The moment’s arrived – the dark and creepy drama that is The Fall sadly concluded its first series last night. Following Paul’s most recent attack going awry at the end of episode four – or as Stella (Gillian Anderson) succinctly put it towards the end of this episode, he ‘fucked up’ – the series one finale opened with Stella being called to the scene of the crime while Paul ran for his life. Unfortunately for him, Paul’s latest victim, Annie Brawley (Karen Hassan), is still alive – albeit in a coma.
There’s a second close-call for Paul this episode, as the police release CCTV footage of Sarah Kay (Laura Donnelly) walking through the Botanical Gardens shortly before her death, where he happens to be visiting with his daughter, Olivia. His wife, Sally (Bronagh Waugh), encourages him to come forward to be interviewed, which leads to Stella and Paul finally crossing paths, momentarily exchanging glances in a hallway at the police headquarters.
Giving details to the police about his whereabouts that day ends up requiring Sally to lie to the police, after they call her to verify Paul’s story. When he later returns home, Sally confronts him. He confesses that he wasn’t at work as he no longer works for the Suicide Helpline, and that he’s actually been having an affair. With Katie. Their 15-year-old babysitter. Apparently he wasn’t in enough of a mess by being a murderer, he wants to be branded a paedophile.
Somehow, Sally and Paul end up partially reconciled, even indulging in some angry sex where she reveals she’s pregnant again. Feeling like she has no other choice due to not wanting the children to grow up without their father knowing the effect it seems to have had on Paul, Sally agrees to try and work things out with Paul by moving away, though clarifies that she’s ‘promising nothing’.
The episode and indeed series comes to a close with Paul and Stella having their first conversation on the phone where he informs her it’s supposedly over, that he’s ‘walking away’, while she gives him a dressing down when he claims they’re alike: ‘You’re a slave to your desires. You have no control at all. You’re weak; impotent. You think you’re some kind of artist, but you’re not.’ After a pointed exchange, Stella says it won’t be over until she stops him. Paul is smugly incredulous, but is noticeably freaked out when Stella reams off the accurate information she’s already pieced together about him. After throwing the mobile away he used to call Stella, Paul is seen driving off with his family, cheerfully singing along. For a second, you are lead to believe that perhaps he is ending his murderous crime spree, that he’s going to start over. That is until you see flashes of his thoughts, those of him reliving the Annie Brawley attack.
The Fall has been a compelling and welcome addition to the BBC schedules, with a faultless cast. Its two leads, Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan, have both been brilliant. In their supporting roles as Jim Burns and Sally Spector respectively, John Lynch and Bronagh Waugh have also been superb, the latter particularly so in this episode. Our main hope for series two is that Archie Panjabi as Professor Reed gets some more screen time.
If there was to be one main criticism levelled at The Fall series one finale, it’s that it felt more like a mid-season turning point and not the end of the run. To compare it to its peers, such as the brilliant The Killing that was a only a quarter of the way through its first series by episode five, it feels wrong for The Fall to be ending its initial run so soon. This episode feels like the correct place for it to be after five episodes – it just shouldn’t be the end of the series.
Series two has been commissioned with all the main actors signed on to reappear, though filming isn’t going to start until January 2014, making it likely to air at a similar, if not later, point next year. While it’s quite right that high quality drama takes time to write and produce, it would perhaps have been cleaner to contain the case of Paul Spector within a single series of maybe 10 episodes, rather than dragging it out across multiple seasons and calendar years. Looking ahead, will the entire run of The Fall – however long that may be – be centred around Paul’s killing spree, or will another case take over in a later series? These niggles aside, The Fall will undoubtedly have us glued, watching every glorious moment of it.
If you missed it or want to watch it all over again, The Fall is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer.