Unlike with most murder mysteries, we don’t yet know what fate awaits The Fall’s Paul Spector – will he be caught or be free to kill again in the second series? – but we can only hope that the good thing this show has going for it doesn’t dissipate after next week’s finale. That thing has to be the dynamic between Gibson and Spector, despite the two never actually meeting, and the ways the show manages to blur the line between to two of them each week.
Never has that been more apparent than in this episode, with much of the episode switching the pair’s roles in new and subtle ways. When faced with chaos at work – Paul because of his unsolicited visit to a client last week and Stella because of Rob Breedlove’s suicide – they react in unexpected ways. Stella is the picture of robotic calm, addressing the situation with established rules and regulations, but Paul reacts badly to his job being put on the line because of the rules he has broken. You can kind of understand his frustration – he gets into more trouble for doing something good than for murdering three women.
But in a lot of ways, this could be the series worst episode. Its relative, of course, with a dodgy episode of The Fall emerging as better and more sophisticated than most other shows at their peak, but the focus on the James Olsen case and the conspiracy that surrounds it just doesn’t have the same watchable quality that the A-plot brings. Just when it’s lagging a little, however, we have that final intercut scene of Paul’s latest (botched) murder and Stella’s interview with a possible past victim.
Things are certainly unravelling for Paul, with his meticulously planned murder going seriously awry and the same stationary being used for both his apology letter to Sarah Kay’s father and his daughter’s drawing of an unborn child. He’s admitted to feeling remorseful about Sarah’s pregnancy, and his protectiveness over children in general, so it’s only fitting that his daughter is the one to eventually give him away. But what would a second series be without both characters? Its unknown, which is part of the reason why The Fall is so eminently compelling, but I’m certainly excited to see next week’s big finish.
Irish actor Jamie Dornan recently won over US audiences with a role in hit fantasy series Once Upon a Time, but returns to his native Belfast for new BBC Two crime thriller The Fall - also starring Gillian Anderson.
Dornan plays Paul Spector - a loving husband and father who also happens to be a brutal killer who preys on young women. Digital Spy and a few other journalists spoke to Dornan about his dark new role, his plans for the future and a particularly unsettling day on set!
Your character Paul Spector is a family man - it's maybe not the traditional portrayal of a 'villain'...
"I think that's what helps illuminate the heinous moments and makes them all the more shocking, because he is a husband and a father - not only that, I think he's a good father and quite a good husband. He's never cheated on his wife… [though] that's not the only thing that makes you a good husband!
"But I do think he is a good family man and he loves his kids. It's unspeakable, what he does, but that's removed from what he does at home - it's a different side of him. And why not? These guys… it's a chemical imbalance, it's something deep within them - why couldn't they be fathers and husbands and have a normal job?
"I think Allan's done that really well - I think that makes it all the more shocking. Especially the way it's cut - I find it really hard to watch, [you go] within five minutes from me washing my daughter's hair to planning my next attack. I find that quite jarring to watch - I did struggle with it. I mean, it's good television, but it's not easy!"
Was Spector a demanding role to play?
"Yeah, it was tough, really tough, and not an easy place to have your head in for four months. But [it's] great work - I always felt very blessed to be in the part and eventually become comfortable with it.
"I thought I was in over my head when they cast me, and then found some kind of ease within it - but it was not an easy transition because it's not a nice place to be in. Four months and I didn't read about anything but innocent death… and f**k, it does affect you, big time.
"It was physically demanding [too] definitely…but I didn't think he had to be some big guy. His victims are small women, so I didn't need to look like Arnie and I don't think that would've worked - he would've stood out and Spector's whole thing is about trying to blend in.
"Ted Bundy - who I did a lot of research on - was super charming, a good-looking guy, ran two Congress campaigns in the US, was a super-bright law graduate, had a long-term girlfriend, very funny… but he's a f**king psychopath! So these people do exist."
Did you do a lot of research into real-life killers?
"Yeah, you have to. But then you don't want to do too much and become a caricature of the five famous serial killers in the world. Paul Spector has his own story and his own motives, his own reason, his own imbalance - so you've got to draw on that and try to make it something that's unique to him.
"But my bookshelf looks hilarious now - there's Harry Potter and then Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer!"
Was there one scene in The Fall that was particularly difficult to film?
"I spent a day strangling myself on the back of a door while I masturbated to a driving licence of one of my victims… that's not an easy day at the office! And they cut it out! I couldn't believe it - they didn't even tell me. When I first watched the series, it just wasn't there!"
The Fall is quite unique in that it's not a whodunnit - we know Spector's the killer from the start...
"Yeah, I thought that was fascinating, 'cos I've never read anything where that's the case. I love things like The Killing, but they make you wait 20 f**king episodes [to find out who the killer is]!
"What's interesting about this is… within the first five minutes, you know it's Paul Spector. You get to follow him and see the 'why' of it, rather than the 'who', and that's fascinating. It's interesting learning the motives of the person doing the killing, so that was a big draw for me."
You also appear in US drama Once Upon a Time - is your plan to keep working over here and out in the States?
"Yeah, I think so. I think the operative word there is 'working' - that's the thing that you want to keep doing!"
But you'd never move to the US full-time?
"I certainly wouldn't plan to do that... I hope my American agent doesn't read this! But I love working here and I think the BBC do brilliant stuff - and not only the BBC, over here we just make great drama, drama that you really have to think about.
"They do very classy, sexy television in the US - and they pay a lot more, so there's always that draw! But yeah, I'd love to have the nice balance of doing both.
"I just think a show like this wouldn't be made in the States, or if it was, it would be very different. I watched a fair bit of Dexter - it's brilliant, and he [Michael C Hall] is f**king brilliant, but it's sort of cartoony and fluffier and more comical than what we're trying to achieve with The Fall."