A bit of a departure from recent episodes in this week's Ripper Street!
A rich woman,Lady Vera Montacute is found unconscious and bloodied next to the body of a murdered Flower-girl, Ida Watts in a Whitechapel lodging house and so the boys at Leman street have one night to ascertain her guilt or innocence before lawyers descend.
Reid, Drake and Jackson set out to solve it overnight with only three witnesses who might also be suspects.
Both women, lady and Flower-girl were drugged and Ida's cousin Tom Denton, a known thief who drugs his victims, is brought into the station. As he arrives a well to do gentleman arrives demanding to see his wife and on learning she is incarcerated demands her release.
Denton is interviewed by Drake whose attempt to trade on his previous roguish behaviour falls on deaf ears and so in the classic Good Cop /Bad Cop Scenario, he threatens to lop off part of Tom Denton's toe and " just in the nick of time" is saved from this awful ordeal by the good inspector Reid, whose nurturing ways draws the following information. Lady Vera loves all that is dark and debauched and perverse in Whitechapel and explains that he procured Ida for sex with Lady Vera and her husband for some sort of threesome fuelled by a powder sniffed by all three participants.
Lady Vera admits to the murder but the efforts of Captain Jackson reticent at first to do more than cursory investigative work, due to a prior engagement with the lovely Miss Morton. He becomes intrigued by the drug used to incapacitate the women what in modern terms is called a speedball, a mixture of cocaine and Morphine and it's apparent differing reactions in each of the three then his genius idea of utilising fingerprinting techniques with the able assistance of PC Bobby Grace proves to be the solution to the mystery it is not enough to see justice done as the wrong person goes to the gallows.
Some minor plot deviations provide some light relief, poor sergeant Atherton is suffering an awful attack of bout and his attempts to ease the pain become more and more desperate as the episode develops, his agony is palpable and David Wilmot does a wonderful job skirting potential for it becoming farcical and keeping it within the realms of believability, the scene where he gradually drags himself along bar by bar in the cell block is a work of genius.
Benton and Mr Morton, Rose's theatre owning fiancé have a showdown. Morton give Ben a good wallop and the shock of which means the injured party has to tend to his attacker's shock with a stiff drink. When Drake says he has not seen Rose since the almost confrontation in the music hall, he believed immediately. Both men know the other loves Rose and neither really hold animosity for each other and ultimately I believe Drake's Innate goodness will cause him to step aside.
In some ways this episode was a showcase for the acting talents of Matthew Macfadyen and Adam Rothenburg.
The past few years have mellowed a Homer somewhat, yes he was drowning his sorrows in hard drink and soft women, but his involvement with Miss Morton has grounded him and brought out emotions he had bottled up when Long Susan chose wealth over love. His love for science and just sleuthing out a problem has kept him from total self destruction. His final scene in this episode is perhaps the best finger pointing at what is going to be an explosive revelation as he considers using his new fingerprinting skills to check the gun that shot Reid.
Inspector Reid is fit and well with just a slight limp and some more prominent glasses and a rather more lyrical and whimsical turn of phrase spoken in almost hushed tones. His conversation with the rather ethereal Lady Vera is like a recitation of poetry both seeming otherworldly, she asks about his near death experiences he explains he felt nurtured, protected. He has no memory of the shooting, speaks to the cleansing thought to come from the practice of Trepanning and shows his own vial of skull fragments. She speaks to her addiction to the dark underbelly of the city.
The shooting and finding Matilda has freed Reid from his demons, he is open, he admits his weaknesses, saying he felt utter fear entering the Obsidian buildings and his ability to let the guilty party go free knowing that justice has not been done when forced to do so by Fred Abberline. His final scene is one of joyful reckless abandon and I for one am glad to see him freed at last from the anguish that has held him as much prisoner as any of the cells at Loman street.