Ripper Street: “Ashes and Diamonds” Review
Fans got the good news today that Ripper Street has been picked up for Seasons Four and Five. But where is Edmund Reid???
One of the best things about Ripper Street is the combination of stand-alone stories with a season-long story arc. This is well represented by “Ashes and Diamonds.” Repercussions of the train crash still reverberate through Whitechapel, as Drake rises to become the leader of H Division. The murder of a so-called clairvoyant flummoxes the remaining coppers, while Abberline has a few questions about Inspector Reid and the death of the shopkeeper. Susan and Capshaw disagree about what’s to be done with “Alice.” Fred Best has a few questions of his own, and the lovely Rose Erskine sings for us. Spoilers for “Ashes and Diamonds” follow.
We begin with a charlatan clairvoyant named Le Cheyne. Don’t get attached, because he dies in the opening scene while giving a reading to the widow Wakefield. Poor Mrs. Wakefield has been distraught since her husband was charred to an unrecognizable crisp in that terrible train crash. With Edmund still missing, Bennet takes his place in Reid’s old office—to the chagrin of Donald Artherton. Drake is not especially pleased to be leading H Division, but everyone keeps telling him that he’s the best man they can think of for the job. “Who else?” Sorry, but that sounds borderline insulting—almost like Hey, we’d choose someone else if there was anyone who could do it. Anyway, Artherton suggests that perhaps Mathilde Reid should be exhumed and given a proper burial. Drake says that’s not up to him, but they’ll ask Reid if he returns. I don’t like that he said “if” instead of “when.”
The investigation into the death of the psychic quickly points to murder, and to his assistant—Ezra Marvell. Le Cheyne and Marvell are grifters, of course, bilking poor widows and other grieving folks by pretending to contact their newly deceased relatives. Mrs. Wakefield had been paying Le Cheyne to contact her dead husband repeatedly, paying him a tidy sum. Apparently, Le Cheyne was also seeing a dancer named Juniper, who moonlights as a barmaid. She’s pretty and flirty, and seems sure that Marvell committed the murder out of jealousy. When Drake arrives to question Marvell, he’s got a long line of gullible souls waiting for his services. Jackson debunks the phony magic potions, and determines that Le Cheyne was poisoned. Marvell is arrested for fraud. That’s when he reveals that he was also dating Juniper, and that she had other boyfriends as well. She’s a bit of a gold-digger, and wants to live in France.
Long Susan continues to spend time with “Alice” who we know is really Mathilde Reid. The girl is fascinated by looking glasses. She’s also adamant that she doesn’t want to leave—though Capshaw is insistent on sending her away, ostensibly to be treated and educated. What’s most important to Capshaw is that Reid not learn that the girl is alive. Watch for the girl to ask If Susan is the Queen, where is her King? Back at the station, Abberline arrives to question Drake about the murder of Buckley. Abberline is surprised to hear that Reid resorted to violence, though he hasn’t really hung out with Edmund in some time. Drake, Artherton, Jackson, and others all rally around Reid to protect him, even though he killed a guy out of rage. Abberline closes his notebook and asks for the truth, but Drake doesn’t budge.
Has Jackson always called Drake “Beneto” and I just never noticed? I love it. Mrs. Wakefield arrives at H Division, distraught that she can no longer contact her husband. He’s angry, according to Le Cheyne, and needs placating. The widow is insistent that her husband’s spirit was in his taxidermy shop the previous day. Drake and Jackson go to the workshop, confirming that his prussic acid (the murder weapon) is missing. Could the murderess be Mrs. Wakefield? Everyone they question is lying, it seems, so it’s impossible to say. She does say her husband wanted to take her to the dance halls of Paris. Paris, eh? Drake also finds photos in the workshop—nudie ones of Juniper the dancer.
Juniper tells Drake that she doesn’t know Wakefield, and that she posed for the pics because she needed the money. Makes sense, but Bennet knows she is lying. Finally, she admits that Wakefield took the pics. She wants to destroy the photos, but Drake says No. Morton invites Drake to watch Rose sing later. Awkward. Her singing seems better than ever before. Drake does show up, but leaves soon, unable to hear her sing of lost love. At the newspaper office, Fred Best gets a telegram with vital information about the train robbery. He immediately takes it to Captain Jackson, who doesn’t seem too shocked that the stolen money actually came from the father of his estranged wife, Susan. We’ll recall that Susan’s father is a total asshat and that she despises him. Jackson will no doubt be following up on this with Susan.
It’s very late when Rose arrives at Drake’s place with supper and a desire to talk. She loves him, it’s obvious. It always has been. She never spurned him for lack of affection—Rose was just terrified of living in poverty forever. Who can blame her? Poverty sucks. Drake’s whole life is a tragedy, and now he feels that he bought more tragedy to a place devoid of hope. Rose sees him as so much more than that. He saved her life, more than once. He doesn’t want to subject her to the “sad havoc” of the world. Drake is kind and honorable, good and noble, and he ends up getting his giggity on with Rose. Finally. Will Rose still marry the kindly rich guy? Or will she leave him for the man she truly loves?
We come to learn that nobody identified the body of William Wakefield; it was unrecognizable. Drake suspects that perhaps Wakefield was still alive, having faked his death. He sends a constable to see if he had any insurance. He did. The beneficiary though, was not his wife. It was Juniper. We then see that Wakefield is indeed alive, and staying in a hooker hotel. Mrs. Wakefield insists on speaking to Marvell, who reveals the location of the hotel. When she gets there, William does a nice stammering routine—assuring his poor wife that it’s not what it looks like. When we see the knife, we know that William is doomed. Juniper arrives with the money, and meets her lover’s fate. Wow. I don’t think they had temporary insanity back then, so she’ll probably go to prison. Shame, that. Mrs. Wakefield wasn’t entirely wrong.
Rose asks Susan for advice on who she should marry. Susan’s answer is vague, and does more to remind us that she still loves Jackson than it helps Rose. Wouldn’t it be cool if they got back together? I love Jackson, so I’ll totally marry him if Susan doesn’t want him back. While Rose is there, she sees that “Alice” is still there, alive. She immediately goes to Drake to tell him—but Capshaw and Susan are already hauling the girl out of the city. Before they can though, she leaps from the carriage and runs away. Capshaw gives chase, but loses her. The last thing we see is a remote beach, and Edmund sitting there dejected. Drake finds him, apparently with ease—implying that he’s known his location all along.
“Ashes and Diamonds” sets us up for some powerful conflict to come. What will Reid do when he learns his daughter is still alive? How will he consequence those who deceived him? Will Jackson question Susan about the money, or her part in the train crash? Does Rose change her mind about her betrothal? Will Drake decide to take Edmund’s job? Time will tell.
See you’s next week!