Killing in Plain Sight (Series Review: “The Fall: Season 3”)

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The Belfast Strangler is back, in the haunting 3rd season of The Fall. Nobody could predict how shockingly this will end.

SnapShot Plot

For fans of the phenomenal UK crime series, The Fall, the wait for Season 3 has been excruciating. And the payoff for viewers is – predictably – a mixed bag. For some, the characteristically slow burn of the plot and the characters guarantees hours of delightfully introspective and suspenseful drama. For others, the season may feel unreasonably slow-paced until the shattering climax that has everyone shuddering.

You’ll recall that in the gripping final episode of Season 2, DSI Stella Gibson (mesmerizingly played by Gillian Anderson) has her man, Paul Spector, AKA The Belfast Strangler. In a tragic mishap in the forest, as Spector (Jamie Dornan) is leading the police to the location where he had hidden his latest victim (who may still be alive), he’s gunned down by an ancillary character who had been on the sidelines of the story until then. As he lays bleeding out – strangely cradled in the arms of Stella Gibson – we don’t know whether the Belfast Strangler will die there on the spot or if he’ll survive to face trial for his many grisly deeds.

Flash forward to Season 3 and Paul Spector’s life is hanging by a thread as the medical team at Belfast General Hospital valiantly tries to save him, while his latest victim, Rose Stagg is herself being treated on the same floor. If Seasons 1 and 2 followed a police procedural format at all, the first 3 episodes of Season 3 would be a medical one. It’s a detailed, step-by-step demonstration of the ER life-saving techniques, subsequent surgeries, and then intense and dedicated nursing care devoted to Spector, while at the same time Stella and her team are discovering vast amounts of incriminating and shocking evidence against him. We also witness the emotional fallout for Spector’s wife and kids, as well as Rose Stagg’s shattered psyche as she tries to come to grips with her ordeal, no doubt realizing that she will be eventually dragged into the sensational trial as the only victim to have survived the Belfast Strangler.

What no one could have predicted is the change in the mental state of Paul Spector himself. As he begins to make a slow recovery, a very different man emerges from the calculated killer who enjoyed his cat & mouse games of pursuit with Stella Gibson. Has his near death experience and subsequent physical trauma changed him? Or is he still a wolf in sheep’s clothing?



Parting Shot

Series creator, Allan Cubitt has been at the helm of The Fall all the way through, and is reportedly thinking about a 4th series, even beyond the participation of Jamie Dornan (no spoiler intended!)

The Fall has had such an impact on European television that a French remake was recently announced, to star Emmanuelle Seigner (aka Mrs. Roman Polanski), entitled, Dans l’ombre du tueur (In the Shadow of a Killer.And if you’re wondering what the title of The Fall may be sourced to in literature, it references the famous poem by T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” by which Paul Spector writes the lines ‘Between the idea and the reality, Between the motion and the act falls the Shadow’ in the journal he keeps of his murders.

No matter your preferred pacing, the sheer intensity of events and characters in this exceptional series should have you riveted to your seats, as each episode navigates the darkest terrain imaginable with a microscopic lens on the most acutely disturbing, yet human truths to which we are witness.


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