Hurrah!! Ripper street returns to the Mother Ship. Back on BBC1 where it truly belongs.
Before I viewed this new episode, I had a think on the series I had left behind before Amazon Prime " pinched it". It had lost a lot of it's humour, getting progressively darker as the second series progressed until even hard man Sergeant Drake had said enough is enough and parted ways from Inspector Reid, so whilst I am overjoyed it is back I am meeting this new episode with some trepidation.
Four years have passed. Leman street station has gone to the dogs! Without Drake or Jackson to act as grounding influences, Reid is now a Criminal Profiler, focusing on cataloging what we would now call " intelligence", any East-end bad 'un may well quake in his boots if Edmund has him on his files. Like a spiders web he reaches out to the small fry to 'fess up about the big fish! Reid has retreated further into his dark place, the death of his wife pushing him over the edge into an abyss that uses research to fill the void, his loneliness is palpable . Matthew Macfadyen is rapidly becoming the master of dour disapproval and as he ages, he seems to inhabit Reid more and more.
Captain Jackson, naughty coroner of old is a medical doctor of dubious repute and still a bit of a philanderer. Adam Rothenberg still gives Homer a bit of a twinkle, but the years away from "policing" seem to have increased his cynicism and he seems the shadow of the Cock-sure American we knew when we first saw him.
Long Susan is at least in appearance, trying to go straight as a bonafide business woman after finally besting the extortionist that held both Jackson and her in his thrall . Attempting to give back to the east end district that was the home of her brothel by opening a clinic to minister to the poor of the parish.
Rose, the Tart with a heart who is the love of Drake's life is a famous Music Hall Star. Her return to White Chapel just as bedlam hits, seems oddly prophetic as seeing her sets Drake's heart racing , his unrequited affections evidently not dimmed by time's passage.
And Drake himself? My lovely scrapper Drake ( always my favourite character!) is still the same soft hearted gent, despite promotion in the Manchester Constabulary, heeds the call from brusque old Addeline to snap his old boss out of his malaise and gets caught smack bang, in quite literally the most explosive episode of a Ripper Street I have seen in years! Jeremy Flynn continues to play Bennet with a skilful subtlety and his nuanced performance really boosted this particular episode as you can see the deference he has to his mentor, but his own confidence, borne of his own personal rise at meteoric rate within the Northern force is also there as he takes the lead often in the investigative approach.
A train heist goes awfully wrong when trains collide at White Chapel, the resulting carnage brings together every former cast member in a disaster response of great drama with Bennet emerging from the smoke like an avenging angel.
Old animosities between the three main protagonists bubble violently under the surface with Reid's pomposity making hard work for all. His prejudice and adamant assertion that his high moral ground is both right and unassailable makes this rather a unholy trinity, but they are mesmerising to watch.
Special mention must go to David Dawson as the odious Fred Ward, papparazzo and hack journalist whose personality is shown to be slightly more layered than we ever thought possible as it seems that his affection for a young man rendered mortally injured suggests proclivities previously not hinted at, maybe this will feature in future episodes, maybe not, but it adds texture.
The reveal of who is responsible is interesting and what made this show so unique in the past is still it's main draw . Like the backdrop of White Chapel itself, dark things emerge from the shadows and there is much more grey area than either black or white in the motivations of almost everyone here.
A return to form, superbly acted by all and liberally sprinkled with illustrious cast from other recent BBC favourites. Banished, Sherlock, and Jonathan a Strange to name but three, they all give up their alumni for this episode, but as this is a repeat of what was shown on Amazon, it seems the quality of the acting here, might have given rise to some casting for those others. The cliffhanger has really left me clamouring for more Leman Street shenanigans!