The Fall: 2.01

In many ways it’s a funny thing to have been pining for the return of The Fall. As one of the most unsettling, unpleasant thrillers seen for many a year it’s not normally something you can’t wait to see more of. The performances (and looks) of Jamie Dornan (as Paul Spector) and Gillian Anderson (as DSI Stella Gibson) really gave the series its edge, and the writing from Allan Cubitt was outstanding. Well reviewed with a decent audience the second series has a lot to live up to.

Judging by this opening episode it’ll be fine. There are gentle reminders of the last series to bring things up to speed quickly: the phone call with his daughter, the scene with the schoolgirl babysitter Katie, the voicemail from his wife. The writing is clever and not sledgehammer, building on the themes and tensions of the first series.

Possibly in response to some of the criticisms of the first series the impact of the crimes on two of Spector’s former victims is laid bare with his ex-girlfriend still not able to live a life free from his presence, and his most recent victim mentally tortured by events at the tail end of series one. Add in a couple of scenes that make clear the victims mustn’t be forgotten, and you can see that Cubitt was clearly stung by that negativity surrounding the portrayal of women.

There are some nice new nuances too, the scene of DSI Gibson now working with a team, showing her in a group setting for almost the first time whilst also showing the growth of the investigation. And Spector is now more of a lonely figure, split from his wife and daughter he has less cover; the scene on the train in particular was balanced on the edge of believable.

Some of the most effective scenes in the first series involved Spector wandering around other peoples houses; they were freaky and felt surprisingly realistic. Good news then that there are plenty more in this opening hour. The framing of Spector watching his teenage babysitters house from the rain was well done and enough to get nerves on edge but worse was to come. The final scenes where Gibson’s breakthrough in the case was nicely contrasted with the horror playing out at police witness / former girlfriend Rose’s house with her cute as a button little girl and Spector playing nursery rhyme in the bathroom. Tense doesn’t do it justice.

A quick word for the continuing excellence of Anderson and Dornan, they excel in their roles here and are ably supported by all around them. Almost the perfect start then to series two. The next five Thursday nights won’t be the usual cheery lead in to Christmas, but they’re certain to be enthralling.

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