The final episode of season 3 of The Fall is “Their Solitary Way.” The story did not end the way Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) wanted. It didn’t end well for Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) either. Everyone Paul Spector came into contact with was damaged by knowing him. Beware the spoilers. Continue reading “The Fall S3 E6 Their Solitary Way”
Episode 2 of season 3 of The Fall is “His Troubled Thoughts.” This is the episode where we discover that Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) thinks it’s 2006 and that he was injured in a car accident. Is amnesia a defense? Beware the spoilers. Continue reading “The Fall S3 E2 His Troubled Thoughts”
The Fall ends season 2 with a 90 minute episode. Whether this is really the end is up for debate in the last few seconds of the episode. Until then we have a very satisfactory accumulation of evidence for putting Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) in prison forever.
Major spoilers ahead.
Rose Stagg (Valene Kane) was not in the burned out car they found at the end of the last episode, but the car was close enough to the abandoned house on Sally Ann Spector’s (Bronagh Waugh) parents’ property that the police finally went to look at it. There Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) finds the location where Spector filmed Rose Stagg begging for her life.
James Tyler (Brian Milligan) gets a call about where his wife Liz (Séainín Brennan) is in a women’s shelter.
There’s a reporter nosing around the Spector house as the police search it. The neighbors are talking about how Sally Ann was arrested.
James Tyler shows up at the Spector’s house because he still wants to beat the crap out of Paul Spector. He knows the reporter. Tyler takes the reporter’s car and heads off to the women’s shelter where his wife is.
In the police station, Stella Gibson watches the video from the babysitter Katie’s (Aisling Franciosi) phone of the night Katie and Paul were having Skype sex. It makes Stella wonder if the story Katie has been telling and the things she wrote in her diary are actually pure fabrication.
In a very calculated decision, Stella sends Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan) to interrogate Katie. Stella says she’s doing it because he looks a bit like Spector and Katie is obsessed with Spector. Katie sticks to her lies and does not tell the truth. Even when Tom Anderson explains to her that she will go to jail for protecting a murderer, she continues to lie. She’s in love. She’s an idiot.
The police find thousands of recordings of hotel guests on the desk clerk’s computer. One of them is Katie being tied up on the bed and left like that. That was the same night when Paul called Stella from Rose Stagg’s phone.
Next it’s Sally Ann Spector’s turn to answer questions. She tells the truth. She recognizes the necklace that Paul gave their daughter Olivia (Sarah Beattie). When the police finally explain the charges against Paul to her. Sally Ann calmly looks down and says, “I’m bleeding.” They take her to the hospital where she miscarries.
Stella tries the look-alike trick on Paul Spector. She did this the last episode and she’s trying it again. She sends a nervous Officer McNally (Bronagh Taggart) to question him.
Spector just laughs at McNally, looks right into the camera and says cheap tricks with a cop who looks like Annie Brawley won’t work. He says nothing more.
Back on the James and Liz front, James bursts into the women’s shelter. He shoves everyone who gets in his way, tries to strangle his wife, and pulls her around by the hair. In a fit of anger, Liz tells him she did have great sex with Paul Spector. Rule number one for abused women: don’t tell your abuser the lie he already believes. He won’t get the sarcasm.
James waves a gun around but leaves when he hears sirens approaching.
The little Spector girl is questioned. She lies. She tells the officer that she can’t tell things because they are secret. When the officer asks her what would happen if she told the secrets, she says her daddy would go to prison.
The case against Spector gets stronger when bits of unburned material from the car they found are analyzed by forensics. Paul’s now tied by evidence to other murders. Hurrah!
With the new evidence, they are finally able to bring charges against Spector for all the murders. When he hears what they have against him, he asks for Stella. He says he will only talk to her.
Burns (John Lynch), whose only purpose in life seems to be to tell Stella she can’t do things, tries to tell her she can’t question Spector. Spector’s a monster. Stella says he’s just a man like any other. Men like Spector are all too human. Then she reminds him that he attacked her in her hotel room the other night and clearly crossed the line himself.
