At the end of “The Fall” in 2015 there were discussions about the series and the characters among friends and fans. One such discussion follows before we pick up on Season 3. Your thoughts are also welcome.
The Fall … Impressions
Stella vs Spector … Are they similar in character as some have said? Other than both being coldly attached to their certainly divergent goals, she can show compassion, he cannot. She does try to manipulate him .. but to find the truth … and especially to find Rose Stagg. He manipulates everyone around him … his is a game … his ability to use those around him makes him feel superior and indestructible. She manipulates situations … sees how people can fit into her strategy … as with Tom and Gail.
Her first instinct was to use Tom to unsettle the “superior” Spector. Working with him her admiration of his unemotional intellect grows. She likes his calm exterior, his capable handling of himself in the interrogations. She begins to feel she can trust him.
It had to be Stella’s intentions -do everything to unsettle Paul: remain behind the scenes herself, mock him with low-key, young, totally emotionally uninvolved, seemingly uninterested interrogator. But why did she choose Tom for that role?
I agree with you that Stella is goading Paul … taking every opportunity to throw him off his very confident stride. The interrupted interrogation … the attractive female inquisitor (wasn’t she brunette?) … the return to the stoic, measured pace by the “young” officer. Was it meant to seem amateur? Was it meant to capitalize on Paul’s arrogance and make him think he had the upper hand? Is that why Tom was chosen, because he has a boyish appearance … and yet this “boy” is in charge! Goading Paul, yes, indeed.
I felt it was important that Tom remain stoic and calm. I think the deadly calm and the mirroring are intended to subtly intimidate Paul. Paul knows where the usual police techniques are headed and is probably ready for them. Perhaps Tom’s completely detached behavior is intended to confuse Paul, at least enough to put him off guard and provide opportunity for possible slip-ups in his narrative that can be capitalized on later.
So, not only was it not Stella doing the interview, it was the “junior” detective doing the interview, which angered Paul who feels worthy of attention from the lead detective. Meantime, Tom was treating him like a child with very measured words and an unblinking stare, like Paul, keeping no expression …. An excellent mind game, if it works. .
I thought Tom an interesting character for Colin … a great departure from characters who showed their emotions clearly, even without words. Tom used few words, and his exterior was almost enigmatic … so hard to read. For Colin, whose natural way of speaking is so animated and expressive, this took some discipline. His interrogation of Paul was cold, methodical, posture rigid, eyes unblinking, voice firm and probing.
In Episode 5 we see Stella’s no-nonsense approach to laying the groundwork to catch Spector begin to show cracks. Rose’s filmed pleas to Spector clearly affect her deeply. She becomes emotional, teary, strained. (This was 5 minutes of almost unbearable pain, even for the audience. Very tough to watch.) And then Spector’s face appears … taunting the viewer(s) … Is that why he kept the phone, this damning evidence, in order to flaunt his disregard for authority, as well as his contempt for Stella’s efforts … to accuse the potential viewer(s) of being equally as “sick” as he? These scenes are the first evidence of Stella’s vulnerability which will grow stronger as the evidence reveals itself and eventually cause her to seek even momentary relief from this emotional stress.
E06 … Stella requests Tom join her in reviewing the tape from Katie’s phone. They are sharing the experience of building a case against Paul, evaluating his actions. Any investigative team would do so. As yet, imo, there is no indication of sexual tension between them. Tom disagrees with Stella’s idea that he lead the interview with Katie. Tom is more concerned with Katie’s youth and fascination with Spector than is Stella … who is willing to exploit her if necessary. (the end justifies the means). “Let’s see how she deals with somebody of a similar age, similar looks.” Stella’s body language, hands twisting together, held in front of her face, rubbing her mouth … protecting her from a reaction (hers or Tom’s?) to the words she is saying.? Is this suggestion awkward for her? Is she embarrassed to voice it? Why not a straight-forward request without the strange gestures? Is there something more, something behind the words? (I think there is, and I think Tom picks up on it.)
Tom’s interview of Katie is different to his interrogation of Paul. It is softer, expressive, and earnest in some respects. The interview with Olivia has an additional impact on Stella. Tom enters, sees her distress, moves behind her … almost a comforting gesture. I think it is the first time Tom has seen an indication of softness in the hardened head detective.
This is where the deleted scene is important. I’m glad it was posted and think it fills an important gap regarding what happens next. When Tom joins Stella, late evening in the evidence room reviewing Katie’s pictures, they are both showing signs of vulnerability. Tom because he feels he should have done more to reach Katie … Stella because she is reminded of her father’s loss and the pain accompanying that event, producing in her some sympathy for this teen-age girl. The suggestion for a drink seems an attempt to step away from the intense emotion being generated by this investigation with someone whose unemotional opinion she has come to respect … but it obviously led to something more.
