The Secret of Roan Inish: a gem from the past

The Secret of Roan Inish, an Irish tale about magic and mythology, is a 1994 gem that resurfaced on Prime Video recently. I remember how thrilled I was by it in 1994 and watched it again. There are spoilers in this review.

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Review: Retribution (One of Us)

Retribution, called One of Us in its European release, is a 4 part mystery series now streaming on Netflix. It’s a dark family drama full of secrets and lies.  Some mild spoilers ahead.

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The Fall S3 E6 Their Solitary Way

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

The Fall S3 E4 The Hell Within Him

The Fall episode 4 is “The Hell Within Him” is a collection of revolting developments. Beware the spoilers Continue Reading: The Fall S3 E4 The Hell Within Him

The Fall S3 E2 His Troubled Thoughts

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 S3 E1 Silence and Suffering

Are you ready for the epic battle between Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan)? Here we go! The Fall season 3, episode 1 is “Silence and Suffering.” It begins seconds after the finale of season 2. Beware the spoilers. Continue Reading: The Fall S3 E1 Silence and Suffering

The Fall S2 E6 What is in me Dark Illumine

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.

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The Fall, S2 E5: The Perilous Edge of Battle

The Fall episode 5 is called “The Perilous Edge of Battle.” Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) has fallen. If the police can produce the evidence, he’ll be out of circulation forever. It’s one of the tensest and most nail-biting episodes in this suspense-filled series.

Here are the basics of the episode. Spoilers everywhere.

Paul goes through his sopping wet house. He dries out his murder books, then burns them. He takes his computer apart and smashes the hard drive with a hammer.

Jim Burns (John Lynch) goes to see the pedophile priest in hopes of learning something about Paul. Burns can hardly stand to talk to this disgusting man, and I can hardly stand to watch the self-righteous ass tell how much the boys he abused loved it.

The actor playing the priest is Sean McGinley. He did a masterful job of being heinous. In a series about one of the creepiest, most heinous villains ever, this guy provides creepy beyond the creepy. The only useful thing Burns learns is that Paul started writing about the women he followed while still a young teen. So they know he keeps journals.

Gillian Anderson giving orders
Stella hopes to find Rose, but it’s been 4 days.

The police are watching every move that everyone makes. They have officers and cameras on all the principals. Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is still holding off on arresting Spector until they know where Rose Stagg (Valene Kane) is.

Aisling Franciosi as Katie, the babysitter
Stupid, stupid girl

Katie (Aisling Franciosi) does errands for Paul. She goes to a bank and withdraws a lot of money. She goes to Paul’s hotel room and is in the process of destroying evidence for him when the police break in and arrest her. The voyeuristic hotel desk clerk saw what she was doing. He gets arrested, too, but the police may not ask him the right questions.

Paul leaves his house wearing a back pack. He runs fast, evading a number of police who are watching him. He runs into the Botanical Gardens and goes into one of the buildings. He drops his computer into a pond. When he leaves he’s changed his clothing.

Gillian Anderson watching monitors with Control
What’s going on?

Stella is watching Paul, Katie, and everything else that happens from the police station. She’s kept in the loop with the help of a police officer known only as Control (Orla Mullan) who tracks everyone’s whereabouts on multiple computer screens.

We experience a lot of this episode with Stella as she watches various monitors showing suspects, interrogations, and cells. Stella’s anxiety and concern while following the action this way transfers to the audience, because we are feeling it with her. It’s an interesting technique to use in this episode in particular, because it increases tension. It shifts some of the focus away from Paul Spector, who’s had more than enough attention from the camera, and back to the police pursuit as they close in on him.

Tyler has Paul at gunpoint
Oh, you want your wife? Whew, is that all?

When Paul leaves the Botanical Gardens he sneaks out in a way that doesn’t use any of the exits the police are watching. James Tyler (Brian Milligan) – the guy who was beating his wife in season 1 – just happens to see him. Tyler attacks him and forces him at gunpoint to make phone calls to figure out where the women’s shelter is that his wife is hiding in. Someone sees the gun and calls the police.

