The Fall: A seductively dark drama

If BBC1’s The Missing was not enough to fill your quota of creepy crime thrillers for the week, then worry no more. The second series of BBC2’s The Fall airing on thursday nights promises to live up to excitement built on the first series’ tension-fraught and brilliantly twisted drama.

We pick up ten days on from the end of last series, where we were introduced to one Paul Spector – Jamie Dornan of soon-to-be 50 Shades fame. He’s an attractive father of two in a loving marriage with a successful career as a bereavement counsellor, who also happens to enjoy slowly strangling to death young, successful, dark haired women when it all gets a bit too much. Not your typical murderer stereotype? Well this is not your typical crime thriller either, and the first episode suggested that the show is likely to proceed in the same fashion as last series.

Divided between the interweaving stories of Spector and the detective on his case, Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), we play witness to a detective drama where we already know who the murderer is and wait with baited breath for Gibson to connect the dots and solve the case. The drama’s most significant achievement is to generate confusion in its audience, causing a part of us to recoil as we ask ourselves – do we really want him to get caught? Don’t get me wrong, director Alan Cubitt never comes close to glorifying the murders themselves; they are depicted as horrifying and repulsive as possible. Yet this opening episode is murder-free, and instead focuses on Spector’s familial relationships, especially that with his daughter Olivia. The utter devotion his children show him and the obvious affection he shows for them completely subverts the psychotic murderer aspect that forms the framework of the show. It is this conflict in character which makes Spector such an intriguing character and forces us to question what it is that makes a killer and to challenge our stereotypes.

Meanwhile, Anderson’s performance as DSI Gibson is mesmerising. Despite her cold-fronted demeanour, and thus how little of herself is ever revealed to us, the Met officer is superbly characterised and cast. She commands our screens with grace and power and brings a cold, unsentimental face to the Belfast police scene, while remaining passionate to the case. Her discussions with the victims and their relatives in this episode reveal a new, caring side to her character which allows us to find her scenes even more enjoyable.

The Fall is truly a must-see TV drama. Even if you don’t have the time to catch up on the previous series, you would not feel too out of the loop starting it now. The Fall has it all, with every episode asking us new questions and developing the mental space of the drama, making this series already more gripping than the last.


Laura Rowlands

 Image property of The Mirror

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