The Fall Blog: Season Three – Episode One

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The Fall is yet to slip. Starting where we left Series Two – gunshots from a madman in a secluded wood – we are pulled directly into the lightless tunnel, otherwise known as one of Britain’s best detective dramas: The Fall.

Only, what’s this? A light at the end of the tunnel. Fifty Shades of Grey has not turned Northern Ireland’s Hollywood expat, Jamie Dornan, anything but black. Here he plays the darker-than-night “Belfast Strangler”, Paul Spector, who has a thing for pretty, professional brunettes in their early 30s. The only problem being his ‘thing’ is that he likes to bind, torture and murder his victims.

Spector no longer targets poor, helpless innocents. Instead, he is in a battle for his soul. This is no state of limbo, but a fight for life. Chucked into the ambulance, we race to A&E. Cue terrifically bright, electric lights. The last vestige of life leaving the strangler.

Then, the light pours forth as Spector idly strolls down a nondescript tunnel. Things take a turn for the Life On Mars/Ashes To Ashes as we dip into the subconscious soul of the almost departed murderer. Cry onward for the voice of his mother!

An afterlife for a murderer? Possibly, but the voice of his young daughter, Olivia (a hauntingly faced Sarah Beattie) pulls her father back from the abyss.

Episode One of the third series of The Fall offers no shocks. Spector wakes up. His eyes flash open in the final shot. The writers plant obvious seeds of future plot development. The first thing Spector spreads his eager gaze upon is his nurse.

Brunette, beautiful, a professional. Exactly his type. Vulnerable. All he needs is a bit of strength and recuperation. His full-time carer looks prime for the taking. If, indeed, this does not transpire to be a spoiler, I’ll eat my critical hat.

The Fall has previously been anything but blatant. At times, this episode felt like a pilot. Setting the scene for the new series; titillating, but not satisfying fully. After two series of sustained and pulsating brilliance, we are right to expect a lot from director and writer Allan Cubitt’s brainchild.

What was absent in character progression was gained in the realistic portrait of sustaining a life against the odds. On arrival at Belfast General Hospital, it looks unlikely that Spector will see it through. He has sustained a superficial bullet wound and another that has wound its way into his spleen, causing significant blood loss.

The Fall has never been one for the faint-hearted. The graphic, detailed visuals of Intensive Care will leave the squeamish squirming and the brave tottering. An average viewer will turn away at least once as the sterile, clean environment becomes besmirched and bespattered with the blood of our protagonist.

The moral dilemma for the early arc of the series is then painted in broad brushstrokes to rival the red stains bleeding down the walls. The doctors charged with returning our serial killer to top (strangling) form struggle to find faith in their mission. Leaving Dr O’Donnell (Richard Coyle) to reaffirm their commitment to provide service to the most urgent case, irrespective of who they are.

Well, that’s good to know. However bad things may be, even as a multi-murdering maniac, if your victim damages you severely, you’ll get treatment first. And that, my friends, is medical justice.

Medical justice that keeps a tetchy, panic stricken Stella (Gillian Anderson) at the edge of sanity. She is desperate to keep Spector alive so he can go to trial and meet his justice. It is a low key episode for Anderson’s DSI Gibson – a feat, considering Dornan’s dormant dominance despite his character’s immobility.

But the majesty of the series has always been the dual plots of Spector the Strangler and Stella the Detective as they go head-to-head, lurking on the coattails of each other’s existence, leaving us to send a somewhat strange open letter:

Dear Mr “Belfast Strangler”,

Get Well Soon.

Palatinate

Episode Two airs Thursday 9PM, be there on BBC2.

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