GILLIAN ANDERSON gets closer and closer to catching JAMIE DORNAN’s serial killer in the excellent, cerebral, dark thriller/drama series: THE FALL. This battle of the minds is nearing its finale. This UK series really reminds me of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, in regards to intellectuals on opposite sides of the law combatting one another with innocent lives hanging in the balance. In this instance, Clarice Starling equates to STELLA GIBSON (Anderson), while PAUL SPECTOR (Dornan) is the equivalent to Hannibal Lecter.
**Some of my analysis may seem overblown. And fair enough. It’s just my opinion, right. However, I thought (for this episode especially) I should inform you readers that I have some experience studying psychology, abnormal psychology, and forensic science in college & university. Toss that in a blender with studies in the Humanities, and decades of film analysis & creative writing – and you get a flavourful concoction of multi-angled analysis each week. 😉 I hope you enjoy it. Now, on with the show… commentary.**
Last week, Gibson inspected Spector’s family home, as they approached down the street. Investigators upstairs somehow cause the ceiling to break and fall. Gibson ordered them to break the pipes and cause a flood to cover up their presence. This week, Spector cleans up the mess.
Authorities surveill the house. Spector doesn’t call in contractors or a plumber, he takes care of it himself, while his wife & daughter are with her mother. Instead, Spector cleans up his own personal mess. He gets rid of evidence, before anyone else can get to it. He’s smart. He somehow knows Gibson has been in here. He knows they are spying on him, from outside, and within. He plays a loud record as he goes about destroying evidence.
Meanwhile, Gibson learns more about Spector’s past. He was adopted. His “father” was imprisoned for murder of a boy(?). Does this suggest some sort of sexual deviance was inflicted on a young Spector? His adoptive family is German, while he is Jewish. Was there some sort of resentment due to his bloodline?
This seems to tie together with the Constable’s interview of a Priest. The priest is a pedophile. He calls it “consensual” since the boys were curious. The Constable fires back, “A child’s consent does not count.” Is this scene analogous to Spector’s early life somehow? Click on that VIDEO link (above) and watch how savvy and aware this Priest is when the Constable enters the room. I wonder if Spector is the Priest’s apprentice? Did this pedophillic monster teach Spector how to cover up evidence and such?
The authorities try and gather hard evidence. They use voice analyzing technology on recorded phone calls. The software only gives a “probable” match to Spector’s voice, which will not stand up in court. Especially, if Spector has a good lawyer. I’m thinking if the show goes this route, and explores a trial, Spector will represent himself like TED BUNDY did. This sort of serial killer thinks they are smarter than anyone else. And they’re willing to prove it. They probably think they are superior to any lawyer who would represent them.
The authorities get closer to Spector’s trail, with aerial shots taken above his hideout in the woods – on land he inherited from his adoptive family. Was this “shack” the place where Spector was abused by his German father as a child? Was this the birthing spot of his evil? The police continue to explore other avenues as they have Spector under constant surveillance, including KATIE (the babysitter).
Katie goes to a bank. Makes some sort of deposit. Heads to a (familiar) bridge full of love locks. She adds one to the bridge’s fence. It has the date, along with her & Spector’s initials. She throws away the key. Is this a message left for Spector? Or a statement of her devotion? Did he ask her to do this? Is it part of his planned set-up to pin the murders on her?
Intensity builds to a boiling point as the authorities keep track of Spector on his jog. He runs to the botanical gardens from earlier episodes. He throws his laptop into a pond. Hmmm, another let’s hide evidence in water scene. By the by, those earlier retrieved scissors came back positive with mitochondrial DNA: the victim’s. What is it about water? Some sort of cleansing, perhaps? Regardless, I suppose by placing these things in the water, rather than torching them (like other evidence: car, diary), the laptop (and key) can feasibly be retrieved later.
Katie returns to Hotel Tryst. The Peeper follows her back up, hoping to get another glance at this nubile beauty. His last name wouldn’t be BATES would it? Once inside, Katie retrieves the hidden lock of hair and the memory card (from the wall outlet). She burns the hair, and tries to rid the memory card in the toilet (water again). The cops are banging on the door at this point – ready to bust in. This was all super exciting stuff. She tries to break the chip when they arrest her.
I had some complex emotions here… I want the cops to catch her and stop Spector from killing. On the other hand, I feel bad for Katie because she has been so manipulated by Spector. She’s too young to realize the repercussion of her blind trust and blind love.
Spector has switched jackets. He’s on the move again. He’s lost the authorities. But he’s found some criminals. Thugs from earlier confront him – the abusive husband of a wife Spector counselled. He is forced to his knees at gunpoint. I won’t ruin the result here (just in case some of you read this without watching) – but it ends in an intense shootout. This scene was much more exciting than a straight up arrest by authorities.
