The Fall - chilling, remorseless and glacially stylish

DCI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) in series three of The Fall
DCI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) and Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) in series three of The Fall
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According to an online dictionary I consulted –purely for the purposes of this first paragraph – the word ‘glacial’ can be defined in three ways.

Firstly, ‘glacial’ can mean relating to or denoting the presence or agency of ice, especially in the form of glaciers; secondly, it can mean very cold, or icy; thirdly it can mean extremely slow (like the movement of a glacier).

All of these definitions can apply to Gillian Anderson and The Fall (BBC2, Thursdays, 9pm). Anderson, all silk blouses, cheekbones and blonde – almost white – hair, plays DCI Stella Gibson, whose ice maiden exterior hides secret passions and a penchant for casual sex with colleagues.

In the first series of this cool, sleek, police drama, Gibson had been called in to help the investigation into a serial killer laying waste to the brunette professional women of Belfast.

By the second series, Gibson had established that the ‘Belfast Strangler’ was smoking hot grief counsellor and ice cold psycho Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). That series closed with Spector lying mortally wounded in Gibson’s arms, and this first episode of the third series picked up things in the immediate aftermath.

The ‘action’, such as it was, mostly took place in a grey, dimly-lit, unfathomably empty hospital – apparently no one visits the A&E in Belfast, it must be really easy to get a GP appointment over there.

Doctors battled to save Spector’s life, there was gore galore in the operating theatre, and there were ruminations on the doctor’s obligation to treat all casualties the same.

Much of this was deadly dull, and seem to move at a snail’s pace, but the – virtually wordless – last five minutes, as Spector lay motionless in a hospital bed (Dornan probably glad of a good lie down after all his 50 Shades... bedroom gymnastics), and Gibson comforted a confused, dying old woman were hypnotic and full of foreboding, right down to the, literally, eye-opening twist.

It may have all the speed and warmth of a glacier, but The Fall also has the same relentless, chilling forward motion, which makes for some compelling drama.