The Fall ‘The Vast Abyss’ – Series 1, episode 5
SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen series 1, episode 5 of ‘The Fall’
I can’t remember the last series to offer such robust characters while still providing the viewer with such scope for interpretation. It’s been a pleasure to watch.
In the closing episode to this intoxicating series we are shown the incompatibility of Gibson and Spector, how they were never written to talk with each other; that in their likeness they have nothing to say. Seemingly it is left to Sally Spector to shine a light on her husband, and to make him human.
I missed it first time around last week but last week Sally (Bronagh Waugh) was talking about her patient whose child is fighting for its life. “There’s a baby at work, she’s really poorly. Her mother she’s only 18 herself,” and in ‘herself’ we were left to draw upon when Paul and Sally had their first child. Seemingly it is this that has shaped Paul professionally and left him working in a job he feels overqualified for.
“Growing up I never thought for a second I’d have a wife and family of my own.” Bored of the work, doodling where he should be making notes. Equally his own childhood has caused much harm “If you’re looking for me to make allowances for your terrible childhood I’m afraid I can’t,” and “I know what growing up without a father did to you.” We are left to piece together these elements, these quips, hoping that we will be able to construct the psychoanalysis DSI Gibson cannot.
In this final episode Sally shines because she’s given more air time and because she is used as a window into Paul’s mind. With Gibson falling short in catching her killer, it is Sally who is elected to provide the interrogation: “When I look at you I don’t know who you are. When you meet someone, when you first get to know then there comes a time when you get to know their friends and their family and you get to know all about them through these others thorough their closest relationships.” We are even shown how such a disjointed couple have sex, with Paul angrily thrusting, and Sally visibly in pain. He may have had the broken childhood, but now it is Sally who is tortured.
We’re reminded of the overlap of characteristics between Gibson and Spector, but in The Vast Abyss their traits change. In Spector we see a man pushed to the point of unmanageable stress, dealing with poisonous thoughts of “chaos” and more. I envisage him admitting his actions to the police. So detached and solipsistic has his character become that he wouldn’t be affected by imprisonment. He no longer wants his job and he has even found himself neglecting his wife, losing interest due to his focus on the preservations of childhood.
Rather than protecting his family from his own actions, Paul appears to be protecting himself from harming the babysitter. In some way I feel like the lack of conclusion was caused by the difficulty in writing dialogue between Gibson and Spector. In their phone conversation Cubitt falls back on more philosophy, about freedom and morality in an intellectual battle that is truncated before it tanks any further; Spector plays it cool and Gibson loses it. I can’t help but feel that the two have nothing to say to each other and to continue this dialogue would be futile. When challenged by Stella, Paul goes mute, he throws his mobile into the river and disappears.
Gibson, comparatively, has been increasingly unlikeable. As the show progressed her steely persona moved closer to Paul’s psychopath. Becoming increasingly cut off from those around her, and losing any self-awareness. “And Jerry, I’m not interested in judging,” she demands speaking of an online sexual profile of the victim, “Just find the killer.” He doesn’t judge the victim, rather he delivers the details he has successfully unearthed in a calm professional manner. Elsewhere in the hospital she is taken aside by Paula having just argued “With the greatest respect…” to the attending doctor.
They maybe off to Scotland, but the police are impossibly close. The artist’s impression is too good and the local residents to the murder house have identified him, and worse, have a grudge for him. In my mind, he’s caught and his daughter heartbroken.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to know what conclusions everyone has drawn.Tagged in: Allan Cubitt, Gerard McCarthy, Gillian Anderson, Jakob Verbruggen, The Fall
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