I’ve had this series queued up on my Netflix lineup for awhile, mostly because I’m a huge fan girl of Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully FOEVAH) and I love dark crime series. Mr. RD and I have thoroughly enjoyed dark UK crime shows in the past (Wire in the Blood, Sherlock, etc.), and this looked promising. It sat unwatched, however, for a good long while until last week, when I randomly decided it was time to give it a go. Okay, it probably wasn’t as random as much as wanting to see Jamie Dornan’s take on a Dexter-esque role and whether or not he’d pull it off. With all this Fifty Shades craziness going on, I wanted to see some of his “older” stuff. I had no idea of this guy’s acting chops (while I knew Anderson had some serious swagger).
Set in Belfast (Northern Ireland), we follow two opposites sides of a story – the serial killer Paul Spector (Dornan) and the cop/Superintendent Stella Gibson (Anderson) who’s been brought in to track him down. Gibson is being loaned to the case from London because the cops in Belfast have made no progress in a murder of a high-profile woman with serious political connections. When Stella steps in she connects this case to a prior murder, and before long they realize they have a fetishistic serial killer on their hands.
Season One gives us five, hour long episodes. Season Two, which ended this past December (2014), gives us a few more, including an hour and a half season closer. At this point there are whispers of a third season, though nothing official.
If you enjoy dark, twisted and angsty dramas then this is the show for you. Anderson delivers a stellar performance. Stella Gibson is a dream, meaty role for any female actor, and Anderson excels in stillness. Stella knows what she wants and knows how to go about making it happen, be it for work or for personal pleasure. It’s a fantastic character and it’s fun watching her kick ass and take names amid a cast of male supporting characters.
Conversely there’s our antagonist, Paul Spector, who starts out as only what I can call an Irish Dexter Morgan. Jamie Dornan didn’t really begin to shine for me until the second season, though I can’t honestly say if this is because of his acting or just the role itself. Paul Spector is pretty boring by day then outright spooky by night when he lets his demons loose. He’s married with two young kids and works as a grief counselor. His proclivities likely stem from the fact that his mother committed suicide when he was young and he was subsequently bounced around in the foster system. He makes a pretty good attempt at mainstreaming until he indulges his darkness, i.e. breaking into women’s homes to steal their underwear, then eventually strangling them slowly and posing them so he can take pictures.
Spector didn’t really do much for me until his character started to let his serial killer side dominate, and we don’t really get into the nitty gritty of this until the end of the first season and into the second. This makes sense, given that the first few episodes we’re only really seeing the second time he’s committed murder. By the end of season one he’s really only starting to relish the pleasure he gets not only by laying claim to his dark side, but also toying with Stella.
And ooooooooh does he toy with her. Mind you, she dishes it right back, and guys….GUYS…it’s brilliant to watch.
This was an excellent find. Mr. RD even enjoyed it. We squirmed through the last few episodes watching the plot lines unfold. While Anderson and Dornan easily take the lead, it can’t go without mentioning that a few supporting roles really dig in their claws. Aisling Franciosi plays Katie Benedetto, a 15 turned 16 year old psychopath in the making who becomes Paul Spector’s plaything amid a ruse of being his reverse Lolita. I hated this character. HATED. Katie saunters about with her teenage “I KNOW EVERYTHING WOE IS ME” attitude thinking she’s giving the ultimate EFF YOU to the world. At first she’s unknowingly playing into the hands of Spector, but she figures out quickly there’s a darkness that isn’t manufactured to this dude. Instead of running away screaming, she encourages it. Turns out she’s just as messed up as Spector, and I wanted to throat punch this chick SOOO bad. It was fantastic. Any character that inspires such a visceral response in me is one that earns high marks in my book.
Excellent series! The only complaints I have are 1) the editing and 2) the ending. The editing seemed random and superfluous at times. Like….why did I really need to see a montage of Stella walking down a hotel hallway? We’re treated to some random montages of footage that doesn’t really progress our plot in any real direction, and I found myself wondering what the point was.
As for the ending, I can’t really hold fault. Only two seasons are available, and with talk of a third, we’re left waiting to see what further hard conclusions we can be given. The ending of season two offers enough closure in its own way, though with all the effort extended into really milking out the complex relationships between all our characters it fell a little flat for me. However, the confrontation between Stella and Paul that we’ve been building up to for FOREVER is pretty epic.
Now, I’m going to say this and I know I’ll piss off some FSOG fangirls…BUT…Paul Spector is pretty much Christian Grey, except for the actual “I kill women” thing. I mean really. He is. JUST SAYIN.
The Fall is totally worth checking out. It’s only available on Netflix in the US.