Review: Ripper Street (S3 E5/8), Friday 28th August, BBC1

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Programme Name: Ripper Street - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 5) - Picture Shows: Homer Jackson (ADAM ROTHENBERG) - (C) Tiger Aspect 2014 - Photographer: Bernard Walsh

(C) Tiger Aspect 2014 – Photographer: Bernard Walsh

Susan having shot Reid and killed Capshaw to cover her own crimes, she now nurses Reid who hovers between life and death as Whitechapel goes to hell. We always had the feeling that Reid would at some stage get written out of the series, so with his daughter now saved, we were a bit surprised that news of his death seems to have been exaggerated.

He lives, but is in a coma in the care of Dr Frayn. However, he’s clearly out of the action for some time to come, and in his absence Whitechapel is being terrorised by a gang of Clockwork Orange-style thugs.

Jackson wallows in self-pity and cheap gin in a pub, as a minstrel renders his version of the Ballad of Edmund Reid (it’s pretty painful). Jackson wakes to find the place being smashed up by thugs led by the consumptive Teddy Shipman.

The illicit love-idyll of Drake and Rose is interrupted by an urgent summons from Chief Inspector Abberline, who also rousts Jackson, who is found in bed with a pig (no, not one of his doxies, an actual pig, albeit a dead one). Abberline summons Drake and Jackson to witness that Reid still lives, and tells them to spread the word to the increasingly disordered streets.

Fred Best is profiling Susan Hart, despite knowing full well that’s she’s behind the bearer bonds theft and consequent death of 55 rail passengers. He tests her with the location of the bonds, but she claims no knowledge.

Constable Grace has found a body stuffed into a barrel; it’s Bartleby, landlord of the ruined pub. Drake visits the pub and finds a potential witness, Lily, a draper’s girl.

He then bumps into Mathilda and Councillor Cobden, on their way to visit Reid – Cobden asks, understandably, what’s to become of Mathilda if Reid dies.

Meanwhile, the sickly Teddy Shipman falls out with his brother Walt, who has killed the publican as an ‘example’. Teddy beats Walt but is run off by a passing copper. PC Grace looks up the Shipmans in Reid’s records, and suspicions start to form.

Jackson autopsies Bartleby and finds that he was drowned in beer; meanwhile another landlord is getting the same treatment at the hands of Walt and the gang.

Jackson and Reid get plastered together and unwisely go to see Rose singing; Drake goes to confront Rose’s fiance Morton about their relationship, but is headed off by Jackson. This is bound to come to a head at some stage, but as Morton looks a bit effete to us, we can’t help thinking he’d probably be glad to be out of it.

The following day a second dead landlord is delivered to Leman Street in a barrel. Jackson, Drake and Grace figure out that the bodies have had the barrels built around them; that Walt was attacked using an instrument called a ‘cooper’s froe’; that Teddy, an apprentice cooper, was previously charged with the murder of a publican; that his alibi was Lily Timpson, the draper’s lass; and that her shop was the only one not smashed up in the previous night’s riots. They’ve pretty much solved the murders, except for the motive.

Teddy Shipman is brought in for questioning (there’s some great CGI work depicting the massive brewery in which he works), and Jackson concludes that he’s too weak to have done the killings himself; Constable Grace goes to take in Lily Timpson, but is taken by Shipman’s gang.

Drake, Abberline and Jackson figure out that the murdered publicans have all changed their supplier from a London brewery to a Northern one; so the Shipman gang’s motive isn’t a protection racket as such, more a determination to protect jobs in London breweries. Murdering publicans does seem to be a rather extreme form of product marketing though.

A contrite Lily comes to Leman Street with a warning that Walt will kill Grace, so the coppers take Teddy in hand, and head off to the Black Eagle brewery just in time to save Grace from a terminal hangover and to clap the gang in irons. Teddy can cough his last in peace.

Jackson takes the day hard, and seeks solace in the arms of his tart Mimi; Reid, meanwhile, awakes – but is he himself, or a cabbage?

Well, a rather inconsequential episode, perhaps designed to give Matthew Macfadyen a holiday while Jerome Flynn (Drake) takes centre stage and Clive Russell (Abberline) gets a bit more high-grade shouting to do. If it weren’t for some unpleasantness regarding the drownings, and some impressive CGI work, it would have been pretty forgettable.

Next week, though, we have something to look forward to; Reid awakened, and presumably struggling to remember exactly who shot who in the drawing room.

Yet he’s slipped down the billing, so more and more this is becoming Jerome Flynn’s show – and arguably, he deserves it, his perfomances always having been the strongest of the ensemble.

Chris Jenkins

For all our Ripper Street news and reviews go here

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