Each week, THE FALL descends lower and lower into the dark abyss of man. Serial killer Paul SPECTOR (Jamie DORNAN) leads investigator STELLA Gibson (Gillian ANDERSON) along the twisted corridors of madness manipulating her every step of the way. Will Stella see the light even when she is surrounded by the bleak black void of Spector’s opaque world?
Last week, Spector broke into Stella’s apartment and snapped photos of her dream journal. Stella arrived with her supervisor (?). Spector hid away while the supervisor tried his best to tempt her into bed. When Spector finally returned home he seduced Katie (the babysitter) via webcam. I feel like he’s setting up a long con, especially considering what happens in this episode.
It really creeped me out when he examined photos of Katie’s best friend. What is he planning to do with her? I’m thinking she could be his next victim, even though she doesn’t fit the brunette profile. Will he adapt his preferences in order to fulfill his violent sexual urges?
This week began with Spector looking over those photos, and Stella looking at the inscription he left in her diary. Now she knows he was in her hotel room. Now she knows he enjoys this perverse game of predator and prey. Stella has a good moment where refers to Spector, “We all have physical needs that can only be met by physical interaction with another person.” I’m thinking she may also be referring to her own needs and the night she spent with that slain cop. Does she still feel guilt, or responsibility for his murder?
I really liked the moment where Stella converses with a fellow police officer. He keeps repeating back every word she says. She asks why, and he replies with something like, “I’m just doing what he does.” The victim at the hospital also relays the same point to Stella. Her counsellor (Spector) mirrored her emotions, like he reflected her back somehow.
This was an intense sequence actually. Stella suspects Spector will return to the victim. She stops a scheduled haircut, midway through its completion. She escorts the victim to another room for questioning. Stella asks how the counsellor made her feel better. After talk of mirroring, she remembers that Spector was there at the bar the night of her attack.
When Spector shows up expecting to meet with the victim, an officer awaits. He inquires about the woman. The officer tells her the patient has been moved. He asks about the scheduled haircut. The officer tells him it was cancelled. He cleverly replies, “But you didn’t call me to cancel my appointment?” Spector subtly manipulated information out of her, and she wasn’t even aware. I’m thinking Stella will be more successful in this endeavour… eventually. I can’t wait for that confrontation.
The police follow Spector, and report his every move to Stella over radio. Another victim has been found in the woods. Stella investigates. But this is an instance of false hope. The victim is missing an identifying scar. Stella looks up and notices a broken noose, hanging high in a tree above, “This is why you always look up at a crime scene.” Her time has been wasted, her attention diverted. Was this still a Spector victim though? Was this part of his plan to divert Stella’s pursuit? It’s not the specific woman they search for, but is it still one of Spector’s victims?
Stella is clever though. She will use this case to her advantage. Even if they didn’t find the woman they seek, Spector doesn’t need to know that. She will have the media report their success as a ruse to draw Spector out. I like how she warns the husband first though. She doesn’t want to dash his hopes. The husband asks her, “So you haven’t given up hope.” Her quick answer is very deliberately worded, “God, no. Never.”
Is Stella lying? Why did she mention God? Is she religious? Did she give up on that hope (of the afterlife)? Even though she doesn’t believe, does she still see the importance this false hope can instil in others? I love how this dialogue is open to interpretation. Part is due to the amazing writing, part is due to Gillian Anderson’s brilliant performance work (week in and week out). Stella feels it’s important to convince the husband of hope, even if she has given up on that long ago.
Stella’s next task is investigating Spector’s home. For some reason, the investigators upstairs cause the ceiling to cave in and crumble apart, crashing down into the bedroom. This happens just as Spector and his family are driving up the street. Stella has to think fast. She tasks her forces to break the water pipes and cover up this accident. She knows how clever Spector is, and worries if he will catch on to her presence.
I love how this mirrors what happened earlier, when Spector invaded her privacy and investigated her home. THE FALL does this every episode. It reflects with purpose, the scenes and imagery, the characters and dialogue, and the latent subtext within it all.
