The Fall: the criminal mind is fascinating
Do you long to become utterly absorbed in a story, film or piece of art? Do you long to be totally beguiled and to experience another reality in the full which will lead you to know our human existence in more detail?
In our modern lives of super-convenience, I often stop my mindless response and acceptance to become mindful. I take myself to a time and place when and where we lived in close partnership or conflict with nature and its cruelty or benevolence. To a time or place when radio waves had not been harnessed for our entertainment and edification, to inform us of the contents of other minds at the press of a button. In those situations, story and the human imagination were arguably at their peak.
We cannot go back to that state now, but when we find ourselves riveted as I have during this year to the Netflix Drama, The Fall, I strongly recognize my roots in story-telling and my absorption in the human condition. There is nothing quite as fascinating or compelling as the desire to kill another creature or human, nothing quite so magnetic as the power of the occult or devil.
The first two episodes of The Fall defy summary so here I skim the surface for impressions while strongly recommending that you fall into The Fall as soon as possible because you will also certainly be riveted, and you will yet again marvel at the intricacies of the human mind.
The story begins when Stella Gibson of Scotland Yard is called to Belfast Police Headquarters to head a team focused on hunting down a serial killer known as the Belfast Strangler. She has quite a reputation and it is easy to see she is unconventional and intriguing as a senior police officer. She starts to investigate the murders with her mostly female team which follow a pattern because the targets are single nubile female professionals whom he (presumably) stalks and then strangles, bathes, dresses and poses ready for the police to find.
Through 2 gripping seasons, Stella manages to catch the murderer who is shot at his capture, the final episode closing with her holding his head as he bleeds heavily waiting for the emergency services to arrive. Returning to new episodes in season 3 after a break and such an intriguing and pregnant ending, I realize how skillfully the characters in this British drama have been developed.
Paul Spector (not Spectre), the serial killer – sexual deviant, bereavement counselor, adoring father and husband, talented artist and poet – is, after drastic surgery to save him, found to be suffering from amnesia so that he cannot recall the 6 years of his life when he allegedly killed numerous women by strangulation. He also has apparently missed the growing up of his baby daughter and even the birth of his son in his time warp.
The approach to this killer’s hospital treatment is worthy of comment because we have already taken a peep at his ritualistic killing of several of his mannequin victims, but now we are treated to a close look at his insides during a major surgical procedure, coma, massive blood loss and rehabilitation. During this time, the calculating murderer is alone with a dedicated and beautiful ICU nurse and we know that he could kill her despite his incapacity by summoning up his demonic energy. We even get to look at his near-death experience through her caring questions giving us a unique opportunity to look inside even further, behind the presenting horrors, sickening premeditation and manipulation.
Stella Gibson reveals herself and her psychic closeness to Spector still further. She may even be his accomplice for that matter. We feel her humanity, her sadness about her own life, her sex drive, her frustration as a matriarch in a patriarchy, the police force. Her insights and focus on him are consistently impressive and her natural beauty and elegance shine through in each shot. This cannot possibly be a scripted performance for her.
The darkness inside Spector’s life is moving. He can see only pain and loss in loving, nothing bright or hopeful! He was an abused child and so he feels it his right to abuse in return and has nothing to lose as it has already been lost to the suicide of his mother when he was 8.
In his amnesia after shooting and surgery, it is quite difficult to believe his honesty because he has lied consistently even to his closest loved ones. We expect him to turn any moment, to put on his disguise and destroy and pose yet one more victim. He is described as a predator, and yet the predator in all of us feels his suffering. Somehow we know that if not stopped he will get to Stella and strangle her, recreating her infamous beauty in a death pose.
Sally-Anne, Spector’s wife, is in a tragic condition after his capture. She is so shaken by the charges against him that she decides to drug her young children’s bedtime milk, put them in the car, and drive into the incoming tide. She will soon be tried and convicted of obstructing justice as she has unwittingly aided and abetted her husband in her disbelief.
Things eventually are coming to an end! Spector is in a secure asylum facility, but we know that he will make his attack on Stella. We know that she is vulnerable to him, that she is not afraid of him and maybe even willing to die in this big game hunt. We go back to the image of her holding his head in the forest when he was shot. She says she didn’t want him to die because he must be tried and punished for what he has done to other innocents. In some way, he has got into her head as he does with everyone. He certainly got into mine.