The Fall review: all set up for a fall – or a riveting endgame

The cat-and-mouse game between Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan takes some grisly twists as the third series of the hit drama begins

Gillian Anderson as  DSI Stella Gibson in series three of The Fall. Photograph: Helen Sloan

Gillian Anderson as DSI Stella Gibson in series three of The Fall. Photograph: Helen Sloan

 

So, Det Supt Stella Gibson has got her man. Paul Spector, the handsomest serial killer on our screens, is in custody, and he’s singing like a bird, confessing to all his crimes and even leading Gibson to the spot deep in the woods where he left Rose Stagg, the last person he abducted. Case closed.

Except, as viewers of the last series of The Fall (Sunday, RTÉ One) know, it didn’t end so tidily. Not when you’ve got a hit series on your hands that pulls in a huge viewership in the UK and Ireland, and has been sold in 200 countries, including the US via Netflix. Just as the police found Rose (in the boot of a car, still alive but in critical condition), a vengeful Jimmy Tyler, who had followed the police party to the woods, shot Spector several times before being killed by police. The series ended with Spector cradled in Gibson’s arms as she desperately called for medical help for her prisoner.

Now we’re at the start of series three, and wondering where on earth can scriptwriter Allan Cubitt go from here. We’ve been told this is the final act, and we’re promised the cat-and-mouse game between Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and Spector (Jamie Dornan) will take some more twists and turns before it all ends.

Series three opens with Spector being rushed by ambulance to Belfast General Hospital, where an ICU team is waiting to tend to his horrific injuries. What follows is far from your cliched emergency department sequence. No doctors shouting “clear!” or “dammit, we need more morphine now!” The medical staff speak like real medical staff – the actors (including Richard Coyle, Hugh O’Conor and Aisling Bea) should be up for an award just for learning these lines.

We are taken clinically through every gory step of Spector’s treatment (queasy viewers beware: spleens and viscera in full HD). But it all feels like a delaying tactic while the writer decides where to go with the story arc.

Big box-office

In the interim between the second and third series, Jamie Dornan has become big box-office, starring in Fifty Shades of Grey (he’s also in the new Netflix film The Siege of Jadotville, about an Irish battalion in the Congo in the 1960s). He doesn’t get much to do here as Spector, being unconscious for the entire episode, but we do see him running through a symbolic tunnel as his life hangs in the balance.

It’s a totally unnecessary scene, but hey, viewers need to be reminded how handsome Dornan is under all that blood. As for Anderson, she recently returned to her role as Dana Scully in a new series of The X-Files, but this is the part that really fits her well.

So, an engaging enough opening, if treading blood a bit, but hopefully the show is setting the scene for a gripping endgame and not setting itself up for a fall.

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