Ripper Street: “The Incontrovertible Truth” Review
High society murder suspects and Captain Jackson in a suit permeate this bottle episode of Ripper Street.
Tempers run high and the men of H Division run low as Artherton is sidelined by a snicker-worthy illness. In “The Incontrovertible Truth,” we learn that Captain Jackson cleans up remarkably well, witness the inception of some now-trusted police tactics, and see one of our heroes take a sock to the jaw. Inspector Reid is back on the job, seemingly no worse for wear. Abberline thwarts justice as only he can, and the electricity on Leman Street is as unreliable as Jackson’s sobriety. Hard drugs, fingerprints, and good-cop-bad-cop all factor in to this week’s episode. Spoilers for “The Incontrovertible Truth” follow.
We begin with a wounded Sergeant Artherton, resting what looks to be a gouty toe. It is, and the poor man is in obvious agony. Still, Jackson is not pleased to have been called away from a fancy occasion to look after something as non-lethal as gout. But it wasn’t Artherton who summoned him. It was the newly returned Edmund Reid, still in charge of H Division. Aside from a cane and some snappy spectacles, Reid looks as well as he ever has. I daresay I call shenanigans on how healthy and capable he appears. Still, we love Edmund, and if he says he needs Homer Jackson—then he does. We soon see why, as an affluent woman covered in blood enters, we learn that she is to be charged with murder.
The victim is a flower seller named Ida Watts. She’s remarkably pretty and appears to have been made up to look like the suspect, a woman named Vera or Lady Montacute as she’s formally known. As Vera is processed, we notice how different the tactics are regarding female suspects. Lady Montacute gets to wait in Reid’s office rather than a cell. I don’t know if the woman who ordered her out of her dress was actually a policewoman, but she was tough as nails. Vera is not forthcoming, and seems more amused than upset by the charges against her. She and her people were clearly slumming in Whitechapel, which seems to be a popular pastime for rich people—especially since the Ripper murders. Before long, Vera’s husband, the Lord Montacute, arrives demanding to know his wife’s whereabouts. Drake brings in a young suspect, Ida’s cousin who claims to know nothing of these events. Yeah, right.
Jackson is anxious to get his job done so he can leave. It’s Mimi Morton’s birthday, and he’s sure she’ll be damn angry if he’s not there. He’s right. Watch for Mimi to accidentally step on Don’s gouty toe, leading to the biggest scream of the week. Reid advised him to treat his gout with prayer, which seems less effective than say, eating some citrus fruit. Also watch for Reid to tell Jackson that if he’s truly done all he can to find and convict Ida’s killer, he’s free to go. That’s when Jackson’s devotion to his job becomes clear. It seems Jackson was supposed to meet the patriarch of the Morton family. That’s odd and almost ironic in a few ways, particularly when we consider his relationship with his current father-in-law.
Mimi’s brother is with her when she arrives on Leman Street. She doesn’t know why. But when he decks Drake in the mouth, we know exactly what’s up. Morton seems immediately sorry for the fisticuffs—which he would be if Drake decided to hit him back. He didn’t. Morton implores Drake to leave his girl alone. Morton doesn’t just love her; he can provide her with a good life, a comfortable life with children and finery. Drake knows that he can’t provide that, and would, in effect, be depriving her of such things by staying with her. I wonder if it occurs to either of these men that Rose might like to make that decision for herself.
As “The Incontrovertible Truth” plays out, we come to like Vera. She seems afraid of her husband, almost as if confession frees her from him. Her husband isn’t around much, but I imagine soldiers can be difficult to live with and snooty soldiers are even worse. Nobody believes that she’s responsible and aloof about a cold-blooded killing, not due to her gender, but because she seems too nice.
Drake and Reid play a masterful game of good-cop-bad-cop on Ida’s cousin. It works, and the threat of losing a toe leads to him revealing all he knows. There were drugs involved in the murder—an odd combination of morphine and cocaine. The cousin knows who the killer is. It’s Lord Montacute. That makes it all the more strange when it’s Lady Montacute who gives and signs a full confession. Reid doesn’t buy it. Jackson and Grace hang back and work on the fingerprints. This is new tech for them, so new that Abberline steps in to say that he doesn’t put much stock in it, much less take it as incontrovertible truth. The fingerprints say what our heroes already know, that Lord Montacute is the killer. Abberline demands that Lady Montacute be arrested, and Lord Montacute is released. Anybody else wonder if Abberline’s resistance to fingerprint technology may have helped Jack the Ripper elude him?
After the case is solved, Jackson finally questions Edmund’s return to work. Before he was shot, he was leaving town with his daughter forever, so why is he back at work? Mathilda has asked the same thing. Reid’s only answer is that he woke up from his coma knowing that he’s cut out for “more than fishing.” One might suggest that raising a child, particularly one with Mathilda’s background, is a large task on its own. One might also suggest that after everything he’s done to find her, Reid might put the needs of his daughter before his own. And finally, a guy who wears a bowler hat might refrain from calling a top hat “ridiculous.” Reid looked ridiculous balancing his chair on two legs, but nobody said a word about that.
Though “The Incontrovertible Truth” is a bottle episode (one that takes place with no new sets and only a few new characters), its repercussions to the seasonal story arc are clear. We now know that Jackson is proficient in fingerprints. In the last scene, we see that he has the gun Susan used to shoot Reid. And that gun has a clear set of prints on it. What will happen when Jackson finds out that his own wife is the one who almost killed his boss? I thought a few eps ago that Jackson and Susan might be due to reconcile, but his relationship with Mimi is obviously serious. He’s certainly not going to cozy up with Reid’s attempted murderess.
With 2 episodes remaining in the third season, there are still plenty of questions that need answers. I can’t wait!
See you’s next week!