The Fall: 1.05 - Series Finale Review

The Fall has fallen. Temporarily, at least - this was the final episode of series one, but the second has already been commissioned - and good job too, as this one leaves us gasping for it. But I'm getting ahead of myself - as seen at the end of last episode, serial killer Paul Specter (Jamie Dornan) and his police pursuer Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) are closing in on each other, particularly after Specter made a spectacular fuck-up of his latest kill attempt. Will it bring Gibson to his doorstep?

That would be a spoiler, I suppose - so, how was it? Did the end of this five-part crime-horror-drama saga live up to its creepy beginning? Check out the episode on iPlayer first if you fear spoilers more than you do Paul Specter.


Shame This Specter Can't Walk Through Walls

You gotta wonder after this fifth episode - was the second year always guaranteed? What happened if they didn't get recommissioned? Specter walks off into his creepy little sunset, marriage visibly shat on, whilst Stella Gibson waits in vain for a brain-damaged young woman to remember something? Well, thankfully we don't have to think about that, as the new series is a-coming, and I'll be there.

In the meantime, we got a decent smattering of finale drama, as Specter went from quietly getting away with it to right in the crosshairs after one gigantic mistake, unable to hide his double life from his wife or avoid the attention of the police. If anything, I'm surprised how far they pushed some aspects - surely Specter is screwed now? If I hadn't known this was the "finale", I'd feel like this was a six-part story, and next week we'd see Stella bring him down. They've got his daughter's picture, the photofit and now a conscious victim who's seen his face. Um, checkmate? For most crime stories, we'd now be one violent chase scene away from wrapping up.

So presumably they've got some more twists lined up next year - maybe the photofit isn't really Specter? Or he somehow lines up a really convincing fall-guy?

Flailing And The Finale Feeling

Anyway, this episode mostly shows Specter flailing desperately to cover up his screw-up and half-succeeding - he's as pragmatic and ruthless as Stella, but rather than existing as he really is, he maintains his mask of normality, even though it cracks and spills everywhere. Witness his terrifying expression when he's telling his wife "everything will be different" - I was half-expecting the end of that sentence to be "because you'll be dead". He's clearly losing control, making errors, and his new commitment to not killing anymore seems doomed to failure.

So things are accelerating, and I admit I'm excited for next series, but this finale did leave a slight sense of "Oh, was that it?". The phone call between Gibson and Specter, obviously meant to serve as the climactic high point of the entire damn episode - maybe even the first series - felt a tad overwrought at times, perhaps because writer Allan Cubitt was aware of the expectations upon it. I've enjoyed the stoic, quietly unspooling menance of Specter, so pushing him into villainous monologuing felt odd, like they were trying too hard to give us that Finale Feeling.

Oh, and the police corruption subplot limps onwards - I assume John Lynch had some contractual stipulation requiring his own subplot. At least it doesn't take too much time away from the good stuff.

Nonetheless, that was The Fall, and as a whole, I've really liked it. A police drama with drive, intelligence, an undercurrent of terror and an interest in tackling issues of misogyny and gender without (often) lecturing us, accompanied by good acting and gripping direction. Excellent work, in my opinion better than Broadchurch in the recent crime stakes - but there's room for both to exist, so everyone's happy. Looking forward to the next series already.

The Fall is no longer on television. Research its existence on the BBC's official The Fall site, and you've still got seven days to watch the entire run on iPlayer. I seriously recommend it. Good show.

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