Niamh McGrady as Dani
Dani is shot, but has on her vest.

Dani Ferrington (Niamh McGrady) responds to the call and realizes that it’s Spector. She’s on the phone with Stella. Shots are fired and the thug with Tyler is killed. Officer Ferrington is hit, too, but is wearing a vest. Stella tells her to just hold Spector there. The police talk to him as if he were the victim of an attack by the gunman – taking his statement. He starts to think he’s going to get away.

When Spector thinks he’s free to leave, Stella sends Officer Anderson (Colin Morgan) to arrest him for abducting Rose Stagg. No mention is made of the other women, the other crimes. He’s finally in custody.

Bronagh Waugh as Sally Ann Spector
I lied. I lied.

The police then arrest Sally Ann Spector (Bronagh Waugh) because they know she lied about Paul’s alibis. When she gets interrogated by the police at the station she tells the truth. Or what she thinks is the truth.

Katie doesn’t get questioned yet because they can’t yet find an appropriate adult to be with her.

When Paul is questioned he is insolent but totally silent. He doesn’t even ask for a lawyer. Maybe he still thinks he smarter than our girl Stella. Pffft!

Gillian Anderson in tears
This is awful to watch

Paul’s phone has video of Rose Stagg begging to be released. Stella watches it with tears in her eyes. The begging goes on and on and on. The camera slowly closes in on Stella’s face as she watches – the terror and horror of it reflects in her eyes, her face. Suddenly Paul Spector’s face is on the video, saying, “Why the fuck are you watching this? You sick shit.”

There’s DNA on the scissors (the ones with Paul’s fingerprint) that belongs to the guy he stabbed. They’ve got him for that murder, now.

Paul is put in a cell for the night and Stella has a brainstorm.

Stella undoes McNally's hair
What are you doing to my hair? Can a girl hope?

She finds Officer McNally (Bronagh Taggart). She undoes McNally’s hair without asking her permission. The moment is sensuous and charged, and not something a superior should be doing to a junior officer without explanation.

McNally holds her breath. Stella looks her over carefully, and says, “There’s something I’d like you to do.”

Bronagh Taggart as officer McNally
I’m a cop. I fit your profile. Take a good look

Stella gets McNally dressed up in a short skirt, brushes her hair and adds some lipstick. Paul’s exact type. She sends McNally into his cell to announce he’s being further arrested for the murder of Joseph Brawley and the attempted murder of Ann Brawley. McNally leaves and Stella watches Paul react to having the young, dark-haired, beautiful officer in his cell.

The last scene is the police finding the burned out car that Paul drove with Rose in the trunk. When they look in the truck, it’s full of all kinds of stuff. It’s hard to tell if there’s a body in there or not. One of the bits of stuff in the trunk might be an arm.

I’ve said several times how much I love Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson. I hope she continues as a character with new cases. But maybe her future cases could involve crimes not about sexual predators. My nerves can’t take it.

The Fall S2 E4: The Mind is its Own Place

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.

The incubus atop a sleeping woman.
The incubus atop a sleeping woman.

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 talks about her personal diary and her physical needs.
Stella talks about her personal diary and her physical needs.

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.”

Karen Hassan as Annie Brawley in The Fall
Karen Hassan as Annie Brawley

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.

Stella hears about a dead woman found in the woods
Stella hears about a dead woman found in the woods who might be Rose

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.

Reed Smith arrives at the crime scene.
Reed Smith arrives at the crime scene.

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.

Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector.
Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector.

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.

You want to fall asleep in the room with me? Sure.
You want to fall asleep in the room with me? Sure.

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!

The Fall, S2 E3: Beauty Hath Strange Power

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.

Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson in The Fall
Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson in The Fall

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.

Bronagh Waugh as Sally Ann Spector
Bronagh Waugh as Sally Ann Spector gets honest with the cops

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.

Stella kisses Tanya
Sorry I’m late, but here’s a kiss to make up for the wait.

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.

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

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.

Stella reacts to Jamie's message in her diary.
Paul’s message: “Oh, Stella Gibson, how well I know you now.”

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.