Stella Gibson begins her interrogation of Paul Spector. It’s a very long scene with just the two of them. The pacing in this show is so deliberate, so careful. There’s space around every line, every glance. You can almost see brains whirring inside people’s heads. This long scene is the ultimate example of what the whole series does with pacing. It drives up the tension unbearably.
She asks him questions going back to his youth, to when he first began stalking women. She acts interested in everything about his evolution into a serial killer.
He confesses everything. Every one of the murders he’s charged with. He gloats over them. He talks about how godlike he feels. The camera circles them, closes in on faces, eyes, mouths, then moves back out. They talk quietly. Stella shows no emotion. Stella remains calm during the interrogation. She calls Spector a rapist and a murderer to his face without showing any emotion. He tells her everything.
When she asks where Rose Stagg is, he stops talking.
Stella steps out of the interrogation room. Burns tells her, “Well done.” She looks as if she might toss her cookies at the remark and walks off without a word. Then she goes into the room where all the murder boards are and stares at photos of Rose Stagg.
That night, we see Stella writing out her remarks for the press conference she’s expecting to lead the next day. They have Spector for sure now. She stands up and we see Detective Anderson sleeping in her bed. Next morning over breakfast in bed, he asks her if she wanted him there because of his resemblance to Paul Spector.
Stella tells him the story about how the thing men fear most about women is that they will laugh at them. The thing women fear most about men is that they will kill them. She concludes by saying she hates Paul Spector with every fiber of her being.
The phone rings. Spector has given up a location for Rose Stagg. Stella and Anderson go to the police station in her car – raising a couple of eyebrows in the process. The police make all sorts of logistical plans to take Spector to the location in the forest he mentioned.
After a night in Stella’s bed, Det. Anderson thinks he can express his opinions about Stella’s decisions. She cuts him off at the knees and tells him to follow orders. He says, “Yes, ma’am,” like a petulant child.
Stella has horrible taste in men. There are so many of them waiting to fall into her bed. You’d think she could find at least one who wouldn’t be an ass afterwards.
While the police prepare to go to the forest, the reporter gets a call from his police informant that Spector is on the move. He calls Tyler and asks for his car back. When Tyler arrives, he insists on following Spector to the forest too.
Stella walks into the woods alone. Behind her Spector and Anderson are cuffed together. Other police officers stand guard. An ambulance and a cruiser trail after Stella. A helicopter is overhead.
Eventually, Stella finds Rose Stagg’s car. An officer brings a crowbar so they can look in the trunk.
Rose is alive, but barely. When Stella radios that Rose is alive, Paul is surprised. They load Rose into the ambulance and take her away.
Stella starts back to where Spector is just as they get a call from the helicopter above them. Unidentified people are on the road. As Stella approaches, James Tyler rushes up and shoots Paul and Tom Anderson. The police shoot Tyler.
Stella runs to Paul. She tries to stop his bleeding. She’s shouting for help. She yells, “We’re losing him. We’re losing him.” Paul lays in her arms looking up at her blissfully like it’s just the place he’s always wanted to be.
Aaaaannnnnd . . . cliffhanger.
It’s over. The end. We don’t know if Paul dies. We don’t know if Paul makes it to the hospital and then escapes, thus creating a reason for a 3rd season of The Fall. We don’t know if Tom Anderson and James Tyler are dead or alive. Season 2 ends at that moment with Paul bleeding in Stella’s arms.
The cliffhanger ending was intentional. Allan Cubitt recently said that there will probably be a 3rd season. More Stella Gibson can only be a good thing.
I know The Fall been criticized as an extended rape fantasy – especially season 1 when we were watching Paul Spector plan and commit his crimes. I don’t see it that way. I see a man who thinks it is his right to harm women in a world where men harm women every day. I see a woman who has the power and means to fight back and to bring him to justice. To stop him. That’s the message I see and support in The Fall.
