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The Fall: 105 “The Vast Abyss” (Finale) Review


Reviewed by Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull.

Allan Cubitt’s gloomy psychological affair came to a close as the net tightened around our resident serial killer, Paul Spector.

The concluding episode of The Fall had a lot to live up to; multiple storylines needed wrapping up, our psychopath needed capturing and the murderer of deceased copper James Olson was still on the loose. Unfortunately nothing was tied up and we were left with only loose ends.

Considering viewers were on tenterhooks for the past five weeks, Allan Cubitt needed to deliver something substantial and he did, in part. “The Vast Abyss” was full of wonderful performances; a particular favourite was Bronagh Waugh who excelled herself as Spector’s wife in their many confrontations. Gillian Anderson was another highlight but she has performed exceptionally well each week. But aside from some solid renditions “The Vast Abyss” disappointed in many ways and I was left seeking more answers and conclusions. The sectarian-based sidelining plot has gone nowhere, the Tyler family trouble has only just begun and now Spector has gotten away. I know The Fall has been commissioned for a second series but I expected something to be wrapped up. Now although “The Vast Abyss” let me down as a series finale it was still a cracking episode.

Allan Cubitt has certainly built himself a world of despair, death and bleakness where infants die, woman are beaten and men commit self-murder in front of colleagues. The Fall is one of television’s darkest programs (although one of the more recent episodes of Game of Thrones shocked the nation to its core) and a recent article in The Guardian concluded that Britain loves feel-bad TV. It’s true; there is something weirdly pleasurable in watching homicide on our screens. ‘Scandinavian noir’ is imported by the boatload and we devour it in seconds. Dark foreign drama always has a distinctly alien feel to it no matter where it is set. The Fall is only in Ireland, a place familiar to many, but the Belfast setting feels distant. That’s why the grim nature of The Fall works, because the land it works in is perceived by viewers as being exotic. Detective Superintendent Gibson is a glacially cool woman who compartmentalizes her life, meaning we know nothing of her lifestyle back in London. This only furthers the strange and unfamiliar world Allan Cubitt has created, I wouldn’t want to live in his Belfast, would you?

Once a second series of The Fall was announced then I instantly knew a cliffhanger would be on the horizon. However, what we got – the announcement that Annie Brawley (the formerly comatose accountant that has seen Spector’s face prior to his murder attempt last week) had awoken wasn’t shocking or compelling at all. I’m intrigued but not on the edge of my seat awaiting the next series. Allan Cubitt has defended his decision at leaving such a loose ending, but I still think he should have resolved at least some of hanging questions, as the final ten minutes of The Fall were a considerable disappointment.

Verdict: 8/10

The Vast Abyss” let me down; it didn’t answer any of the questions that I had on my mind and it left on an ambiguous note that was not to my liking. But still, despite these flaws it came out as a thoroughly watchable and interesting piece of drama. Gillian Anderson is my new favourite actress, Jamie Dornan will be getting hundreds of job offers now and Allan Cubitt is a writer whose future work I will be following. Looking back at The Fall I think of it as a huge success and I will certainly be back for more. What the series certainly didn’t do was… fall.

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  • EternalDoctor

    Well done, Pat! You have concluded your reviews for this series in a profound manner and it has been a true delight to hear your thoughts.

    Your continuous praise for this has even persuaded me to eventually buy the box-set once it’s released in a few days. I love a dark crime-drama if it’s done well and what you say carries weight – it is weirdly pleasurable watching homicide on our screens. I hope to be equally (if not more) impressed by The Fall as you have been.


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