The Fall explained: Why was Paul Spector killing people? Inside the Belfast Strangler
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BBC series The Fall finished airing several years ago but is now getting a new lease of life after arriving on Netflix UK recently. The show delved into the psyche of the fictitious Belfast Strangler Paul Spector (played by Jamie Dornan) as he committed a series of despicable crimes. He was pursued by Metropolitan Police detective Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), who would stop at nothing to hunt down Spector.
Why was Paul Spector killing people in The Fall?
WARNING: This article contains spoilers from all seasons of The Fall
Spector was murdering women in their homes in meticulously-planned hits which he would go to great lengths to research.
He would document each killing and the lead up to it in a series of journals, factoring in entrance and exit points from each property to the most minute detail to ensure he would evade capture.
The fictional serial killer would position his victims’ bodies in often sexually provocative poses and photograph them as part of his lurid game.
In the finale, viewers started to get a notion of Spector’s troubled upbringing in a boys’ home where sexual abuse was rife as well as his dysfunctional family life with his mother.
The Fall also saw Spector keep a series of journals which he used for documenting his crimes but also introspection and self-analysis.
Part of the allure of committing these crimes was sexually motivated and his need for dominance of others.
According to the BBC’s website for The Fall, the murders and his journals were an outlet for his “creativity”.
Within his writing, there were various pieces of poetry and prose which were inspired his murderous plans and inner demons.
He also included the names of philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and author Fyodor Dostoevsky whom he claimed inspired his crimes.
The site goes on the state about his sense of self: “Paul Spector places himself at the heart of the narrative in his journals, keenly aware he is the key player in this killing spree.
“A bereavement counsellor by profession, Spector is compelled to analyse his own actions. He regularly depicts himself in his journals and offers appraisals of his character, mixing rampant egotism with self-loathing.
“Spector’s desire to carry out his own analysis of his motivations and actions is another facet of the power/control killer profile he falls into.
“He is not quite as keen to accept Gibson’s opinion – that he is simply a slave to his desires and a man seeking to assert his sexual dominance.”
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Stella previously told Spector he was weak and lacked control with his desire to kill, ultimately making him impotent.
When Stella confronted Spector and told him she planned to take him down, he suddenly attacked her – perhaps because he realised his pseudo amnesia wasn’t going to be discovered and he would pay for his crimes.
On a more real-life level, The Fall’s creator Allan Cubitt was inspired by American serial killers Edmund Kemper the “Co-Ed Killer” and Bind Torture Kill murder Dennis Rader when he conceived Spector.
Cubitt wanted to tap into the notion of these seemingly every day, almost banal men hiding monstrous crimes beneath their ordinary-looking exteriors.
Both BTK and Kemper were studied by legendary FBI profiler John E. Douglas and his team at Quantico to build up patterns of behaviour, find signs and try to catch these type of killers early on their criminal careers.
Douglas has previously said in his book The Killer Across The Table (2019) how the upbringing of these men, which were troubled and unhappy ones, set them on this path. The profiler called for more love and compassion in the world.
By catching these men at an early age, it would be possible to undo some the irrevocable psychological damage done to them as children.
Similarly, Spector’s own path seems to have been determined by his emotionally turbulent younger years.
If he too had been cared for, he may never have become the Belfast Strangler and lives may never have been lost.
The Fall seasons 1 to 3 are streaming on Netflix UK now
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