Ripper Street Season 5 Review (Spoilers)

  • Title:  Ripper Street
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 6
  • Discs: 2
  • Cast: Matthew MacFadyen, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Buring, Jonas Armstrong
  • Network:  BBC (Co-Produced by BBC, BBC Worldwide, Amazon Prime, BBC America)
  • DVD Format:  Widescreen, Color, DVD, R1, NTSC

Spoilers

Season 5 of Ripper Street opens where the previous season ended, with Edmund Reid, Capt. Homer Jackson, and Long Susan on the run. Reid’s sergeant, Drake, had been killed by Nathaniel, which they witnessed. Nathaniel is protected by his police inspector brother, Augustus Dove. Jedediah Shine returns to run Leman Street.

The season is driven by two forces: police corruption and personal loyalty. Not only is Augustus protecting his brother, but he’s willing to go to great extents to do so, including murdering anyone who knows the truth. Meanwhile, Reid’s existence now depends on loyalty – Jackson and Susan (who also have self-interest at heart, they know Reid is their best chance at survival), but the few honest coppers – Drummond and Thatcher, and also Reid’s daughter, Mathilda.

The third episode of this season tells Nathaniel’s story – not his past, which we’ve known since last season, but his present. Augustus Dove smuggles Nathaniel out of Whitechapel, and sets him up in a small house out on the moors, alone. Nathaniel catches eels in the nearby river, which he sells to the fishmonger. When for several days the fishmonger fails to arrive, Nathaniel says something to Augustus. He is basically both concerned and desperately needs people. Augustus warns against contact. Nathaniel ignores his brother, meets the fishmonger’s family, and discovers the old fishmonger has died. In due course, Nathaniel helps the young widow and her son. But also in the household is Caleb, the widow’s brother, a loathsome, brutish man. He’s the one who got drunk and killed his sister’s husband. He also abuses his sister. And, when working in the market, he mistreats Jews and overcharges them. Nathaniel gets closer to the widow. The brother finds out about it. Nathaniel and the brother fight – with the result that Nathaniel kills both the brother and the widow. The young boy, Robin, sees the murder and runs away to Whitechapel.

Augustus covers everything up, and takes in the injured Nathaniel in his own home. Augustus is also now raising Connor, the son of Homer Jackson and Long Susan. They had left the boy in the care of Bennett Drake and his wife, Rose, but after she’s widowed, she leaves Whitechapel and gives the boy to her childhood friend, Augustus.

The boy escapes, briefly. He’s taken in by Reid, Jackson, Susan, and Mimi – an old friend of Jackson who is rebuilding her theatre. However, the boy finds a newspaper that shows Reid and company as fugitives. So Robin runs. He’s found by one of the loyal police officers. However, Augustus Dove quickly discovers the boy. Before Robin can tell all he knows to the police, Dove uses his personally loyal police from J Division to take the boy away. Dove kills the child and dumps him in the river.

Reid and Jackson find the body, and at that point Jackson decides, that’s it, it’s over. There is nothing Dove won’t do and nothing they can do to bring him to justice. At first Reid argues, but then he also accepts his fate, and buries the child.

Jackson (nee Matthew Judge) and his wife Long Susan (nee Kaitlyn Swift) decide to take Connor from Dove’s house and run. They burst in, guns blazing. They injure the police on duty, kill the governess, and confront Nathaniel who is holding Connor. Susan tells Nathaniel that Augustus killed Robin. Nathaniel gives Connor to her. Nathaniel asks Augustus about the boy’s death, and Augustus lies.

Drummond sets-up Reid, and he’s arrested. Shine is at the arrest and beats up Reid. Then Shine collapses and dies. Chief Inspector Fred Abberline returns to take charge at Leman St. Reid doesn’t talk much after his arrest, but does tell Thatcher (a loyal police officer) about Robin’s death and where he buried the body. Nathaniel, meanwhile follows Thatcher. He sees Thatcher recover the body and then witnesses Augustus shoot and kill Thatcher and dump him in the nearby river, before dumping the Robin’s body again. Once his brother is gone, Nathaniel recovers the body.

Nathaniel takes the body to Reid and company, and Susan convinces him to turn himself in. Susan also convinces Matthew that before they leave, she must tell Mathilda the truth. Susan confesses her sins, including murder, to Mathilda. One of the murders that she confesses to is one that Reid was blamed for. Susan convinces Nathaniel to turn himself in. The two do so together. Susan turns herself in to the police. Nathaniel turns himself in to the police. Augustus denies even knowing his brother. However, Jackson examines the body of the child, Robin. It turns out he had Scarlet Fever which now affects Mimi and Augustus Dove. Nathaniel and Susan are taken to Newgate Prison and eventually executed. Homor Jackson takes back his original name, Matthew Judge, and returns with Connor to the US. Reid goes back to policing, in Whitechapel.