I’ll finish up commenting on Stella’s storyline with the results from the suicide victim. Apparently, she called a suicide hotline several times before hanging herself in the forest. She even left a letter for her mother. The letter is sure to point out how if the mother was home, the daughter would still be alive. I’m sure by next episode, Stella will think what I fear – Spector is behind it all. He put his counselling skills to work. He knows what suicidal people do. I will point to some evidence for my interpretation.
Previously, Spector has forced the missing wife to write a note for her husband – to avoid suspicion. And he seems to get joy from causing others pain. This is why the letter is sure to place blame on the mother. He knows she will read it, and it will destroy her, emotionally. It’s so vindictive and truly frightening. It’s the levels of sadistic enjoyment Spector receives from such unsettling activities. It is truly scary, but also oddly compelling. Will Stella trace these clues back to him? Or am I way off base here?
I’ll end this episode analysis on Spector’s manipulative conversation with his teenage mistress, Katie. Is she his apprentice? His accomplice? His scapegoat? I’m so intrigued by what’s brewing here. I will dissect what I believe is brewing under the surface here.
Katie waits for Spector to check in on her webcam. She stares at his WANTED picture as she anxiously waits. She also has a map with victims marked on it. She’s keeping a diary too. Is Katie a junior detective? Like a mini Stella Gibson? Or is she just obsessed with him, especially if he is a killer. I also entertain the notion that she could be preparing to blackmail him if he doesn’t give her what she wants. If all these factors combine together, perhaps Katie wants a serial killer boyfriend whether Spector reciprocates or not?
Finally, Spector arrives in the private webcam chat room. He asks a favour of Katie. He needs her to get into his hotel room somehow. She reveals that she copied the key earlier. I’m thinking this is what Spector suspected. He is very subtly kneading information out of her. Slowly massaging the flour into a pliable dough, so to speak.
And it just gets creepier. Spector brings up a shared connection of their past. But he’s sure to emphasize some heart-breaking details. He talks of her father being decapitated in a car accident. He’s sure to mention words that will elicit images in Katie. Images she fears. He wants her to suffer. He also uses careful language in mentioning her “sexy friend, Stacey”. He wants her to feel insecure or threatened emotionally. Like this other girl gets his attention instead. Katie answers just as Spector hoped, “You think she’s sexy?” I wouldn’t be surprised if by the next episode Katie has dyed her hair blonde to please him.
Spector manipulates her further asking Katie, what if Stacey was scarred or disfigured during an attack, and lost her beauty. Is he suggesting Katie should do this? Is he testing the waters to see how badly she wants to comply to his every desire? Spector continues this line of twisted encouragement, “Why should she have it all.” Hinting at beauty and popularity. I also think he’s really talking about Stella, and referring to his own feelings on the matter.
It’s frightening how Spector justifies his actions here. I’ll paraphrase… Spector teaches, “If other people’s happiness hurts us, why not reduce that happiness… It’s an affront to our pain and mercy.” Katie inquires, “What is it you want me to do?” Spector has her caught – hook, line, and sinker. He answers, “Nurture your envy, your anger, as a way forward.”
If Spector can convince Katie to harm her best friend, what else is she capable of? It really does seem like this goes beyond manipulation. He doesn’t need her to cover up his tracks. He needs an accomplice. Or he needs someone else to blame. I can imagine he’s brewing a story that this obsessed teenage babysitter wanted to be with him so bad, she killed anyone he looked at or was interested in. She, in effect, is an obsessive stalker, of this wholesome nurturing grief counsellor.
I eagerly anticipate the next step in this brilliantly crafted game of Cat & Mouse. Spector and Stella each have firsthand experience in the darkness of man. They each hunt humans. One hunts, one hunts the hunted. When they play this game together, there are only losers. Spector will lose his freedom, while Stella loses her innocence. The fall from grace is a long chasm void of light.
What did you think? Will Stella capture Spector alive? Will she get lost in the madness?
Will Katie become a scapegoat or an accomplice?
Will the gangsters from Season One return to confront Spector?
Is the missing wife still alive somehow? Or is her body hidden in Spector’s remote cabin?