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.

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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.