Saturday, February 4, 2017

The Fall Season 3 Netflix Series Review

The Fall (2013-)
Season 3 - 6 episodes (2016)
Watch The Fall on Netflix
Created by:Allan Cubitt
Starring:  Gillian Anderson, Jamie Dornan, John Lynch
Rated: TV-MA

DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) chases serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan).
In season three, Gibson discovers more about Spector's past, while Spector may not be fit for trial.

While not as good as the first two seasons, it is a conclusion to the Paul Spector arc, albeit a bit underwhelming.
This series started off with such a unique way to tell the story of a serial killer, and in season three it relies on an amnesia trope. The story becomes contrived and is far too static most of the season as the detectives uncover Spector's background. The first episode is great and never matched after that. It's not a bad season, but it doesn't live up to the first two.
Watch it.

Season one was the setup, season two the case, and season three the aftermath (Read my Season 1 & 2 reviews).

Creator Cubitt does have ideas for future seasons, though thankfully Dornan won't be back. Cubitt had originally envisioned this show as Gibson tracking a different murderer each season.

I had heard season three was bad, and while the story isn't as well plotted as the first two seasons, it was serviceable as a conclusion to the story. For most of the season Spector thinks he's in the past, suffering from acute short term memory loss. We're left guessing as to the true status of his mind, as are the cops. This part of the story was annoying, but the show uses that to spur the detectives to dig into his past. We learn more about Spector, but it wasn't really necessary.

I wondered if this season would focus on his trial, as a way to end his story, but while we enter the court, there is no trial. The first episode picks up immediately after the final episode of season two. Doctors are trying to save Spector from his gunshot wounds. These scenes were electric as the staff is frantic. While we don't see much, it's still hard to watch. It could have been much gorier, but it isn't indulgent. As Spector is wheeled away, we see blood and surgical gloves on the floor. Gibson has to watch as the staff try to save a killer. It's certainly a conflict, but she doesn't want him to take the easy way out.

In episode two Paul finally wakes up and we discover that he thinks it's 2006 instead of 2012. I had to wonder if the show was really going to do this. I guess they had to add some kind of drama.
With Spector in custody this season is a lot slower, relying on interviews and bombshells about his past for excitement. While it's a method to develop his character, it just feels clumsy. The show plants a few seeds to indicate he might be lying, but that's because the cops are as incredulous as the viewer.
The cops dig up someone he knew in the past and ret-con a crime so they have charges for him despite his memory loss. It feels a bit disingenuous as it's pulled from thin air.

Katie and Spector's wife Sally Ann are left wondering who Spector really is as they read about the case on the internet after his name is released. Gibson wanted him tried in a court of law, not public opinion. Gibson has to endure an investigative panel questioning her safety protocols during the hunt for Rose. No one wore vests and Spector was out in the open with a known criminal hunting him.

In episode four Spector's lawyers begin creating a defense. They question the relationship between Gibson and Spector. If they are going to have any shot at this case, that seems like a good place to start. If they get into her relationships with other men on the force, it could certainly hurt the prosecution.

The driving question this season is whether Spector is faking memory loss. We get hints he might be, but nothing conclusive. What I don't like about this plot line is that it's such a typical story. What I liked about season one is that it subverted the usual mystery. Instead of leaving the viewer in the dark about who the killer is, it shows us in the first scene. The show isn't about who did it, but about what kind of person would commit such crimes. The show felt smart and treated us that way. This season is a reversion to typical plot tropes. It's just too easy of a story. We get a tried and true mystery, not befitting of this show.

It's a conclusive ending, certainly, but it feels a bit underwhelming. It's not a bad ending, and at least it's better than Spector becoming a lumberjack.

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