Get weekly recommendations and eBook deals in our newsletterSign up

Get weekly recommendations and eBook deals in our newsletter Sign up

The Fall series 3 review

Episodes: 6

Premiered: 2016

Duration: 1 hr

The story arc of Gillian Anderson’s Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and Jamie Dornan’s serial killer Paul Spector comes to a dramatic conclusion in this, the third – and quite probably final – series of Alan Cubitt’s incredible Northern Irish crime thriller, The Fall.

As Spector, now in police custody, recovers from being shot, Gibson prepares an interrogation that she hopes will see him confess and be convicted. But even in handcuffs, the handsome murderer proves to be quite uniquely dangerous…

Hard Sun co-stars Aisling Bea and Richard Coyle join the cast alongside none other than the original Mr Kurt Wallander himself, the Swedish actor Krister Henriksson.

Here’s Sarah Bond’s episode-by-episode The Fall series 3 review.

The Fall series 3 episode 1 review

Spoilers for The Fall series 3 episode 1 below.

WELL… or more to the point, seriously unwell, as ambulances, hospitals, doctors and buckets of blood and guts dominated my first taste of BBC Two’s hit psychological thriller The Fall. In truth, I was quite relieved.

Being somewhat squeamish about sadism, and being mindful of at least one savage critic who slated the first two series as being sick ‘extended rape fantasy’ and ‘torture porn’, I watched the long-awaited opener to series 3 with trepidation.

But apart from some fairly gratuitous close-ups of the killer’s pulsating, open stomach on the operating table, I was pleased to see this episode was far more about the psychology than sick sexual ordeals and killings. Blood and gristle I can take, albeit with only one squinting eye barely open.

Back to the big question of the night: Who, if any, survived the big shoot-out at the end of series two?

Millions of fans were left hovering in the air, with their brains whirring as much as the blades of the hapless helicopter which could not land to save the victims in the forest because there were too many trees. And they were stunned by lead cop Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), who is as icy cold as her bright blue ‘death stare’ eyes, suddenly letting rip with a flash of tear-stained emotion when she saw Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), the serial killer she had hunted for so long, lying prostrate on the ground, bleeding to death.

“We’re losing him!” was the tantalising wail viewers were left with as she gazed into his eyes, and he gazed back.

Well, we know he’s good looking, but really…

Meanwhile it was left to another policewoman to rush to Gibson’s actual lover, DS Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan), also lying flat on the forest floor.

The Fall series 3 episode 1

As series three began an ambulance finally turned up and the first half of the episode was spent in hospital, with loads of doctors and nurses fighting to save Spector. “He’s hypertensive and puking,” shouted one nurse, adding to the wince-factor. Fortunately, there was light relief with the advent of the witty Dr Joe O’Donnell (Richard Coyle) scattering one-liners like paracetamol in between strange tunnel scenes depicting Spector facing death.

And yes, there was the proverbial light at the end trying to draw him forward, along with a woman whom he thought was his dead mother calling him. But at the other end of the tunnel he heard his daughter and came back.

As well as having his spleen removed (and I am sure we all know how to do that now, after such detailed viewing) he needed gallons of blood. “Six units of house red,” called droll Dr O’Donnell when Spector was first stretchered in, but a lot more was poured out of him and into him after that. “Twice his blood volume – no expense spared!”

Twitter went into meltdown, thinking (with horror) that The Fall had landed on Planet Holby. But eventually it was over, and he was indeed saved.

O’Donnell’s idea of giving Detective Superintendent Gibson an update on her prisoner’s condition was: “I’m guessing he needs a spleen and a bucket. So he’s the Belfast Strangler? Wow.”

It was at this point it struck one young female doctor that they were keeping a serial killer’s heart beating, with four victims (so far). Talking to O’Donnell about Belfast city women living in fear, and asking random boyfriends to move in with them, she suddenly realised she, too, could have been targeted. “They were just young women living their lives like I live mine. That could have been me!” she said, wide-eyed.

But in a rare ‘worthy’ moment, he reminded her that saving lives was their sole mission in life, quoting his best doctor buddy in the military, who had sometimes had to treat Afghan insurgents ahead of his own troops, based on whose medical need was the greater. “If he was here he’d tell us it’s our duty to treat yer man humanely and protect him, even if he is a murdering bastard… allegedly.”

Eventually, dishy DS Anderson also turned up at the hospital, with a nurse telling Dr O’Donnell: “We’ve got another gunshot wound.” “What is this, the 70s?” he retorted,.

