Ripper Street: “Whitechapel Terminus” Review
After a cancellation, a “Save Ripper Street” campaign, and over a year of waiting, Reid, Drake, and Captain Jackson are back on BBC America. And fellas, you’ve been missed. In “Whitechapel Terminus,” we find out what the lads have been up to, check in with Rose and Long Susan, and catch a glimpse of what minor characters like Arthurton and Fred Best are keeping busy with these days. By these days, we mean 1894, long before things like telephones, computers, or plastic gloves. Spoilers for “Whitechapel Terminus” follow.
If this were an American show, chances are the season premiere would be light on action and heavy on catching us up with everyone. Not so, Ripper Street. Less than twenty minutes in, we’re shown a brutal and terrifying train crash—and watch in horror as Inspector Edmund Reid does what he can to help the people involved. It’s a nightmare, and I found it damn upsetting to watch. Before that though, Chief Inspector Abberline pops in to tell Reid that he’s retiring to some town his wife wants to go to. Nice for him, except he wants Reid to take his old job. It’s a promotion. This would take him away from H Division, out of Whitechapel, and away from his new project.
Reid’s new obsession bears some talking about. It’s a giant room full of folders. Have you ever seen anything so absurd? In all seriousness, it’s Reid’s archive. He’s cataloging every criminal he can, their cranial measurements, distinctive markings, any and all knowledge they have about local wrongdoing. An incredibly meticulous project, one that Reid has thrown himself completely into. Abberline watches the questioning of early C.I., Mr. Cree, but is unimpressed. Frankly, he wants Reid to go someplace else so he can attempt to get his sanity back.
What’s everyone else up to? We see Jackson wake up naked (Yowza!) next to a woman who can’t remember his name or that he’s American. She also talks about surgery in a bizarrely coquettish way. Long Susan has parlayed her brothel into Obsidian, a training clinic that is slowly making her city a better place to live. Susan does her good works with the help of her solicitor, Ronald Capshaw, and Councilwoman Jane Cobden, who does not appear to still be dating Reid. Rose Erskine is a famous singer now, which was her dream. Drake is on his way into town by train, having been asked by Abberline to serve as Reid’s replacement. On the train, Drake speaks to a woman and her sweetly precocious son, Arthur. The train Drake is on crashes, killing the boy’s mother and 54 other people. Reid, Drake, and Jackson do what they can to help, which isn’t much. We see that Fred Best is there, photographing the damage for the local paper.
“Whitechapel Terminus” has a pretty straight forward plot as Ripper Street goes. The train robbers have been orchestrated by an unknown man with shiny shoes, and include a bunch of guys just down on their luck trying to get ahead. They are all horrified to see how much destruction and death their plot caused. Even Fred Best is devastated, as his boyfriend Tom was also killed in the train crash. Remember in this time period, he can’t exactly come out, and will be mourning his partner with no acknowledgment from anyone. That’s terribly sad.
As the investigation moves forward, we gather more information about the current state of our favorite guys. Jackson, who Abberline said was “dismissed,” seems to hate Reid as much as Reid hates him. Granted, Reid had grown weary of Jackson’s lies last season, but it seems like there’s more going on there than we know about. We also learn, sadly, that Mrs. Reid had died. That sucks for Edmund, and I daresay it sucks for us. Amanda Hale will be missed this season. Rose and Drake are def still sweet on each other. Rose is now wearing an expensive ring, clearly given to her by a man. You’ll recall that Rose spurned Bennet’s proposal basically because she wanted to do better than a policeman. Now that she’s famous in her own right, will her desire for gold digging wane at all? Would Drake take her back if the opportunity came up? Who knows.
Piece by piece, Reid and Drake gather evidence and find those responsible. The young boy, Arthur, has no one now and ends up with Jackson’s new girlfriend, Mimi. With information from Cree, Reid finds a man named Enright, who was crippled at his railway job and never compensated. Lest we feel sorry for Enright, we see him murder a tied up man who recognized him. Ultimately, Reid and his team find the grunts on the operation, but not the man who hired them. We viewers learn though, that the ringleader was Capshaw, Susan’s solicitor. For my fellow Americans, you should know that in the UK, they distinguish between a trial lawyer (a barrister) and a contract lawyer (a solicitor). Susan is also mortified by the destruction caused by stealing what amounts to $350,000 in bearer bonds. Capshaw assures her that if she takes bad money and does good with it, it’s a net gain for the people. With 55+ people dead, including women and children, it’s difficult to see it that way. By the end of the episode, Reid thinks Capshaw may be the man in charge. He dashes off to confirm this with Cree, only to find that their informant has killed himself in his holding cell. Dammit! As “Whitechapel Terminus” ends, Reid is reminded that he’s been ordered to hand off H Division to Drake. Reid doesn’t want to go, doesn’t want to leave his archive, and thinks Abberline kind of sucks.
With “Whitechapel Terminus,” Ripper Street is off to a ripping start. It’s dramatic, a little depressing, and features characters we just can’t stop watching. Even though Ripper Street has already shown in the UK and is available for a fee at Amazon, I’m going to be reviewing them as they’re shown on BBC America, because that’s how we roll here at Geekbinge. We’ve got seven episodes remaining, and I’m stoked to see how it all shakes out.
See you’s next week!