The Fall, BBC Two’s five-part crime drama set in Belfast, attracted much criticism this week after its final episode ended abruptly without the tidy resolution that many viewers were hoping for, and expecting.
In my latest Mirror.co.uk opinion article, I defend The Fall’s finale and argue that it was the perfect way to prolong a chase that is just too good to end prematurely. Read it below.
Last night saw the first series of The Fall – one of the best crime thrillers of the past decade – reach a swift conclusion. And it kept viewers guessing right up until the last moment. Going by the reaction on Twitter however, not all viewers were happy with how it ended.
Gillian Anderson - as hardened DSI Stella Gibson - may have been the star draw for the BBC2 five-part series but, as the series progressed, it was the exceptional Jamie Dornan who made The Fall compelling viewing each week.
Former model Dornan certainly wasn’t cast for looks alone. Playing serial killer Paul Spector, the icy cold Dornan was unsettlingly scary, switching between vicious attacker and loving father.
Set against the political backdrop of Belfast, for the past five weeks viewers had watched as killer Spector weaved a path of terror through the city, relishing the killing of a slew of similar-looking women in increasingly macabre ways. Each week, the stoic DSI Gibson inched closer to forming an accurate psychological profile of the unknown serial killer, bringing her towards the inevitable confrontation that viewers had been waiting for.
Typical crime series dictate that the long-awaited showdown, and ultimate serving of justice, should take place at the end of the series. But The Fall proved to be anything but a typical crime series.
As Spector’s carefully-constructed web of lies, and his marriage, came quickly spiralling apart, an arrest seemed imminent. But it wasn’t to be. The killer managed to once again remain several steps ahead of the authorities, and confidently phoned his pursuer, Gibson, in a clear display of arrogance and power.
Gibson had a trump card, revealing intimate facts about the killer’s identity gleaned from past victims in their final verbal confrontation.
“It’s over,” a clearly-rocked Spector retorted, trying to claim back control of the situation.
“It’s never over for someone like you,” responded Gibson. “It won’t be over until I stop you.”
With that statement of intent came the end of series one, in a finale that has already led to waves of online criticism for the series not delivering a satisfactory ending.
But last night’s ending was exactly what needed to happen.
Throughout the series, we’ve admired Gibson’s steely determination to prove herself as the dominant female in a male-dominated world; be that through her icy demeanour in the workplace or her approach to office romance.
Gibson is a character that has to have control over men, and has to have all of the answers – it’s simply unthinkable that she can let a serial killer like Spector, who prays on women’s insecurities, continue. To have come so close, only for the killer to have evaded Gibson’s capture, will only make her resolve stronger.
On the other hand, we’ve only just scratched the surface of Spector’s deeply complex character. We know details about his past – that he grew up in a children’s home, has no connection with his birth family, and studied literature at university – but we are still in the dark about why he is driven to do what he does, and on what criteria he chooses his carefully-chosen victims.
Pulling in audiences of three million viewers, it’s no wonder that BBC 2l have announced that a second series of The Fall will be made – or that the show will continue to develop the hunter / hunted dynamic between two compelling characters.
There is simply too much left to discover about Spector to see him face justice so soon – and continuing the story should make more for a tantalising second series as the web tightens.
As Spector looked to escape his troubles alongside his damaged family in an attempt to start a new life at the end of last night’s episode, the reality, of course, is that he will never be free.
It’s only a matter of time until DSI Stella Gibson finally gets her man.