The remainder of the final episode is a collection of Reid re-experiencing his memories of previous cases, including the unsolved Ripper murders. But also, everyone leaves Whitechapel. Mathilda marries Drummond anyway, and they move away. The two have a daughter. Mathilda excludes her father from her life. Mimi also leaves Whitechapel, but her theatre opens. Augustus Dove is arrested, sent to Newgate, and his paperwork intentionally lost. The police do not want to put him on trial because too much police corruption will be exposed. But they don’t want him loose either. Reid ends up, sitting behind his desk, at Leman Street, devoting every fiber of his being to policing and justice, as he had before when the series starts.

Ripper Street is still an excellent series. The episodes are intense. The entire cast, including Jonas Armstrong (previously seen in the BBC’s Robin Hood) as Nathaniel are fantastic. The themes of the season, police corruption and personal loyalty, intertwine in a dramatic fashion and play off each other. People switch sides. People try to serve justice, but make mistakes. At times, blind loyalty has high costs, but at other times, it’s the only way to solve the issues. Also, the costumes, lightening, sets, etc. are wonderful as they have always been in this series.

The only negative I had was I could not for the life of me understand the actor playing Jedediah Shine. I’m usually good with accents, but I found Shine’s mumbling impossible to understand and it wasn’t helped by his full beard and mustache. I ended up having to turn on the captions whenever he was on screen and turn them off when he was gone. As Shine is an important character, this wasn’t helpful.

Also, I missed the daily life in Victorian Whitechapel approach of previous seasons. Previous seasons of this show had really shown the darker edge of the Victorian Era, from disease to child labor. This season focuses entirely on the main characters, and our three main characters are on the run. While this laser focus helps the season itself, it also leaves a gap. We really don’t have any idea what else is going on in Whitechapel at the time. Still Ripper Street is an excellent series and I highly recommend it.

See also, My Review of Third Season Ripper Street and My Review of Fourth Season Ripper Street.

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Ripper Street Season 4 Review

  • Title:  Ripper Street
  • Season: 4
  • Episodes: 7
  • Discs: 2
  • Cast: Matthew MacFadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Buring, Charlene McKenna
  • Network:  BBC (Co-Produced by BBC, BBC Worldwide, Amazon Prime, BBC America)
  • DVD Format:  Widescreen, Color, DVD, R1, NTSC

Season 4 of Ripper Street opens with Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It’s been three years since the end of the previous season. See Season Three of Ripper Street review. Edmund Reid had left Whitechapel at the end of the previous season to raise his newly re-discovered daughter, Mathilda in a seaside town. Mathilda is now a young woman, brilliant and curious about the world, especially Whitechapel. Reid’s determined to protect her and keep her away from the old neighborhood – but he’s drawn back in. Deborah Goren visits Reid and asks him to return to Whitechapel to help her clear the name of Isaac Bloom, found guilty of a terrible murder and due to hang. Susan Hart (aka Caitlin Swift, Jackson’s wife) is also due to hang. She was allowed to give birth to her son in prison, and to nurse him, but as he’s now weaned, she can no longer escape her sentence.

Reid returns to Whitechapel, and although he finds some irregularities in the case against Bloom, he is unable to prevent the man’s death. It appears Susan is also hanged, but Jackson has rigged equipment for her which saves her life. He hides her with an old shipping captain at the Whitechapel docks. Jackson agrees that their son will be cared for and raised by Rose and Bennet Drake.

Each episode of Ripper Street is self-contained, however, they also weave together, brilliantly, to lead to the conclusion of the season. A conclusion that leaves all the main characters in awful straights, and ends with a “To Be Continued” title card. It has already been announced that Season 5 will be the last season, however, I still cannot wait to see it. This has been a brilliant show – with excellent writing and acting, and stories that do not shy away from the horrors of Victorian life. Season 4 for example, includes a story about a Workhouse. And the season opens with Susan raising her child in prison. But it’s the characters and the conflicts between them that draw you in – although I must admit, I like seeing Drake, Reid, and Jackson working together rather than at odds. I highly, highly recommend Ripper Street – it really is a brilliant show.

