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'The Fall' fan react: Beauty versus power

Season 2 | Episode 3 | “Beauty Hath Strange Power” | Aired Jan 16, 2015

The third episode in this second season of the hit BBC series The Fall opens on our killer taking a run in the countryside and stealing a car while our protagonist, Stella Gibson, writes assumptions on a whiteboard as she tries to figure him out. Detective Burns drops a bomb on her, telling her that he gave the Rose Stagg case to Eastwood, who will now be SIO. She tries to be the bigger person, but it reads on her face as she walks away from welcoming Eastwood that she is less than pleased with the situation.

As the police sit around a table digging into Paul Spector’s past, Stella tells it like it is: “A man doesn’t wake up one morning and find that he has become a sexual psychopath. Nor does he wake up one day and find that the condition is gone. It develops over a very long period of time.”

Thinking that they have the upper hand, the police re-interview Spector’s wife, Sally-Ann. She quite clearly wants to tell them the truth: that she thinks she knows about her husband having an affair with the babysitter. What she does is lead them to Katie, the silly teenager getting herself in far too deep with a serial killer because she likes the thrill. She does the unexpected (or is it expected at this point?) and covers for Spector, saying that he came home around 9:30 the night of Sara Kay’s murder. She uses this as a bargaining chip to meet with Spector, saying she will tell him what she said if he meets her somewhere. She is dancing with the devil.

True to her character, Stella smells the B.S. of Katie’s lie a mile away. What she unwittingly (or is it knowingly?) has done is lead the police to another clue: Spector and his wife were out drinking in the same bar as Sara Kay on a night that Katie was babysitting. Bingo.

As Stella checks in at the sight of Spector’s phone call to her from Rose Stagg’s cell phone in the previous episode, Spector unknowingly nearly drives into her waiting hands. Unfortunately for him, Stella catches a glimpse of his car before he can pull off, writing down the license plate number as best as she can read. Stella takes a phone call from Reed Smith, the ME. A different officer runs a stolen-car report that shows a car with a close match to the plate number was taken. Another notch on the belt of the police.

In another part of town, an eager Katie meets Spector at his appointed meeting place. She asks him if he is pleased with her for protecting him; he says no, much to her chagrin. He tries to convince her that he isn’t the killer with a lovely little speech: “Being a serial murderer is a form of slow suicide—deeply self-destructive.” He does, however, realize how useful she can be, considering she follows him like a cult follower. He tells her a lovely story about finding one of the victims’ licenses, keeping it, then writing a letter as the killer and sending it to the police. He reveals his hatred for Stella Gibson and gives Katie a task that will distract Stella long enough for his own espionage.

As Stella meets up with Reed Smith at a bar that looks much more upscale than a place called Burt’s Bar should, Spector sneaks into her hotel room via the hotel kitchen. Stupid, he is not. While Reed apologizes for prying into Stella’s life with the accusation of the fingernail marks on the dead cop’s back, Spector is churning the audience’s stomachs by touching Stella’s underwear and smelling her clothing like one of his victims. Finding her diary, reading it, and taking photos of what he finds is possibly the most intrusive thing he could do. To give himself enough time, Spector has tasked Katie with dressing like him and sneaking into his house, which results in a phone call to DSI Gibson. When the cops make her as she enters her own house, Stella knows exactly who she is. Spector may be a few steps ahead of the police, but they are gaining quickly.

As Stella take her call, Reed is left to suffer what every woman who has ever been alone or left alone in a bar has faced: an unwelcome advance. She very clearly does not want his attention; we can tell this by her answer of, “How nice for you,” when he offers his profession. She tries the “I’m smarter than you” when answering about her own profession, but that does little to deter him. Stella, to the rescue, sits down and immediately kisses Reed not once, but twice with added length before paying the offender any attention. She hits BAMF status when she reaches for the margaritas the man still holds, thanks him for them, and tell him to keep them coming. When he says he is not the waiter, her response is, “Then why are you standing there?”

A scene that I did not see coming was Reed and Stella waiting at the elevator to go up to Stella’s room and continue the evening. Reed ultimately begs off, claiming her upbringing won’t allow her to “go with the flow” as Stella puts it. Interesting cog to add to the Stella wheel, BBC. Almost fittingly, Stella returns to her room before Spector is able to vacate. As he hides in her closet, she receives another visitor: Jim Burns. He is drunk and admits to being a dirty cop before trying to put the moves on Stella; she is having none of it and breaks his nose. My favorite line of the episode is here: Burns asks, “Why are women emotionally and spiritually so much stronger than men?” to which Stella answers, “Because the basic human form is female. Maleness is a kind of birth defect.”

The moment of the episode that did me in was, after findings her computer tampered with and checking her room, gun in hand, Stella realizes that Spector has read her journal. Not only read it, but left her a note. Gillian Anderson deserves an award for the flashes of emotion that cross her face alone. Shock bleeds into vulnerability, bleeds into anger, bleeds into determination. She will find him.

The Fall is available on Netflix.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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