And then came the second biggest question of the night, when Gibson remembered to go and see how Anderson was doing too.

The Fall series 3 episode 1

Anderson, nursing a bloodied arm, echoed all our thoughts when he asked Gibson: “Why did you run to him?”

“What?” she said.

“The both of us were shot but you ran to him not me, all your concern was for him,” (big sniff).

“I could see his injuries were worse,” she struggled to explain.

“And you were crying out ‘we’re losing him’ – you sounded… anguished.”

Cue the brilliant blue Stella death stare. “I didn’t want it to end there, not like that, no court case, no sentence, no punishment, no closure for the families. I want him to live so that he can be tried and sentenced and spend the rest of his life in prison. If I sounded anguished, that’s why.”

Anderson gave an even bigger sniff. No, we don’t believe her either. I wonder if he remembered Spector giving him some unwelcome advice about sleeping with the boss in the last series: “If you haven’t done it yet, don’t. I’ve tasted both the fantasy and the deed. The fantasy is way more piquant.”

We last saw Anderson carrying his wounds home, and gazing out of the window at the city lights, as you do. In this drama everything is slow, dark and moody, and impregnated with meaning, even a visit to a hotel room. I blame Wallander.

Meanwhile, the reason everyone was in the forest in the first place was because Spector was leading them to kidnapped radiologist Rosie Stagg (a one-time girlfriend of Spector’s but now a married mum), found bruised and battered but just about alive in the boot of her car, where she was thought to have lain for four days.

As she was wheeled through to a suspiciously dark ward after treatment, a room perilously close to the comatose Spector, Gibson called out: “Rose, Rose you’re safe now. Everything’s going to be OK.” No wonder she spent the rest of the episode looking as though she knew she was utterly doomed.

And there was an awful feeling of foreboding haunting Spector’s room, too. Gibson spent an age looking long and hard at the spectre of Spector before being ordered out by a nurse. You can’t help but think that with brown hair she would be prime meat for him.

Crime stories are full of love-hate relationships between hunter and hunted. But long, lingering shots of Gibson’s face, and in her unexpectedly heartfelt advice to Rosie’s husband about how he could best help heal her, there were several hints that there’s much more to Gibson’s own story to be told. It sounded tellingly close to home, leading me to think this is personal for her for a far bigger reason than her profession.

As we left them all, we saw the killer left alone with the pretty nurse, Kiera Sheridan (played by comedian Aisling Bea), who fit his victim profile to a tee. The ominous music built to a ‘boom’ as first his hand flinched when she wasn’t looking, and then his evil eyes flashed open while her back was turned. Strangely, she seemed to sense something and momentarily froze before carrying on with her work. Did she feel a shiver down her spine, did she hear a change in his beeping pulse? Will she have the sense to get the heck out of there?

Earlier in the episode, Dr O’Donnell warned: “Things are about to get messy.” We can be sure he was right.

But whatever lies ahead, I am going to stick it out. I’m not ready to turn into Mary Whitehouse just yet…

Did you tune in for The Fall series 3 episode 1? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Sarah’s review of The Fall series 3 episode 2 here.

Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond

After her comedy-writing stepfather told her in childhood she would never get paid for watching television, Sarah Bond grew up to prove him very wrong (to his delight). After earning her journalistic stripes at the Brighton Evening Argus and Radio Times, she has written about TV for most of her career, mostly at the Daily Express and Daily Mirror, as well as writing film reviews for The People. Having also read every Agatha Christie book in her youth, she is potty about crime dramas, and soaks up plots faster than Pinot Grigio. Among the highlights of her career was getting a taste of life on the mean streets with the New York police, and meeting her heroine, Ruth Rendell, on location with Inspector Wexford.

Follow Sarah on Twitter.

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.

The Fall series 3 episode 2 review

Spoilers for The Fall series 3 episode 2 below. Still catching up? Read Sarah’s review of episode 1 here.

LONG, tall Stella had plenty of excuses to adopt her Detective Superintendent death stare as we joined her in edging carefully through episode two of The Fall last night, wondering what horror was going to strike, and when. With its dark, sombre rooms and montone music – which has a horrible habit of suddenly going ‘boom!’ – this show is really not good for the nerves.

