TV Series Review
Paul Spector is a family man—a husband and the father of two kids with another on the way. He works as a grief counselor in the teeming city of Belfast, Northern Ireland. For how long he'll keep that job we just don't know.
Because Paul Spector is also a serial killer, as sick and twisted as they come. He seeks out young women—smart, professional and with long, dark hair—tortures them and eventually strangles them. It's wrong, he knows. And he's even called up the cops to tell them that he's done. He'll never kill again.
But Stella Gibson, the senior detective from London heading the investigation, doesn't believe him for a second. Spector is addicted to killing, she knows. And he'll continue to kill until someone makes him stop.
The dark, brooding thriller The Fall originally airs in Ireland on RTÉ One and Britain on the BBC channels. Netflix brought the show Stateside. Season 2 arrived on Jan. 16, 2015, much to the joy of many a secular television critic, uncritical binge-watcher and feminist, apparently. Of Gibson, who is played by The X-Files' Gillian Anderson, Time's Charlotte Alter writes, "She's brilliant, unflappable, and sexually liberated—she makes a habit of selecting male co-workers for one-night-stands, then quickly discarding them."
Because, it would seem, that's considered a good thing in some sectors of society.
Gibson is indeed a formidable investigator, and Anderson plays her with a sleek, understated aplomb. There's little question The Fall is both stylish and gripping television. But girl does it have problems. Even a one-episode glimpse can reveal too much.
Inescapably, the story is saturated with sexualized violence. Spector's addictions are all about him living out twisted fantasies of sex, control and annihilation. And The Fall means to shock us with his sadistic, sometimes animalistic acts. Also, because the program spends time getting to know Spector as a man—husband, father, therapist—it makes his barbarous behavior feel all the more chilling. There's a certain intimacy between character and viewer that makes his crimes violate our own emotions in a pretty significant way.
So despite the many accolades The Fall has garnered for being, in the words of The Atlantic, "The Most Feminist Show on Television," let us not forget that it is predicated on depicting brutal acts of violence against women. Spector treats his victims as objects. Gibson might make heroic efforts to countermand his activities, but his influence still lingers.
I'll note here that Gibson's own sexual habits include casual affairs, one-night stands, etc. She's been known to kiss female co-workers as well. Language can be harsh. Indeed, any problematic content you'd expect to see in a taut R-rated thriller are elements that can crop up here.
Mention The Fall in Christian circles, and you're probably referencing the original Fall in Genesis, when Adam and Eve plucked fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and thereby brought sin into the world. As such, this show is aptly named. For we see in it that nothing is now free of sin's taint.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson; Jamie Dornan as Paul Spector; John Lynch as Jim Burns; Bronagh Waugh as Sally Ann Spector; Niamh McGrady as Danielle Ferrington; Sarah Beattie as Olivia Spector; Aisling Franciosi as Katie Benedetto; Emmett J. Scanlan as Glen Martin; Archie Panjabi as Reed Smith