I’ve said it again and again: Gillian Anderson is fabulous as Stella Gibson. In Gillian Anderson’s hands, Stella is calm and cool and brilliant. She’s in command, she’s effective and self-confident.
Jamie Dornan is also superb, but I don’t necessarily want to see his character still able to operate in the free world. Although – who knows what might happen next with this open-ended finale for season 2.
There were enough shots of Jamie Dornan bare-chested in The Fall for me to predict that he’s going to be a huge hit in 50 Shades of Grey. Maybe some of the fans of 50 Shades of Grey will go looking for more Jamie Dornan and find their way to this excellent series.
This series is full of excruciating suspense. It uses dialog-free scenes, music, careful pacing of action and reflection, and superb acting. So different from the big explosion filled action blockbusters, and so much better!
The Fall belongs on every “Year’s Best” list there is. Writing, directing, acting, music, sets, costumes: awards are in order for all of it.
Keefus Ciancia and David Holmes are responsible for the nerve-wracking music.
In particular, and at the very least, there should be an award for the way Gillian Anderson looks in those silk blouses! Maggie Donnelly deserves the credit for costumes. Go, Maggie!
Episode 4 of The Fall begins with the forensics people digging through DS Stella Gibson’s (Gillian Anderson) hotel room. They take her computer and her dream diary to examine for clues. As this is happening, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is reading her diary from the photographs he took. It isn’t even my diary and his intrusion into her dreams makes me feel invaded.
Stella prints out the image Paul installed on her computer as wallpaper. It’s a painting of an incubus atop a sleeping woman. She and her supervisor Jim Burns (John Lynch) assume the figures are meant to be Stella and Paul. Really now, did Allan Cubitt have to pick a painting of an incubus for the bad guy? Because there’s a certain succubus I’m fond of and I don’t want the bad reputation of this incubus spilling over into her Fae world.
Stella shows Burns the CCTV from the hotel of Paul, Stella and Burns entering her room. They realize Paul was in the room for 45 minutes – including the time they were discussing his childhood in a group home. Therefore, he knows they are on to him.
Burns apologizes for his drunken behavior the night before.
Stella says, “I nearly made the same mistake as you last night.” She’s referring to her advances to Tanya Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) but he doesn’t know that. She concludes, “We all have physical, emotional needs that can only be met by interaction with another person. Trick is to ask someone appropriate to meet them.”
Stella hears the story of how Paul went to a client’s house – Liz Tyler – in season 1 and encouraged a client to report her husband’s abuse. Stella clicks to the fact that Paul is a bereavement counselor. She learns that it was Paul who went to counsel Annie Brawley (Karen Hassan). He’s scheduled to go again.
Stella rushes to the hospital, drags Annie from her room in the nick of time as Paul arrives. Stella and Annie talk after Paul leaves. Annie finally remembers how she saw him the night she thought she lost her driver’s license. She realizes he is the man who attacked her. Now they have him!
The police go talk to Liz Tyler (Séainín Brennan) again about Paul’s advice as a counselor. She’s in a women’s shelter. When they talk to James Tyler (Brian Milligan) he’s belligerent and angry. He thinks Paul Spector had sex with his wife.
Spector’s daughter is missing him terribly. Paul’s wife Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh) tracks him down at the hospital by opening his mail. He goes off with her to see the kids at a birthday party.
The police have enough evidence now to send in a technical team to put cameras in the Spector’s house. While they are doing it, one of the cops falls through the ceiling of the master bedroom. As Burns puts it – a colossal cock up! To cover up this disaster, Stella tells them to make it look like a pipe broke in the attic so the house floods. The police leave without finishing.
When the Spectors get home from the birthday party, Paul sends the wife and kids to her parents. Their sopping wet house isn’t safe. He suspiciously examines everything in the house. His handwritten journals of all his murders are still there.