So now we have Spector apprehended, along with Katie, and now his wife. She is more compelled to tell the truth. She wasn’t aware of the extent of his affairs. She will be charged with “perversion of justice” should she remain silent. Katie (the mistress) is more apprehensive to co-operate. She is informed that since she is a minor she needs an adult present during questioning. They will send for her mother. Katie simply states, rather ominously, “Not her.” So what happened with her upbringing?
With the main suspects in custody, Gibson goes over the evidence. Instead of the typical investigator office: a wipeboard with suspect names, and photos, and red strings & pins connecting them all… we get enlarged copies from Spector’s writings. Words like “chaos”, “evil”, “children”, and “HER”. Now who does “her” refer to? Spector’s mother? A victim? Katie? Or STELLA?
These multiple arrests and mounting evidence culminates in the video retrieved from that broken memory card. Looks like the cops got to Katie just in time. Stella watches the video. It’s Spector filming his last victim, the missing mother/wife, ROSE STAG. It’s edited together (by Spector) with multiple jump cuts. This was so terrifying. I slowly realized this video is meant as a trophy. And what are serial killer’s trophies used for? They are used to relive the events.
The creepiest thought in that regard is why does he want to relive these events. It dawned on me that Spector will use this video as a masturbatory aid. He finds this sort of inflicted pain arousing. It was so troubling when you think of how it begins with Rose pleading for help, then she seduces (be reminding him of their past relationship), to anger (as she swears and berates him – like sado-masochism), to feeling sorry for Peter, then finally to fear again. When you look at it from the perverse subtext this moment is even more frightening.
I assume this is what Stella thinks as she watches the screen. A tear forms. It falls. But she never looks away. She’s determined. She needs to watch this, to help the next victim, to stop this monster. This is when the rug gets pulled out. The recording video camera turns on Spector himself. He says, “Why are you watching this, you sick f**k? What the f**k is wrong with you?” WOW. That was messed up. Actually scary. I think it’s worse if you think about what exactly is going on.
Is he calling himself sick? Does he know he will watch this later, like I mentioned, for pleasure? Or is this all staged? It can’t be to pin the murders on Katie, he just incriminated himself. Or did he plan on showing her the video before he asked her to be his apprentice? Or before he kills her?
For me, I think this message is for STELLA. I think this is what we are all supposed to think. So how terrifying is that? He knows she would watch it? He still wants to have control over her, in some regard? He is smarter. He knows she is just as sick as he is. She pursues evil because she senses it in herself? Or at least that might be how this monster thinks – everyone is evil. He just acts upon his twisted desires. Like was said earlier, is this a perversion of justice? It’s so complex, it’s ripe for analysis & interpretation.
The final moment was Stella’s attempt to regain control over Spector. She recruits a female investigator with long brown locks and long firm legs to interview him – just his type. Stella wants Spector to realize that she knows about his secrets. This is just the beginning. He doesn’t take the bait. The lights go out in his cell. Stella watches the cell’s live camera. It switches to night vision as Spector rises out of bed and calmly approaches the camera. He stares out. The hollows of his eyes are a blinding white. She can’t see his eyes, let alone what goes on behind them. They are hidden. And will remain that way. Spector (thinks he) is still in control.
I will end this commentary on the brilliantly executed over-lapping dialogue. It’s his daughter saying, “DADDY?” (at her grandmother’s). In the back of his mind, he must remember her. Maybe Spector is a father first? If so, I think he lost sight of that a long time ago. Maybe the monster fully emerged after her birth? Maybe he thinks on his own past, how he was abandoned by his real mother, and perhaps abused by his adoptive father while his “mother” turned a blind eye to this ”consensual” act (if Spector was sexually curious as a child)?
The strong invitation for deconstruction is a huge factor in enjoying THE FALL. It examines the darkness of man, but not from a necessary accusatory pedestal.
It really does try to understand the madness. It shows both sides. It shows how people are formed into killers: a theme I expect it will explore further in the next episode. The adoptive family, priest and babysitter stuff were just hints at what drives the man to commit such heinous & deviant acts.
It will be interesting to see how THE FALL explores Spector’s backstory and its possible connection to Katie’s troubled upbringing (?), and perhaps Stella’s (?) as well.
What do you think? Is THE FALL one of the best and smartest thrillers on TV? Period?
Would you like to see Gillian ANDERSON get more starring roles?
Is THE FALL degrading to women? I just saw that when I searched for images. And not that one above 😉
For me, I think that Gibson is definitely a strong female character. I feel like it also examines the victims as real people, not simply sexual objects. Has there even been any nudity or on-screen attacks this season? ALSO, check that animated GIF below to see how Gibson responds when a man hits on her at the bar? Is this degrading… um, to her?
Do you expect this case to go to trial? Will the series cover it? Or just show the results?
Will Spector be set free due to inconclusive evidence? Or his scapegoat, Katie?
How will these well-written characters deal with upcoming events? What is the most satisfying way for this series to end? I’m thinking Gibson will enforce her strong will and overpower Spector’s. I can’t wait to see that, from a writing, filming, and performance standpoint.