I have a bad habit of not jumping on TV show trains soon enough and not watching a series until it’s over, usually marathoning it on Netflix. I wish I had done this with The Fall because week after week when those credits roll and I know I have to wait a whole other week for the next one, it damn near kills me. It’s been a long time since a show has captivated me like this BBC series, starring the gorgeous Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and the dangerously attractive (and upcoming 50 Shades of Grey star) Jamie Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector. The slow suspense of the show and the intensifying role switching cat-and-mouse relationship between Stella and Paul is too much in the best way.
In Belfast, Ireland, a man has been stalking and killing professional brunette women, and Stella Gibson of the Metropolitan Police Department is assigned to Belfast to assist in finding and capturing the murderer. Sounds like a fairly straightforward detective drama plotline, and in a sense it is simple, but the show itself is anything but.
The characters have real depth and they evolve in a way that’s refreshing to see on television. It seems more often than not a show is created with its players neatly packaged in little boxes and they hardly stray outside their boundaries. The Fall is unique in how it allows character evolution while still allowing them to retain their personalities.
Gillian Anderson is brilliant as Stella. The show is worth watching for her alone. She’s sexy, smart, strong, takes no bullshit, and doesn’t seem afraid of anything. But that was her character box in the first season, and over the course of the current (second) season, she has been allowed to grow outside of it. This case has taken its toll on her and it shows. Especially as Stella gets closer to catching Paul, and Paul gets closer to catching Stella.
Jamie Dornan is charming and terrifying as Paul Spector. He’s a husband, father, and bereavement counsellor. His wife, children, and patients trust him because of his seemingly sincere and nurturing nature. But outside of his social and professional circle, Paul is not the kind and caring man he presents inside of it. Far from it. Beneath his quiet and gentle demeanor is a woman-hating and sadistic monster.
The Fall manages to maintain the necessary stereotypes of its characters while still allowing them to grow, which in turn takes the show in new directions while staying true to itself. The development allowed to several of the secondary figures has made the show especially interesting and tense this season, including Paul Spector’s (until recently) oblivious wife Sally Ann (played by Bronagh Waugh) and the doe-eyed teenaged babysitter Katie Benedetto (Aisling Franciosi). The methods The Fall has used to intertwine relationships and twist and turn the plot, constantly changing up who’s ahead of whom, is fascinating. One step forward for one character almost always means two steps back for another, and it truly is crime thriller suspense at its finest.
The scenes and subject matter are disturbing, generally moreso because of what you don’t see as opposed to what you do. I love that style – the imagination runs wild. If you were a woman being stalked or unexpectedly attacked, you wouldn’t know it and you wouldn’t see it coming either. The Fall is effective with its fear. It doesn’t try to scare you because it doesn’t have to try. It’s real life drama and real life scary. Each episode plays out in a natural and plausible way, requires no suspension of disbelief, and allows room for more than one mystery, which keeps me engaged and always wanting more.
The first season is on Netflix and the second is currently still airing weekly. If you are looking to fill the drama/thriller void in your life, fill it with The Fall. You won’t be disappointed… until you run out of episodes.