Jason Manford's turn as the spiritual medium here was bordering on farce and his wig was just a hoot. Thankfully this provided just the right amount of levity to start the episode after the cataclysmic events of the final moments of last week. It was a clever crime and again gritty enough to be more that Victorian murder mystery! The final moments when the the crime was resolved were again deeply shocking and dark. For me though, the story here seemed inconsequential in relief against the character driven work of show favourites Long Susan and Bennett Drake.
With Edmund Reid on the run, this show and the the Loman Street station were left in the hands of newly promoted Inspector Drake, and it really was a wonderful showcase for the exceptional work that Jerome Flynn does in this show. I'll make no bones about it, he has been a favourite of mine since the days of "Soldier Soldier" and turns in "Game of Thrones" have done him no harm, but it is here in Ripper Street, that I feel he has done some of his finest work.
The juxtaposition of his rather world weary face and that broken nose of his and the deep wells of empathy and emotion that they mask, is truly astounding. Despite what he witnessed Reid do, his love, respect and admiration for the man prevents him sullying his good name. His hope and faith that Reid can be brought back from the brink, pushes him and Jackson to lie on the official reports. Frederick Adeline, knows he is lying and Bennett knows he knows, yet I think deep inside it destroys part of him to admit his idol has fallen so far!
Drake is a good policeman, he gets to the heart of the matter and he works incredibly well with Homer Jackson, the lack of posturing and animosity makes for a lot less frenetic investigation, but deep down Bennett's heart just does not really seem in it and the complication of his continued deep held and passionate love for Rose does not help. His honour makes him uncomfortable in her presence, knowing she is betrothed to another, yet cannot seem to force himself to stay away. For me this conflict led to one of the most well acted scenes in the series thus far...
His emotional breakdown in the face of what he sees as the utterly destructive evil permeating the very streets of Whitechapel is just heartbreaking to watch, he blames it for Reid's downfall and fears for his own soul if he remains in the East End to take up permanent post at Loman Street. Rose breaks through his walls and they finally consummate the shared love, held in check so long between them.
Susan has always been a morally ambiguous person, but her partnership with Lawyer Mr Capshaw has really brought out the worst in her, the bearer bonds, the extortion and now the wilful deception of Reid about his daughter has made her a very hard woman to like, but her time with the broken and fractured little girl has brought out a maternal instinct, protecting the child even from the gruff over zealous ministration of Dr Amelia Frayn played with stoic austerity by the lovely Louise Brealey,whose methods are starting to trouble me somewhat. Alice's youthful innocence and fairytale view of the world drags to the surface feelings that she has been keeping rammed down deep inside herself, she too has only really ever loved one man, the low down dirty, brash and irresistible Captain Jackson. Her rejection of him has made him bitter and jaded, but we know that his animosity is born of his love of her. His reaction to Fred Best whose continued efforts to follow the paper trail the bearer bonds have made and its's eventual leading to Susan is classic Jackson blather and bravado, he knows damn well she is capable, but will not admit it to anyone in a foolish attempt to shield her.
All in all a really lovely episode, surely gently easing us towards the inevitable time when Reid can finally set eyes on his Matilda again, her loss being the root of all his obsessions and his fall into the darkness, the abyss of his troubled mind. And now "Alice" has run away it is all going to come to a head, I am just hoping, not tragically!