The Fall: 103 “Insolence & Wine” Review
Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.
As we reach the halfway point in Allan Cubitt’s riveting crime-drama, we focus in on Gillian Anderson’s steadfast detective, with Anderson giving her best performance so far.
The first tandem episodes of The Fall established its tone, and the leading players’ backstories, goals and ambitions. “Insolence & Wine” is midway into the series and the series is now really taking off, with Stella Gibson heading up Operation Musicman, equipped to take on Jamie Dornan’s amoral and deviant serial killer.
At the beginning of the series things were looking very unpromising for the police. Two slayings had already occurred and another was on the horizon, and with no leads and no connections being made viewers were unsure how (or whether) the main protagonists would eventually catch up with Paul Spector. Now, in “Insolence & Wine” we can see how Spector’s world could crumble around him. There was always the potential for his family to discover his sadistic nighttime activities and the possibility of his daughter Olivia’s discovery of his pornographic book and equipment in the attic, in her room is the first step in that direction. Her mum, Sally-Ann, now knows the girl thinks something is ‘up there’ and the outcome will be interesting: will Sally-Ann discover his unwholesome secret, and if she does, will she turn Paul in?
The one thing The Fall does so very well is create a frigid and disquieting ambience that is fuelled by truly heartbreaking scenes. Since the show’s inception, we have witnessed the tragic kismet of a young woman, the harrowing job of a police officer reporting the news of a loved one’s death, and now a scene, that depicts a young mother beseeching help from God to save her dying infant (which is distressing enough without having to think of it juxtaposed with her cooing to the healthy baby in “Darkness Visible”). You can come to your own conclusion that this series will not draw to a happy close.
Gillian Anderson was the spine of this week’s episode as Stella retained her calm, cool and collected composure amidst scores of downcast profanity-muttering coppers. Ever sentence is sharply chiseled and her demeanor continues to be sangfroid (e.g. she takes a calming swim in the middle of a stressful multi-murder investigation), but tiny glimpses of human frailty are showing through. It is Anderson and Doran that are really holding the series together – their complex personalities are well conveyed, with lots of parallels drawn. Her co-star (interestingly, their characters haven’t yet appeared onscreen together. Cubitt is possibly waiting for a climatic scene between the pair once Spector is caught – if he’s caught. A second series has now been commissioned by BBC2), Jamie Dornan is almost too good in his role as he shows the two sides of Paul’s world. You despise him for tiptoeing around his latest target, Annie Brawley’s home, removing objects at his own leisure but then again you think he’s ‘normal’ when he’s with his family. The series needed a multidimensional character as its killer and Dornan does it fantastically.
The Fall now knows exactly where it is going as the operation to bring down the murderer springs into action. Rather than have outdoors scenes, “Insolence & Wine” opted for lean, informative office briefings and that keeps the audience up-to-date on the state of play. Where The Fall shall go from her is both clear and hazy; Stella knows who she is after, the trouble is how will she get there?