Initially, Detective Superintendent Inspector Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson, The X Files, The Crimson Petal and the White) is brought in to Belfast from The Met in London to review a stalled murder case, one in which the victim, Alice Monroe, happens to be the daughter-in-law of the head of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Morgan Monroe. As Gibson begins to dig deeper, she discovers a link between the Monroe murder and a new murder that has just occurred, along with one from some time back. She is pressured to not link the crimes by high ranking officer (and old flame) Jim Burns (John Lynch), but it seems his motives may be more political in nature. Regardless of politics, Gibson heads a task force to catch this serial killer and she will have her work cut out for her.
Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, New Worlds, Fifty Shades of Grey) is handsome, charming, intelligent and seemingly the perfect father and husband. He works as a bereavement counselor by day, yet he is a twisted serial killer by night. His sweet wife Sally Ann (Bronagh Waugh) has no clue, nor do his two young children, Liam and his beloved daughter, Olivia (Sarah Beattie), although Olivia is troubled by frequent night terrors and has been drawing some odd things lately that have caused her teachers concern. It could have something to do with the fact that her father hides his kill bag and trophies in the attic above her room. The family babysitter is a young sexpot named Katie Benedetto (Ainsling Franciosi) who has serious designs on Paul and becomes a little too curious about his nightly activities.
As Stella begins to discover more and more about the Belfast Strangler, another girl is attacked, only to survive and perhaps be their greatest clue yet. As Paul's world begins to close in on him, he reaches out to Stella, only to vanish in the night.
There is far more to the story, including political intrigue involving both Monroe Sr. and Jr. and members of the police force, plus a storyline involving a patient of Spector's whose abusive husband happens to be involved in an unsavory group who aren't afraid of the police. Everyone is intricately intertwined and their stories unfold in dramatic twists and turns.
The Fall: Series 1 is tense, emotionally draining, and brilliantly written and acted. Paul Spector is a despicable character, yet he is so tender with Olivia. Stella Gibson is brilliant at her job, yet has incredibly casual sex with those around her in the workplace and almost seems to be a bad luck charm for those who fall into her bed. All of the characters are very deeply nuanced and flawed in their own right, but the entire cast is fantastic, not just Anderson and Dornan. I especially enjoyed seeing Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife) as medical examiner Prof. Reed Smith, and Niamh McGrady as beat cop Danielle Ferrington.
There's also a 12 minute behind-the-scenes featurette where cast and crew discuss The Fall: Series 1 and it is pretty interesting. I'm a big fan of Gillian Anderson in general, but The Fall: Series 1 is filled with shining stars, so if you enjoy a good thriller, you should definitely check out The Fall: Series 1. Fortunately, The Fall: Series 2 is also being released on Blu-ray, so I didn't have to wait to see what happens next. Look for that review soon!