The Fall is a British and Irish BBC crime drama series set in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Written and created by director Allan Cubbit, the series has three seasons of which the third aired just this past September and October.
The series stars Gillian Anderson as Superintendent Stella Gibson, a senior police officer investigating a string of murders in Belfast, Northern Ireland while Northern Ireland actor Jamie Dornan plays serial killer Paul Spector whom she is pursuing.
The Fall is produced by Artists Studio and premiered in the Republic of Ireland on RTE One at 9.30pm on May 12th, 2013 and in the UK on BBC Two at 9pm on May 13th, 2013.
The second season began in the Republic of Ireland on Sunday November 9th, 2014 on RTE One at 10.30pm and in the United Kingdom on BBC Two Thursday November 13th, 2014.
Fans got what they were hoping for when it was announced in March 2015 that The Fall would return for a third and final season.
The third and final season featuring Dornan aired in the Republic of Ireland on RTE One at 9:30pm on September 25th, 2016 and on BBC Two on September 29th, 2016. The series concluded with a simultaneous broadcast on both RTE One and BBC Two on October 28th, 2016 and had an instantaneous premier date on Netflix for the following day, October 29th, 2016 at midnight.
SYNOPSIS: Series 1 (5 Episodes) 2013
Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), a Senior Detective from the Met, is seconded to Belfast to supervise a 28-day review into the investigation of the death of Alice Monroe. A.C.C. Jim Burns (John Lynch) recommends Stella view the case as a single entity, rather than as part of a larger pattern. As reporters begin to descend on Gibson, she asks to be introduced to Sergeant James Olson (Ben Peel), after spotting him at an unrelated crime scene, and she tells him the hotel room where she is staying.
Apparently respectable family man Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), meanwhile, continues to stalk 30-something solicitor Sarah Kay (Laura Donnelly), determined to make her his next victim, and a rogue reporter named Ned Callan (Nick Lee) attempts to make a name for himself at Gibson’s expense.
Gibson is called to the scene of Sarah Kay’s murder, a crime for which PC Danielle Ferrington (Niamh McGrady) blames herself. Ferrington admits to Gibson that after unsuccessfully attempting to reach Sarah Kay the evening after the break-in, she and her partner left the premises, likely unknowingly leaving Kay with her attacker. Burns agrees to make Gibson the permanent Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) of the investigation, after she convinces him to admit that the murders are linked. Prof. Reed Smith (Archie Panjabi) arrives at the crime scene, joining the investigating team. DS Olson shows up at the scene of Sarah Kay’s murder, asking Gibson why she has been ignoring his messages. Unimpressed by his breaching of the crime scene and of his sending her picture mails earlier, Gibson dismisses him.
Morgan Monroe (Ian McElhinney) coerces Burns into clearing his son’s name in relation to killings, whilst DS James Olson is assassinated outside his home.
Meanwhile, Spector hides the evidence of his latest crime in the cache located in the ceiling of his daughter’s bedroom, whilst Katie Benedetto (Aisling Franciosi), the children’s 15-year-old babysitter, expresses her interest in him.
Gibson builds her team, whose investigation is now known as Operation Musicman. Impressed by Ferrington’s honesty at the crime scene, Gibson asks her to be her right-hand man. Gibson is questioned about her one-night stand with James Olson, whom she has recently discovered was married. Gibson begins profiling the killer with her team.
Meanwhile, Paul’s wife Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh), unaware of her husband’s secret, becomes concerned about her daughter, who is having nightmares that threaten to reveal the killer’s secret cache of murder paraphernalia. Spector first notices Gibson when he sees her on TV giving a press conference about the investigation.
Chief Inspector Matt Eastwood (Stuart Graham)’s investigation into DS Olson’s death reveals the involvement of DI Breedlove (Michael McElhatton) with the Monroe family, forcing the latter to take drastic measures that drag Stella deeper into Internal Affairs investigations. An old friend of Prof. Reed Smith, Rose Stagg, tells Gibson that a man named Peter had strangled her to near-unconsciousness while she was at university, nine years ago.
Spector’s professional relationship with Liz Tyler (Séainín Brennan) is questioned by both his bosses and her husband Jimmy (Brian Milligan), forcing him to speed up his next attack – with grave consequences. Meanwhile, his daughter may prove to be his downfall, as her nightmares become more prevalent and she begins to draw disturbing images.
