All episodes written & directed by: Allan Cubitt
The Showtime series Homeland suffered greatly when the show’s producers and creators refused to kill off a central character who overstayed his welcome and whose death the show really needed for a very long time. When they finally bit the bullet and killed the character, suddenly the show came back to life and turned into the must-watch series it had been at the very beginning. A show like The Killing, which took two years to solve a single murder and forced the audience to suffer through a couple hundred red herrings too many, was doomed from the start. The Fall is a great television show. Within five minutes of the very first episode we knew who the killer was, we knew in fact before we even met the investigators leading the search for the killer. Suddenly our focus wasn’t on who did the deed, it wasn’t even so much on the hunt, we were drawn into some very interesting and fascinating characters, greatly drawn, layered, complex characters who demanded our attention. Even so, perhaps this third season lagged and struggled a bit due to the show’s refusal to let go of some characters that could have been abandoned some time ago.
Series three opens immediately after the shooting that concluded the second season. Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) has been shot and is rushed to hospital so that his life may be saved and so he can spend the rest of it in prison, thinking about what he’s done. Sarah Kay is safe, but needs to recover before going home – in spite of the fact that she is treated in the same hospital where Spector is also being operated on, the show does nothing with this. Stella Gibson (the astounding Gillian Anderson), still shell shocked from the events, must push forward with the evidence in case Spector survives the attack and must face trial for his crimes. It’s no spoiler to say that Spector survives the operation, even the show could have gone to interesting places had he died.
Even worse, Spector wakes up with memory loss. It is below a show like The Fall to make use of such a moronic plot device that doesn’t even medically work in the way the show uses it. Suddenly Spector has lost exactly six years of his life, erasing every murder committed. Gibson and those working for her push forward in spite of the amnesia and try to build the strongest case against the serial killer. Through the investigation more of Spector’s past is uncovered, which is meant to make us feel empathy towards the monster, but Dornan’s quite wooden and stiff performance as Spector makes this ultimately too hard to do. Anderson, on the other hand, adds layers to Gibson’s vulnerability and proves why the actress is in more demand than ever.
Several key cast members reappear and while some are welcome and move the plot forward (Spector’s long suffering wife and children), others appear on screen and evoke eye rolls and hatred (why oh why is Katie still a part of this show?). Sadly missing is Archie Panjabi’s Reed Smith, not because the character added anything particularly brilliant to the narrative, just because I love her and want the actress to be in everything.
I still really enjoyed the season and my interest was held throughout the six episodes, I just wanted a little less Spector and no amnesia whatsoever. The show will continue, albeit not immediately. I look forward to seeing what Stella Gibson will do in the future and where life will take her in a couple of years time. The character and the actress playing her are so good, the story is definitely worth coming back to again someday soon.