Ripper Street Season 2, Episode 6 Review: “A Stronger Loving World”
Oh man…this was an unexpectedly intense episode of Ripper Street. The goings on in “A Stronger Loving World,” resulted in just the opposite. Racial tensions were high(ly orchestrated), Rose crossed paths with old friends and new, and Jackson had a few more drinks than usual. I’m becoming convinced that the writers of Ripper Street don’t believe in lasting marriages—or maybe they just like messing with us. It was a shocking, drug-fueled, edge-of-your-seat episode. Spoilers after the jump.
“A Stronger Loving World” begins with Bennet buying flowers for his wife, and learning the meaning of each from a very plucky little flower-girl. Inadvertently, he chooses yellow tulips that mean “love without hope.” On his way home, he encounters Rose Erskine, who we’ve seen far too little of this season. She’s down on her luck. I have residual anger at Rose; I thought she sucked for not taking Bennet’s overtures more seriously. The owner of the club that employs Rose is a lecherous ass. She’s had enough and she’s leaving—but where? Bennet assures her that things always work out. Rose appears to be wistful for the life she could have had with Drake.
Bennet arrives at home to find food cooking on the stove, and no Bella. Overcome with worry, he seeks help from Reid and Jackson. Reid has the audacity to imply that Bella might have gone back to prostitution, which Jackson and Bennet both take offence at. Across town, a deadly church fire appears to have been set by angry Jews. A boy has been paid to hand out hate-speech pamphlets and the common folks are riled. Jackson accompanies Drake to Long Susan’s. Rose is already there, trying to hit Susan up for a small loan—which we already know Susan doesn’t have to give. Susan opines that it doesn’t matter how hard they work, they end up paying with “the basest coin.” Susan still wants nothing to do with Jackson, and he’s destroyed by her cold rejection.
The church fire is still fresh on everyone’s mind when another religious hate crime occurs in a synagogue. Reid approaches Bloom, with whom he occasionally consults. Another boy was handing out similarly hateful pamphlets. There are a variety of them going around, Reid finds. With so much prejudice happening, it’s surprising that we don’t see Arthurton at all this week. Reid follows the existing evidence, using Best, Flight, and then Jackson to find out where and how pamphlets were printed.
Rose is feeling lousier than ever, so she’d drinking. She’s approached in the bar by Maggie, a pretty young lady offering friendship. Rose eventually joins Maggie and a group of young women who offer her a place to sleep in their abandoned building. Rose meets Samuel, and a few others as Maggie explains about “Father.” No, not her father. Just some random guy who “made them a family.” Apparently, nobody knew how to recognize a cult in the 19th century, so Rose spends the night with the obvious cultists.
Bennet returns home to find Bella returned and talking to Thoros of Myr (from Game of Thrones). Wait…I mean she was talking to her “Uncle Gabriel.” Bella insists that she left Bennet a note explaining her absence. She didn’t. Bennet is confused and upset. This intensifies as he learns of Lily, a now deceased relative of Bella’s whom she’d never spoken of. Over their soup, we see that there’s clearly more to Bella’s relationship with Gabriel than either of them are saying.
Having pinpointed the printer of the hateful pamphlets, Reid, Flight, and Bennet arrive to question the culprit. Wait—it’s Samuel Gaddis, who we already met at that cult place. Gaddis slits his own throat rather than be captured. It’s awful. Before dying, he says “Father” which would have been a huge hint for our heroes if only they knew what we did. Jackson confirms the type of ink and the accelerant from the church fire are both present in Gaddis’ shop. He’s guilty—but the mystery is still not solved.
Rose reads the literature at “Father’s” place, and is thoroughly put off by it. Maggie pressures her to stay and meet Father. Cut to a cool Egyptian chess set, and we see that “Father” is Bella’s “Uncle Gabriel.” Gabriel implies that Bella’s marriage to Bennet is adultery. WTF?!? He’s going out of his way to torture Bella with talk of Lily. Gabriel is a master manipulator, and is creepily kissing Bella when Rose opens the door and sees them. She bolts, but Gabriel sends Maggie and a boy after her. Rose eludes them, for now.
