The Fall (TV series); a review



I just finished watching this BBC TV programme as it concluded its second series. I was drawn to it as a die-hard X-phile and the encouraging initial buzz. It did not disappoint. The first season is available on Netflix and DVD; the 2nd season finished airing on Bravo Canada.


The Fall is a tense psychological thriller. It is by no means a who-dun-it. The audience knows who the culprit is. So the thrill lies in watching the police try to nab the perpetrator. It was a deliberately paced (some may say a slow-burn), beautifully acted drama. It combines character study and crime procedural, with its strength in the former.

I appreciated that female actors are prominent in the cast. I especially like Gillian Anderson’s character, Superintendent Stella Gibson of the Metropolitan Police. She is an outsider from England, who is seconded to Northern Ireland in order  to take lead in a serial killler investigation. She is revealed to have romantic ties to some of her Irish colleagues and soon develops new liaisons during the course of her stay. These themes are minor but add dimension to her character. I rather enjoyed that aspect. Stella Gibson is calculating and almost as predatory as the man she is hunting, Phil Spector (brilliantly portrayed by Jamie Dornan). Special mention must go out to Archie Punjabi; she nails a very realistic portrayal of a forensic pathologist (a rarity on TV) in a small part.

There is a lot of moral ambiguity in this series, as well as suspension of disbelief. It is the acting that carries it through the weaker aspects of the plot which is not exactly revolutionary. It is hard to believe that one could feel sympathy for a man who could commit such heinous acts. And yet  I did, fleetingly, during Spector’s scenes with his family. How does one reconcile the man and the monster? I think Stella Gibson said it best when she dismissed the notion of monsters and alluded to the thought that people are flawed. Some have compulsive flaws that drive them beyond a lawful line. Some of us venture close, some of us manage to barely step beyond and a few dart past at high speed. For the latter group, there is no turning back, especially with the police on your trail.

The first series (5 episodes) ended in a cliff-hanger. The 2 series (6 episodes) picked up where the first left off and its conclusion was abrupt. Nevertheless, I found it satisfying, as character study that is, rather than as a plot driven narrative. As a caution, internet buzz has been mixed and some viewers found it down-right infuriating. Granted, there were a few minor threads left dangling. That’s enough to keep me eagerly hoping for series 3. I hope it gets green-lit.


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