There were two odd things about the cop falling through the ceiling. They showed the cop walking around in the attic. It was all 2 x 12 joists – with no insulation. If he had misstepped or fallen, he wouldn’t have broken through those 2 x 12s. A foot might have broken through the ceiling, but not his whole body. Secondly, when Paul found his murder books, they were between the joists above the bed in the master bedroom. They were not in the ceiling in his daughter’s bedroom where he normally put them.
The police find a body of a woman fitting Rose’s description in the woods. Stella rushes to the scene, filled with guilt. She meets a handsome young officer: DS Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan). Later she asks to have him transferred to her team.
When Tanya Reed Smith arrives the conversation is businesslike. Stella asks her if she’s okay being the one to examine the body. They both dread finding Rose. Reed Smith says she’s okay to do the exam.
It isn’t Rose. Both Stella and Tanya breath a sigh of relief.
Katie (Aisling Franciosi), the super-stupid teenage babysitter, thinks she’s in love with Paul. She’s rewriting her diary to give him an alibi for every night of the strangler’s murders.
Paul studies up on Katie’s girlfriend Daisy (Tara Lee).
Paul wants Katie to come to the dark side and do something awful to Daisy. He wants her to learn to take pleasure in other people’s suffering. His pupils are the size of dimes as he talks to her. He’s aroused by the thought of getting her to do something evil.
At the end of the long day, Stella goes to Tanya’s office at the morgue. They do not talk about what happened the night before. Stella goes to sleep on the couch in Tanya’s office. Is she waiting for Tanya to finish up so they can leave together? Not clear. Tanya wakes her up to tell her she’s going to change clothes. While she’s changing, Stella wanders into the morgue and stares at the body of the woman they found in the woods. Just then, DS Tom Anderson calls her with the news they found a suicide note. The woman is not one of Paul’s victims.
Tanya finds Stella and asks what she’s doing. The last line of the episode is Stella’s answer, “Wondering where Rose is.”
Gillian Anderson’s performance in this episode is amazingly nuanced. Tiny movements in her expression write emotions in subtle but powerful ways. This character Stella Gibson is a tough cop, calm in every situation. She’s not one to show emotion. But we see it in Gillian Anderson’s face even when Stella Gibson thinks she’s hiding it.
They’re close to catching Paul Spector. I don’t want this story and Stella Gibson’s story to end. She’s a fabulous character and I don’t want her story to end when Paul Spector is caught. I could watch her forever!
Episode 3 of The Fall is patient waiting for the police to gather up enough evidence against Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) to make an arrest. The police slowly put together clues as the episode plays out. There’s also stark terror at what Paul Spector may do next. For once, an episode isn’t all terrifying: there’s a delightful smile-inducing kissing scene.
There are many spoilers ahead.
Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is giving all the right orders to find cars Paul has stolen, evidence he’s left behind, witnesses who know his whereabouts. She wants to know everything about Paul Spector’s life, but doesn’t want him arrested because he has Rose Stagg.
We don’t know where Paul stashed Rose and whether he killed her or not. Based on Paul’s long jog out of the woods at the beginning of the episode it doesn’t look good for Rose.
It’s slow going. At least it feels slow – this episode actually takes only one day, but the agony of suspense makes every moment feel like an eternity.
Paul edits some video in his hotel room. It’s a woman pleading, but we don’t know more than that.
The police revisit his wife (Bronagh Waugh). She tells them the babysitter was at her house on the night one of the women was killed and she doesn’t know where her husband was that night.
When the police question the babysitter, Katie (Aisling Franciosi) lies and gives Paul an alibi for the night. She tells them she was there with Paul for hours.
She wants to meet with Paul after she lies for him. This teenager really is a danger to herself. Paul tells her a long meandering lie about how he isn’t the killer but he’s pretending to be. He convinces her that he’s merely playing a game with Stella Gibson, that English bitch of a cop.
Katie wants to help him play the game. She has to sneak into the Spector’s house and photograph herself in his former bathroom mirror. She wears a tee shirt with his police rendered image on it.
