They decided to air the fifth and final episodes of The Fall back to back and there is a LOT of buzz about both, so I'm rolling right into it after the break. Join me!
We open with Paul (Jamie Dornan) explaining Susan Harper's murder to his attorneys; he admits to all of it, sort of. He and David Alvarez (Martin McCann) met Susan that night at a pub and all three of them went back to Susan's house for afters. She and David had sex, you know
And then when David went to get more booze
Which got...complicated. This is where Paul Spector's good looks come in to play; it's surprising how far those can get a muscle-bound male of a certain age.
Healy (Aidan McArdle) warns Paul to not say too much, but acknowledges that it would not be a good idea to stop answering questions at this point. He confirms that Paul still doesn't remember anything about the current charges on the docket and they're back to it.
Stella (Gillian Anderson) watches while we all wonder if this is it: will she finally nail this hunky ratbastard to the wall? Has he run out of places to run and things to hide behind?
Paul is shown pictures of himself in various stages of auto-erotic asphyxiation (I TYPED THAT WITHOUT SPELLCHECK! Infer nothing); he doesn't remember taking the pictures or writing the diary entries, but yes, that was what he suggested trying with Susan. She must have been very drunk / high to have thought having a plastic bag placed over her head was "a bit more exciting."
Oh, Jim Burns (John Lynch) is listening too while Paul explains the rationale for using a plastic bag during sex, at the peak of orgasm Susan was to tear it off and then it was to feel like euphoria. "Or death" counters DS Anderson (Colin Morgan) which should not have made me laugh out loud.
But yes, that can happen when you're suffocating a partner and he missed the part when she died because he was going down on her *side eye to Stella*. I feel bad now because Stella has a much better stone face than I. I blush like a MOFO. I also noted that David Alvarez's DNA was found inside Susan, so the fact that Paul was going down on her after... okay, sometimes my pedant brain is a liability and we'll move on.
Paul didn't call the ambulance or police and has no idea why David Alvarez took The Fall for him. He did wash Susan Harper's body, though, using the bowl which DS Anderson picked up on almost immediately.
Stella knows why David Alvarez took the blame for Paul, and she takes over at this point
She presses him about Kincora (it still sounds like Glenquarters! Sorry if I've bollixed that up entirely), she knows about his time there as a favourite and how he saved David from the same fate. She pushes further: drop the charade, Beardy, own your confession and your convictions.
Healy objects, which allows Paul a minute of grace to gather himself. He faces down the allegations of serial murder and the sacrifice made by David. The police had nothing on him.
I am just waiting for him to quote Stella's dream diary so we can know for sure he's still in there. One "Stella Star." I'm very worried that he agreed to these interview to get close to Stella.
We're deep into it now, he's been finding out all these things about himself since he woke up; one stuck with him particularly. Healy begs him not to speculate but.
The laying out of underwear in the shape of a body for one of his victims; he used to do that when he was a child with his mother's underwear. It aroused him and later he would obtain underwear to masturbate with. Is that where it started, he muses?
Stella challenges him again to drop the mask of amnesia; aren't they all wearing masks, though? He's starting to get flashes of memory, including Stella's anguished cries of "we're losing him! We're losing him!" He thought that meant someone cared, and of course Stella cares. She cares that he answers for his crimes, not cheat the system by dying or FAKING AMNESIA.
Healy cannot figure out why everyone has gone so far off the reservation
Stella taunts Paul for wanting attention; everything he has done, has EVER done has been for the benefit of a performance.
There isn't anything real there, Paul, "time to grow up." "Stop this pathetic charade." The showdown we've been waiting for these short three seasons
I KNEW IT I KNEW IT I KNEW IT!!!! I knew this whole thing was to get close enough to hurt Stella!!! He attacks her, punching her face and for the record, above I was talking about the mental showdown, but I was very concerned physically for Stella. Oh god oh god, Anderson goes for him but Paul knows about his bad arm and snaps it like a twig. Paul starts kicking a fallen Stella AND WHY IS NOBODY IN THERE ALREADY????? COME ON!! Why didn't HEALY get in there??
It takes 6 guards to pull him off and once they get him into the hallway Jim tries to get a few punches in too. DCI Eastwood (Stuart Graham) pulls him off, wait.
Go home, Jim, before you lose EVERYTHING. He cries all the way home.
Stella is alive, she's alive. Water break.
Wallace (Ruth Bradley) is shaking, she's never seen violence like that. She guesses that's as good a way as any to end things. Healy doesn't understand; they have a great defense, why would she be talking about being done? She can't, she can't do it, she can't be in the room with him. He mocks her, she wants to be Stella, she shouldn't be a lawyer at all. She doesn't care, she won't do it and he can hardly believe it.
Spector's back at Foyle, where Dr. Larson (Krister Henriksson) waits. He notes the handcuffs and bloody hands and then leads him down. I am VERY worried for Dr. Larson at this juncture, he's turning his back to Spector while he has his blood up and Spector is making very careful note of the locker procedure that Dr. Larson walked us and Stella through the other day.
