So… it is over. Two series over two years and the suspense is done. We can walk the streets of south Belfast without feeling the fear anymore. The Fall has been a phenomenon. I am not sure I have ever spoken to more people about a television series. For sure, those of us watching in Belfast were even more intrigued. I know that street. I used to live across the road from that house. I know him. Oh look there is my daughter! Indeed Jasmine appeared in her school during the first series! So what are the conclusions, now that the credits have rolled for the final time.
Well, for me the success of The Fall was the suspense created. One evening we headed to shop after watching an episode and I found myself looking over my shoulder in an underground car park, more than a little spooked! Maybe for those of us familiar with the setting it made the fear a little more real. Anyway, for me that was the strength of the series.
The script was not as strong. There were so many contrived situations and scenes that simply wouldn’t happen in real life. Perhaps the last 10 minutes while looking for Rose in the forest was most far fetched of all but we were still gripped even when we could see exactly what was about to happen. That is perhaps down to the superb performances by Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan who play such complex and fascinating characters. Dornan’s murderer Spector gives just enough glimpses of light to perplex and Anderson’s Deputy Inspector Stella Gibson has more than enough tints of darkness to keep you wondering!
My theo-TVologist’s head was working over time too. I have no idea about writer Allan Cubitt’s theological interest or intention but the title The Fall has theological resonance. That all came to out in the last episode as Spector and Gibson finally eyeballed each other. That, perhaps too lengthy, interview saw Spector rather surprisingly confessional. Not only that but his answers were a succinct psychology of the Serial Killer. It is here that Spector tells us how killing made him feel like God and how when he was killing his senses were sharper than a normal person, like Stella for instance! He speaks about being outside the law secular and religious. It all has the marks of the Biblical fall in Eden when Adam and Eve reached outside the law too, seeking that spectacular taste, longing to be God; reaching beyond themselves and and becoming less!
Where The Fall was maybe most successful of all was revealing that there are splinters of this fall in all of our souls. Just before Stella goes in to interview Spector she let’s her colleague A.C.C. John Burns uncomfortably understand this very fact, reminding him of the evening he crossed the line in his sexual advances towards her. She spoke from her own self awareness. Gibson’s sexual ethics and actions throughout the series cross a variety of lines. Writer Allan Cubitt has said that his aim was to show that we are all on the continuum. We might not be as far down that continuum as Spector but we all have our fallen flaws. Theologically accurate says the Presbyterian minister.
As I have said the script at times was as suspect as Paul Spector. There were also perhaps a one or two episodes that ran on the spot a little. We could have done with a couple less. All in all though The Fall was a huge success and there will be demand for another series for sure. It has made Jamie Dornan a star. Gillian Anderson’s stock has risen again. Belfast has come out of it well even if it showed that we can murder even without The Troubles. No doubt we would be quickly sucked in to another series. However, if it was set in Macclesfield I might not!
In the end from a theo-TVologists perspective redemption is sadly never explored. What justice should look like for Spector ricochets all around the forest in those final scenes. Grace might be a good title for the rumoured third series but the suspense that was so powerful might be trickier to conjure in a plot with more light!