It’s been 10 days since serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, Fifty Shades of Grey) fled Belfast, and Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Golden Globe winner Gillian Anderson, The X-Files) is running out of time to catch him. Then Spector commits a brazen crime to silence someone from his past, and Gibson finds crucial evidence that puts her hot on his trail once more. “An intelligent show with tremendous acting” (The Atlantic), this “harrowing yet riveting” (The Independent, UK) British drama has enthralled critics and audiences alike. Anderson mesmerizes as the strong, self-possessed detective, while Dornan proves disturbingly charismatic as Spector, a man who is both a sadistic killer and a loving father. With vivid characterizations and heart-pounding storytelling, The Fall is an unforgettable psychological thriller.
Although the British series 'The Fall' (which aired on BBC 2, but has become available to American audiences via Netflix – and now this Blu-ray release) is about a police detective tracking a serial killer, labeling it as a thriller (even a "psychological" one, as many have) isn't quite on the mark. It's mostly just a drama, giving viewers a look at the lives of two people – one who's a cop and one who's a serial strangler. While Series 1 of this show did follow the killer around as he committed his different crimes, Series 2 is – for the most part – largely sanitized. If Series 1 was a look at who these two people are, Series 2 is about why they're that way.
Series 2 picks up about a week or two after the ending of Series 1. After having her first phone contact with "Belfast Strangler" Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) – who she still hasn't been able to ID – Police Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) continues to try to find out more about the man she's been hunting, and it isn't long before what she's learning starts pointing towards Spector. Paul, in the meantime, has left both Belfast (where this series is shot on location) and his wife, Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh) – not because she's found out he's a killer, but because she thinks he slept with their underage babysitter, Katie (Aisling Franciosi).
When Paul learns that Stella has interviewed the first woman (played by Valene Kane) he explored his dark sadomasochistic fantasies with when he was younger, he returns to Belfast to kidnap her. Whether he's killed her or just kept her hostage is one of the big mysteries of Series 2. Upon returning home, Paul also begins to have an even closer relationship with Katie – who suspects he's the killer, but still has a sexual crush on him – and even starts making her part of his plans to both taunt and thwart Stella Gibson.
Jamie Dornan (who is perhaps now best-known to American audiences for playing the lead male role in Fifty Shades of Grey) is the best reason to invest in 'The Fall'. His acting in this series is superb, as the character – despite being a monster – is somehow still sympathetic. The audience knows they shouldn't like this character, but the fact that Spector is a family man in addition to being a horrific killer makes him one of the more human portrayals of darkness I've seen on screen in recent memory.
In her role of Stella Gibson, Gillian Anderson is a little less appealing. It's not so much the character or what she's doing – which is certainly interesting to watch – it's the way Anderson has chosen to play her. Not only do viewers have to deal with Anderson's attempt at a British accent (her character is a Brit who has been sent to Belfast), but she delivers most of her dialogue in whispered, flat readings that make it hard for her character to make an emotional attachment with the viewer. Perhaps that's the intent here – to make the bad guy the one with all the real emotion and to make the good cop sterile and detached (if that's the case, this series does a good job), but it's yet another reason viewers may find themselves quietly hoping that Spector – despite all the people he's killed – will get away with it.
Perhaps the best thing about 'The Fall' (and obviously, you don't want to take a look at this season if you haven't yet seen the first – which got a day and date release on Blu-ray with this title) is that it's highly re-watchable. By giving viewers knowledge of the killer from the very first episode back in Series 1, this show has never been about "who done it" as much as it is about "why they're doing what they do." It also nicely avoids so many of the clichés we've seen in other shows and movies about serial killers, making 'The Fall' seem much more realistic and true-to-life. At its heart, this is a character piece, and fans of really good acting won't want to miss Dornan in this series.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
Season 2 (or Series 2 as they like to call it overseas) of 'The Fall' stalks its way onto Blu-ray in a standard Elite keepcase. The case houses the two 50GB dual-layer discs, along with an insert advertising Acorn TV. A slipcover with the same artwork as the keepcase's slick slides overtop. The first of the two discs is front-loaded with an ad for Acorn TV, plus trailers for New Worlds and 'Black Work'. The main menu is a still of the image that graces the box cover, with menu selections down the left side of the screen.
The Blu-rays in this release are Region A locked.
Each episode of 'The Fall' is shot digitally on Arri Alexa cameras and is presented here in its original television aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Viewers will immediately notice that each episode's presentation is ever-so-slightly dialed back on color, which is the look this series has had from the start. The result is many scenes that look a little "flatter" than most HD presentations, but there's still plenty of detail to be found in the image. Facial features are well defined for the most part and the black levels are pretty decent here, with only the slightest hint of noise creeping in from time to time. Mild aliasing is noticed during some camera pans, but such instances are few and far between. This is a solid presentation from Acorn Media.
The only audio option for each episode is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. While 'The Fall' is far from an action series, the track for each entry does do a pretty good job with lots of ambient noises, giving the viewer/listener an occasional – if not ever quite encompassing – sense of immersion. The rears are also used to enhance the haunting, often primarily piano solo music of composer Keefus Ciancia. Dialogue is exclusively front and center, but well rendered and never difficult to understand – with the possible exception of star Gillian Anderson, who seems to talk in whispers at all points in the series. While there's nothing particularly flashy about the audio here, the lossless tracks for each episode are well done and free of any problematic glitches.
Subtitles are available in English SDH for each episode.
Note: All of the bonus materials listed below are contained on Disc 2 of this release.
More of a straight drama than a psychological thriller, the second season (or "series" depending on your country of origin) doesn't disappoint, expanding and deepening the characterizations we saw in the first season instead of going for cheap thrills or action sequences. Overall, Season 2 is slower and more introspective than the first go-around, but it makes us care for these characters more – yes, even the monster named Paul Spector. This one's recommended – but be sure to watch Series 1 (also available on Blu-ray) first!