I will say this; the attack on Stella was horrific and devastating, but I couldn't help feeling that Spector held back. I am perfectly willing to give them a pass for that, I could do with seeing far less women brutalised onscreen for "entertainment" purposes; I just noted that there less rage and more controlled attacking. He had her alone for a few minutes, it could have been much worse and I am very glad that was not the case.
Stella is being checked out in the hospital by Dr. O'Donnell (Richard Coyle), she has a slight fracture (of the skull? How does one have a slight skull fracture?) and will be on a soft diet for two weeks.
I quite like Dr. O'Donnell but I inwardly groaned when I saw him: minutes and minutes of medical jargon coming up! It was not too bad however, she will be spending the night there for observation.
Bailey (Conor MacNeill) watches Paul sleep in the creepiest way possible while I try to figure out why Paul isn't in jail for assaulting two police officers. THEY KNOW HE REMEMBERED THAT, RIGHT??
Katie (Aisling Franciosi) has just found the perfect shiv in her beef stew, how did that get past everyone? That's a massive beef bone.
Dr. O'Donnell checks in on Stella, she asks after Anderson, who's had a gross something done to his broken arm. I hope it was the SAME arm, otherwise it will be like poor one-eyed Otto who got his good eye poked out on Sons of Anarchy.
Stella is intrigued by Dr. O'Donnell's dedication to his craft and JUST as I was getting ready to start drawing hearts around their initials on my TrapperKeeper, he owns up to a wife and 5 children. Humpfh. Yeah, I'd stay at work until 2 am too, but you have to feel sorry for his wife.
Instead of nappy changes, he's just stay there and help her not have post traumatic stress by asking her random questions. Like: has she ever been happy? Yes, when she was a child, before her father died. Has she any real friends? A few. And so on and so forth
When he asked if she was a good swimmer, every hair stood up on the back of my neck; is she still in danger?? Is this guy affiliated?? A disciple? Okay and we're away from that scene and I can breathe. As soon as McNally shows up with a dry cleaning bag full of almost-white silk shirts. Come on McNally!!
Dr. Walden (Denise Gough) wants Dr. Larson to write an official report on Spector as a malingerer; Nurse Ritchie (Chris Patrick-Simpson) does eye calisthenics in the background so we know something is up.
Whew, it'd been a full 26 minutes with Paul fully dressed, someone checked the liner notes and had him strip down in front of the mirror to argue that his body didn't feel like his. Is he disassociating again?
Ah, Katie used her beef bone for self-harming, not for making a move on the Juvvie Top Dog (sorry, too much Wentworth lately: well, IS there such a thing as too much Wentworth? Nah). McNally (Bronagh Taggart) tells a shocked Stella, whose face is healing well.
Dr. Larson is asking Paul the same questions that Dr. O'Donnell was asking Stella: has he ever been happy? It goes back to Olivia, of course. The first time he put her to sleep and he felt she trusted him, that was a good day.
Paul gets metaphysical when asked about the attacks on Stella and Anderson; "there is a visible and an invisible world and that's why people get hurt." Er. It is worth noting that when Paul leaned forward to impart his mystical wisdom, Dr. Larson leaned back and looked slightly uneasy.
Paul wants to know if he's treatable? Cureable? First one, sure, second one: hmmmm. Paul wants to know his possible treatment plan and again, so worried for Dr. Larson right now. Why is there not someone in there with them or Paul handcuffed somewhere uncomfortably? They do know how dangerous he is, has his security level been ramped up?
Olivia (Sarah Beattie) is fairly happy where she's staying, she hasn't had any nightmares lately. She doesn't want to see her dad for awhile, though, maybe when she's grown up and has a baby. Then she might go see him.
Stella's interviewing Katie, I need to have another quick water break because I swear: all I see is possible harm for everyone. I was worried about Katie attacking Stella before she was sent to juvvie and now all I'm doing is measuring the distance between everyone.
Stella first lies and explains her face as a car accident, but then admits that Paul attacked her. That was a choice, I could see Katie taking it either way. Either in a Stella Got What Was Coming To Her way or in a Okay, My Hero Is A Psycho way. Stella cut herself as Katie has, but on her upper thighs and the soles of her feet, so as to keep them private. She did it because she was angry, as she thinks Katie is now. They both lost their fathers too young, Stella's to illness and Katie's dad to what she calls suicide. She took his continuing to ride his motorcycle very personally, she worried about him but he loved that stupid bike more than his only daughter and she vibrates with pain and anger. And so much sorrow.
I'm sorry, Katie but I'm glad we got to know at least one thing about you that wasn't about that parasitic psychopath who has dictated your entire storyline for 3 seasons. Stella warns Katie that she must fight for herself, she's in great danger right now.
Bailey's writing in his journal when Paul takes it gently from his hands and recites for There Was A Man A Man Indeed which is an old Irish children's song. He writes the last line in Bailey's journal, signing it like an autograph and asking for a favour.
Do you think that song was sung at the children's home where Paul and David were abused by priests? And do you further think it was a comrade's call to arms to Bailey, maybe he went there too? Or was shy, murderous homophobic Bailey just dazzled by the charisma of the infamous Belfast Strangler? If Bailey WAS at that children's home, the extreme homophobia would make sense as well.
