The Fall, S2 E2: Night Darkens the Street

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.

Jamie Dornan is terrifying as Paul Spector in The Fall
Jamie Dornan is terrifying as Paul Spector in The Fall

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.

A naked butt right under my nose? Huh?
A naked butt right under my nose? Huh?

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 S2 E1: These Troublesome Disguises

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.

Next Week: The Fall, The Fall, The Fall

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:

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.

The Fall Videos and Interviews

Brain Dump: Elementary, The Fall, State of Affairs

Short thoughts on lots of unrelated media. That’s a brain dump.

Elementary

Lucy Liu looks great but does Dr. Joan Watson dress like this?
Lucy Liu looks great but does Dr. Joan Watson dress like this?

In Elementary, I like Watson (Lucy Liu) being off in her own place with a hunky guy in her bed. I’m not sure I like the flirty little outfits she’s taken to wearing. The clothes aren’t quite serious enough. Maybe the whole clothing makeover and hunky guy in the bed routine have to do with the fact that Watson is so pissed off with Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller). Think she’ll ever forgive him for running off to London for 8 months?

The Fall

The Fall stars Gillian Anderson
The Fall stars Gillian Anderson

Season 2 of The Fall is now showing in the UK. Netflix announced that it will stream season 2 for North American audiences beginning January 16, 2015. Thank you, Netflix for making the trip over the pond so speedy! This cerebral series stars Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan. Here’s the official blurb about the new season.

Following Season 1’s gripping cliff-hanger and despite Gibson and Spector never actually meeting on screen, the chemistry between the two characters was electric and the escalating rivalry became the lynchpin of the first season and left the audience crying out for more. This critically-acclaimed series picks up immediately from where series one left off, with Gibson in pursuit of Spector. A personal link from Spector’s past opens up some clues for Gibson but provokes Spector in a way that threatens to jeopardize the whole investigation. Gibson is forced to take ever greater risks but the closer she comes to capturing him, the more Spector trespasses into her private world, delighting in taunting and provoking her. As the net gradually tightens around him he becomes psychologically ever more dangerous and destructive.

I’m planning to review season 2 after it’s been on Netflix for a few days and people have had time to watch it.

State of Affairs

Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard in State of Affairs
Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard in State of Affairs

State of Affairs has me all worked up and I haven’t seen the first episode yet. Why am I worked up? Because the ads show Katherine Heigl and Alfre Woodard working together, but when the ad is over the only name that gets mentioned is Katherine Heigl.

What is Alfre Woodard – invisible? Alfre Woodard has 106 acting credits listed on IMDB, compared with Katherine Heigl’s 40. Woodard has a ton more acting awards than Heigl has.

But let’s only mention the pretty blonde lady in the ads, okay? That seems really fair.

Just the other day I saw an interesting article at Business Insider saying the way Firefly was promoted basically ruined the show’s chances for success. It’s Amazing How Badly Fox Screwed Up Joss Whedon’s ‘Firefly.’ I hope State of Affairs isn’t doing the same thing.

Aggravation aside, I will be watching when State of Affairs begins tonight. Fingers crossed that the show is better than the promos for the show.

Alfre Woodard photo by Johnson C. Smith University

BBC’s Clever Treatment of Previews for New TV Season

Check out the BBC’s brilliant treatment of previews of the coming seasons for many of our favorite shows. Mixed among the previews are clips of shows from the past and present.

I predict a rush to copy this style of preview sharing by all the networks. It’s a fantastic way to use the technology. They may not all be lucky enough to get Benedict Cumberbatch doing Shakespeare to hold the narrative thread together, but you can bet they’ll try to equal this.

I’ve only mentioned Call the Midwife in passing, but it’s excellent. You can catch up with several seasons on Netflix. Mostly women characters and wonderful ones at that. It’s also on PBS.

There’s a clip from Happy Valley but no preview. As far as I know they haven’t started shooting series 2 of Happy Valley.

The clip from The Fall is different from the two I’ve already published here. Gillian Anderson is simply outstanding in this show. Don’t forget Archie Panjabi is also in the cast.

And Last Tango in Halifax! what’s up with Gillian (Nicola Walker) in what looks like a wedding dress? And Alan (Derek Jacobi) in a tux? All the while Caroline (Sarah Lancashire) changes a tire in a very nice pair of heels. Is Gillian getting married?

New Preview for The Fall Season 2 Released by the BBC – UPDATED

Although we still don’t know an exact starting date for the 2nd season of The Fall on the BBC, it is definitely getting closer. Gillian Anderson herself mentioned the new preview on her Twitter account.

In addition to Gillian Anderson as a detective, the series also stars Jamie Dornan as a serial killer. The first season of The Fall was some of the best television I have ever seen in my many years watching TV. The Fall season 2 can’t be released soon enough to suit me.