Gibson begins to investigate the botched attack on Annie Brawley (Karen Hassan), bringing her one step closer to the killer, both emotionally and physically. The investigation begins to focus on a single individual. Gibson and Sarah Kay’s father mount a televised plea for information pertaining to the murders. Gibson announces the killer will have an opportunity to converse with her privately, if he comes forward.
In TV footage showing Sarah Kay passing through the gates of the municipal gardens, Spector can be seen following not far behind, thus forcing him to come forward to give a statement to the police. A pregnant Sally Ann supports to the police Spector’s false claim that he was at home on the evening of the attack on Brawley. Sally Ann confront Spector about her lie to the police and he is forced to lie to Sally Ann, who wants to know what he has actually been doing late nights. He tells her he has been having a three-month affair with their children’s young babysitter, Katie. The lie threatens to rip his family apart and expose his secret. Spector makes contact with Operation Musicman, revealing to Gibson details of his crimes, before leaving Belfast with his family to settle in Scotland. Annie Brawley awakens from her coma.
SYNOPSIS: Series 2 (6 Episodes) 2014
Ten days after her telephone call with Spector, Superintendent Gibson tries to help Annie Brawley recapture her memories of the attack that left her hospitalized. Rose Stagg (Valene Kane), a friend to Smith, is inadvertently dragged into the case, forcing her to reveal secrets from her past to her husband Tom (Jonjo O’Neill).
Following Sally-Ann’s breakup with Spector, he returns to Belfast to tie up loose ends, much to the excitement of Katie, and to the dismay of his pregnant wife, who believes he raped the children’s babysitter.
Whilst Gibson is called in front of the PSNI’s Policing Board, headed by Morgan Monroe, to discuss the lack of progress in the case, Ferrington requests a transfer off of the investigation. DCI Eastwood is assigned as Gibson’s Deputy SIO following Brink’s (Frank McCusker) reassignment, and Gibson declares the investigation will focus on a single individual – Paul Spector. Meanwhile, Paul abducts Rose Stagg.
Gibson orders extensive surveillance on the Spector and his family. Gibson and Reed share an intimate moment. A distraught Burns informs Stella he leaked information to Morgan Monroe about her investigation, tipping off his son and one-time-suspect Aaron. Burns aggressively attempts to kiss her, and she fends him off.
Meanwhile, Spector continues to groom Katie to assist him in his crimes. He breaks into the Investigating Officer’s hotel room and witnesses her confrontation with the A.C.C., making the cat and mouse game far more personal than it had been before.
Gibson’s huge surveillance operation continues to pay its dues. DC Martin (Emmett J. Scanlan) and DC McNally (Bronágh Taggart) head a team assigned to install closed circuit cameras in microphones in the suspect’s home, a task that has unexpected consequences. The body of a young woman is found fitting the description of Rose Stagg, so Gibson seizes the opportunity to use young and eager DS Tom Anderson (Colin Morgan) to bait the serial killer.
Meanwhile, Spector returns home to find his house destroyed by the botched police operation, Katie continues to provide a false alibi for the strangler, whilst Paul continues to groom her to assist him in his killings.
Gibson continues to monitor the killer, whilst Burns visits a disgraced paedophile priest (Sean McGinley) who may have had contact with the suspect. Ferrington is shot whilst responding to a call out of a man matching the description of the suspect who has been taken hostage, blowing Gibson’s arrest strategies.
Meanwhile, whilst Katie works to destroy evidence, Hagstrom (Kelly Gough) heads a team to intercept and arrest her, Martin and McNally arrest Sally Ann for perverting the course of justice, whilst Anderson arrests Spector for the abduction of Rose Stagg, among other crimes.
Gibson monitors the progress of the interviews from behind the scenes, whilst she is informed of a video that shows Rose pleading for her life, with the suspect’s face clearly on camera. The search team discover Spector’s burnt car with conflicting evidence inside it.
