In this column, Man of Many takes a look back at a great TV show or film that may have slipped under your radar. Given the near-limitless entertainment options in the Netflix era, it’s easy to overlook amazing content in favour of the latest hit. For every Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Stranger Things, there’s another thing equally worthy of attention and we make the case for why you should watch it and where you can find it.
‘Art is a lie. Art gives the chaos of the world an order that doesn’t exist.’ – Paul Spector, ‘The Fall’
Produced by BBC Northern Ireland and created by Alan Cubitt, ‘The Fall’ is a tensely-plotted crime thriller that follows two predators on opposite sides of the law. A reference to a line in T.S. Eliot’s poem ‘The Hollow Men’, it’s a show that’s both a slow-burner and an adrenaline-packed thrill ride, as it tracks the increasingly high stakes game of cat and mouse that unfolds between its two central characters.
Following the murder of a young woman in Belfast, Police Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) is brought in to review the ongoing investigation amidst a backdrop of police corruption. As the case continues unsolved and a further murder is discovered with the same modus operandi, Gibson realizes she is chasing a serial killer, nicknamed the Belfast Strangler, who seeks out and targets young professional women.
We are also introduced to Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), the Belfast Strangler himself, who plots his next murder whilst juggling his responsibilities as a loving father and bereavement counselor. Spector is a nihilistic, Nietzsche-quoting killer hunting for Eliot’s concept of the metaphorical shadow that falls ‘between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act’.
Dornan excels in his role of Spector, which serves as somewhat of a precursor to his turn as Christian Grey in the ’50 Shades of Grey’ film series. He exudes a cool intensity that masks Spector’s obvious sociopathy under the surface who remains as compellingly watchable as he is morally repugnant. Anderson is equally engaging as the steely ice-queen superintendent and the only police officer capable of catching Spector.
At their essence, the pair are two sides of the same coin – a Taoistic take on the nature of morality and humanity. As their paths increasingly intersect, it becomes clear they share a deep understanding and fascination with each other, which fuels the palpable dramatic tension and elevates the show above other similar fare.
‘The Fall’s first two seasons garnered perfect 100% ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and won numerous awards in the UK. Both Anderson and Dornan have received acclaim for their performances and the show was renewed for a third season in 2015.
The first two seasons of ‘The Fall’ are available on Netflix and Stan and Season 3 is currently airing in the UK and on BBC First in Australia.