ACORN MEDIA OUT NOW
The pyschological thriller returns for a gripping third, and possibly final, series.
This series has always excelled at tension and stealth – those moments where Gillian Anderson’s measured delivery sets the pace or when Jamie Dornan’s stare speaks volumes.
So if the third (final?) series of Allan Cubitt’s cop versus killer drama seems to jump the shark so often that it needs water skis, it also succeeds as a sustained mystery and a character piece, one which leaves room for self-interrogation while making palms sweat.
Series 2’s climax saw killer Paul Spector (Dornan) shot and being cradled by Anderson’s DSI Stella Gibson while she ignored a wounded colleague (and lover) nearby. Some Fonz-grade shark-jumping follows, as Spector survives, with amnesia blotting his crimes from memory. This can seem like forced plotting or worse, as old murders are revisited for the amnesiac Spector’s benefit.
Spector may be “malingering” and that ambiguity is milked for tension. The moment he wakes up in the care of a nurse (Aisling Bea) who resembles his victims is a scream-at-the-screen moment. And it’s drawn out, with shots of Spector in bed, behind his nurse, just out of focus and perhaps plotting…
Yet Season 3 isn’t all about Spector. If the first two series made Gibson too ambiguous, almost to the point where she was defined largely by her relationship with Spector, the third corrects that. Gibson nails her professional motives for saving him, and we discover more about her during an electric exchange with Spector fan Katie (Aisling Franciosi). And during one scene, Gibson dissects Spector’s dubious appeal when she lacerates his desire for an audience – the scene ends horrifyingly, but not before her verbal takedown makes us punch the air.
Not that Series 3 is fault-free. The soft-spoken therapist (Krister Henriksson, Wallander) working with Spector verges on Freudian parody, while John Lynch’s Jim Burns is reduced to a plot device, his exit full of loose ends. Yet perhaps that’s the point. We get a satisfying climax but Cubitt’s intent to mess with his own drama’s precepts extends to questioning tidy ending clichés. One certainty emerges: by tipping his scales towards Gibson, Cubitt has earned interest in a fourth series of The Fall.
Series 3 sees Dsi gibson nail her professional motives for saving serial killer Paul Spector.