This week on THE FALL, Paul Spector (JAMIE DORNAN) treads carefully along the edge as he tries to avoid capture from GILLIAN ANDERSON’s Inspector Stella Gibson. She’s extremely focused on this task, with the precision of a pointed laser. She knows who the killer is, she just needs to find him. Spector also knows full well who Stella is – he just needs to find HER.
The episode begins with Spector coming out of the woods, jogging along his favourite path. He arrives at his car. There’s a baby inside – his recent victim’s. This was a chilling realization. He later drops the child off on someone’s front doorstep. This is equally disturbing, since it seems to indicate this monster has the capacity to care. Plausibly, he could have killed that baby and be done with it; especially, if he is emotionless and incapable of empathy. Somewhere within the deeper recesses of his fractured mind hides a caring side. THE FALL shines a light into these dark corners, illuminating the capable monster hiding within us all.
This opening scene is cross-cut with Stella at a wipe-board, attempting to analyze Spector’s motives. I like it when this show has a voice over a montage. She wants to know what drove him to sexually assault his victims, and what led him to escalate to murder. Now that she knows Spector’s identity she needs to know what motivates him. She knows the man, while she seeks to know the invisible monster.
Spector arrives back at his hotel hideout. The very place he gave his babysitter, KATIE, a key to. He discovers lipstick writing on his mirror. He must realize that Katie copied that key now. The writing is in Italian. I assume he thinks it refers to DANTE’S INFERNO (from last week’s episode). He goes to his computer and translates the message: “Go f**k yourself.”
He proceeds to watch a video he recorded with his last victim, his former girlfriend from years ago. He replays a segment over and over. She says, “I feel sorry for you.” I wonder if she knows about his past, growing up, and what happened to him. She knows what Stella hopes to discover. And now it’s too late for Gibson to ask her any questions. Spector has covered up this “track”. Now he’s onto the next set of tracks.
The authorities interrogate Katie. She covers for Spector, like a battered wife (he counselled in season 1). Katie calls up Paul to warn him about the investigation. I wonder what she has planned. Is she just obsessed with him? Or is she hoping to coax out the truth and turn him in at a later date? She essentially provides Paul with an alibi for the night of a murder.
Stella learns of the alibi, and she wonders aloud, “What the f**k is she playing at?” It seems like Spector might get away with murder. However, Katie’s testimony and timeline given places Spector at the same bar the victim attended on the same night she was attacked. Stella gets one step closer.
There was an intense moment at the scene of a crime where Spector left behind tire tracks. Stella supervises the forensic team as they collect an impression from the mud. When who should drive up towards them but Spector himself, in a vehicle with altered license plates. He turns off his lights, reverses and escapes. Stella stays cool and jots down the information, eventually discovering a match despite his attempt to cover up this “track”. Brilliant detective work told visually.
Katie meets Spector at the hotel and tells about all the ways she’s protected him. The dialogue here was great. She asks him, “Aren’t you pleased with me?” He quickly replies, “Not particularly.” She continues, “Now you have to tell me?” “Tell me?” he echoes. “The truth about you.” He hesitates then answers, “Being a serial murderer is a form of slow suicide, deeply self-destructive. That’s not my style.” (Did he just regurgitate his textbooks or is something worse than what he described?) She ponders, “What are you?” “I’m a lot of things.”
Wow. This exchange was so unsettling. It’s almost like he’s admitting his actions at the same time as denying them. Does this mirror the battle that consumes him from within?
Spector continues to tell Katie more and more about the murders and his relation to Stella. He lies about how he found a victim’s license and sent it to Stella just to mess with her head. He says he doesn’t like the way she carries herself and how she’s better than everyone. He enlists in Katie’s help to further “deceive” Stella. Is he conning Katie? Does he plan to pin this on her somehow? Is she just a momentary pawn that he will kill after she’s done his bidding and lost her usefulness? There are so many questions and ideas brewing under the surface that THE FALL really rewards the participating viewer.
Stella is so close to catching Spector. But he’s even closer. He enters the hotel and finds her room. My favourite camera shot was in the stairwell, during his ascent. There was a 1 second close-up of his gloved hand gliding along the shining reflective surface of a metal banister. Blink and you may miss it. But I noticed it through my proverbial nerd glasses. I love how this image coaxed an interpretation from me: Even though the man ascends the stairs, the monster is still reflected – hidden behind latex gloves meant to cover up his presence.
Once he enters Stella’s room he discovers her journal and takes pictures to go over her analysis at a later time. He wants to know what his enemy knows. But maybe he also wants to know himself. It would take an investigator’s profile to reveal himself to himself. Very interesting.
I’ll end this analysis on Katie’s final moment. She’s on Spector’s mission. She breaks into a building, approaches a mirror and takes “selfies”. The disturbing element here… she wears a shirt with Spector’s wanted picture plastered front and center on it. Is this Spector’s plan to paint her as the killer? To the authorities, it may appear that with this photo Katie is saying, “You got the wrong guy. I’m the killer.”
On another note it reminds me of the statement on pop culture made by the film NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Oliver STONE (by way of QUENTIN TARANTINO’s original screenplay) examines how the media sensationalizes murder to the point where it is branded and marketed to the youth. The teens in that movie wore t-shirts emblazoned with serial killers MICKEY and MALLORY, in much the same manner as Katie in THE FALL. Creepy social commentary. I hope Stella sees this as a young girl obsessed by the tall, dark, and handsome killer?
The cat and mouse game continues next week. Stella and Spector go toe-to-toe like Clarice & Lector from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. I can’t wait to see how Stella finally catches her man. I can’t wait to see wat happens when she confronts him. Will she let the law enact justice? Or will she play vigilante?
What did you think? Is Spector conning the babysitter to take the fall for him?
Will Stella’s journal illuminate some truths that even Spector wasn’t aware of?
What do you want to see happen? Should Stella kill him when she gets the chance or allow a jury to condemn Spector to a life behind bars?