The Fall S2 E1: These Troublesome Disguises

Gillian Anderson in The Fall

The BBC’s The Fall season 2 is now on Netflix. I’m going to review one episode a day until all 6 episodes are recapped. There are lots of spoilers.

A Quick Review of Season 1

Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is called to Belfast, Northern Ireland, to help the police with the murders of dark-haired 30-something women. She realizes the deaths are due to one man and the police put together a group to catch him. The series shows both the killer and the police in parallel scenes, so we know from the beginning who the killer is, but the police do not.

The killer, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), is a bereavement counselor. He’s married with two children and a very good father. In season one he helped a woman whose husband was abusive get away from her abuser.

By the end of season 1, the police are close to figuring out who the strangler is, but haven’t captured him.

Professor Tanya Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) has a friend from college who was almost strangled by her boyfriend about 9 years ago. Her name is Rose Stagg (Valene Kane) and she agrees to supply the police with a sketch of the man, whom she knew as Peter.

Paul’s last victim in season 1, Annie Brawley (Karen Hassan), got away when her brother interrupted Paul. Paul killed the brother by stabbing him with decorating scissors. Paul ran and didn’t finish the job with Annie.

Season 2

The Fall season 2, episode 1 shows us how close the killer Paul Spector is getting to being caught. This is episode 1, so he won’t be caught yet. But he WILL dig himself deeper and deeper into trouble.

A kind and gentle Stella Gibson interviews one of Spector's victims.
A kind and gentle Stella Gibson interviews one of Spector’s victims who got away, Annie Brawley.

Several people know (or almost realize) that Paul Spector is the killer: the former babysitter Katie (Aisling Franciosi) accuses him directly when he sneaks into her house to tell her to shut up about him.

The police have released the sketch of “Peter” and it’s in the newspaper. When Paul Spector sees it, he sneaks into Rose Stagg’s house to shut her up. It’s creepy and scary because he walks right by her sleeping husband. He talks to her little girl, teaches her the Peter Piper tongue twister, and puts her back to bed. Then he accosts Rose.

Paul’s wife Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh) figures out that he’s been lying about everything, but she doesn’t realize he’s a killer. She thinks he’s been having an affair with the 15 year-old babysitter, because that’s what he told her. He’s a good husband to Sally Ann, who does not fit his victim profile. However, she’s so unhappy with him, she’s thinking of aborting the child she’s carrying. She takes the kids and leaves him.

Paul can sneak into anyplace. In the same way he sneaks into his victim’s homes before he kills them, he sneaks into his wife’s house to deliver a secret note and several Barbie dolls to his daughter. The little girl hides the secret note in the same place in the ceiling where Paul hides the souvenirs from his kills! Yep, daddy, the kid knows you hide stuff up there.

Paul meets a woman on a train and is already thinking about killing her. She’s looking at his sketch in the newspaper as they talk and she doesn’t realize it’s him.

Paul is recommended as a bereavement counselor for the victim who got away, Annie Brawley! Oh, crap.

Stella Gibson talks to her officers.
Of course he will kill again.

Ten days have passed since the last kill and the last clue and the police are starting to believe that Paul will never kill again – ’cause he promised, you know. But Detective Stella Gibson knows better. She says the hunt is still on and that serial killers only stop killing when they get caught. She understands the killers mind and she wants to honor the women he’s killed by stopping him.

The press are after Stella for having sex with the married cop who got killed the following day. She wears a uniform instead of her signature silk blouse to a press conference where she knows she’ll be blasted with questions about him. She says it’s so she’ll look as unfeminine as possible. The uniform is less provocative than an unbuttoned at the top silk blouse. But let’s fact it, that’s still Gillian Anderson inside the thing.

In addition to the press, the police pathologist Tanya Reed Smith also has questions about Stella’s night with the cop. There were fingernail scratches on the cop’s back that Dr. Reed Smith hasn’t been able to account for with the cop’s wife. Stella admits to doing it.

Despite the repercussions from her unfortunately timed night of sex, Stella is still absolutely admirable.

  • She’s so gentle with the victim who got away. Annie cannot remember much about the night she was attacked. Stella knows Annie needs time, but she’s also in a hurry to find the killer. She shares with Annie how to use a rubber band to snap her wrist when bad thoughts overwhelm her. Stella says that once upon a time the rubber band trick helped her.
  • Stella can’t be intimidated. When the gang of neighborhood thugs who are friends with the wife abuser surround her on a dark night, Stella shows not an ounce of fear.
  • Stella gets into the head of the killer with spooky intelligence.

She’s kind, she’s brave. She’s amazing. Let’s hear it for Stella Gibson!

At the end of the episode, the police find the huge pair of scissors Paul used to kill Joseph Brawley. Yippee, a clue.

The music is wonderful. Suspenseful. Especially the bell or gong that rings like an omen of danger or like an over-sized clock ticking. The music is important in keeping you moving through numerous stretches with no dialog. The reflective pace of the action makes the suspense and Paul Spector more terrifying.

The story is told, as it was in season 1, with alternating shots of the detective and the killer. They often mirror the others actions. If one is climbing stairs, the other is too. They are connected in many ways, in addition to Stella’s uncanny ability to get inside Paul Spector’s head.

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