Review: Ripper Street (S5 E2/6), Monday 26th June,

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There’s a touch of the Burke and Hare about this episode, as Reid and Jackson, still on the run from Dove and Shine, find need for a corpse fresh from the mortuary.

There’s contention at H Division as Drummond and Thatcher fight it out over Frank’s humiliation at the hands of Reid and Jackson; Thatcher accuses Drummond of being a shandygaff,  which is a rather mild insult considering the circumstances – as it sounds, it just means a weak beer. 

Meanwhile, handyman Waters, a devotee of Susan’s, has secured a job at Dove’s townhouse, and is spying on Dove and Shine; Dove hasn’t confided in Shine that the Whitechapel Golem is, in fact, his brother – but why not? Shine is thoroughly corrupt, and if told the truth, would still be equally determined to catch Reid. Is this a suggestion that Shine might somehow, eventually, be persuaded to turn against Dove?

Dove threatens Miss Castello over her paper’s support for Reid – is there supposed to be some pointed commentary in her assertion that she has to print what her readers want to hear? The sainted Reid is meanwhile using a selection of dentures to savage a corpse – manufacturing fake evidence to discredit Dove. Will this draw out the real cannibal killer, or will it serve purely to annoy Dove further?

Dove’s visit to an animal dealer conceals his purchase of Siberian wolves (Jamrach’s was a real business which operated until 1919 – a statue in Tobacco Dock commemorates an incident where a tiger escaped the menagerie and made off with a child).

Shine puts the squeeze on Mimi, but she’s made of stern stuff and doesn’t crack – but his vile way with women begins to grate on Thatcher.

We get a nice little Johnny Cash joke when Waters offers to name his son after Susan, but clearly Waters is doomed to be caught spying. First, though, he hands over evidence of Dove’s purchase of the wolves.

Mathilda and Drummond look like consummating their passion, unlikely though it seems that it would be seen as proper for the couple to spend so much time alone together. Mathilda seems willing to let conventions go hang, but perhaps Drummond’s bruised bollocks will put the dampers on things.

Reid’s subterfuge has the desired effect of stirring up questions about Drake’s death, but also prompts Dove to put evidence of Reid’s past misdemeanours in the hands of Miss Castello. She can’t ignore the evidence of his killing of Mathilda’s kidnapper, so it looks as if his reputation is in the dumper again. Shine, though, isn’t taken in by the hoax, and pressures Castello into revealing Reid’s theory about Dove cannibalistic brother.

It might actually have been easier if Reid had simply put all his evidence in front of Shine; while corrupt, Shine doesn’t seem to like being kept in the dark, so he would certainly have been diligent about investigating Dove.

Reid figures that Dove’s wolves are a lure to draw out Nathaniel, but Dove has turned Mathilda and Drummond, and threatens Waters, who is rather bizarrely beaten to death by governess Miss Chudleigh.  Well, we said he’d come to a bad end.

With Augustus and Nathaniel fled to the country with Connor, Reid’s only advantage is that Thatcher has turned against the brutish Shine; but will this be enough to alter the balance of power in Reid’s favour?

As we rather feared after last week’s opener, this season seems to have lost something of the unique quality of Ripper Street; rather than revealing historical detail which cleverly refers to contemporary issues, this season is rather a one-issue deal, with little sub-plot other than whether Reid will overcome Dove. With Reid’s past sins coming back to haunt him, it’s becoming harder to work out whether his success will be an unmitigated victory for justice.

Chris Jenkins

For all our Ripper Street news and reviews, go here

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