But apart from killer-in-waiting Katie going berserk with lemon juice, leaving ‘traitor’ Daisy screaming “My eyes!” – plus another trip inside Spector’s blood-soaked stomach, and him later coming back to life ‘with a bang’ – it was reasonably safe.

Spector’s violent revival was mostly a huge shock for pretty Nurse Kiera. He may be out of it most of the time, but boy does he make the most of it when he does wake up. This time he shot upright choking on his throat pipe with his eyes red and bulging, even crossed at one point, as he grabbed her arm in a vicious grip and tried to rip out his tubes and wires. As she stood over the bed afterwards, propping herself up with her hands and taking deep breaths, I am pretty sure she was considering a rapid change of career. ‘Stuff the NHS crisis, I’m not going through that again.’ But sadly she seems in the killer’s grip in more ways than one.

After that, I much preferred him in the MRI scanner, where his head was firmly strapped down.

Elsewhere, it was a day of reckoning for the police chiefs, Stella and the hapless PC Ferrington after the shootings in the woods, with one man dead, an officer injured and Stella’s prime suspect in the serial killer case also nearly pegging it – while in her custody, and her arms…

Quickdraw Ferrington had already been suspended from frontline duties after she shot the shooter. But Stella had a genius solution: “Work with the task force. You know the case. You can be a real help in file preparation.”

Filing, yes, that’s a good way to perk anyone up.

The biggest death stare came when Stella faced her own interview with the ruthlessly efficient Jo Kinkhead, acting for the Police Ombudsman – who turned out to be a serious rival in the ice queen stakes. Spotting the tape recorder, Stella asked: “Am I being interviewed under caution?”

Yes, she was. Fair to say, they did not hit it off. Worse still, Stella lost the battle, crushed underfoot by Kinkhead’s icy criticisms. Come on girl, stop looking and sounding so tired of life, fight back.

The Fall series 3 episode 2

But the biggest story of the night came with a very clever twist that unfolded slowly in the intensive care unit at the hospital. After he lurched back to life, Spector gradually revealed he had lost his memory! He had no recollection of the shootings, or even being in police custody, and had no idea why the police could possibly have wanted him in the first place. Now that is a killer blow.

Or is it? With this cool cat and Machiavellian mouse crime drama you are never quite sure who is kidding us the most – Stella or Spector. At first, I thought it was a highly convenient act on Spector’s part, telling the doctor he thought he had been injured in a car crash – “Smashed windscreen… lost control.” Lost control maybe, but it wasn’t cars he was trashing.

You only had to look at kidnap victim Rose’s heart monitor going through the stratosphere when she caught a glimpse of her tormentor from her hospital bed. She was seriously freaked. I’d check out, love, go private! And she did indeed head home fast.

When the doctor tested his memory, Spector got the year wrong, thinking he was much younger than 32, and believed his daughter was still a tiny tot. Although, tellingly, he let slip his first name was Peter, not Paul…

But when his poor, despairing wife Sally finally turned up with young Olivia – who was desperate to see her darling daddy after reading all the horrid headlines online – you began to think, OMG – this is starting to look genuine. Can the memory loss be true? Spector looked genuinely confused as they entered the ward. “What’s happening?” he said – and to his daughter: “Why are you so big?”

Then to Sally: “And you, you look different… older.” Just the sort of thing to cheer this most morose of wives up.

But what really did it was the tear that suddenly rolled out of his eye: “What’s happening to me? Is this real?” Turning to his daughter again, he said: “I feel that I know you, that I love you.”

“You do love me daddy, and I love you, too,” she cried, moving in for a hug, while Sally sat silently in the corner gulping. It was so strange to see Spector apparently so vulnerable, though in this series that’s still a bit of a stretch.

The Fall series 3 episode 2

How lucky, then, that his wife hired a hot-shot defence lawyer much feared by the cops who turned out to be that nasty piece of work Loxley from Mr Selfridge (Aidan McArdle).

And that Stella made up for Spector’s loss of memory by stumbling upon his lock-up, and a pile of exercise books full of sinister pictures and notes depicting the degradation, and possible dreadful demise, of yet more women.

Are there really nine more victims? Has Spector really forgotten his strangling spree? Will Stella finally out-stare Kinkhead? Let’s see…

Did you tune in for The Fall series 3 episode 2? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Sarah’s review of The Fall series 3 episode 3 here.

Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond

After her comedy-writing stepfather told her in childhood she would never get paid for watching television, Sarah Bond grew up to prove him very wrong (to his delight). After earning her journalistic stripes at the Brighton Evening Argus and Radio Times, she has written about TV for most of her career, mostly at the Daily Express and Daily Mirror, as well as writing film reviews for The People. Having also read every Agatha Christie book in her youth, she is potty about crime dramas, and soaks up plots faster than Pinot Grigio. Among the highlights of her career was getting a taste of life on the mean streets with the New York police, and meeting her heroine, Ruth Rendell, on location with Inspector Wexford.

Follow Sarah on Twitter.

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.

The Fall series 3 episode 3 review

Spoilers for The Fall series 3 episode 3 below. Still catching up? Read Sarah’s review of episode 2 here.

I was saying ‘uh-oh’ before episode three of The Fall had even started, as the BBC announcer said: “Bringing Spector to justice is about to become even more difficult.” But the warning was for Detective Superintendent Stella, as we viewers already knew serial murder suspect Spector had supposedly lost his long-term memory – conveniently just enough to cover all the killings. Well, all the killings we knew about.

The episode opened with a forensic scientist and Stella separately poring over the sinister drawings of women that the police found in a series of exercise books in Spector’s lock-up, along with ladies’ underwear – a LOT of ladies’ underwear. And we can’t really imagine it was for him! One woman was drawn in underwear with her hands tied, another was prostrate on the ground with ‘dirty whore’ written on her back. On top of bondage, they detailed auto-asphyxiation. Not the kind of graphic novel you would ever pick off the shelf.

So Stella sent her team off to hunt for the women, with just their initials to go on. For instance: “A.S., who might be a journalist, who seems to wake up late every day and skip breakfast, who wears a cream robe after her bath, and sometimes doesn’t completely close her bedroom curtains.”

Hmmmm. Bit close to home.

With her laser eyes now glazed and dulled, and her voice growing ever croakier, Stella just about summoned up the strength to muse: “Are they just fantasies that sustain him, feed his appetites? Or are they a record – of nine more murders?”

Later on, dishy DS Anderson (who we are not seeing nearly enough of) came up with some intriguing goods relating to a man convicted of murder who was at the same children’s home as Spector. Wrongly convicted? Two killers? More of this twist to come.

We had another possible flicker of an insight into steely Stella’s hidden human side when she interviewed traumatised kidnap victim Rose Stagg: “Rose, remember you survived, you got through it, it’s in the past,” she whispered, suddenly looking downwards, as though talking to herself… or about herself.

the fall series 3 episode 3

Meanwhile, back at the dingy hospital – which seems to exist in a permanent night zone – a doctor continued to test Spector’s memory. He remembered his in-laws, that his own mother died and that his father wasn’t his father. Another possible clue to his twisted psyche. “When I was growing up he was known as Peter Baldwin. I thought that man was my real father, till he left us. My mother told me he wasn’t my real father, just a man.”

And though he’d heard of Facebook, he had no idea what Twitter was. “So you don’t know what a Tweet is, or Tweeting?” said Dr Walden. “The sound a bird makes?” he replied, reminding us of the far-far away era when we all thought that.

As to his moral character, the look Dr Walden gave him when he said quizzically: “I feel like I’m an all right person?” was utterly priceless.

He has so far convinced the doctors, but the police chiefs and DPP were another matter when Stella broke the bad news of Spector’s memory loss to them. ACC Burns asked the obvious question: “Are we meant to be taking this seriously?” ’Fraid so, guv.

But tough DPP Lowden wasn’t phased: “The law does not concern itself with the present state of mind of the criminal defendant, only with the state of mind at the time the crime was committed, and Spector’s was clearly conveyed in his confession… he will be held accountable.” Clearly an optimist. Those final five words are fatal.

And Spector certainly seemed to be on the ball looking for escape routes when he was taken down a hospital corridor for his appearance in court via video link. But he’s about to be moved from the hospital to a forensic clinic to face a whole new expert, Dr August Larson, and from what we have seen so far there are no flies on him!

On the pitifully sad side of things, the human Stella also tried to persuade them to drop the prosecution against Spector’s shattered wife Sally, for perverting the course of justice, but failed. This led to bleak shots of the now zombified Sally drugging her children with hot milk and taking them on quite the wrong kind of trip to the seaside. If she plunges them all into the waves that will no doubt send Spector over the edge, too, as the episode also showed just how much he adores his daughter.

