Ripper Street: “Heavy Boots” Review
Abberline steps in to pinch hit for Edmund when a gang of toughs rough up local pub owners. Meanwhile Bennet and Rose reach an impasse.
“The men of the Black Eagle are not to be crossed.” That may be the takeaway of this week’s Ripper Street. In “Heavy Boots,” Abberline cracks a few heads, PC Grace begins to prove himself, and Reid languishes away in Long Susan’s ward at Obsidian Estates. Jackson’s knowledge of drinkable drugs comes in handy, as does Reid’s exhaustive archive of criminals. Cobden worries about Mathilda’s future, while Reid’s daughter remains confident that nothing will separate them again. Spoilers for “Heavy Boots” follow.
It’s a regular night in a Whitechapel pub, which has to mean Captain Jackson is getting loaded. Also drinking is a troubadour singing about Inspector Reid as if he’s already dead. He isn’t. Jackson though, is so drunk that he doesn’t seem to care that they’re calling Reid a pig.” He barely looks up when a gang of punk kids comes in and starts busting up the place. Pub owner (hilarious referred to as a publican here) Bartleby is treated like someone refusing to pay his debt. These kids look young to be shysters, but after last week’s pint-sized pimp, anything’s possible.
PC Grace is this season’s cute kid that we get to know over the course of several eps. In Season One we met Hobbes, who they killed just as we’d come to love him. Season Two gave us Flight, a more complex character who turned out to be a dirty spy. Now we have Grace, and I’m doing my best not to get attached. It’s hard though, especially this week. He finds publican Bartleby stuffed into a beer barrel in the middle of a street where a full-scale riot ruined all but one business. With all this violence, you’d think Drake would be working diligently. But in fact, he’s in bed with Rose, and she’s the one who thinks she ought to be going. Drake is ready to make their relationship public, but Rose is reticent to do so, knowing how much it will pain her fiancé. Enter Chief Inspector Abberline, trying to fill Reid’s “Heavy Boots” and wondering why Drake isn’t at work at 7am. He’s not pleased to see the reason his charge is still in bed, and makes with some ugly threats.
Next, Abberline arrives at Jackson’s, to find Ms Mimi Morton pounding on the door. He’s sleeping off his drunken bender, the Reid-pig still in his bed. Abberline has even less patience with that, and wakes Jackson most abruptly. At Obsidian Estates, Fred Best questions Susan about how it must feel to have worked with a man who turned out so evil. Isn’t it strange that no one has stepped forward to claim the bearer bonds? Stranger still that Susan doesn’t know where they are. Best needs to be careful, lest he get himself killed.
Our heroes investigate, as you’d think they would. Bennet is oblivious to a girl calling down the street, “Uncle Ben! Uncle Ben!” It’s Mathilda, of course, going to visit her daddy with Ms Cobden. Cobden has been caring for the girl since Reid’s incapacitation. But she tries to discuss a long-term plan for her with Drake, who can’t begin to think about that at the moment. They’ll talk about it later if they need to. But honestly, nobody wants to plan for Edmund to die. Mathilda is confident that he will recover. After all, how horrible would it be for them to be reunited after so long only to be torn apart again? That only happens on tragic TV shows like Ripper Stree—uh oh.
The crime in “Heavy Boots” turns out to revolve around the “Black Eagle Boys,” who are all workers at the local brewery. The publicans keep winding up dead—not because they aren’t paying their tab, but because they chose to buy beer from an out of town seller. Grace manages to piece this together, using Reid’s archive and a chance encounter with the younger brother of the former ring leader—who is now dying of consumption. Hilarity ensues as Abberline disrupts the well-greased wheel that is H Division. Nobody can spend time with Jackson without coming to like him at least a little, not even the Chief Inspector. Still, Abberline is clear in saying he’s never too old to “put his boot up an American’s arsehole.” He’ll get no argument from me. The victims of the gang are drowned with beer, which is gruesome as hell when you see it happen.
Jackson notices that Drake has more bugging him than just their ailing boss. These two are legit friends now, which is cool. He knows Drake and Rose are back together, and takes her to Blewett’s (now owned by the father of Jackson’s current girlfriend, Mimi). The men plan to play it cool, but when Drake spots Rose’s intended, he approaches him with drunken determination. Rose is mortified, terrified at what’s about to happen. But Jackson drops his date and takes Drake out before he can say anything—leaving the fiancé to wonder just what the hell is going on. Turns out, the intended is also Mimi’s brother, so this is a bad situation all around. Rose could be ruining her career by breaking up with this guy. Will she? And if she does, will she regret it? Surely.
The morning paper features Susan’s interview with Best. Before Drake can read it, another publican is found in a barrel. After Jackson’s examinations and Grace’s contributions, the men split up to round up suspects and question witnesses. Abberline arrests a young man at the brewery, and Grace approaches the suspect’s girlfriend—only to be beat down and kidnapped by the violent gang. Dammit! I knew I was doing right not getting attached to Grace. The girlfriend goes to H Division to report what’s happened, and eventually persuades her boyfriend to tell the coppers where Grace is being held. Will they get there in time? Or will Grace go the tragic way of Hobbes?
Jackson is instrumental in getting information out of the suspect, a young man dying of consumption. They talk about brothers, and Jackson speaks of his own—who betrayed him last season. He then watches as the boy coughs himself to death. With his marriage little more than a sham, and his friends both in turmoil, Jackson calls for Mimi to come to him. He’s a mess. It’s one of his most emotional speeches ever. People don’t like to talk about this, but Homer Jackson (yeah, that’s not really his name) is a good and sensitive man, which is why he wants to be blind wasted whenever possible. He feels far too much. Will Mimi stay and comfort him, or is she only a fan of sex and verbal sparring? She stays and is kind, but I get the sense that she’s doing it as a favor to him, not because she wants to or because she loves him. The good news is, they save Grace, and he’s basically okay. The bad kids get arrested, and the crime spree ends without further turmoil.
Speaking of turmoil, we see scenes of violence from previous events, then more, then cut to Mathilda. It’s Reid. He’s dreaming, then he’s awake. Susan sees that he’s conscious. She doesn’t immediately try to waste him again, which I suppose is a good sign. “Heavy Boots” was a strong and emotional episode of Ripper Street. Jackson in particular gave a powerful performance, and Abberline was a gruff and punchy delight. It was chilling to see his remorse after punching out a handcuffed kid—but only because of his illness. Remember, kicking asses is business-as-usual for the coppers of H-Division.
See you’s next week!