The Fall Series 1 Episode 3 (BBC2) Review

In another absolutely stellar episode of BBC2’s The Fall, our two protagonists, both increasingly being painted in shades of grey, are being drawn closer and closer together. Paul Spector’s MO, to target women who are more powerful than him, is clarified in a way that pretty much draws a target over Stella’s face, and it’s only a matter of time before he moves past his faceless thirtysomething victims and goes after the holy grail of no-nonsense, sexually assertive, professional women.

But it’s confusing (in the best kind of way) when we’re being bombarded with reasons to empathise with Paul and his family at the same time as we’re seeing him stalk random women, construct creepy mannequins in abandoned houses and react blankly to the news that his three murders have been connected by the police. Gibson and her task force may be doing a bang up job of profiling their suspect, but I suspect that Spector’s downfall will actually come from much closer to home.

His daughter took even more prominence this week, as we learn that she’s much more aware of what’s been happening than Paul ever imagined. He tries his best to shield his family from his dark urges and night-time activities, at least feigning love and care for his children, but they aren’t as clueless as he’d hope. The mannequin that Paul constructs in an abandoned house he finds nearby has already been discovered by his daughter in the compartment above her bedroom, giving her some pretty disturbing nightmares that might cause Paul’s wife to grow a little suspicious.

We see a brief crack in his indifferent exterior when he discovers his latest victim’s pregnancy – it seems that, despite his otherwise reprehensible actions, children and family are something he knows to be sacred. He goes so far as to tear those pages out of his murder diary, but quickly moves on to a replacement. There’s also the babysitter, who I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of, and a woman he has been counselling, in the mix. It’s another striking contradiction in character when, upon discovering a bruise on his client, he chastises her husband for possible domestic abuse.

Something also gets through Stella’s hard exterior when she learns of James Olsen’s death, and has to explain their one-night stand again and again to judgemental male detectives. It would have been tempting for lesser writers to have this be the moment when Stella Gibson was humanised, but nothing in The Fall is that simple. It unsettles her that an assassinated man had been in her bed only hours before – but she could care less that he was married with a family, or that their encounter is frowned upon by the majority of her male colleagues.

What did you think of the episode? How long will it be before Stella and Paul’s paths cross? Let us know your thoughts and predictions in the comments below.

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