|Stella helps DCI Eastwood after Breedlove’s shocking suicide. Pics: BBC|
Psychological crime drama The Fall was as chilling and intimate, shocking and yet gentle, as ever in episode 4. It is a paradox of contradictions and messy lives that is hurtling towards its final instalment next Monday.
Serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) is beginning to lose the air of normality he displays in his everyday life as a grief counsellor. The caring mask is slipping and the arrogance that allows him to select, stalk, torture and kill women has burst to the surface showing his very ugly side
Reprimanded for last week’s indiscretion, he apes his boss during a disciplinary hearing. With some irony he insists he does good things to help people and that petty rules shouldn’t stop him.
But he has surely directed his client to a domestic violence shelter, and reported her husband on her behalf, because he was manipulating her to cover his tracks. After all, the woman’s husband – a paramilitary from the Shankhill Road – has threatened Spector and he needs him out of the way.
Things are starting to go wrong in other ways too. He writes to apologise to the family of victim Sarah, who we saw in episode one, but not because he’s feeling remorse as much as bitterness that his perfect kill is tainted by news of her pregnancy.
Things don’t get better as he moves in to slaughter his latest victim. She isn’t alone when he grabs her. A male friend is in the house and he attacks Spector, there is a furious struggle and Spector bludgeons him to death.
Meanwhile at home, his daughter is still drawing disturbing pictures and his wife still seems oblivious to what her husband is up, though she is preoccupied by the baby whose life support has been switched off in the neonatal unit where she works.
DCI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) has a possible lead. A professional woman tells her about a student she met at University who had a penchant for sex with the unconscious, and he almost strangled her to death in bed. This left her so traumatised she has spoken to no one about it – apart from her friend the pathologist who, conveniently for the plot, passes this news onto Stella.
We now know that the partner of murdered drugs squad officer James Olsen, Rob Breedlove, was up to his neck in a drugs and prostitution racket – as well as having an affair with Olsen’s wife. He is suspended from duty and fears for his life. Rather than surrender his gun at the police station, he shoots himself in the head, leaving his boss dazed and in shock.
Stella immediately jumps in and takes charge of the incident. Lesser women are screaming in shock but she is in total control and knows what needs to be done such is her cool, calm and composed professionalism – the sort of woman perfect for Spector as a victim – except as a blonde, the hair colour is wrong.
Perhaps this is deliberate. Gibson is no victim although her superior Jim Burns accuses her of victimising men and says she clearly has no idea of the effect she has on the opposite sex. Really? With all that open shirt, busting cleavage on show and summoning men to her bed with a click of the fingers?
Maybe she is the female Spector without the killing edge, although she can be accused of murdering male pride.
There is still plenty to resolve in this fast paced thriller. Spector must be caught. The Olsen incident needs more explanation – how deeply, if at all, was he involved? Stella has to look at whether her ‘Sweet Night’ – where she takes men to bed for one night only – is really what she wants. Most of all, will we be left feeling let down or satisfied that the world is back in order and everyone is where they should be at the end of this five-week journey into the warped and twisted mind of a serial killer and the unconventional female cop out to catch him.
We’ll have to wait and see next Monday at 9pm on BBC2 when the final episode is aired.