The favour appears to be a diversion, accomplished by Bailey with his refusal of diabetic dog chocolate. Once things are in full swing, Paul's off to the locker-room, where he finds and beats the shit out of Dr. Larson, JAYSUS, much more brutal than with Stella but still: controlled. Take what you need and go, Paul!! Or, not go, but get caught and not be left alone with Dr. Larson any more!
Oh. Oh there's a plastic bag in the locker and he's taking off Dr. Larson's belt??
Stella's explaining what love should do; it should warm and comfort us like the sun. "Anger corrodes our belief that anything good can happen to us." Katie hurt a friend for Paul and he still doesn't know she exists.
Paul leaves Dr. Larson alive, thank goodness, and makes it as far as the hallway, where he ducks into Bailey's room just before our diversion-maker is brought into his room. Paul strangles Bailey with Dr. Larson's belt and I am CONFUSED. Why would he do that?? Bailey isn't a woman or someone he's having sex with and wasn't he trying to get away? Did he just need to strangle someone? I did not need to see it.
Stella's still counseling Katie while I try to shift between horror and sadness (I too have daddy issues, you know, just not the ones that involve a weekend in Palm Springs with a geriatric and a tin of Crisco); they were loved, not long enough, but well. They need someone who will hold them while they grieve, but the right way, not by someone who would abandon them.
Paul has Bailey staged back in bed while he stares at himself in the mirror; he looks entirely more relaxed than he has in ages. He smirks at himself and we see it was a charade all along. Now he places the plastic bag over his own face, tied with the belt and watching himself in the mirror while he... I assume tries to achieve orgasm. He slumps forward.
Nurse Ritchie has found Dr. Larson and just NOW noticed that Spector is missing, but Spector isn't looking very good.
They find him in the bathroom, is he alive? Stella gets a call and leaves Katie with a goodbye, I am glad she visited Katie and tried to help anyway.
Stella apologizes to Dr. Larson, but she had NOTHING to apologize for! She warned everyone how dangerous Paul was! Multiple times!! She walks down the hall
And it's true, he's dead. He killed himself and I can't figure out if that was a giant f*ck you to Stella who didn't want him to evade punishment for his crimes or if he just couldn't see a way out and wanted to end things in his favourite way. Perhaps he realised that Dr. Larson's plan of treatment was another kind of prison and he wanted to go out by his own method.
Jim Burns looks sober while he does the television announcement and update: Paul Spector is for sure dead and Dr. Larson is alive and stable. All investigations are continuing. Jim is stepping down; Stella leaves at the point where he's thanking her for all her hard work on the investigation. Jim is left in the dark, alone and miserable.
Operation Music Man is shut down, Ferrington (Niahm McGrady) and Stella are crying as they say goodbye and that's it.
Rose Stagg (Valene Kane) reads The Frog Prince to her daughter Nancy (Sofia Smyth Fuentes) while Stella goes home. She seems shattered and I do so hope she isn't alone. I don't remember if we've ever seen her home, it's always been that posh hotel, hasn't it? She drinks wine in her kitchen surrounded by rotting flowers while Rose explains the difference between real fairytales and Disney: in the latter the Frog Prince get a kiss, but in the original, he gets thrown against the wall for his blackmailing agenda.
Stella reaches in her pocket to find the 20 pound note that Nurse Keira tucked in Spector's hand, she hangs it up on the wall with the "HE THAT LOVES NOT ABIDES IN DEATH" displayed.
She sits to open her mail in her posh kitchen, giving up almost right away. She looks utterly exhausted and completely shattered.
And we're out.
I find it difficult to look at this show objectively; I can't imagine anyone other than Gillian Anderson filling the shoes of Stella Gibson, she's magnificent. I was impressed with Jamie Dornan this last couple of episodes; I've had trouble connecting with the flat affect he can bring to roles, but he made me a believer for the most part at the end of this series. I liked Conor MacNeill, who plays Bailey and has a truly impressive IMDb for someone with approximately 11 lines.
The side characters were all quite good, Niamh McGrady as Danielle Ferrington and Bronagh Taggart as McNally were both solid and I wouldn't mind seeing more of them. The scoring, the cinematography: all excellent.
I found the writing perhaps slightly uneven; the first half of this series was very slow and extremely wordy (this! from me!); it seemed to be painting itself as art. Literature on the screen, but later episodes were much more to the point; if something was mentioned, we would see it in action shortly. For example: Bailey mentioning the nurses buying them special food (dog chocolate even) and the closeup of the locker-room. It made for a good mix, if all over the place; WHAT was all the incredibly specific medical information in the beginning any how? Did someone binge ER over a weekend when they were working on scripts?
The show was almost TOO steeped in symbolism by the end; the wilting flowers after Stella was asked about flowers, their death representing Paul? Just a LOT of repetition of ideas and mirroring, which was generally used to significant effect (Paul the other side of Stella's coin, etc).
Until next time, everyone! Thank much for reading along, catch you at the next one!