So remember how I was curious about the television show Hannibal because Richard Armitage is set to have an upcoming role in it, but I ended up becoming uncomfortable getting into the “serial killer” head space? Well, it seems I’m just picky about what kind of serial killer because I had no problem jumping headlong into Jamie Dornan’s serial killer, Paul Spector, in The Fall.
It started with me being curious about Jamie Dornan’s part in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. As I mentioned recently, I’m more than a little familiar with that character and was on the fence about whether or not Jamie could pull off the part. I remember Jamie from his short stint as the Sheriff in the television series Once Upon a Time and knew that the circles he ran in overlapped somewhat with those of my one-time crush Robert Pattinson, but I wasn’t really familiar with Jamie’s acting work. While browsing through clips on YouTube, I kept seeing The Fall suggested in relation to Jamie. After looking it up on IMDb, I saw that it was about a serial killer. Oh. do I really want to click on that? I’m a curious person by nature, so of course I clicked; and it was such a pleasant surprise! (well, maybe “pleasant” isn’t the right word, since he’s a killer and all..) I watched the first two episodes on my laptop while family life bustled around me. Then, when the family left to attend a community event, I spent the next 5 hours engrossed in a television series about a serial strangler set in Ireland. I did not see that turn of events coming when I decided to search out Christian Grey!
What do I like about the series? I like the pace of the story first and foremost, the time it devotes to setting the scene and not just jumping straight into the action. I like that Paul doesn’t really talk that much: we see him indulging in his secret fetish and trying to hide it from his normal life (so in a way, we’re stalking him…). I like that the visuals don’t focus on violence for shock-value, it’s more the whys than the hows, and we understand (at least intellectually) what these acts mean to Paul. I also like the flip side of the storyline, with Stella (Gillian Anderson) as the police investigator who is dealing with political red tape as she tries to link the murders and track down the killer. Stella is very good at her job and her self-assured demeanor, along with a few sexual liaisons, play into the perception that she’s a cold, sexually empowered, modern woman; a similar type of woman to those that Paul seems to be targeting.
Paul is a grief counselor (of all things!) who stalks and then strangles professional women, posing them after death and taking pictures of them, to get his personal kicks from later. He’s married to a nurse who often works nights, which clashes with his volunteer work on a suicide hotline. Their life consists of the hustle and bustle of getting the kids dressed, fed and off to school while doing what needs to be done for their jobs; the “ships passing in the night” phenomenon of two working parents. The kids are adorable, by the way, especially the daughter, who plays a significant role in Paul’s life.
Meanwhile Paul spends his spare time sneaking about and stalking his victims, casing their apartments, breaking in and moving things around to spook them before returning to finish what he’s started. The way the story unfolds bit by bit, presenting the puzzle pieces and then slowly connecting them, is something I greatly appreciate. It seems to be the norm these days to throw all the info at you in a very fast pace, mixed in with all the drama of the main player’s lives that has little to do with the story at hand (the police investigation/crime). I find the camera work stimulating in this series too: the way it flits about from watching Paul, to seeing things from Paul’s point of view, and back again.
This is one of those stories that pulls you in opposite and sometimes confusing directions. I know what Paul is doing is wrong and I feel for the innocent people that get hurt along the way but I’m drawn to him, and secretly hope he continues to get away with it. It makes me examine what “normal” really is and how much I might ignore if I were in these character’s shoes.
I tried to get my husband to rewatch the series with me but after just two episodes he wasn’t impressed. While I liked the slow unfolding of events, he wanted the faster pace. And while I reveled in the Irish accent, I think he found it distracting. At any rate, if you haven’t seen Jamie Dornan in The Fall, I highly recommend it!