Review: Ripper Street (S4 E7/7), Monday 3rd October, BBC2

Programme Name: Ripper Street S4 - TX: 03/10/2016 - Episode: n/a (No. 7) - Picture Shows: Bennet Drake (JEROME FLYNN) - (C) Tiger Aspect 2016 - Photographer: Bernard Walsh
(C) Tiger Aspect 2016 – Photographer: Bernard Walsh

So what is the secret of the Whitechapel Golem? If this was EA Poe, it could be a gorilla with a straight razor; if it were Dr Who, it could be a giant rat from the sewers; but this is Ripper Street, so it’s likely to be something at once more monstrous and more human. We know there are two threads bound to be tied up this week; the mystery killer in whose place Bloom was executed, and Susan’s plot to rob the Customs House, retrieve her child and flee the country. Against this background, Drake and Reid, once friends and colleagues, are bound to clash.

NB: Spoilers

Drummond and Mathilda are getting rather close, while Reid is collaborating with Castello. She insists on more information on the murder of Ratowski, the rabbi who led many Jews out of Russia, and whose diaries she has obtained. Drake is furious that Reid continues with the case, but the diaries reveal a horrific tale of wolf-packs hunting the fleeing refugees.

‘Homo homini lupus est’ – man is wolf to man – Reid quotes from Plautus.

Have some of the survivors made it to London with revenge in their hearts? One of the victims was a woman, Galuba, whose name translates to ‘Dove’ – is this another clue that Assistant Commisioner Augustus Dove is a suspect?

Dove is pumping the naive Rose, his childhood friend, for information, and she reveals the conspiracy that lead to the (presumed) death of Susan’s father. This is of course the information Dove needs to hold sway over Reid.

Jackson is convinced that Croker’s boy Nate is the murderous beast, so Croker tips off the cops where the porcelain from the Customs House raid is to be fenced. Jackson is taken with the loot, and wakes in the morgue, faced  with the evidence that the stab-wounds on the guards Croker killed at the Customs House linked him to the ‘golem’ killlings.

Jackson gives up no information, but his choice of Egyptian tobacco  – a nice tip of the hat to Sherlock Holmes – provides a lead to Croker’s warehouse, and suggests a link with the disappearance of prison doctor Probin.

Drake’s veneer of civility cracks while he beats the crap out of Jackson, but it takes Castello’s revelation that Rose is in deep with Dove to really send Drake off the rails. Drake thrashes Dove, and promises that his days are numbered, but a horrified Rose reveals to Dove the location of the cellar in which Susan’s father was imprisoned.

Reid foolishly goes alone to Croker’s, where of course he finds Susan, distraught because Croker has betrayed her and made off with the remainder of the loot. He accepts the truth of her escape from hanging with some equanimity, though she accuses him of being just as imprisoned by Whitechapel as she is.

When Nate appears, Susan prevents him from killing Reid, who charges Nate with being the Whitechapel Golem, the killer of Ratowski in retribution for his abandonment to the wolves. But Nate flees before Reid can confirm his suspicion that Dove is the brother, the other survivor of the wolf-packs.

Reid takes in Susan, who suffers a thorough cabbaging at the hands of the angry mob; but as he arrives, Dove telegraphs an arrest warrant for Reid and Drake. Dove has the file on Reid’s justificable homicide of the kidnapper of his daughter; and he breaks into the cellar where Theodore Swift, Susan’s father, was incarcerated. The dessicated corpse is evidence enough of Reid’s guilt, but before he died, Swift wrote on the wall ‘Edmund Reid did this’ – which should be enough to convince even the most sceptical jury.

Reid is all for finding Nate before Dove’s warrants can be executed, so he and Drake set off with Susan and Jackson in tow. Meanwhile Croker has found and chained Nate in the smuggler’s tunnels, and proposes to kill him; but Dove, ever the dutiful brother, frees Nate and stabs Croker instead. If there was ever a case of deserved comeuppance, this must be it.

At Croker’s warehouse, Drake finds the wolfskin cloak Nate wore about his killings; and Susan leads them into the tunnels in search of Nate and Dove. Drake confronts Nate in the tunnels, and in a savage confrontation, Drake, despairing at the loss of his love for Rose, is apparently killed, and Nate escapes.

So are all the loose ends tied up? We can assume that Dove and Nate were indeed the brothers who escaped from the wolfpacks, and that demented Nate has been killing as some form of retribution; we’re not quite clear why he blamed Ratowski, or why he chose his other victims. We can assume, though, that Dove was responsible for planting the evidence that set up Bloom.

With this enormous cliffhanger ending – Drake apparently dead, Reid, Susan and Jackson facing murder charges, and Dove and Nate escaped – the wait for next year’s final series is going to be intolerable.

After a slow start, this series developed into one of the best, partly because of the tight  plotting, clever research and consistently brilliant dialogue , but perhaps mainly because the character of Drake was allowed to come to the fore.

Drake was always more human and sympathetic than Reid, and if we’re to lose him, it’s hard to know how Reid can continue; certainly Jackson and Susan would hardly be in a position to support him.

We’ve had suggestions of vampires, werewolves and zombies in this series; assuming he can defeat Dove, will the next series see Reid leaving the police, and haunting the streets of Whitechapel like some vengeful ghost?

Chris Jenkins

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