Ripper Street Season 1, Episode 4 Review: “The Good of This City”
Things are really coming together on Ripper Street. This week’s episode, The Good of the City further examines the plight of the poor, women, and the mentally ill, while offering up some striking character development for the main cast. Hobbs develops further investigatory skills, while Artherton continues to ride a desk as if he was born there. Drake may have developed a small crush, while Jackson’s secrets threaten to reveal themselves.
We begin with a lovely young woman approaching Long Susan for a job—any job, scrubbing floors, changing linen. Susan is apologetic, but tells the girl, Lucy, that she cannot hire her. Dejected, Lucy goes away. Later, Hobbs spots Lucy wandering down the street, dazed and spattered with blood. Hobbs takes Lucy to the station, where Jackson immediately recognizes her as a former prostitute of Long Susan’s—a very popular one who’s been missing for some time. Lucy speaks of a murder that’s taken place in Dog’s Neck, a slum that’s being emptied and demolished to make room for the underground railway. Her mother was killed along with Roache, a rent collector.
As Reid et al go over the crime scene, I’m struck by how much I enjoy the interactions between them, and the juxtaposition of Bennet Drake and Homer Jackson in particular. Jackson’s swaggering American bravado contrasts so well with the no-nonsense morality of Drake. They’re all so good at what they do, yet all so different, right down to their hats. Drake manages to find a slug in a random brick wall outside, after eyeballing the bullet’s trajectory. Jackson does masterful forensics, despite not even having the luxury of plastic gloves. Still, they find nothing conclusive during their first pass. Sadly, Lucy remembers nothing…for now, at least.
Hobbs’ detective work reveals that Lucy spent considerable time in an asylum under the care of the respected and kindly Dr Crabbe. Crabbe comes to collect Lucy, explaining that she has epileptic seizures and other varied diagnoses’. Lucy goes to the asylum whenever she feels unwell. Beyond that, Crabbe says she is welcome to “live as she pleases.” As the bodies of her mother and Roache are carried past her, Lucy becomes hysterical. Crabbe sedates Lucy and takes her back to the asylum. Reid also notes that she is pregnant.
The advocate for the railway project is a fellow named Bone. Bone is as sad about the murders as the next guy, but he wants the crime scene torn down immediately—because time is money. Reid doesn’t allow this, much to Bone’s haughty dismay. Fred Best slithers out of the woodwork to put some pointed questions and accusations to Bone, referencing a rumor about Bone’s romantic life. Bone is adamant that the project is vital to the city and especially its poor, and that it must come in on budget. Reid insists that solving a murder is more important. Understanding the urgency though, Reid and Drake go back over the crime scene—this time finding a plant fragment that Reid finds familiar.
The herb in question is pennyroyal, which was used to induce miscarriage. Reid and Drake head to Long Susan’s brothel, where Drake is obviously befuddled to find himself in the presence of Rose. It’s a giggly little exchange that I really hope goes somewhere. Drake scares off Rose’s gentleman, while Reid questions Susan about her refusal to grant Lucy employment. Reid also learns that Captain Jackson keeps pennyroyal in his suite in the brothel. Susan pretends to be completely ignorant about Lucy’s pregnancy, the murder, and even the use of pennyroyal. This is when Reid discovers that Susan is hiding a gunshot wound—a wound that Jackson claims to know nothing about. This leads us into our biggest and best scene of the episode.
Reid confronts Jackson saying, “How skilled you are, Captain, your claims to know nothing of what takes place beneath your roof. I’m dismayed at myself, that I would trust a man so transparently false.” See, We viewers have known all along that Jackson and Susan were hiding huge secrets and were not to be trusted. But we didn’t know that Inspector Reid knew. Now we do. Reid goes off on Jackson like a total boss, shouting that he knew all along Jackson was lying, but he let his lies go unquestioned in the hopes that Jackson would do some good for the city. Reid rages that Jackson knew Susan was guilty and kept it a secret.
A man who keeps secrets is a secretive man.
When Jackson tries to calm Reid, he gets knocked to the ground. And rightly so. Not knowing when to quit, Jackson accuses Reid of keeping his own secrets—such as his physical scars and their possible connection to his daughter’s death. That’s when Reid gets serious, threatening Jackson with exactly what he will do to him if he brings up his daughter again. “I shall not trouble myself with asking after the secrets of your life, Captain. I shall chain you in a cell underground and take billy club to you until they pour from you like water.” And remember, Inspector Reid is the good cop! You can tell because after that scene, he sends Jackson to dress Susan’s bullet wound. Macfadyen brings emotional intensity and a truly stirring depiction of rage, disappointment, and grief, as Inspector Reid. He is consistently gripping to watch, but tonight is easily the fiercest Reid we’ve seen so far.
Susan did indeed kill the rent collector, after he shot and killed Lucy’s mother. We also learn that Lucy’s supposed siblings are actually her children—and the children of the railway magnate Mr. Bone. I’m sure there’s a sex pun in there somewhere, but I decline to draw attention to it. When Reid takes the children to the Jewish Orphanage, they are stolen by the true villain of the episode, Dr Crabbe. Yes, all along Dr Crabbe has been manipulating Bone, having cured him of a childhood ailment via very hard drugs. Hobbs put the facts together, making him so valuable and likable that I’m now terrified he will soon be dead. BBC, if you’re listening, do NOT kill Hobbs.
Reid enlists the help of Fred Best, while Drake asks Jackson to identify the drug Crabbe has been giving Lucy. Stymied, Captain Jackson drinks it and goes off on a bit of gun-pointing rager. Armed with information, Reid and Drake arrive at Crabbe’s asylum in the nick of time—barely saving Lucy from being lobotomized to keep her silence. Few things are more scary to me personally than primitive mental health care. I was not at all sorry to see the fiendish Crabbe get blackjacked by Drake, though it looked like it really hurt.
Alls well that ends well in Whitechapel, especially seeing as how most people there are too poor to go around holding grudges. Fred Best gets a juicy story of greed, sex, and corruption. Catharine (the beat up Unfortunate from last week), Lucy, and the children are all housed at Emily’s rescue. Bones gets to be the first man in history to die from contact with a live subway track. That’s an accomplishment…of sorts.
See you’s next week!