This series takes the slow-drip approach to piling on the agony. The painful pace was slower than ever at this halfway point, leaving us feeling we are crawling through the plot on our stomachs, which is starting to get annoying. Like those twittering birds, we are being tossed mere breadcrumbs where other crime dramas serve up full loaves.

So once again we were left hungry for more, wondering just who is heading for that Fall? Please, please let the next three episodes bring some real action to show us!

Did you tune in for The Fall series 3 episode 3? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Sarah’s review of The Fall series 3 episode 4 here.

Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond

After her comedy-writing stepfather told her in childhood she would never get paid for watching television, Sarah Bond grew up to prove him very wrong (to his delight). After earning her journalistic stripes at the Brighton Evening Argus and Radio Times, she has written about TV for most of her career, mostly at the Daily Express and Daily Mirror, as well as writing film reviews for The People. Having also read every Agatha Christie book in her youth, she is potty about crime dramas, and soaks up plots faster than Pinot Grigio. Among the highlights of her career was getting a taste of life on the mean streets with the New York police, and meeting her heroine, Ruth Rendell, on location with Inspector Wexford.

Follow Sarah on Twitter.

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.

The Fall series 3 episode 4 review

Spoilers for The Fall series 3 episode 4 below. Still catching up? Read Sarah’s review of episode 3 here.

Yikes. I did ask for action – but I wasn’t expecting that!

Stella was back in the water, this time not swimming or showering, but drowning – with Spector’s hands round her throat. Ugh, or rather glug.

But it turned out to be that old TV cheat, a dream. Stella had her very own fright nightmare ahead of Halloween. Goosebumps all round, so to speak. The moral of such screen horrors is never take baths – although Hitchcock proved showers aren’t much safer. Hosepipe and bucket, anyone?

Having written it up in her dream diary, like you do, the doughty Detective Super still made it to work to follow up new leads – one of which was a deleted scene sneakily posted on The Fall’s Twitter feed: Stella finding out the fingerprints and DNA on the gun that rang out in the woods are not Tyler’s. Is anything straightforward in this series? No of course not, silly me.

For the other lead, Stella dispatched injured DS Anderson and his one working arm to London to find out more about the murder case which had seen David Alvarez convicted of suffocating a Susan Harper in 2002. It bore a marked resemblance to Spector’s killings, and both he and Alvarez were at the same children’s home at the same time. It was lovely to see Mr Dishy being so excited at getting out of the office, bless.

But not before Stella was reduced to tears as Sally Ann Spector’s car was spotted being swamped by the waves on the beach. Unbelievably, a bypasser stopped to catch it all on video instead of rushing to the rescue. Sadly, a realistic reflection of our YouTube times. But handy for ensuring the police could see it all unfolding on TV.

Dim Jim: “How were we to know she was that desperate?” Possibly because Stella told him?

The Fall series 3 episode 4

Meanwhile, Spector was finally given an MRI scan before being moved out of the hospital to the secure psychiatric clinic under dour Dr Larson (actor Krister Henriksson, who was the Swedish Wallander in a previous TV life, and who mumbles almost as much as Stella). During Spector’s time in the ICU, we’ve all watched pretty nurse Kiera become bewitched by her scary patient. Before he left, he kept her spellbound one more time: “When I was unconscious, I could see myself. In this room. I was able to see myself from above, lying in the bed, all the tubes and monitors.” And the silly girl was still moist-eyed over the lady-killer as he left. She clearly doesn’t pay enough attention to the news.

Earlier, we also saw Spector’s lawyers finally doing some work, barging into intensive care to play him the tape of his own gruesome confessions and reducing him to a jibbering, rocking, head-banging wreck – or so it seemed. Oh yes, operation memory loss is still in full flow.

But lawyer Healy’s ruthlessly ambitious assistant Wallace came up with a novel defence idea – getting Spector’s taped confession thrown out of court on the basis that Stella seduced it out of him. It’s true we have been teased by their strange relationship, watching the sensual cat circling the sexy mouse, and the mouse circling the cat back.

“What is of crucial importance is how the confession was obtained, not whether or not it’s true,” said Wallace with a wicked glint. Horrible Healy was all ears. “She didn’t really use any standard interview techniques. She didn’t offer psychological excuses or minimise the seriousness of Spector’s crimes. She didn’t praise or flatter. She even used leading questions that elicited one-word answers. Almost not like a police interview at all – more like an intimate conversation…

“It’s claimed Spector and Gibson had private conversations,” she continued. “They even suggest he was in her hotel room. Why would he do something so risky just to leave an entry in her diary? It speaks of a kind of obsession.”

