Review: Ripper Street (S3 E3/8), Friday 14th August, BBC1

Programme Name: Ripper Street - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows:  Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (JEROME FLYNN) - (C) Tiger Aspect 2014 - Photographer: Bernard Walsh

With Reid in hiding after he killed his daughter’s captor Buckley, Drake is left to tackle the case of a fraudulent medium who is exploiting relatives of the train crash victims. When fake medium LeCheyne (Jason Manford, looking unnervingly like Gio Compario), dies of poisoning during a séance at Blewitt’s Music Hall (no, he didn’t see it coming), there are plenty of suspects including a bereaved widow, Mrs Wakefield (Georgina Rich); Lechayne’s cheating girlfriend Juniper Kohl (Sophia La Porta); and slimy assistant Marvell (Philip Ardith). Cyanide seems to be the cause of death, and jealousy the motive, if you believe the girlfriend; but Marvell, even under arrest for fraud, insists on his innocence and blames the girl.

Marvell’s claims that the comfort he brings is real, even if the spiritualism isn’t, cuts little ice with Drake, who has bigger things to worry about, with Abberline questioning the autopsy account that Buckley was killed in self-defence. Drake stands firm in the face of questioning, and drowns his sorrows with Sergeant Atherton, who almost quotes Bruce Springsteen’s Darkness at the Edge of Town.
Meanwhile Susan bonds with ‘Alice’ (Reid’s daughter Matilda), while evil Capshaw plans to exile her to Switzerland.
Widow Wakefield claims that she’s haunted by the ghost of her husband, who was a taxidermist, and so had access to cyanide. In a scene reminiscent of Psycho, Drake and Jackson examine Wakefield’s workshop, and find money and poison missing. So was the haunting actually a burglary? And are nudey photos found in the studio really of Juniper Kohl?
Juniper admit’s it’s her in the photos, and that she had an affair with Wakefield, but denies killing LeCheyne.
There’s a painful music interlude with Rose, who then visits Drake in his lodgings to deliver something hot for him to get his teeth into, and also some food.
Drake might feel guilty afterwards, but it seems to revive his investigative mojo. His suspicions lead him to examine Wakefield’s autopsy, which confirms that the burned body was identified only by its pocket watch. So was Wakefield’s death another fake? Is he alive, and planning to elope with Juniper?
Indeed, he’s holed up in a hotel, and meets up with conniving Juniper, who had in fact poisoned LeCheyne because he had discovered the fraud plot. It’s unclear how Juniper could have taken out a life insurance policy on Wakefield, but, whatever.
Drake and Constable Grace (Josh O’Connor) set up a sting using counterfeit cash for the insurance payout, but Mrs Wakefield gets a lead on Juniper from a repentant Marvell, beats them to it, and catches both her unfaithful husband and his whore in a grimy hotel. Drake arrives to find the conspirators slit up a treat, so justice is kind of served.
The net also closes on Susan, as journalist Best, who has been doing a better job of investigating the missing bonds than the police, goes to Jackson with evidence that the intended recipient of the bonds was Theodore Patrick Swift, Susan’s father; and Rose sees ‘Alice’ at Susan’s clinic, and reports to Drake.
But, on her way to boarding the portentously named SS Warlock, Alice has given Capshaw the slip and disappeared into the stews of Whitechapel. There’s only one thing for it; Drake has to search out the missing Reid, finding him holed up in a beach hut.
Love, death, life insurance – the themes of this episode are many and deep. As the characters agonise over the parts they play and the courses they have chosen in their lives, one thing we can be sure of – before you make big decisions which could affect your life, you should always Go Compare.
Chris Jenkins
For our episode one review, go here
For our episode two review, go here

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