In Review

The Fall: Can season three maintain the suspense?

Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan return for TV's most disturbing serial killer thriller

Jamie Dornan in The Fall

Psychological crime drama The Fall returns to BBC2 for its third season tonight, so what can fans expect and can it keep the thrill alive now the main villain has been captured?

Allan Cubitt's thriller depicts the macabre cat-and-mouse game between ice-cold police officer Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), and model-handsome stalker-murderer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan).

The second series ended with Spector being shot, bleeding in the arms of Gibson. A trailer for the third series reveals he is alive, if only just, and Gibson is determined he will recover and face justice for his crimes.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"101267","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Another eerie BBC teaser shows Gibson swimming as she is haunted by words Spector spoke in the last series. "I live at a level of intensity unknown to you and others of your type," he says. "You will never know the almost God-like power that I feel when that last bit of breath leaves a body. That feeling of complete possession." [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"99859","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Cubbitt has promised the drama will continue the "macabre, obsessive dance of death" between Gibson and Spector, but said "the rules of this deadly game are set to shift once again".

The new series, he told the BBC, will follow "the emotionally charged aftermath of the shooting" - Gibson's personal journey to keep Spector alive so she can exact justice for the victims' families.

In an interview with the London Evening Standard, Dornan said that, until now, his character had only had "very fleeting" encounters with Gibson. "Obviously in the second series I get more time with her, we had that 18-minute scene," he said. "In this series we get a lot more screen time together."

But can The Fall maintain the tension of the past two series, asks Vicky Frost in The Guardian. The first season was "truly gripping", but the second, much less so, even though it had its moments - such as the shifting power balance in the interview scene.

Frost says she would be thrilled if Spector died. Then "we could watch Gibson make sense of it all without the sexualised strangulations or cat-and-mouse antics". 

Whatever happens, we must see a shift in the dynamic, adds the critic. Getting rid of the powerplay between detective and killer would give Gibson space to grow as a character "beyond perfectly pressed silk shirts and dream journaling".

It would also allow witness Rose Stagg, kidnapped and tortured by Spector, and Katie the baby-sitter, who is obsessed with him, their own stories of survival, Frost adds. "That really would be a twist no one saw coming."

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