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The Fall: The Vast Abyss

“You try to dignify what you do, but it's just misogyny. Age-old male violence against women.”

Aw shucks, is it really over. In what sense over? Certainly the last few seconds left suspended -- Stella was mid-breath. I mean not that I could necessarily stand another minute of this excruciating drama but damn was this was a stirring finale to the series' first season.

Most human emotions exist on a kind of continuum.

Merriam-Webster defines continuum as: A range or series of things that are slightly different from each other and that exist between two different possibilities. Indeed in The Fall there are loads of continuums to speak on. (The gender binary representing the most provocative of them.) But continuum speaks to order, something this series, remarkably, also has. And it's perhaps no better reflected than in 'The Vast Abyss' which races to the other possibility, the one that's the opposite of taut, contained and controlled.

Each character deals in their own self-image as a slightly different variation of themselves, given the company they're keeping. Yet as indiscriminate as these facets to who they are exist, with lucidity, they represent the boundaries of who they're capable of being. (Paul being the most profoundly masterful at this such manipulation with what look to be scary huge outposts he can move between.) Katie, in one moment foolishly thrusts her inchoate womanhood onto Paul then yields so childlike to his easy handling of her raw sexuality in the next. Reed firmly (and facilely) navigates Stella's inner rage then in the next beat manages to calmly request the impossible from one of her peers. But perhaps the most astonishing is Sally-Ann's capacity to hold (and unfold) her knowledge of her own self. At one point or another, she displays nearly every feeling humans have access to in 'The Vast Abyss."

You fucked up. And we're on to you.

The best for last. Is it possible that Gillian Anderson has outdone herself with this show? Once again proving she's the single best reason to watch anything she graces with her presence? From the slo-motion close-up of her red nails as she girlishly twists a lock of hair, her face soft and unassuming. All seen from Paul's perspective as he passes her in the police station hallway. A beautiful but slightly different emulation to the appropriate button on her blouse unburdened at the wrong time in 'Insolence and Wine'. In her own micro-managed-expression way, she is beside herself with glee when Paul calls her. She's practically gloating through the phone, on the edge of smug, so certain that she has found herself, finally, in front of him, on this such dark path.

The Devil Is In The Details:

* Ian Kay collapsing outside the press conference in the hallway laid me out.

* Really, Bronagh Waugh did such a bang-up job in this episode. My favorite moment being Sally-Ann's fear worn on her face, after Paul's asked her to lie to the police. Her jaw is practically locked shut she's holding it so tightly.

* The police work behind finding what was on the sheet of notebook paper right before the one that Paul used to to write Ian Kay that note was nothing short of extraordinary. Then how the evidence shakes itself out and gets woven into the story, as fuel to Stella's electric verbal twisting of Paul's psyche -- sheer brilliance.


Reed: “The older I get, the more I have two selves. The medical self, that's confronted every day with the biological basis of existence -- blood, internal organs, corpses and then, I have another self that bathes my kids, puts them to bed, kisses their little cuts and bruises better. Examining dead bodies is one thing, living victims is -- something else."
Stella: “There's a name for it. It's called doubling. I do the same. So does the killer.”

Olivia: “Mummy, Mummy! I'm on television!”

Paul: “I can't see you at the moment, I can't be near you. I don't trust myself. I don't trust myself now.”

Sally: “When you first meet someone, when you first get to know them, there comes a time when you get to know their friends and their family and you get to learn all about them through those others, through their closest relationships -- their mother, father, brothers, sisters -- with you, there's nothing… And I'm really sorry for that.”

Sally-Ann: "I don't want to face tomorrow."

Stella: “People talk about lack of empathy, but we all have limits to our empathy... I think he feels their pain acutely. It's just that he gets pleasure from it."

Jim: “Has she just given her number to a serial killer?”


  1. Can't believe that there are no comments, I really enjoyed this series:) Thanks for the review!

  2. This was the perfect ending. Paul tells a huge lie to get out telling the larger, more horrible truth. What's truly frightening is the way he does it.

    As he's telling Katie that he has to stay away, I am squirming. It's not for the reasons you think, my darling. One quick thought -- where are Katie's parents through all this? How the hell is a grown man up in their teenager's bedroom?

    The final confrontation is one of the greatest scenes ever. Both are so sure they have won; neither has. Yet.

    A wonderful series of reviews, Heather. Thanks for doing it and giving me an excuse to re-watch this show.


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