Hello – he is a serial killer!

As you hear Stella positively purring in the playbacks, you realise Wallace could be on to something that she won’t see coming. But what the lawyers don’t realise is that Stella purrs like that all the time… Except when she’s driven to swearing about Spector as the lawyers’ demand for her dream diary comes through: “He’s in hospital. He’s incapacitated. And yet he’s still infecting the lives of every person he comes into contact with – everyone who f***ing crosses his path.” Slumping in her chair, almost sulk-like, she muttered. “He’s a contagion.”

The Fall series 3 episode 4

Later, at the secure unit, Stella and Larson pored over Spector’s sinister drawings and poems as she filled the psychiatrist in on Spector’s little foibles. “He writes at one point about the battle, as he perceives it, between good Paul and bad Paul. He describes standing back and being a spectator of his own actions…

“There is a dazzling array of perversions, I mean beyond the sadism and the overwhelming fetishism with female underwear. He was a voyeur, a transvestite, into auto-eroticism and necrophilia. There’s also signs of Pygmalionism in his obsession with mannekins and dolls.

“I sometimes wondered if he breathed air into his dying victims to prolong their lives so that they could see clearly that he was going to kill them.”

Disturbingly, Larson replied: “When young children are abused they experience fear and anxiety. They then attempt to contain those feelings by acting sadistically. If a person is able to do to others what he fears may be done to him, he may no longer be afraid.” Then kidnap victim Rose Stagg made her own harrowing confession to Stella. All of which smacks of even more chilling revelations to come.

As we left Spector getting used to his luxurious en-suite cell, I couldn’t help but fear for simple, somewhat timid inmate Mark Bailey who kept peering in at the newcomer, and quizzing him.

“Who are you?”

“I’m told I’m the Belfast Strangler.”

“Are you?”

Nooo, move away, don’t look, don’t talk, lock your door. You might be a man, not a cute brunette, but contagion spreads, and curiosity still kills certain cats…

Did you tune in for The Fall series 3 episode 4? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Sarah’s review of The Fall series 3 episode 5 here.

Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond

After her comedy-writing stepfather told her in childhood she would never get paid for watching television, Sarah Bond grew up to prove him very wrong (to his delight). After earning her journalistic stripes at the Brighton Evening Argus and Radio Times, she has written about TV for most of her career, mostly at the Daily Express and Daily Mirror, as well as writing film reviews for The People. Having also read every Agatha Christie book in her youth, she is potty about crime dramas, and soaks up plots faster than Pinot Grigio. Among the highlights of her career was getting a taste of life on the mean streets with the New York police, and meeting her heroine, Ruth Rendell, on location with Inspector Wexford.

Follow Sarah on Twitter.

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.

The Fall series 3 episode 5 review

Spoilers for The Fall series 3 episode 5 below. Still catching up? Read Sarah’s review of episode 4 here.

I CAME new to The Fall in series 3, full of enthusiasm after the success of the first two series, and I have tried with it, I really have, but fans have dropped off in their droves due to the lack of action, and even I – with the best will in the world – was despairing at the show being in serious danger of being outrun by a snail.

We were obviously thrown a bit of gratuitous ‘dream’ action last week with Spector drowning Stella in the bath to try and keep us going – but it was like serving up a bitesize mini-burger when we all wanted full-blown steak. Which is no doubt why the BBC were panicked into rushing out the final two episodes on consecutive nights this week. That’s what they do when they are on to a loser – but, after last night’s spellbinding finale, I think they acted too fast!

the fall series 3 episode 5

Yes, it started with more of sombre Stella staring out over the roofs of Belfast. Have you ever seen a TV detective look so utterly miserable ALL the time? Even Morse cracked more smiles.

Then she had a completely loopy conversation with psychiatrist Dr Larson about the pages from her Dream Diary. “Why do you keep a dream journal,” he asked her. Good question.

“Initially I kept it as an investigative tool,” she said, leaving me somewhat baffled. Is this what top cops do? “I trained myself to wake in the middle of the night and write down random thoughts,” she continued.

“So you see dreams as a kind of problem solving?” said Larson, probably thinking, ‘Oh here we go – another customer’.

“I think maybe the sleeping brain makes connections more quickly than the waking mind does,” she croaked. Oh well, that could explain sleeping policemen!