Tanya Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) calls Stella and asks to meet her that night in the bar of Stella’s hotel. Tanya wants to apologize for pushing the issue of the fingernail scratches. She says she was being nosy, not clinical. Stella walks away to respond to a call about Katie, the moronic babysitter, breaking into a house. While she’s gone, a lawyer who knows Prof. Reed Smith approaches the table with two margaritas. Because, as you know, a woman sitting alone in a bar could only be there because she wants a man to join her.
When Stella returns, she slides into the booth, gives Tanya a couple of kisses, and thanks Mr. Lawyer In A Suit for the drinks as if he were the waiter. When he leaves Stella laughs about getting rid of the guy. Tanya says, “He knows who I am. He probably knows who you are, too.” Stella blows it off. Kissing women in public places is not a big deal for her.
Reed Smith liked the kissing. She likes it enough to start upstairs with Stella. She backs out at the elevator doors and can’t go through with it. Tanya mumbles an excuse about her upbringing and walks away. She’s probably the only person on the planet who would turn down sex with Gillian Anderson Stella Gibson.
While Stella and Tanya kissed in the bar, Paul found a way to get into Stella’s room. He read and photographed her dream journal, fingered her underwear, stroked her silk blouses. Stella comes in and he hides in the closet. He watches her walk around the room.
Burns (John Lynch) arrived – drunk. He talked about some stuff he did in season 1 related to a man named Monroe. His machinations may get him fired. Burns finally acts on his lust for Stella. She says no. He makes a lunge for her. She punches him in the nose.
Stella tends Burns’ bloody nose in the bathroom. Burns tells Stella the investigators learned Paul Spector was once in a group home run by a pedophile. At some point while they are in the bathroom, Paul sneaks out.
Stella tells Burns that female is the basic human form and maleness is a kind of birth defect. LOL. Smiles are so few in this taut drama, they are very welcome when they come.
When she’s finally alone again, Stella sits down to her computer and sees the weirdly sick wallpaper image Paul installed on it. She grabs her gun and searches the room, he’s gone. Nevertheless, she knows he’s been in her space.
Finally she notices her dream journal. Paul wrote a note in saying how well he understood her now that he’d read her diary. So creepy.
Paul and Katie have late night Skype sex from their respective beds. So much for his aversion to harming children. He’s ready to destroy misguided teenaged girls.
Everything about The Fall is masterful. Allan Cubitt’s writing and directing deserves much of the credit, of course. Additionally, the acting is superb from everyone. Gillian Anderson’s performance is sophisticated and quiet, yet manages to radiate power and depth. Jamie Dornan was born in Belfast, which explains his perfect Irish accent, but all the accents are spot on. Dornan has many scenes alone during which Paul plans or watches. He makes Paul Spector scary even when he’s alone. And the music – the music lays like an undertone at the bottom of every scene, pulsing with suspense and dread. It all adds up to one of the best suspense dramas I’ve ever seen.
The tension is unbearable and scary as hell in episode 2 of The Fall. Season 1 was more cerebral. Now the tension is mounting, and the danger has gone way up.
There are spoilers.
The music, the pace, and Jamie Dornan’s performance as a menacing killer make everything about this episode terrifying. The music is breath-holding, tense, yet pulsing, moving. Who knew the sound of a gong could be so nerve-wracking? Writer and Director Allan Cubitt has created something very scary here.
Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) wakes from a dream. She’s sleeping on a cot in her office. She writes her dream in a journal.
Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) takes Rose Stagg (Valene Kane) out of her house after making her write a note to her family. She tries to outsmart him. She tries to fight him. She tries pleading with him. It doesn’t work. He stashes her in the abandoned building he found near his in-laws place. The one where he tried some funny business with a manikin in season 1.
Stella Gibson is a lap swimmer. She works out that way. If that is really Gillian Anderson swimming laps, she’s an outstanding swimmer.
Detective Superintendent Gibson realizes immediately that Paul has taken Rose when Rose misses an appointment. The look of dread on Gillian Anderson’s face is telling.
