In the second series of The Fall, we return to Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), the handsome bereavement counsellor and loving father who, on the side, stalks and kills the attractive, intelligent brunettes of Belfast. Throughout the show, Spector is hunted by DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), an intense and slightly disturbing police officer brought in from London to assist the Belfast police.
At the end of series one Spector fled Belfast with his family to escape a tightening net. He is returning now, though, looking to tie-up loose ends, and unable to hold back his violent desires. And there are a number of loose ends – the 15-year old Katie who has guessed at Spector’s identity; Anne Brawley, who has finally regained consciousness after Spector’s botched attack; and Rose, who knew Spector a few years ago and has come forward to assist the police in identifying him.
A dark, twisted take on the usual serial killer story, The Fall is focused much less on asking us “whodunit” than who’ll get “done” next. You watch, helpless, as a woman paints a target on her back, talking to Spector and ticking off every one of his boxes. She lives near one of his previous victims, she loves alone. But she’s blonde, so it’s okay – she’s safe …no, she tells him, it’s dyed.
Spector creeps through his victim’s houses, hiding in the shadows, under their beds, watching them in mirrors. The show masterfully combines huge levels of tension with a terrifying amount of creepiness, leaving you awake at night desperately hoping you locked your door. Throw in a weird relationship between Spector and his underage babysitter, and the enigmatic DSI Gibson, and you’ve got yourself a stunning hour of television.
Dornan and Anderson both give excellent performances, week-in week-out, and the show’s writer and now director Allan Cubitt uses them to full effect. There is the occasional bit of wobbly acting from some of the supporting cast, but it’s never long before you get sucked back into the two mysterious and captivating main characters.
The subtle direction of Cubitt draws you in with long, slow shots framed by heavy silence or a dark and simple soundtrack. The show is quiet and absorbing, and it’s almost impossible to tell when it slid into creepiness, but suddenly you’re screaming in your head as Spector appears from the darkness and starts to talk softly to a little girl while her mother, his next victim, is asleep just metres away.
The Fall is broadcast on BBC 2 on Thursdays at 9pm.