TV REVIEW: The Fall - Episode Four

The Fall continues to unsettle as Gibson rounds in on the killer who just happens to be closing in on his next victim.


The third episode of The Fall has possibly been the peak so far in terms of quality and the fourth episode had a tough act to follow. However, it has more than a few cards up its sleeve as everything in the grim Belfast police station we have become accustomed to seeing starts to unravel. The police corruption subplot has been an interesting addition to what many, including myself, thought was just going to be another slow-burning serial killer drama. The shooting of James Olsen (Ben Peel) as a result of his arrest of a well-known criminal was one of the more shocking moments in the series so far, particularly thanks to his dalliance with main character Gibson (Gillian Anderson). Then came the scene in which Chief of Police Rob Breedlove (Michael McElhatton) chose death before dishonour.

The claustrophobic interview between Matthew Eastwood (Stuart Graham) and Breedlove was technically brilliant, the camera getting closer and closer to McElhatton's face as he found himself increasingly hemmed in by his own corruption. The shooting itself was thankfully off-screen though no less unsettling as we observe the consequences unfold post-suicide. It was also another reminder of Gibson's cold efficiency as she has to deal with the situation, despite not being privy to the details. It tied in well with the previous scene in which she paints her nails with the same colour that was found on Spector's victim in the second episode.

Speaking of Spector, it was another fantastic performance from Dornan this week who has gone from strength to strength has the series has developed. In the first episode, Paul's two lives were kept very separate by his rigid, methodical approach to both killing and parenting (not a sentence I'd ever thought I'd write). However, as the narrative has progressed, the two have begun to slip and slide into each other as his control breaks. His interview with his superior colleagues was a great example of this as he paradoxically protected a woman from her husband whilst displaying some psychotic behaviour to his boss. The letter to his victim's father is another chilling moment; remorse not for the killing, but for the pregnancy.

There was, as is to be expected from this programme now, the intercut sequence in which we learn more information about a possible Spector attack and one actually taking place with disastrous consequences, connected to each other thematically. Unlike the previous crime, this one had the air of panic about it as Spector is caught early by his victim with someone else in the house. Alongside this, we're told about a spontaneous attack on a woman by a man she had had sex with earlier in the night, another unplanned moment lacking the methodical nature of the previous crime we were witness to. And, not to forget, this is where Spector makes his first mistake. He's not wearing gloves.

I'm also really loving how confidently cerebral this show is; last week we had Spector quoting T.S. Eliot and Gibson educating her colleagues in advanced gender studies and perception of women. This week, Spector includes a quote from Also Sprach Zarathustra by Nietzsche in his letter whilst Gibson gives a pertinent anthropology lecture. The references build into the wider themes of the show and there is a lot going on there. Moral conundrums naturally abound in a programme about a serial killer, but we also have analyses on the role of the media, particularly in the representation of women, the value of life and death, sexuality and honour all playing their own parts. It's a heady mix, but a fascinating one to discuss and untangle.

Like Broadchurch before it, The Fall has been largely successful in keeping me completely in the dark as to how the whole thing will unravel; the daughter has got to have something to do with it and of course, Spector's crime went spectacularly wrong this time. With it being renewed for another series and with reportedly all the leads signing on to reappear, I'm not entirely sure whether they will actually wrap up the Gibson/Spector storyline just yet. It's certainly an intriguing relationship and I can stand to see a little more of Dornan in the role.

- Becky

You can read Becky's review of the previous episode here.

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