Stella’s boss ACC Jim Burns (John Lynch) isn’t convinced they have an abduction on their hands. The police go to the Stagg house and look around. Rose’s little girl tells PC Dani Ferrington (Niamh McGready) about the man who came in the night and taught her the Peter Piper tongue twister. The boss is finally convinced.
Paul is the bereavement counselor for his own escaped victim, Annie Brawley (Karen Hassan). Oh my god! He alone with her in her hospital room. When he realizes she doesn’t recognize him, he actually does a decent job of counseling her. He tells her to think about the future and forget the past. Once they connect the scissors that killed her brother with the guy in her hospital room counseling her, it’s going to get crazy.
The Spector’s former babysitter Katie (Aisling Franciosi) is doing some crazy 16 year-old-shit. She takes the Spector’s daughter Olivia (Sarah Beattie) to attract Paul’s attention. Later she goes to Paul’s sleazy hotel room hoping for some sort of sexual adventure. He does not provide sex, but he is really tempted to strangle her. She’s going to get herself killed the way she’s acting.
Paul won’t have sex with Katie because she’s a child. He actually tells her to think about what she’s doing because every decision has consequences. He doesn’t want his wife to have an abortion because that would be killing a child. He’s got a thing about children, but it doesn’t carry over into the murder of grown women. As Bo Dennis, AKA Lost Girl, might say, “Mommie issues, get in line.”
Stella and pathologist Tanya Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) realize that by revealing the police sketch of “Peter” to the press, they may have lead the killer straight to Rose. Tanya was friends with Rose before any of this started. They both feel responsible and guilty about Rose’s abduction.
Prof. Reed Smith confirms that the scissors they found could be the murder weapon. It’s a hilarious scene to watch when Stella and Tanya discuss the scissors as a possible murder weapon. They’re standing over a nude Joe Brawley on a lab table. They’re looking at the puncture wounds in his back. His bare butt is just inches from Gillian Anderson’s face. It cracked me up, and there are very few scenes in this series that make me smile.
They get a print from the scissors belonging to Paul Spector. Stella finally has a name for the killer. Stella realizes they’ve interviewed him and remembers seeing him in the hallway of the police headquarters.
With Rose missing and the killer’s name in her hand, Stella gets a little frantic to fill in all the blanks that were ignored when they questioned him as a witness in season 1 and when they interviewed his wife. Stella wants everything redone: interviews, checking stories. She’s almost yelling, showing some emotion, losing her cool. Since Stella is a very cool number, this is revealing of her concern for Rose Stagg.
Paul calls her on Rose’s phone. There’s blood on the phone. Stella calls him Peter and doesn’t let on she knows his real name. She reminds him Rose has two children and asks what he’s going to do with her. He answers, “No one can outwit death.” He throws away the phone. He drives away in Rose Stagg’s car and we hear someone making noises in the trunk.
The Fall, season 2, begins on Netflix at midnight tonight, January 16. Starting Monday and for the next six days, Old Ain’t Dead will be dedicated to The Fall.
On Monday and Tuesday of next week, there will also be recaps of the two shows I’ve been recapping on Monday and Tuesday.
The Fall is a suspense-filled psychological cat-and-mouse game with Gillian Anderson as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector.
I’ve written on this blog about The Fall before. You can read those posts here:
- The Fall: Mystery Great from the BBC
- Season 2 of The Fall with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan
- New Preview for The Fall Season 2 Released by the BBC – UPDATED
There were several lesser mentions of The Fall on Old Ain’t Dead as well.
Next week you’ll be able to read a recap of each episode and share my reactions to the acting, the writing, the directing, and the music in this BBC series. If you watch along with me on Netflix (or have seen season 2 already on the BBC) I’d love for you to share your opinions and responses to the series.
I picked several videos to share with you to give you a sense of the characters, to show you some scenes from the first season, and to whet your appetite for this excruciatingly suspenseful drama.