The BBC cop procedural / thriller The Fall is a gut-wrenching miniseries split into two stories. It examines the daily life of a serial killer (Jamie Dornan, who has been cast as Christian Grey in the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey film) and the driven genius police inspector (Gillian Anderson) who trails him.
The series debuted in May of this year, the highest rated drama premiere on BBC Two in eight years. It’s not surprising; the series is addictive, grisly, intellectual, and cool, set against the steel grey of Belfast skies and city.
A man has been kidnapping and killing dark haired young women throughout the city. The local constabulary won’t call it a serial killer for fear of creating a panic. The investigation is going nowhere, so Stella Gibson, an inspector from London is sent to Belfast to take charge. She had worked in that Belfast constabulary a few years earlier. Now she is in charge of her former boss and lovers.
Paul Spector is a grief counsellor, married to a nurse and living an average life. They have two young children, a girl and a boy. He is a doting dad. He plays with them, feeds them and takes them to school and is hands-on in every aspect of their upbringing. He’s an athlete, and runs late at night after the kids are in bed, and builds his strength every waking moment. He needs to be strong. He is the serial killer and his rituals involve great power.
The Fall is tight, sparingly and beautifully written and well-constructed. Its two part format allows us to follow the days and nights of these characters as they go about their business and in tiny increments, move towards each other in real time. It’s inventive and unique and one of a kind. The series builds to an excruciating level of tension over five episodes.
The Fall is packed with detail and despite its relatively short time of 340 minutes, it touches upon many complicated and fascinating aspects of the case, police work, and of the human condition. We see the wisdom of children, the role of instinct in our lives, the way we ignore things we know deep down to be true and present. We see warnings ignored, unfounded fears, and the heart of a killer in a man who is soft hearted and emotionally in touch with himself. There are children who are wise beyond comprehension, the sexually crippled, broken and hopeful people, politics in the workplace and the function of memory. The Fall is an intelligent treat, and further evidence that we are in a new Golden Age of Television.
The Fall is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.