Season three of The Fall was the real deal and the BBC have created a good follow up to the previous action-packed seasons. I loved the third season. The Fall is one of the BBC’s most engaging crime dramas to date, even if many thought season three was a let down. Season three was a risk taker with it’s well-paced yet slow storytelling, looking at Spector’s origins story under a microscope and how the Belfast PD reacted to his past activities.
Season 2 ended with Spector (Jamie Dornan) fighting for his life after being shot in the woods whilst in police custody. The first two episodes of season three were something like Casualty meets Happy Valley, a medical show with a police presence. They were tasked to keep Paul alive while Gibson (Gillian Anderson) gazed in anticipation. Whilst seasons one and two were a chase between cat and mouse, season three follows Spector with Gibson and the Belfast police acting as silent watchers.
When DS Anderson (Colin Morgan) was shot at the same time as Spector, he pulls Stella up on her fits of emotion over Spector’s condition. She tells him that she didn’t want him to escape that easily. She wants him to rot in jail for everybody he’s killed and the lives he’s destroyed. As an audience, we know there’s more to this than meets the eye. If it was that simple, this show wouldn’t be so engaging. Quite frankly, the Gibson/Spector relationship is too much fun to watch.
This show has pushed the notion that women are powerless to Paul Spector’s cunning charms, and that often leads to their demise or near-death, as we saw with Rose (Valene Kane). In Gibson’s case, it has become an unhealthy obsession with bringing him to justice and the man himself. With Paul, it is very much the same, wanting to be the centre of Stella’s attention and to eventually, wipe her out. They both get kicks out of playing psychotic games with each other.
Would season three have been better if our killer had died in the shooting? No, I don’t think so. That would have been too easy and we wouldn’t have received the glorious tome that was season three. Paul clung to his life and we received a new twist when he woke up. Added to his latest thread of lies is amnesia. Spector convincing the police he had amnesia is one of the greatest trolls since James McNulty (Dominic West) persuaded Baltimore PD to do actual police work in HBO’s The Wire.
BBC’s The Fall provoked us to question the origins of Paul Spector. Who is he? Where does he come from? Why is he a bloodthirsty killer and sexual predator? Is he really a victim of brain trauma or is this another one of his entertaining mind games? Of course, Stella remains the cynic, and ultimately says that he’s desperate for attention, which ends in him releasing some of that Spector violence that we’ve become accustomed to through the series.
Paul’s origins story is told well. We are told about an abusive upbringing and how we was consistently raped by the clergyman of his orphanage. Stella cautions Paul’s therapist that his upbringing should not impair his judgement about the fact that Paul is serial killer. Don’t let his childhood cloud your judgement of his current misdemeanours. Why explore this if you don’t want our judgement to get clouded? Well, the answer to that is the creatives wanted to add more greyness to an already grey series. Moral ambiguity is the name of the game, and they were successful in this task. Quite frankly, it’s just more horror and I welcome it.
The final act had Stella with a weight off her shoulders. Spector had killed himself in some sense of vigilante justice. He’d never go to jail and that would haunt the Belfast PD forever, and Gibson. In essence, he’s the one that got away. Even when you win, you still lose. Yet, she is relieved that it’s over as she takes a glass of wine in her kitchen looking through copious amounts of letters. Burns has stepped down, Belfast is in recovery and many of the female officers have now found a role model in Gibson…not sure if I would but they don’t know her like we do.
All in all, this was an excellent season. It closed the main storyline well and if they do a fourth season, which I hope they do, they need to give it to Stella. Burns has resigned and the Belfast PD is in a state of disarray. Season four should follow Stella in the aftermath of The Belfast Strangler. A number of strong characters now see Stella as a leader and not just some English foreigner come to rule them. In season four, we should be witness to a brand new case that follows Stella with her moral conundrums in her life after the case that nearly killed her.