
Fast becoming known as ‘The Strangler’ following an attack that goes wrong towards the end of the first season, Spector is skating on thin ice, but refuses to re-evaluate his life despite his wife Sally Ann falling pregnant with their third child and his family being in dire need of his help.
The season ends as Stella speaks to Paul over the phone, but whilst steps are slowly being made in the investigation, his identity is still one he manages to keep under wraps.
The season picks up with Stella’s desperation, ten days after receiving a phone call from Spector. Hoping to move forward with the case, she speaks to victim Annie Brawley, hoping she can recapture memories and moments from Spector’s attack which left her in hospital.
Much to the dismay of pregnant wife Sally Ann, Spector returns to Belfast hoping to tie up loose ends which leaves former babysitter Katie ecstatic, but Sally Ann disturbed, thinking he raped the young girl in their home. The lack of progress made in the case means that the PSNI’s Policing Board call in Stella to discuss proceedings, and when DCI Eastwood is assigned as her Deputy SIO, she declares a single individual is now the focus of the investigation.
Katie allows herself to be groomed by Spector throughout the second season, even aiding him in covering up his killings and providing in-depth alibis for him so that he may be able to get away with what he’s done. Although he’s doing well with Katie, Spector gets sloppier by the second and makes more mistakes than ever before eventually abducting a woman from his past who’s been aiding the police, Rose Stagg.
In a twist of fate, the police capture Spector but realise that time is against them in their hunt for Rose Stagg. Hoping they can find her before she succumbs to any injuries Spector has inflicted, a huge showdown takes place in the station, with Gibson and Spector on the end of one another’s verbal assault.
Finally, Spector agrees to head out into the woodland where he claims Stagg is being kept, and her body’s found with the police hopeful she can make a full recovery. In the midst of all the drama however, a face from Spector’s career as a bereavement counsellor makes an appearance, pulling a gun on the serial killer and shooting him before the officers can take charge of the situation.
Lying with a smile on his face on the dank, dark and wet floor of the woodland, the viewer is left with ambiguity – will Spector pull through and face justice, or has he potentially found the easier way out with death?
Our Critic Review
It’s odd to see a serial killer as good looking as Jamie Dornan in the role of Paul Spector, but it’s this relatively untrodden ground which makes The Fall so unique and endearing.
Intense throughout its entire run, it’s one that could continue for a third outing but doesn’t need to. Ambiguity annoys some, but when it came to ending The Fall it really could and should have been the only direction in which it would go.
Writing is on-point and the delivery of acting – no more so from leading lady Gillian Anderson and Dornan himself proves that some big stars do still find their way through television, rather than flitting straight off to Hollywood to star in the latest comic book turned movie.
With chemistry not only from these two but Bronaugh Waugh as Spector’s wife Sally-Ann and his young daughter Olivia Spector, played by Sarah Beattie, this was a series that was on to a winner from its very first episode.
The creators of The Fall should be applauded for paving the way for more crime and thriller drama series like it going forward – a must-see for anyone who’s a fan of the genre.
VIDEO: Watch Jamie Dornan and Gillian Andersan talking about The Fall season 2 !
Critic Reviews for Season 2
The Fall’s most remarkable achievement will be if it turns out to be the first show of many to present a new normal for women on television. Read Full ReviewAmy Sullivan, The Atlantic
As it did in the first season, Anderson’s self-possessed hauteur serves the series exceedingly well. Read Full ReviewWilla Paskin, Slate