The next morning: There is no feeling of passion here. This was a liaison, an interlude, not a romance. No strong emotional feelings … it seemed to me rather academic. Tom wants to pursue her comments about his similarity to Spector. “Something deeper … deeper in his nature you see reflected in me, somehow.” “ Would it be so odd?” I’m sure the thought does appall her, but it seems to be there nonetheless. Hiding her face again, saying the thought repels her, her head turned away, tea cup in front of her mouth … avoiding facing Tom whose probing intelligence is unsettling for her.
Finding Rose: When Paul and Tom are watching Stella’s approach up the incline after finding Rose, it is not Tom but Paul who shows strong reaction to her.
The shooting: I have looked at this several times … normal speed, and frame by frame. Unless there is something more, something I have missed, I do not see distress in Tom that Stella is attending to Spector instead of himself. He is not a lover, as some have suggested. Tom is obviously not critically injured. Ferrington is attending him, releasing the handcuffs, checking his possible wounds. Just as Ferrington rushed to the shooter first, before her fellow officer, so also, Stella rushed to the prisoner, before her fellow officer. This is police work, in my view. The suspect has been shot; he is Stella’s responsibility. I think she has developed a strange attachment to him. Still, she does not want him to avoid punishment so easily. She has just seen how he left Rose to die in the trunk of her car. She has been committed to bringing this serial killer to justice. This is not over for her. (“It won’t be over until I’ve stopped you.” … 1st season)
Once Tom is disengaged from the suspect, he moves away, a well-trained officer leaving room for what needs to be done next. All the attention now is in saving Spector. (For what? A third season perhaps?)
This serves more as a cliff-hanger than as a killer receiving his justice for horrible crimes. (Are we really finished, or is this just another teaser?)
I hope I have not disappointed you … but perhaps I am a bit blind on this one. Try as I might, I saw no tears or indication of that kind of emotion on Stella’s face. She is obviously distressed and wants to save Spector, but I saw no tear-streaked face, nor tear-filled eyes. As well I did not find Tom’s reaction to be questionable. They were not lovers. He had exhibited no serious attachment to her. This woman is not the love of his life, nor even the result of a serious affair. He, perhaps, is seeing confirmation of his suggestion that her interest in him is rooted in his resemblance to Spector. The alternative for Stella would have been to rush to Tom’s side and leave Spector to bleed out, which seems to me quite contrary to Stella’s professional obligations as a career police officer and lead detective on this case. There is no overwhelming emotional attachment to Tom to lead her to do otherwise.
As for Paul’s reaction to Stella’s attentions. I am inclined to think he feels that he has won, in the end. That he has defeated her, had the last word, and orchestrated events to his own choosing. I think the title of this last episode reveals a lot about the author’s intentions. “What is in me Dark Illumine”
Those are my thoughts. There will be places where you disagree. But it is great to share our observations
I do agree with many points here. But not all. I would like to answer in a few installments, if you don’t mind.
“ Stella rushed to the prisoner, before her fellow officer. This is police work, in my view.”
I would expect a calm, collected, emotionally detached Stella on the scene, like when she attended to Eastwood following Breedlove suicide. Giving out commands to the officers at the scene : “we need an ambulance”, “apply pressure to prisoner’s bleeding wound”, “check on Anderson”. Not this panicked, sobbing mess. Cradling Paul in her hands. And not even a glance in fallen colleague’s (even if not lover’s) direction.
And no, of course they are not lovers. yet, as per Colin’s words, his role has a deeper dimension in the plot. And not for his professional abilities NOR his handsomeness. He is a catalyst. Like a lakmus paper in chemical reactions. He reveals something to Stella (and us) about herself. Something that took 2 series to develop. And that emerged at the very last minute of the finale. And only for those who wanted to see it.
We agree that Tom is a catalyst and has revealed something to Stella (and us) about herself. She retreats within herself, draws back, and hides from it. Can you tell me what you think that something is? Do you believe Stella has developed an emotional attachment to Paul, or is it something else? What do you think is the reason she is so distraught that he may be dying?
I’m sure you’ve noticed how frequently the camera was drawing the parallel between Stella and Paul, them walking the streets of Belfast, running/swimming, indulging in sex/sexual deviations etc.
But did you also notice that ,when Stella was eyeing sleeping Anderson, the parallel was with laying, though sleepless, Spector? It was a new parallel, Spector-Anderson. And of course Stella would deny it when confronted by Tom. And , of course, she denies such “repelling thought” to herself as well. But the allure, the attraction is there. It might be his brutal violence, the very thing she hates the most about Paul, or may be the need to control, or the childhood misery that she empathizes with, or some sort of impossible, deniable kinship she feels, even if very subconsciously, in some very deep recesses of her mind. And that sick attraction surfaces so abruptly at the finale, when she instinctively runs to and cries over Spector, thus shocking and appalling not only Anderson (the way he looks at her) and Burns (whose face was closed-in not without purpose) -and all of us, but I’m sure, herself as well.