Even by most recent standards, The Fall was dire this year. Now that it’s done, and Paul Spector is dead and Stella Gibson is back enigmatically muttering like a woman who lost her keys, it’s hard to fathom why anyone was ever excited about this dreary puddle of a show in the first place.
I think I remember. In its first series, The Fall was a taut game of cat and mouse. It was a horror story, about a normal family man with a monstrous secret, tracked by a mysterious police officer who couldn’t explain her attraction to the case. Every episode, as Spector’s murders grew more brutal and the circle closed in around him, was even more unbearably tense than the last. It was a proper, grownup, sexy, scary thriller.
And then it wasn’t.
Like anyone else who watched it, I can pinpoint the exact moment The Fall fell apart. It was the very last scene of the first series. Gibson was finally supposed to come face-to-face with Spector, allowing us to see all the violence and chemistry that had long been promised. Except that didn’t happen. What happened was Gibson phoned Spector, muttered something noncommittal about being on to him, then a title card popped up telling us to wait until next year.
It was a painful anti-climax that stank of commercial forces. It felt like a tight, compact one-series show had been blasted wide open so that BBC Two could brag about having Gillian Anderson on its books for the longterm. Which would have been fine, had the second series retained the quality of the first. But it did not. Finally exposed as a murderer, Spector suddenly gained the superpower of route-one exposition, eroding his mystique with one tedious monologue about his motivations after another. And then he was shot dead. And then he came back to life, because everyone is stupid and nobody learns anything.
At which point I can be incredibly smug and note that I stopped watching The Fall after the first series mostly because of that scene in particular.
Let’s just hope that it is finally over… because everyone is stupid and nobody learns anything.