Review: Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson return in high stakes opener of The Fall (contains spoilers)
Whether or not The Fall has been worth 11 hours of anyone’s time, let alone deserving of six more, is open to debate.
It would probably have been better if Alan Cubitt’s psycho-sexual serial killer thriller had wound up the cat-and-mouse game between ice-cold detective Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and seductive murderer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) at the end of what was a mostly gripping first season.
Instead, Cubitt had Spector escaping Stella’s clutches by hightailing it from Belfast to a new life in Scotland with his wife and children, only to swiftly return and resume his campaign of terror and taunting.
So on and bloody on and bloody on it went, interminably and implausibly and frequently very tediously.
Cubitt succeeded Jakob Verbruggen as director; he isn’t the first person to demonstrate that the writer is not always the one on set best qualified to shout “Cut!” on their own material.
The second season left two questions dangling. 1) Would Spector survive his gunshot wounds? 2) How would Cubitt prolong a story whose credibility had already been stretched to snapping point?
The answer to that last one seems to be by turning the speed knob from “snail” to “glacier”. If you thought the previous season of The Fall was on the slow side, last night’s episode barely stirred at all. I’ve seen clouds on a perfectly calm summer’s day move faster.
Between the spurts of sparse dialogue, dragged-out shots of dimly-lit rooms and corridors (a regrettable legacy of Scandi noir), and long periods of staring into space, there was enough padding here to insulate an attic.
As for Spector, of course he’s survived! Was there ever any doubt that he wouldn’t?
Pretty much the entire first episode was set inside Belfast General Hospital as the medical team – including new cast arrivals Aisling Bea as a nurse and Richard Coyle as the kind of sparky, wisecracking doctor that exists only inside writers’ heads – fought to keep him alive.
Blood, guts and medical jargon geysered all over the emergency room, covering every wall and floor in sight. It was all “50 systolic” this and “80 systolic” that – a load of systolics, if you ask me – and akin to watching a post-watershed, post-bloodshed episode of Casualty or Holby City.
Gibson’s colleague and toyboy lover Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan) also lived to pout moodily another day – although given he took a bullet through the elbow, he might not be using his left hand to feel collars ever again.
Poor Tom was understandably miffed over the fact that Stella was cradling Spector and not him in her arms after the shooting. “Why did you run to him?” he asked. “You seemed ... anguished.”
No shit, Sherlock? Maybe that shattered elbow is the best thing to happen to Tom. If he’s figuring out only now that there’s more to Stella’s obsession with Spector than the purely professional, he’s quite possibly in the wrong job.
Meanwhile, Jim Burns (Eric Cantona lookalike John Lynch) turned up at the hospital to grimly inform Stella that he’d be the one talking to the swarm of reporters gathered outside the hospital.
All of which brings up another burning question: when is someone going to cast Lynch in a role where he actually gets to crack a smile?