The next scene was even more bizarre, as we jumped to Spector teetering on top of a very tall building, staring at the busy road below. Then, in slo-mo, he stretched out his arms and fell. Is that ‘The Fall’ we’ve all been waiting for? I wondered. But no, it was yet another dream…

the fall series 3 episode 5

I was about to despair, when suddenly the plot got a grip on itself – and us – big time as it sprang back to life. And the second half was absolutely riveting, in the most horrible way, as ghastly tales of the evil children’s home where Spector and David Alvarez were among the tormented boys emerged.

In a very clever device, we flipped between DS Anderson interviewing Alvarez (who was convicted for a murder the police believe Spector did) and Dr Larson digging deep into Spector’s distressing past, and bit by bit we gained an unnerving insight into the making of a murderer – or maybe two. It was hugely well done. The air was thick with building tension, aided by the mood music and dingy lighting, as the breathtaking revelations came tumbling forth.

And I don’t use the word breathtaking lightly. I really did have to keep telling myself to breathe.

The young Spector had been child abuser Father Jensen’s “pretty boy” – suffering unimaginable things for “a full year”, while Alvarez could only live in dread that he might be the next one. But thanks to Spector he was spared. “Being Jensen’s favourite was the worst thing, the worst thing you can imagine,” quivered Alvarez, his face crumpling as the hideous memories came flooding back.

It was utterly chilling. As the credits rolled I was left gasping – to know more. Thank goodness we only have to wait till tonight.

Will Spector face justice? I’ve a horrible feeling… no, I won’t say it, for fear of making Stella even more suicidal.

Did you tune in for The Fall series 3 episode 5? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Read Sarah’s review of The Fall series 3 episode 6 here.

Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond

After her comedy-writing stepfather told her in childhood she would never get paid for watching television, Sarah Bond grew up to prove him very wrong (to his delight). After earning her journalistic stripes at the Brighton Evening Argus and Radio Times, she has written about TV for most of her career, mostly at the Daily Express and Daily Mirror, as well as writing film reviews for The People. Having also read every Agatha Christie book in her youth, she is potty about crime dramas, and soaks up plots faster than Pinot Grigio. Among the highlights of her career was getting a taste of life on the mean streets with the New York police, and meeting her heroine, Ruth Rendell, on location with Inspector Wexford.

Follow Sarah on Twitter.

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.

The Fall series 3 episode 6 review

Spoilers for The Fall series 3 episode 6 below. Still catching up? Read Sarah’s review of episode 5 here.

Wow! After weeks of barely smouldering, The Fall rose from the TV ashes like a phoenix last night – to grab us by the throat and strangle us with action in a superb, shock-filled finale.

So the sinister spectre of Spector has finally left us, evaporating into the ether with his last, gasping bin-bag breath. He will haunt us no more. Or will he?

It’s taken three series to nail this slipperiest of serial killers, and I doubt many will forget him in a hurry – or the brutal climax. Best of all, no one could even guess at what was coming, unlike many crime dramas where flags are posted at every twist. We hadn’t a clue what was in store in The Fall series 3 episode 6, which made it even more terrifying. Well done writer Allan Cubitt, who has dabbled with serial killing before – scripting Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking in 2004, where the murderer preyed on society girls and also used ladies’ underwear!

Last night, fans who had waited so long for something – or literally anything – to happen were richly and gruesomely rewarded. We were barely a quarter of the way in before Paul Spector snatched his chance to floor his nemesis, Stella, after she ripped him apart in the police interview room, albeit in her usual croaky whisper.

“You just want to be noticed… It’s all just one big performance as protection against the dreaded black hole of your heart… Well guess what, Paul? It’s time to grow up… Let’s stop this pathetic charade.” Not such a brilliant suggestion, as it turned out.

Spector held her chilly blue gaze, staring back with his penetrating spaniel eyes. You couldn’t fathom what he was thinking. Only the barest twitch of the cheek gave away that she was getting to him, and his jaw moved ever so slightly, as though he were mildly chewing on her words.

the fall series 3 episode 6

Then, giving her a murderous stare as she walked past to leave the room, he did put a stop to it, big time! And boy, he didn’t pull his punches. Jumping up he smashed her in the face, then smashed her again, and as she lay bleeding on the floor he viciously put the boot in for good measure – twice. Our jaws also hit the floor! What happened to amnesiacal Mr Nice Guy? DS Anderson came rushing to the rescue, only to have his arm broken, with a sickening crunch. As if he wasn’t ‘armless’ enough!

