The Fall gives a sinister twist to those things which would otherwise be ‘normal’.
In addition to another gruesome murder, this episode The Fall sledge-hammers us with drugs, prostitution, corruption in high places, a shooting off-camera and another in cold-bloodied gangland style, all in graphic detail. These sub-plots all run parallel to the central story of the serial killer Paul Spector’s lone war against professional women in their 30s.
The first 10 minutes or so is of alternating scenes of DSI Stella Gibson bedding a young detective constable, no questions asked (she sees, she commands, she claims it her way), alongside scenes of Spector strangling and deliberating over his victim, then artfully arranging the body in bed and taking her picture. The synchronicity of empowerment makes the sex scene all the more uncomfortable to watch. As Spector leaves his victim’s house following a hard night’s ‘work’, Gibson’s hotel room door closes softly as her companion for the night leaves.
Gibson is subsequently forced to take charge of the investigation and Assistant Chief Constable Burns grudgingly begins to see that perhaps he has been suffering from ‘linkage blindness’ after all. But for the police corruption, Burns is an awful lot like the typical Hollywood small town cop incapable of picking out the bank robber wearing the ‘x marks the spot’ balaclava, carrying a swag bag with a printed dollar sign in plain view as he runs out of the bank.
The relationship between Spector and his daughter, Olivia has an ominous air as she intuitively begins to draw disturbing images at school. No doubt it doesn’t help that he’s hiding his bag of murderous evidence behind the door of the ceiling space above her bed, camouflaged behind the brightly coloured homemade hanging mobile.
Every time Spector goes near her, like when he washes her hair or winks and smiles at her reassuringly, I think I stop breathing in anticipation that some horror is about to befall her. For all his meticulous care with murdering, sanitising and presenting his victims, the signs that his family life is unravelling is beginning to emerge. What The Fall does particularly well is to give a sinister twist to those things which would otherwise be ‘normal’ and to draw you in emotionally to each character. Thinking you know what will happen next or that you’ve sussed out a character is just when the curveball hits you.
By the time blues harmonica legend, Sonny Boy Williamson begins singing “Help Me”, it’s clear that Spector’s actions are in fact a perverted scream for his own sake even as he must know he is beyond help and no one is capable of rescuing him. It is too late of course to help the women he sets his intentions on.
Odd. Whenever the voiceover at the start of a show says, ‘there may be some scenes which some viewers may find disturbing’, it never occurs to me that it’s something which applies to me. Brilliantly gritty stuff.