TV Review - The Fall: Season 2
Written and directed by Allan Cubitt, Season 2 has six episodes. Five of which are 58 minutes. The last is 89 minutes, and unfortunately Cubitt is guilty of the same thing as the first season. The series drags and has a lot of unnecessary things that stretches the narrative beyond believability and really takes things nowhere, making it at the end of the day boring.
Gillian Anderson stars as Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, the woman sent from England to investigate a number of crimes that she believes is the result of a serial killer in northern Ireland. Jamie Dornan (Once Upon a Time) co-stars as Paul Spector, a bereavement counselor who is the aforementioned serial killer. There is no question of that. Paul is guilty. The first season is all about watching him commit his crimes in methodical detail. This second season is all about watching him try to cover-up his crimes, while Stella and her team continue to methodically track him.
Season 2 picks up a week after where the first season ends. The first two episodes are good in that regard, but things start to go downhill in the third and by the fourth the show goes off the rails completely. Granted, I'm no expert on police procedure in the United States. Let alone in Ireland, but by the fourth episode Stella has gathered enough evidence to arrest Paul. Yet, she doesn't. She even knows exactly where he is, but she doesn't arrest him. Instead, Cubitt chooses to drag things out for two episodes when it doesn't seem credible.
Cubitt tries to justify the dragging out of the episodes by crafting a kidnapping. In the first season, Paul's ex-girlfriend from a decade ago, Rose Stagg, identifies him as the potential serial killer. This season, Paul goes after Rose and kidnaps her. Why he does so or what it gains him is unexplained. His actions seem contrived so that Cubitt can drag out this series and continually pit Stella and Paul against each other.
Cubitt puts in Stella's head a ridiculous reason for them not to arrest Paul right away but ultimately it's stupid and a waste of time. What also ends up being a waste of time is Paul's relationship with his children's babysitter Katie, played by Aisling Franciosi. Like with Dexter, Katie is the woman who learns Paul is a serial killer but yet falls in love with him anyway. She also wants him sexually.
Speaking of sexual things, there are a lot of threads that are picked up and dropped. There's controversy that breaks out when it's revealed in the newspapers that Stella had an affair with a married cop named James Olson who was then murdered. It's a sub-plot in the first season that's mentioned in passing here but is totally dropped.
For a woman who is so intelligent, still and controlled, a veritable ice queen, Stella can't seem to control herself from having sex with people with whom she works. She didn't seem to learn the lesson from the newspaper controversy because she then attempts to jump into bed with her pathologist, a woman named Reed Smith, played by Archie Panjabi, and she succeeds in bedding a young detective assigned to her case named Tom Anderson, played by Colin Morgan (Merlin).
In Season 1, exploring Stella's sexuality was interesting and compelling, but to have it compounded here almost has her coming across as a slut. To be clear, she's not a slut because she has multiple or potentially multiple sex partners in less than a week's time. She comes across as a slut because those multiple partners are people with whom she works or work for her. She could have gone to any bar and picked up any number of people, male or female who weren't employed in criminal investigation, and it would have been fine. Either Cubitt is lazy as a writer or he's trying to compound a point he shouldn't have.
It also makes her seem dumb for her to go there after her affair with the cop was so scandalized. That cop is referenced briefly but as a storyline, it's dropped in a rather clunky way. What it says about her character is potentially interesting, but delving into Stella, her history and her psychology, is something that's held all the way till the final moments of the final episode and by then, it's too little, too late.
Again, Cubitt spins his wheels and drags things out, sapping out the tension and drama. Cubitt introduces two new characters like Tom Anderson that further muddle the narrative, instead of focusing on the characters he already had, which could have helped to delve into Stella. For example, two characters from last season were Glen Martin and Gail McNally, two detectives who have been on the case with Stella since the beginning and thankfully Cubitt gives them both way more to do this season than last but still not enough.
Emmett J. Scanlan plays Glen Martin. Scanlan is an amazing Irish actor who made a name for himself on the British series Hollyoaks. Since then, he has had great roles in shows like In the Flesh or appearances in blockbusters like Guardians of the Galaxy. In one brief scene, Glen proves he has great chemistry with Stella and instead of having Glen be the one with whom Stella goes to bed, Cubitt wastes a great actor in favor of the boy that is Colin Morgan, which again culminates in a bedroom scene that's too little, too late. Side note is that Bronagh Waugh plays Paul's wife Sally who is interviewed by Glen. That scene marks a Hollyoaks reunion because Waugh also played the sister of Scanlan's character in Hollyoaks. It was nice to see them playing together again.
Using the babysitter to delve into Paul's character could have been good too and there are some scenes between Paul and Katie that are well-done, but ultimately it goes nowhere. By the end, Paul is simply spewing sadistic and nihilistic crap that straight rips off David Fincher's Seven.
Two Stars out of Five.
Not Rated in U.S.
Rated 15 in U.K.
Running Time: 6 episodes.
Available on Netflix.