The fatal flaw in series two of #TheFall
I was looking forward to the second series of Allan Cubitt’s ‘The Fall’. It is a slow-paced, atmospheric police procedural with a strong female lead character. There were some disturbing scenes in series 1, a couple of which I averted my eyes for, but certainly nothing more graphic or alarming than you would find in ‘Luther’ or ‘Silent Witness’. The criticism levelled at the first series was that it glamourised the serial killer, Paul Spector, played by Jamie Dornan. His crime scenes were artistically laid out and he made sketches of his ideas, almost as if he were creating a mood board for some kind of art installation. This aspect of the drama was unsettling, certainly, but with a new director for this second outing, in the form of Cubitt himself, I hoped that this element would be played down.
Largely, I think this has been achieved. It was obvious in last night’s episode that more was being made of the impact of the crimes on the victims and their families. DSI Stella Gibson makes a point of emphasising that as the killer is doing the opposite, they must attempt to humanise the victims and keep them alive in the press. The tactic being to shake up the killer and encourage him to make a mistake. In fact, Spector does appear to be unravelling. Separated from his family and his beloved daughter, Olivia, he is adrift, apparently trying to square certain aspects of his past whilst, at the same time, covering his tracks.
I have every hope that this series will be superior to the last. However, there is one fatal flaw in the narrative. Because the case was not wrapped up at the end of series one, we are carrying on pretty much where we left off. This is unusual for a crime drama. If a programme returns for a second run, we would expect to get the same core characters but with a whole new case. There is a good reason for this. It is because viewers can’t possibly be expected to remember the details of the first series which aired many months or even a year previously.
In the case of ‘The Fall’, one assumes that Paul Spector was not caught at the end of the first series because of the popularity of the lead actor, Jamie Dornan. It was he would pulled in record viewing figures for BBC2. In a way, I can understand the reluctance of the programme makers to get rid of him. But this decision has left them with an almost insoluble conundrum. They tried to remedy the problem by having the first series available on BBCiplayer to be watched in the weeks leading up to the new one. But surely this is too much to ask of a viewer. I really don’t want to see the whole thing twice. I want to come into the second run and start afresh, which just isn’t possible with ‘The Fall’, which is a shame.
I believe that Cubitt should have been brave enough to end the Spector storyline and begin a new tale. The other characters are strong enough to carry it. He needed to have faith in the viewers to adapt. I’m going to stick with it, but there has to be an end to the search for Spector. If it doesn’t come with this outing, then you can certainly count me out of any more.