The Fall Episode 2 Review: Gillian Anderson and Jamie Doran continue to shine in a better paced episode of the serial killer drama

by Matt D

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One of my main criticisms of last week’s episode of The Fall was that I didn’t really get to connect with either of the central characters. However, this second instalment opened things up a bit more as we got to know a few more of the minor characters a little bit more. In addition a couple of subplots have been set up to run alongside Stella’s investigation into Paul Spector’s murder spree, namely one concerning corruption in the Belfast Police Force.

The episode starts where we left off last week as Paul Spector prepares Sarah Kay’s body to be found by the police while Stella indulges in some off-duty action in her hotel room. This is because DS Olson answered Stella’s booty call and the two enjoy a very sweaty bout of love-making. Stella and Olson’s late night shenanigans are shown alongside Paul’s washing and drying of Sarah Kay’s body. This slow and disturbing opening sequence lasts for at least five minutes, and ends when Paul paints Sarah’s nails and takes a crop of her. Meanwhile, Olsen’s investigation into the shooting continues with Sarah’s friend Kevin McSwain defending both of the suspects. The police are convinced that Terry McInturff is guilty however Kevin has advised both of his clients not to answer any questions. This shooting is also under investigation by the IPE who have taken Jim Burns to task over several matters which include Stella’s meeting with the journalist from the last episode. Even though we know that she told him to get lost, a photographer’s image of their brief conversation makes it look as if Stella is giving the journalist a lot of information. This photo of Stella and the journalist also sours the relationship between herself and Burns who continues to berate Stella for investigating a supposed serial killer. In addition, Burns still feels Stella doesn’t understand the politics that is involved in Northern Ireland policing and still implores her not to link the murders of Sheila and Elaine.

Meanwhile Stella’s review into Alice’s murder continues as she watches the interviews conducted with the architect’s ex-husband Aaron. She notes that Aaron looks particularly shifty in the interview as he talks about how their marriage collapsed after Alice got a tattoo and started dressing like a slut. We later learn that Aaron is the son of an influential businessman and he himself seems to be doing a lot of dodgy deals. Indeed, the Monroes appear to have the police in their pocket as we later witness Jim agreeing to help Aaron’s father clear his son’s name. Eventually Sarah’s sister finds her body and the PCs who initially investigated the solicitor’s break-in are called to the scene. When Stella arrives, she convinces Jim to let her be the SIO on the case and he agrees though he later tells the officers not to link Sarah’s murder with any other they may have investigated. Stella later meets motorcycle-riding pathologist Professor Reid Smih who accompanies Stella to the crime scene. The pair soon note all of Paul’s earlier activities including the freshly-painted fingernails, the missing clump of hair and the fact that Sarah is incredily clean. While Sarah’s family are finally allowed to view the body, Reid reveals that Sarah was in the early stages of pregnancy, a fact she’d obviously been keeping to herself.

Something else I liked about this episode of The Fall was the fact that we had more of Paul going about his daily life. In this episode, he and his wife visited their daughter Olivia’s school to have a meeting with her teacher. They soon discover that Olivia is slightly disturbed as she has drawn a pictured of a princess who stabbed herself and died. Paul soon realises that his actions may be having an impact on his daughter, so he is as nice to her as possible and even gives her a present at one stage. Later, teenage babysitter Katy pays the Spectors a visit, telling them she’s there to use Paul’s computer. However, once Paul’s wife goes off to work, Katy is revealed to be wearing a skimpy top and has clearly come to flirt with Paul. As Paul goes to grab Katy a beer, she explores his office and soon finds the crop of Sarah’s hair that Paul has kept in a drawer. When he realises she’s taken it, he starts to get violent with her and this incident is witnessed by Olivia. However, instead of running away and telling someone, an infatuated Katy is happy to be in the company of a psychopath.

From watching this second episode of The Fall, it’s clear that writer Alan Cubitt is planning to expand the scope of the story over the course of the series. I have to say I wasn’t expecting the revelation that Burns took the case in order to clear the name of Aaron Monroe or that The Fall would be looking at the amount of corruption that is present in the Belfast Police Force. I feel that Cubitt has created a lot of realistic characters, most of whom or neither good or bad. For example, we see solicitor Kevin McSwain attempt to acquit two criminals one minute and the next we feel plenty of sympathy from him when his friend Sarah is found dead. Cubitt also fleshes out some of the supporting roles and in this episode we spend some time with Paul’s wife at work, as she comforts a young mother whose baby was born prematurely. Cubitt also packs a massive shock in this episode, which I’m obviously not going to reveal here, but what I will say is that I didn’t see it coming at all.

The programme is still visually enthralling with some scenes really sticking in the mind, long after the episode has finished. As well as the stunning opening sequence, I felt the scene in which Sarah’s sister rung up the emergency services after finding her dead body was absolutely brilliant. I can’t think of the last drama I saw which staged the 999 call from the operator’s point-of-view but I personally found to be a masterstroke. Gillian Anderson continues to intrigue as we follow Stella from her sweaty action in the opening scene to the devastating scenes in which Sarah is found dead but also we see how easily she brushes off poor old DS Olson. Jamie Doran isn’t as present in this first episode but again I loved how easy he switched between loving father and dangerous killer. It’s great to see Archie Panjabi join the cast in this episode as the aforementioned biker pathologist. While she isn’t given a lot to do here, she still lights up the screen and I’m hoping to see her more in future episodes. I’d also like to praise Sarah Beattie who plays Paul’s daughter Olivia as she had a pivotal role to play in this instalment. I felt that she perfectly conveyed the youngster who was obsessed with death and was heavily influenced by what she saw her father doing.

Overall I’m much more convinced about The Fall than I was last week. I enjoy the fact that there are conspiracy aspects to the murder investigation, and that Jim Burns may not be the honourable gent that we first thought he was. I found this episode to have a better pace to it and because of this I was drawn into the action a lot more. I’m glad I was right to stick with this series as it looks to only get better from this point on and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Did you enjoy the second episode of The Fall? Did you think this was a better episode? Leave Your Comments Below.

2 Comments

  1. Jack on May 20, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    It was just as good as the first episode and easily the best thing in tv. Supporting cast are fabulous. Killers wife, victims sister and female policewoman all superb! Roll on episode three.

  2. Rosemary on May 21, 2013 at 7:14 am

    I thought it was excellent too. Very well written. But I’m a bit confused … who’s Elaine? I thought Stella was reviewing the death of ALICE Munroe??

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