If there’s one thing The Fall has really, really done right, it’s that I find myself almost breathlessly grateful that Rose Stagg is alive. We must be thankful for such small mercies in a narrative world that provides so few.
If I were to list all of the things and people in this episode that are heartbreaking, we’d be here all night. It’s impossible not to feel for Sally Ann, and even more so for little Olivia: she doesn’t know why, she just doesn’t want her father to get in trouble. The events of this season are going to haunt her for the rest of her life.
And then there’s Katie, still clinging to her love story, and I feel for her too. We’ve seen a decidedly calculating and manipulative nature in her to begin with, but on the other hand, we also see that innocence that comes with being a love-struck teenager playing out in her interrogation, the willingness to believe the stories she tells the police.
This isn’t easy television and it doesn’t get easier. Some of that earlier tension is diffused now that the chase is ended and we have that nice, long scene where Gibson chats to Spector. Gillian Anderson is so good as Gibson: facing off in a quietly civilised (if uncomfortable) conversation with Spector, Gibson is unflappable, but not unfeeling.
I suppose it’s slightly satisfying seeing Spector speak so candidly about the things he’s done and what he thinks about, and Jamie Dornan once again is just creepy enough that I might flinch if I ever met him before remembering that he was just pretending to be a serial murderer for the BBC.
Jimmy Tyler has raged in the periphery of the story, standing in seething, shouting contrast to Spector’s dark detachment. Where Spector is a quiet manipulator with calculated plans, Tyler is a shouting bulldozer, and this is painfully apparent in his terrifyingly violent encounter with Liz and the other women. It fits his character perfectly that he would insist upon muscling his way into the episode’s final conflict. But where this animosity between the two is concerned, how do you take sides in a battle between monsters?
I wasn’t surprised by the ending; indeed, my partner shouted from his desk, “that angry man’s going to shoot Spector.” Okay, so it wasn’t a surprise, but does that diminish the impact? I’m not sure.
It’s an unsatisfying note to end on – Spector bleeding out in Gibson’s arms, then cutting to credits before we will ever know if he lives or dies – but deliberately so. Why make the ending any less uncomfortable than the rest of the story leading up to it has been?
Aired at 9pm on Thursday 18 December 2014 on BBC Two.
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