Several people try to interrogate Spector, who refuses to talk to anyone but Stella. Sally Ann suffers a miscarriage during interrogation, when informed about the crimes Paul is arrested for. Gibson gets Spector to confess all the crimes he has committed, but not to tell her whether or not he has killed Rose, nor where she or her body is hidden. Spector agrees to take Gibson to a place in the woods in exchange for seeing his daughter. In the woods, Gibson locates a car with a barely alive Rose in the boot. James Tyler followed the police procession to the woods and sneaks up to shoot Paul Spector and Tom Anderson, before being shot himself.
SYNOPSIS: Series 3 (6 Episodes) 2016
After the events in the forest, Spector and Rose are both taken to the general hospital, where the doctors battle to save Spector’s life. Kiera (Aisling Bea) is the nurse assigned to care for Spector. Gibson’s shock turns to numbness as she panics at the prospect of Spector not surviving and justice not being delivered to the victims’ families. Katie despairs as news of Spector’s shooting makes the news. Olivia, Spector’s daughter, finds news articles about Spector being the ‘Belfast Strangler’ online.
Gibson and Burns are under investigation for the way Spector’s case was handled. Rose demands to leave the hospital after discovering Spector is in a bed only a few feet away. Katie lashes out at her former friend, who spoke to the press about Spector, squirting corrosive substance in her eyes as revenge. Gibson and the officers investigate a lock-up used by Spector and discover disturbing photos and journals that suggest further killings. Sally Ann secures one of Belfast’s most notorious defence lawyers, Sean Healy (Aidan McArdle) to plead Spector’s case. Spector regains consciousness and after interacting with his wife and daughter, it is apparent he has suffered from amnesia and doesn’t remember anything after 2006.
Spector speaks with a psychiatrist and his lawyers, maintaining he has no memory of any of his alleged crimes. Kiera, Spector’s nurse, becomes close to Spector. Evidence from the lock-up shows the murder of a young brunette woman in London, a decade ago, for which David Alvarez (Martin McCann) a friend of Spector’s is serving a sentence for. The DPP wants to pursue charges against Sally Ann for aiding Spector. Gibson interviews Rose about the events surrounding her abduction. Desperate, Sally Ann feeds her children warm milk laced with sleeping drugs and with the children sleeping in the car, drives down to the beach.
Sally Ann’s car, submerged in the low tide, is seen and her and the children are rescued and taken to hospital. An interesting intimacy develops between Spector and nurse, Kiera. Spector is transferred to a secure psychiatric facility to undergo evaluation about whether he is mentally fit for trial. Spector’s legal team try and discredit the confession Spector made to Gibson. Gibson tells Dr. Larson (Krister Henriksson) about Spector’s sexual perversions. In another interview with Rose, Gibson admits police blunder led to her abduction.
Anderson and Ferrington go to London to speak to Alvarez about the murder of the brunette woman in 2002 and Alvarez recounts the horrific sexual abuse the boys experienced by the staff members at an abusive boys’ home they both resided. He notes that Spector spared him from the worst kind of abuse. Spector has his evaluation with Dr. Larson. Katie is sentenced to a juvenile detention centre for her assault. Later, in an interview with Spector and his lawyer, Anderson and Gibson press for information about Alvarez and the young brunette woman. Convinced Alvarez is innocent and is protecting Spector, they announce he is being charged with her murder. Spector remarks that it’s a smart move by police as he is able to remember this time period.
The police interview continues. Spector recalls the death of Susan Harper as a sex game gone wrong. Unimpressed, Gibson taunts Spector, telling him to grow up and drop the act, apparently touching a nerve. Spector lashes out at Gibson, leaving her bruised. After witnessing Spector’s outburst, Burns has a nervous breakdown and Wallace quits Spector’s legal team. Back at the Foyle Clinic, Dr. Larson informs Spector that his condition is treatable, but not curable. Gibson visits Katie Benedetto in the juvenile detention facility, where she has been self-harming. She urges Katie not to ruin her life to impress Spector. Meanwhile, Spector persuades fellow patient Mark Bailey to create a distraction in the lounge. In the ensuing chaos, Spector beats up Dr. Larson and takes his belt. He uses it to strangle Bailey to death, before hanging himself on the back of the bathroom door, the same method that his mother used to commit suicide. Following Spector’s death, Operation Music Man is disbanded, and Burns resigns. Gibson returns to her home in London.
Spector was Dornan’s finest role and Jamie is often boastful about how Paul is what launched his career. Not only will Dornan miss this character, but we will too.