tue 18/06/2024

Ripper Street, BBC Two, Series 5 review – apocalypse looms in Victorian Whitechapel | reviews, news & interviews

Ripper Street, BBC Two, Series 5 review – apocalypse looms in Victorian Whitechapel

Ripper Street, BBC Two, Series 5 review – apocalypse looms in Victorian Whitechapel

Not so much a police series as a laboratory of lost souls

The three amigos: Adam Rothenberg, Matthew Macfadyen and MyAnna Buring

There has always been an air of incipient doom hovering over Ripper Street, since the show is more of a laboratory of lost souls than a mere detective drama.

Now, as it embarks on its fifth and final season, there’s every reason to suppose that the going will get seriously apocalyptic, not least because the unspeakably evil DI Jedediah Shine has been brought in to helm the Leman Street police station in Whitechapel.

Studious viewers will recall that Shine, the godfather of all bent coppers, was not only the murderer of the Elephant Man but also the arch enemy of Matthew Macfadyen’s Edmund Reid, who urged his old comrade Bennet Drake to beat Shine to death in the boxing ring. He didn’t, obviously (and he can’t now because he was murdered at the end of season four), and now Shine is back and lusting for revenge on Reid. “I’m going to paint the streets with your blood!” he roared, from the steps of his police station. Mind you, this was one of the few of Shine’s lines that it was possible to understand without resorting to re-sampling the audio track with sophisticated digital technology, since he’s played by Joseph Mawle (pictured below) as though he’s permanently swallowing a  tennis ball.

Joseph Mawle, Ripper StreetThe episode left Shine’s threat hanging in the air, but otherwise the episode found our protagonists stunned and devastated in the aftermath of Drake’s death. His funeral, with a chorus of policemen singing “The Lord’s My Shepherd” in a dolorous minor key, was affecting indeed. Reid, Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) and Long Susan (MyAnna Buring) now find their faces plastered on Wanted posters all over town for a variety of reasons, and after they’d been lurking in a sewer for a few days they followed Jackson to a new shelter in a disused theatre. Imagine Susan’s horror on discovering that the establishment belonged to the promiscuous and hard-drinking Mimi Morton (Lydia Wilson, pictured below), with whom Jackson had previously enjoyed a dalliance. “All the decayed ruins in this town and you bring me to hers,” seethed Susan, having a Casablanca moment.

But that was the past, and our heroes had much else on their minds. Jackson and Susan were desperate to find their son Connor, who’d ended up as the ward of Augustus Dove (Killian Scott), the Assistant Commissioner with political ambitions who also has vital questions to answer, since he happens to be the brother of Drake’s killer, Nathaniel. To Susan’s amazement, it was Mimi who unearthed Dove’s home address where he was keeping the boy.

Lydia Wilson, Ripper StreetAs for Reid, he’s desperate to keep in touch with his once-lost-but-now-found daughter Mathilda, but, inconveniently, he can only only contact her when she puts a burning candle in her window. Meanwhile tracking down the murderous Nathaniel (Jonas Armstrong) is a pressing priority for Reid and Jackson, and via a circuitous route involving an illegal dog-fighting network they came within a few yards of nailing their quarry. At the same time, they tipped off the law about their whereabouts (though they wouldn’t have done if Jackson had been able to resist loosing off his Colt 45 revolver in the street), and they surely can’t evade Shine’s dragnet for very long.

The plot sounds daft when you write it down, but Ripper Street hangs together because of its powerful characterisations and convincing performances, and Richard Warlow’s baroque, pseudo-verse dialogue remains a joy. He’d given Susan a particularly memorable line: “Mr Dove thinks he can set the hour of the world by his own pocket watch.” Mustn’t forget Dominik Scherrer’s music either, a concoction of strings, mandolins, pump organs and lord knows what else which can be eerie and minimal or dynamic and powerfully rhythmic. All good.

The plot sounds daft when you write it down, but Ripper Street hangs together because of its powerful characterisations and convincing performances


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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