The Fall: the story so far

Everything you need to enjoy the Jamie Dornan-Gillian Anderson thriller as it returns for a second series

It’s been 17 months since The Fall first aired on BBC2, so you’d be forgiven for forgetting the ins and outs of Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) and DSI Stella Gibson’s (Gillian Anderson) cat-and-mouse game of murder against the backdrop of a troubled city.

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Don’t fret: we took a look back at series one to get you up to speed for tonight’s return.

In brief

Paul Spector is a family man, bereavement counsellor and serial killer – and Stella Gibson is the cop determined to bring him down.

The beginning

The story begins as Detective Supertintendent Stella Gibson is sent over from London to Belfast in order to conduct a review into the unsolved murder investigation of Alice Monroe, who was strangled and posed after death in her bed.

At the same time we meet Annie’s intense killer (aka the Belfast Strangler) Paul Spector, who’s also killed another woman called Fiona Gallagher and is already stalking his next victim – in between hanging out with his nice family and counseling the bereaved.

Stella begins to suspect the murders of Monroe and Gallagher are linked, but her idea is shot down by Assistant Chief Constable Jim Burns and she’s told to focus on her review as Spector prepares to strike once more.

The murder of Sarah Kay

At the conclusion of the first episode Spector breaks into the house of solicitor Sarah Kay, ties her up and strangles her to death before washing and posing the body for her sister to find the next day.

As well as dealing with the new murder Stella attempts to handle the fallout from a one-night stand she had with a young local detective, which becomes a problem after he’s shot and killed by criminals and Stella has to answer questions about their liaison.

Later the investigation into the three murders is named as Operation Musicman, with Stella put in charge of tracking down the Belfast Strangler (aka Spector) as he begins to stalk a new victim. 

The failed attack

When Spector learns previous victim Sarah Kay was pregnant, he realizes the kill was tainted and attacks his next target Anne Brawley early. In the process he is startled by her brother and stabs him to death, leaving Anne comatose but alive as he makes his escape.

Meanwhile, Stella tracks down an old girlfriend of Spector’s, who can’t remember his name but knows what he looks like – and is willing to help the police bring him to justice.

The end?

Spector’s failure to kill Anne Brawley brings Stella closer to catching him, and the killer is forced to make a witness statement to the police after he is caught on camera near Sarah Kay. Spector has his oblivious wife Sally-Ann give him an alibi for the murders, later lying to her that her support was needed as he was seeing a secret (underage) lover at the time of the killings.

As series one ends, Spector responds to a TV appeal to speak to Stella on the phone, taunting her that she’d never catch him before becoming unnerved when she reveals all that she already knows about him. He tosses the phone and drives away to Scotland with his family, just as his latest victim Anne Brawley regains consciousness…

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The Fall returns tonight (13th November) at 9.00pm on BBC2