Here’s hoping the date will be soon for the release of The Fall on BBC Two, possibly in November. The release date in the U.S. is going to lag behind that. I also published an earlier preview for season 2.

Update

Another preview released on Oct. 29 reveals the release day for iTV in Ireland as November 9. In England, the show begins on Nov. 13. This preview is different from the one above.

Season 2 of The Fall with Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan

The BBC released a season 2 preview for The Fall without mentioning the date when it will be shown. They merely say “coming soon.”

It’s been about a year since my enthusiastic review of season 1 in “The Fall: Mystery Great from the BBC.” Both Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan will be back for the new 6 episode run.

Jamie Dornan is the serial killer Paul Spector. He’s pursued by the Dublin Police Service and Stella Gibson, a Detective Superintendent played by a spectacular Gillian Anderson. At the end of series 1, Stella Gibson had figured out who the killer was, but she hadn’t captured him.

As you can see in the preview, Paul Spector is spying on his pursuer and keeping ahead of her every move. The MO of this particular serial killer is that he studies his subjects carefully while planning a kill. Is that what he’s planning for the detective? She is hardly a gullible and weak damsel who will be easy to kill.

A face in the cast that American audiences will recognize is the motorcycle riding pathologist, played by Archie Panjabi.

As I mentioned in my review of season 1, this brilliant series is slow-paced and intellectual. The audience has known from the start who the killer was, seeing into his life, work, marriage, family and killer’s mentality. At the same time, the audience has been inside the workings of the police and the analytical mind of Stella Gibson. Gibson is as complex as the man she’s hunting. The two are both angel and devil, each in their own way.

Season 1 is available in the U.S. on Netflix. If you missed this excellent mystery I urge you to catch up on season 1 and be on the lookout for season 2. It will be on BBC Two in the U.K.

TV Shows for Fall 2013 that Look Good

Here are some upcoming shows for fall that look pretty good. I’m not aware of everything that’s coming up, so if you know of something good I’ve missed, give me a shout in the comments.

Continue reading “TV Shows for Fall 2013 that Look Good”

The Fall: Mystery Great from the BBC

the fall

Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan in “The Fall.” Image via BBC Two.

I’m a mystery fan. Aside from the highbrow stuff I read for my book clubs, I almost always pick a mystery for my personal reading. Watching The Fall is like reading a good mystery.

The Fall is a BBC Two production, available on Netflix. It was first broadcast on BBC Two in May of 2013. The two leading characters are played by Gillian Anderson from The X Files and Jamie Dornan from Fifty Shades of Grey. Anderson is Stella Gibson, a police detective on the hunt for Dornan as serial killer Paul Spector.

Here’s the BBC Two trailer.

It’s a large cast with a number of excellent actors, including Archie Panjabi who plays a motorcycle riding medical examiner. Season 1 has 5 episodes. We know who the killer is from the beginning, but Gibson only gets a glimpse into who it is by the end of episode 5. Season 2 is coming in 2014.

It’s the Pacing

Pacing is the key to this series and the reason it feels like reading a good book as much as it does like watching a TV show.

Everything is revealed in meticulous unhurried detail. The killer’s hunt for prey, his crimes, his attention to detail and his slow slide into carelessness as the pressure builds while the police come closer are all given to us in logical slivers and slices. Jamie Dornan is superb as a loving dad who is hides his killing from his family and co-workers. He comes off as a completely nice guy who is absolutely beyond suspicion to those who think they know him.

Netflix released this trailer for the series.

Gillian Anderson stuns as a Detective Superintendent who gives orders to a whole raft of men of lesser rank. She plays her part with stoic brilliance. Occasional glimpses into her thinking or emotions both reveal and conceal. She’s strong and wields her power quietly but emphatically. If Gibson catches Spector in season 2, I hope there will be additional killers for this Detective to hunt, because Stella Gibson is a strong character, and Anderson makes the most of her. I want more.

Of Similar Minds

The detective and the killer are of very similar minds. They think in the same way, they problem solve in the same way. They are both smart and intuitive. The only difference is that they take these qualities in themselves and use them in different ways – one character for good, the other for evil. In the Netflix trailer above, we see Gibson staring into space as she quietly and brilliantly gets inside the mind of the killer and paints a profile of his needs.

We see the psychological similarities between cop and murderer as the story of the hunt for victims and the hunt for the killer unfold side by side in parallel sequences and mirrored actions. I love the way this story is told. It makes you ponder the thin line between good and evil.

Gillian Anderson is in her 40s now and more beautiful than ever. As Stella Gibson, she dresses in gorgeous suits and attractive silk blouses. Detective Gibson isn’t above unbuttoning the blouse a bit to attract attention if it will help her solve the crime. You can enjoy The Fall just for the gorgeous, even if you don’t like mystery stories.

If you don’t have Netflix, you may be able to catch some episodes of this series on the BBC iPlayer. (They aren’t always available there.)

Have you seen The Fall? What did you think of it.