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!

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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.