THE FALL had its season finale last night. Paul Spector (JAMIE DORNAN) is in custody. Stella Gibson (GILLIAN ANDERSON) supervises the interrogation hoping to gain details of his latest victim’s whereabouts. Of course, by the end of the episode we finally get our face-to-face confrontation between killer and investigator. In true FALL fashion, their tete-a-tete was compelling, intense, exciting, and unsettling – all at the same time. I will avoid major spoilers, and leave the ending of the episode a surprise.
The episode began with the discovered remains of a torched car, with a mannequin inside. Was this an effigy burnt by Spector? This discovery leads Stella to Spector’s secret shack. Inside, she finds a camera tripod which she places her tablet on to watch the recovered video. It lines up perfectly. This is where Rose was tortured. Is Stella somehow reliving the events for another purpose? How far does her dark obsession go?
Stella watches another video – one that was recorded by KATIE (the babysitter). Stella assumed that Katie’s diary contained teenage fantasies, until she watches Spector pleasure himself for Katie on video. Stella sends her young investigator to interview Katie since he resembles Spector. She wants him to give Katie his “undivided attention”.
Stella watches this interview via live recording. The investigator asks how Katie formed a bond with Spector. She mentions a shared appreciation of literature – poetry & books. She tells of how she wrote a song for him. They shared their first kiss after she played it for Spector. She doesn’t cooperate with the authorities. She doesn’t want Spector to be imprisoned. She says it’s because, “We love each other.”
The investigator ups the ante and shows her video recorded by the Hotel Peeper. It shows Katie freeing herself from Spector’s loose bindings – his earlier test. She is then shown the image taken in the mirror, as she wears a shirt with the Wanted picture. The investigator makes a play saying it is Spector on her shirt. She keeps up her charade – “No. It looks like him.” When asked why she did all this for him, she replies, “For fun.”
When asked why she destroyed evidence, she retorts, “Evidence of what?” It seems like Spector has trained her well – about as well as he seduced and manipulated her. She really does believe they love each other. She will jeopardize her future for a chance to preserve that love. Katie sums it up best with this chilling bit of dialogue, “I was asleep before I met him, and now I’m awake.”
Meanwhile, Spector is interviewed in much the same manner – with an investigator who fits the profile of this suspect’s type. Stella watches from behind closed doors. Spector looks right into the police camera, and tells Stella it will take more than that to get him to talk. He’s aware of her manipulation. Eventually, he agrees to talk to Stella and no one else. It seems like he still wants to control his situation. And we finally get to see these two adversaries have a battle of intellect.
Before Stella talks with Spector she reveals he is “Not a monster. Just a man.” This really creeped me out. Is this how she views all men, as she is later asked? Or is she saying that underneath it all, Spector is simply a man, like any other. There is no monster to be afraid of. It’s like she stops herself from being scared, or being manipulated by him, by creating a barrier. She also says he is “far too understandable”. Is this optimism? Or has something in her past led her to this belief? Very compelling.
Soon enough, Stella sits across from Spector. The interrogation begins. And it was so intriguing. Stella points to his past to pry out his motives. She mentions his mother, and her suicide. Spector counters with, “I didn’t expect mother-blaming from you.” He lets her know the he has also investigated her past. Is he trying to say they are the same somehow? He also says, “All children are lonely.” Again, trying to connect himself to her(?) There are definitely deeper issues simmering under the surface.
I liked it when Stella reframed his crimes as “rape”. He despises this term, and doesn’t look at himself as a rapist. She says he “violated them” so that’s exactly what he is. Stella continues to slice him: “All of your victims are daughters.” I think she’s trying to provoke empathy. She tries to get Spector to imagine his daughter being treated in the same way.
The continued conversation plays out like moves on a chessboard. They each dig at one another, sliding their chess pieces closer to Checkmate. Spector attempts to relay the special powers and feelings he’s experienced. He has special access that she will never know. He tries to seduce her with this secret knowledge gained from The Abyss. He knows she wants to understand everything, especially the darkness of man – especially the bleak void. He’s saying that she’ll never understand unless she too “FALLS” into the deeper recesses of the mind – the descent of man, returning to his primal beginnings. The true human. The monster.
As the chess pieces fall one by one, Spector talks of his power over another. The complete control. He refers to them as “God-like” powers. Stella quickly counters magnificently with, “You’re under arrest.” As if to say, your omnipotence isn’t all-powerful. You can’t stop your incarceration. Spector makes his next move by mentioning her father. He hints that she wanted to be with him sexually. He hints that maybe this happened when she was a little girl. He hints that she must have liked it, if it did happen. Spector needs to overpower her in some regard. He needs to harm her emotionally. He feeds off this pain, like some depraved beast.
I won’t ruin the outcome of the interrogation – or how this episode ends. I will say that by the end we are perfectly set-up for another season of THE FALL. I hope it’s popular enough that we will see more episodes. Even with an arrest, there is still more to explore, like a trial. There is still Rose to contend with. There is still room for more understanding.
Stella confronted Spector with footage earlier. She specifically showed the clip where he talks to the video camera and says, “Why the f**k are you watching this? You sick f**k.” She asks what we were thinking last episode. Who is he saying this to? Himself? Stella? Or as Stella said this episode, “The viewing audience at home”. Wow. I didn’t think of that before. That IS illuminating. For each of these possible outcomes the answer(?) remains the same… Because of understanding. We want to know how man can descend to such primal acts of sexual violence on another. Why can one man do this, when the other can’t?
THE FALL is much more about the journey than the final result. Thus far, while the road may have been dark, it has been illuminated along the way, just enough so that we can make out forms – just enough so that we can draw our own conclusions. What is it that we are looking at? And why are we looking?
I’ll close this analysis on a revelation from Stella. She talks of why a man fears a woman: “Because she might laugh at me.” While a woman fears a man “because he might kill me.”
What do you make of this statement?
What do you think about THE FALL as a whole?
Are you striving for that same understanding?
Are you compelled by the darkness of man?
Or do you just enjoy watching a good mystery unfold? Do you like seeing how someone puts together all the pieces of a puzzle to get a complete picture?