The Fall S3 E3 The Gates of Light

The Fall season 3 episode 3 is titled “The Gates of Light.” Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is strong enough to get up and walk around the hospital, although he’s still in ICU. Beware the spoilers. Continue reading “The Fall S3 E3 The Gates of Light”

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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.

Major spoilers ahead.

A chair in the empty house
Where the video was shot

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.

Brian Milligan as James Tyler
James Tyler learns where his wife is

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.

Stella watches Katie's video
Stella watches Katie’s video

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.

Colin Morgan as Tom Anderson questions Katie
Colin Morgan as Tom Anderson questions Katie

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.

Sally Ann looks at evidence
Sally Ann Spector finally learns what the police have arrested Paul for doing.

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.

Paul Spector looks at the camera
Not buying it

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.

Tyler pulls Liz by the hair
Tyler pulls Liz by the hair

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.

Olivia in the police station
Olivia is questioned

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.

May I remind you how you attacked me?
May I remind you how you attacked me?

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 questions Paul
Stella questions Paul

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 looks a bit sick.
I think I’ll puke up my internal organs now

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.

Det. Anderson in Stella's bed
Stella had a little “we got him” party with Detective Tommy Boy at the end of the day. She even let him stay all night!

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 with Spector cuffed to Anderson behind her
Stella sets off into the trees

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.

Stella calls in about the car
Stella finds the car

Eventually, Stella finds Rose Stagg’s car. An officer brings a crowbar so they can look in the trunk.

Rose is in the trunk
Rose is 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.

Spector dying in Stella's arms.
This is my happy place

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.

Some Thoughts

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!

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.