TV REVIEW: The Fall - Episode Five

The Fall reaches its final episode, following immediately on from last week's as Spector botches the murder of his next victim and Gibson begins to close in on his profile.

Leaving his victim alive after being interrupted by her boyfriend, Spector (Jamie Dornan) flees the scene but the for the first time, leaves evidence behind. Gibson (Gillian Anderson) becomes even more determined to catch the killer and doggedly begins to pursue all leads, becoming increasingly focused. Spector finds himself going to the police when CCTV footage crops up of him and his daughter at the park near the third victim Sarah Kay and he goes in to 'rule himself out' of the investigation. Oh the irony. Elsewhere, the investigations into the police corruption closes in on the Munro family, but the Chief Constable (John Lynch) finds himself possibly implicated after the suspect flees the country.

First of all, the good points, of which there were many. Technically speaking, this was one of the more interesting episodes for the use of sound. Often non-existent apart from generic background noise, sound has been something not wholly utilised throughout the series in favour of creating a quieter, more suspenseful atmosphere. In this episode on the other, the soundscape was ramped up; Spector's murder attempt here was loud, noisy and chaotic, completely contrasting with his earlier, almost entirely silent killings. Whilst the action on the screen naturally showcased the difference, it was the sound that emphasised it. We're not used to hearing Spector make quite so much noise.

The thematic symbolism was once again present across the episode and with all the analysing I've done of the references across these reviews, there was one gaping hole that I'd missed. Once again, there were plenty of references to light and dark throughout the episode, often contrasted visually with the brightly lit world of Gibson with the shadowy world of Spector. And that's what I'd missed. Throughout each episode, I'd not noticed his name; he's a spectre, a ghost, a shadow that is yet to be caught. I'm slightly ashamed of myself.

Dornan has been the breakout star of this series, not only portraying the underlying psychosis in Spector brilliantly, but also making the other side of his character, the mostly mild-mannered Paul, equally compelling. He's also handled the blending of the two well and it was in this episode that the crossovers became more apparent. Dealing with his wife (Bronagh Waugh) was a tense moment as it was never exactly clear whether she would survive the 'revelation' that he's supposedly been having an affair with the 15 year old babysitter. Speaking of which, his encounter with the babysitter just left me shouting 'Run!' at the screen. Again, another scene in which the outcome was uncertain because Dornan brought both aspects of Spector to the fore.

The idea of the doubling became one of the more overt themes in the episode through a conversation between Gibson and the pathologist. It's not been mentioned outright before but Gibson has since deduced that the killer has a family and therefore must be living two lives, just as she does herself. The comparisons between Spector and Gibson were made explicit by Spector in their conversation. Well-written, tense and beautifully performed by the two stars, the conversation was everything that had made this show so great; a battle of wits, drawn on the lines of both good and evil, but also of gender as Gibson declared the killings to be 'age-old misogyny'. The depiction of female characters in this show has been something to be applauded and it is always refreshing to see a female character like Gibson coming out with such emphatic feminist statements. More please.

And so we come to the ending, which I'm sure left a lot of people feeling slightly disappointed, despite knowing that a second series had been commissioned. Spector drives away with his family, moving to Scotland on a make-or-break trip to fix his broken marriage (poor Sally-Ann, she really doesn't have a clue). Gibson has been told by the killer himself that he is simply leaving, he's finished and there will be no more killings. We know he doesn't like to leave things unfinished and his latest victim is still alive, recovering in hospital from his attack. There is also the unfolding obsession with Gibson herself that may be brought out next series, likewise her obsession with him.

However, it was all a bit anti-climactic. One of the best aspects about The Fall was just how tense it was on any given moment but, apart from the outstanding phone conversation, the final scenes felt a bit flat. Had the series not been re-commissioned, the final shots of Spector driving away with his family and Gibson unsuccessful in her quest to catch the killer would have been outrageously annoying. Neat resolutions may not always happen in the real world but we expect it to in television dramas and I'm grateful The Fall is returning, otherwise that would have been a disappointing conclusion.

I'm still not entirely sure what I make of this episode, which is why this review has been delayed a little. It was good, very good in parts, but it was also quite unsatisfying in others. However, that ending proved a little unsatisfying; had The Fall not been recommissioned for a second series, it could possibly have become one of the most infuriating endings in television, but fortunately it hasn't and so the second series will continue the Spector/Gibson chase.

- Becky

You can read Becky's review of Episode Four here.

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