Review: The Fall (S2 E4/6), Thursday 4th December, BBC2

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The-Fall-4-Jamie-Dornan[1]

The Fall became increasingly more of a tumble last week as this initially compelling drama started to waver through inertia. The police investigation led by Det Supt Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) began to stumble along, severely hampered by unconvincing plotting compounded by some frankly ludicrous psychological game playing.

This is Belfast, not the mainland, so would a high-profile senior police officer from another force really be quartered somewhere as public as a four-star hotel? Section houses might have been sold off in the austerity-strapped UK, but surely she could have been housed in a securely guarded building for the duration?

However, for Gibson the only way is up now that serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) feels on safer ground because he has learned some of his adversary’s skeletons by reading her private notebook.

In fact, episode four was a tale of three diaries: Spector’s lovingly detailed (and illustrated) log of his victims, the remnants of which he discovers amid the debris from an accident at his home; infatuated teen Katie’s faked journal in which she has supplied alibis for all Spector’s murders, and Gibson’s ‘dream journal’ – now containing a taunting entry written by Spector.

Her diary has been entered in evidence along with anything else in the hotel room that he might have touched, and this sets Gibson off in the kind of white-hot, quiet anger that Anderson does so convincingly. At the closest she has been to cracking, she explains to colleague Jim Burns (John Lynch) her wretchedness in violation – revealing in sharp relief the generational gulf between her generation and Katie’s.

“Our modern life is such an unholy mix of voyeurism and exhibitionism ­– people perpetually broadcasting their internal and external selves,” she sorrowfully tells Burns. “It’s personal, and now it is lost to me.” (Interestingly, Anderson’s X-Files co-star David Duchovny joined Twitter during filming of the series and she tweeted back from ‘sunny Belfast’, practically causing the internet to collapse.)

Katie (Aisling Franciosi), of course, only comes truly alive when online; it is where she feels she is getting closer to Spector – because he’s keeping well away from her. However, he is taking an increasingly unhealthy interest in her cuter blonde friend Daisy Drake (Tara Lee). While he strides around his hotel room half-naked watching their girly warblings on YouTube we can see him formulating some especially malevolent manipulation of suggestible and jealous Katie.

Gibson decides to invade Spector’s family home in search of his secrets in the hopes of delivering a counter-blow to the one he dealt her and turning his vanity up to 11 to force him into a making a mistake.

Actually, it is less a recce (they haven’t obtained a warrant for that) than an intelligence-gathering operation to bug the family home. Great idea, except the execution of it turns out to be farcical.

The tension was also ratcheted up with the introduction of DS Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan, Merlin) as Gibson’s new sidekick in the investigation, not least because he bears a passing resemblance to our sexy Belfast Strangler. So, another salary to pay – and we keep being told that the costs of this case are crippling the police service.

When a woman’s body is discovered in woods at Divis in the Belfast Hills, Gibson fears the worst for kidnapped Rose Stagg (and so she should because little police protection was offered to the poor woman). Although the discovery turns out to be something of a red herring, it does offer the cops fresh ideas about how to advance the search.

The investigation picked up traction on other fronts; in the nick of time rape victim Annie Brawley is spirited away from her hospital room by Gibson before Spector gets another bite at the cherry – and Annie’s memory is returning.

So after three episodes spent scrabbling about in the dark as to Spector’s whereabouts, the cops now have eyes on the prize.

And women – do we ever really know our husbands? When little Livvy asks mum Sally (Bronagh Waugh) whether she can marry her daddy when she grows up, the sad, deluded woman tells her: “Some day when you’re older you can marry a nice man like Daddy.”

Jeez, thanks mum.

Deborah Shrewsbury

For our episode one review go here

For our episode two review go here

For our episode three review go here

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