Could it get any worse? Oh yes – the next shattering moment came when Spector, now back at the secure clinic, persuaded inmate Mark to create a noisy diversion so he could escape. When the alarm sounded, Dr Larson opened the security door only to receive an even more vicious pummelling than Stella. Spector’s fists punched his face to a pulp with hammer blows that never seemed to stop, leaving it looking like a mashed-up raspberry tart. Goodness, if I had been him I would have fallen at the first blow and played dead.

Even worse was to come when Spector, having mysteriously taken Larson’s belt, looked for somewhere to hide and dived into the cell where the staff finally threw raging mad Mark, who then met a strangulating end that went on interminably, adding to our horror. But the good news was that Spector was trapped. What fiendish plan would he come up with now? Not one we expected!

Calmly taking an empty bin bag from the rubbish receptacle, he pulled it over his head, looped the belt round his neck, sandwiched the long end over the bathroom door, and started suffocating himself. I am still not sure this wasn’t another ruse in his bid to escape – with his penchant for stifling victims to the point of death then bringing them back to life again “so they could see he was going to kill them”, as Stella once said. I wonder if he thought if he would survive long enough before being found to get back to the hospital, where everyone had been so nice!

Or maybe not. Whereas action lovers were more than satisfied, those who enjoyed Cubitt’s prolonged probe into what makes a serial killer tick – and a lonely lady cop for that matter – were left with a host of unanswered questions after all the teasing hints at hidden traumas in the main protagonists’ pasts.

Having bottled up his through his secret swigging, top cop Burns went a bit barmy and cracked up completely in the back of his chauffer-driven car. What was his problem? Will we ever know?

But huge praise for the male performances, especially Jamie Dornan as the maddening enigma that was bereavement counsellor-turned-Belfast Strangler Spector. He played our emotions like one of Sherlock Holmes’s fiddles. You didn’t want to feel for him, but on occasion – like silly nurse Kiera – you couldn’t help being sucked right in. The psychology was utterly fascinating.

And it was good to get witty Dr Dishy back at the hospital. “I bet you’re glad I saved his life,” he quipped to smashed-up Stella, before shrewdly posing the big question: “Have you ever been happy?” Yes, that’s what we’ve all been puzzling about. Apparently yes, when she was a child, before the death of her beloved daddy. Oh well.

Even though Gillian Anderson, as ‘Death Stare’ Stella, limped through most of it like wrung-out dishrag drenched in its own misery, she did have the odd wake-up moment. We certainly want to know more about Stella, whose latest minimal revelation about herself – to creepy Spector acolyte Katie – was a secret history of self-harming – on her inner thighs and the soles of her feet.

Heavens, that woman is strange. As we left her sipping blood-red wine all alone back home in London, will she be back to head for another Fall? After they saved this series so spectacularly, I think it’s safe to say watch this unpredictable space…

Did you tune in for The Fall series 3 episode 6? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond
Sarah Bond

After her comedy-writing stepfather told her in childhood she would never get paid for watching television, Sarah Bond grew up to prove him very wrong (to his delight). After earning her journalistic stripes at the Brighton Evening Argus and Radio Times, she has written about TV for most of her career, mostly at the Daily Express and Daily Mirror, as well as writing film reviews for The People. Having also read every Agatha Christie book in her youth, she is potty about crime dramas, and soaks up plots faster than Pinot Grigio. Among the highlights of her career was getting a taste of life on the mean streets with the New York police, and meeting her heroine, Ruth Rendell, on location with Inspector Wexford.

Follow Sarah on Twitter.

2 Comments

    He didn’t take the bag from a rubbish receptacle. He had seen a wrapped shirt/uniform in the Dr.’s locker when he returned to the facility after his violent police interview. (We thought he was paying attention to the keys the doctor tossed in the locker.) He punched out the doctor, found the locker keys, took out the wrapped clothing, removed the clothing letting it drop to the floor, kept the bag and stuffed it in his pocket as he was also removing the belt from the doctor’s waist.

    What was the significance of the note that Spectre wrote on and dropped on the floor?

Join the discussion

Please note: Moderation is enabled and may delay your comment being posted. There is no need to resubmit your comment. By posting a comment you are agreeing to the website Terms of Use.