At the Drake’s, “Uncle Gabriel” shows up unannounced. He makes a few cryptic comments before Bennet bounces him outta there. Watch for Gabriel’s quintessential evil tip of the top-hat as he exists. Bennet prods his wife for an explanation, assuring her that he’ll understand and support her whatever it is. She reveals nothing, except her suspicion that her husband would rather be married to Rose. He denies this vehemently. I believe him.
Jackson and Reid met over the charred body of another cultist. This one incinerated himself when caught trying to torch a church full of people. At this point, the parallels to the plan of this “Father” with Helter Skelter and the Manson Family are too numerous to ignore. Cut to Gabriel and his hippie flock of mostly attractive young women and lost boys eager to please, he’s giving a sermon and it’s creepy as hell. Bennet shows up to work, but he’s in no fit state for it and Reid sends him home. On the street, Rose approaches Drake with news of the creepy cult and Bella’s place in it. When Drake hears Rose accuse Bella of cuckolding him, he smacks her, then immediately regrets it. Bad Bennet!
Reid’s investigation leads him back to Bloom, who is a huge cynic. Bloom gives is the best line of the episode in “The only thing as irrational as faith in God, is faith in Man.” Bloom leads Reid to the Order of the Golden Dawn, which made REALLY not want them to call Golden Dawn a pack of cultish terrorists. They didn’t. The priestess explains that Gabriel is a “man of faith, not madness” (as if there’s a difference). She leads Reid to a photo of Gabriel, where he stands next to “his holy queen,” Bella Drake—who is totally pregnant. Yikes! Oh, and she reveals that all the cultists are going to joyfully kill themselves.
This is when it gets crazy. Bella goes to Gabriel to inform him that she won’t bring Bennet to him. But Bennet has followed her there, and he’s not pleased with what he finds. Maggie leads him to Gabriel and Bella, where he learns that Lily was Bella’s child with Gabriel. They Bennet from behind and he ends up bound and gagged. Not far away, Rose is sloppy drunk in a bar when Maggie and that boy pick her up and drag her back to their cult pad.
Gabriel forces peyote on Bennet as a sort of freaky communion. How awful for him. As “Father” explains his philosophy, we’re reminded that it’s Helter Skelter without the White Album. Gabriel is inducing specific hallucinations in Bennet and Bella to meet his own ends, and they’re the kind that really mess with people—like Drake and Rose being better together, which we already know is Bella’s fear. The cultists lock a tripping Bennet and a drunken Rose in a room together.
Jackson has discovered that the cultists are taking peyote, and that they’ll kill themselves with nightshade. He whips up what looks to be a remedy. They’d better hurry, because the dosing has begun. When Maggie tries to force peyote on Rose, she fights like a demon and escapes from the room. Go Rose! Reid and his team arrive, but Gabriel has poisoned Bennet already. Jackson rushes to administer the antidote, just as Rose runs in and bashes Gabriel with a fireplace poker in what looks like a fatal blow. Bennet is hallucinating but alive. He wants to speak to his wife, but Bella has lost her mind. She believes she deserves prison, and that it will be best for Bennet if he ends up with Rose. To emphasize this, she stabs herself fatally in the stomach. Wait, what? Yes…Bennet’s wife killed herself right in front of him—while he was tripping on peyote. I’m hard pressed to think of a more miserable thing to happen, especially to someone who doesn’t remotely deserve such sorrow. I haven’t cried so hard since we lost Hobbs.
The funeral is as dreadful and sad as you’d expect. It’s sparsely attended, mostly Susan’s girls along with Reid, Jackson, and Flight. Arthurton doesn’t even show up, which I think is pretty crappy of him. Rose offers Bennet her ongoing friendship, but he’s having none of it. She’s bad news, and he’s “made of naught but death.” Does this mean Bennet will never be happy again? Dammit, I sure hope not. “A Stronger Loving World” was a wrencher of an episode—one that’s sure to have far reaching reverberations for our players. I’m horrified that they would do something so awful to poor Bennet. I can only hope Ser Bronn of the Blackwater has a better time when Game of Thrones comes back in April.
See you next week!