Ripper Street Season 3 Review (Spoilers)

  • Title:  Ripper Street
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 3
  • Cast: Matthew MacFadyen, Jerome Flynn, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Buring, Charlene McKenna
  • Network:  BBC (Co-Produced by BBC, BBC Worldwide, Amazon Prime, BBC America)
  • DVD Format:  Widescreen, Color, DVD, R1, NTSC

The first season of Ripper Street is set a year after the Jack-the-Ripper murders. The residents of the Whitechapel district of London have even less faith in the police. Detective Inspector Fred Abberline has been “kicked upstairs” to metropolitan police headquarters and a new DI appointed, Inspector Edmund Reid. Reid is a dedicated cop, who is suffering himself – having lost his daughter in a steam ferry accident, he is now estranged from his mourning wife. Reid throws himself into his work.

Season 3 of Ripper Street takes place four years after the end of season 2, and the Leman Street station has broken apart. Capt. H. Jackson is now a low-rent doctor, no longer interested in police forensics or medical examiner work. Detective Bennet Drake has moved on to a position with the Manchester police. And Reid organizes the records room and archives of the police station.

But then a train robbery goes wrong, when a Necropolis train is diverted on to a passenger train track. The two trains collide, leaving 55 dead – and bringing our characters back together. Drake was a passenger on the train, returning to London at the bequest of Abberline to be trained as a detective inspector then take Reid’s job when he’s kicked upstairs after six months. Jackson, still a doctor, runs out into the street to care for the wounded. Reid of course is in the middle of the chaos – and determined to know who was at fault. Susan now patron of the Obsidian clinic for women and the poor arrives with nurses and medical supplies. And Fred Best, reporter at large arrives initially to cover the disaster – only to find his lover was one of the victims. This disaster will prove to be the underlying plot for the entire season.

Ripper Street is extremely well written, and the theme of how the train disaster affects everyone and Whitechapel itself makes this particular season of the show move quickly and makes it more intense. The initial five robbers who caused the disaster are caught and hanged in the first episode, however, Reid suspects there was a “Sixth Man” who organized the robbery. He even has a clue as to who that may be, a lawyer named Capshaw, but no way to prove it.

Reid is correct about the lawyer – and he works for “Long Susan” once a madam and Capt. Jackson’s wife – now a respectable businesswoman and patron of the Obsidian clinic and the Obsidian Tenements building project.  Susan knew of the bearer bonds on the train – but she is appalled at the high human cost of the robbery – especially, since it was dishonest money she stole to fund her own good works.

Each episode of the season has it’s own crime which is solved, but the greater mystery of the train robbery gets deeper and deeper. A shopkeeper is unable to pay his debts to his loan shark, because the money went to funeral costs for a relative. When enforcers come calling, the shopkeeper’s wife is killed in the fray. This leads to the enforcer and his boss, Susan’s lawyer, finding a girl kept in the basement. The girl is traumatized. She is taken to Susan, who calls the female doctor from the clinic. They slowly come to realize the girl is actually Reid’s missing (and presumed dead) daughter – Mathilda. Thinking that Reid is partially to blame for her trauma, and not wanting to be connected to the crime at the clinic, when Reid finds proof that his daughter was in fact there, Susan lies and claims the girl was brutalised, beaten, raped, and tortured, and finally died from her injuries. Reid has a temper tantrum and kills the shopkeeper he thinks is responsible for Mathilda’s death.

Mathilda becomes another theme to the season, as Reid does discover she is alive – and she and he are reunited. Yet, he is unable to quickly drop everything and run off with Mathilda. When he confronts Capshaw (the lawyer) at Long Susan’s establishment, Susan shoots him – then makes it look like Cashaw shot the detective and he in turn shot Capshaw (Susan, full of regret for shooting Reid – shoots her lawyer).

Reid recovers, slowly. Jackson, having returned to working for the police as a surgeon also investigates the train robbery in his own way. And the reporter, Best, also investigates – bringing evidence to both Reid and Jackson.

Once all these forces collide the nature of the crime becomes known – and world-wide.

As the crime is finally wrapped up in the last episode, even though one of the investigators of the train robbery and the underlying reasons for it will be dead, happiness actually reigns for our main characters. The episode and the season has a satisfactory ending.

I really enjoy Ripper Street and I highly recommend it. The costumes are rich and detailed. The acting is fantastic. The series never shies away from showing the wretched conditions of London’s poor in the late 1890s/early 1900s. It’s great that in this season, we see older plotlines resolved happily. And I really liked the language used in Ripper Street. Everyone speaks in, not so much a very formal manner, but in this poetry-like manner of talking that’s enjoyable to listen to. One quickly becomes used to it – and it adds to the historical feel of the piece.