There was a very dark day in December 2013 when it was announced that Ripper Street would not be returning to the BBC for a third series. There was a cloud of darkness that swept across England and people began campaigning for the BBC to change their mind but they did not, and just as we thought all hope was lost Amazon Prime came to the rescue. They salvaged the show and came up with a co-production deal with the shows production company, Tiger Aspect, to bring us a third series of the rivetting show. We can carry on getting swept up in the late 1800s Whitechapel, the gloomy setting and get engrossed by the camaraderie of the ‘H’ division while they solve crimes by deploying smarts with DI Edmund Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), Brawn with DS Bennett Drake (Jerome Flynn) and forensic expertise with Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg). The show is one of the finest period pieces on British television (a lot better than Downtown Abbey), examining the trials that many regular people endured at the time, including immigration and Golden Dawn, and we are able to witness advancement in the detective work through the use of forensics. Its not purely a historical piece, it is a entertaining and compelling detective drama and captures your attention the moment it starts till the moment it ends, it would have really been a travesty if it had stayed cancelled.
Fortunately for us the online streaming service that none of us cared about saved Ripper Street and recently series three premiered with two episodes, “Whitechapel Terminus” and “The Beating Of Her Wings”. At the end of series two we witnessed a fractured “H” division, been torn apart by events that transpired through the series. Reid had become a shadow of his former self, barely recognising the person he had become; Drake was a broken man, he had lost everything that he had ever cared about; Jackson was alone, his wife had left him and he had begun wallowing in self pity. The series three premiere is set four years after the events of the series two finale and shows that the three characters have gone their seperate ways with Bennett becoming an Inspector in Manchester, Reid disassociating himself with the outside world and Jackson still drinking and having sex with random women. They are forced into working together once again due to two trains, one of which Drake was on, colliding in Whitechapel just outside the police station. Reid and Drake help as many as they can, and Jackson arrives and Reid begrudgingly accepts him as their emergency doctor. It was a delightful seeing all three of them working alongside one another after four years apart, it felt like no time had passed, of course I was incorrect.
The trio attempt to save as many as possible but in the end it is determined that over 50 people died in the crash, and now “H” division must find the culprits. I said it was like no time had passed but during the investigation any audience member could tell that the characters had been through a great deal and changed drastically. Before Drake was a bulldog for the division, he was short tempered and heavy handled, willing to do whatever it took to get answers. Now he is more like Reid, calm and collected and thinking things through before acting, he is now aware of the consequences of his actions. Reid seems just as he was at the end of series two, only more alone than before and obessessed with his work in the archives and a lot less trusting that he used to be which causes a lot of friction between him and Jackson. Jackson was always a fan of the booze and rackless behaviour but he always did his job well and helped close many cases which is why Reid kept him close. It was uncomfortable watching Reid keep him at arms length and Drake being the one to invite him onto the case. I hope the friction between the characters doesn’t last too long, the main reason the show is so good is the relationships between the core characters.
The reason train collision that kicked of the series was a theft gone wrong, a group of thieves were highed to steal unmarked American bonds by the lawyer of Susan Hart (MyAnna Buring), the ex-wife of Jackson, so she could raise some money for her Obsidian Estates. The super “H” division were able to trace it back to the group of thieves but unable to make a clear link between them and Obsidian Estates. The division were forced to arrest the group and have them hang for the morale of Whitechapel, even though the were aware that someone else was behind it. Reid has a hunch that the lawyer, Capshaw, when he is introduced to him by Susan but the only witness he can get to confirm his suspicions dies before Reid can get to him. I love Susan but she is atrocious when it comes to money and trusting the wrong people, he lawyer essentially killed over 50 people yet she keeps him around. At the beginning of the episode she seemed a lot stronger than the person she was in series two, she had become a woman of means and was fighting for gender equality, even starting a school specifically for females. It’s quite frustrating to see she is another man’s puppet and she doesn’t even know it.
I doubt that this is the last that we’ll see of the train crash, Reid isn’t the type of person to let that go. The group is still factured (Reid and Jackson more that anyone else) and hopefully over the course of series three we see them put their past struggles behind them and learn to work together again, they are better together than apart. I can already see the difference of Ripper Street being on Amazon Prime, they don’t have to worry about length or censorship (although episode one wasn’t really graphic). They don’t have the same rules to follow as television so Ripper Street should be even more thrilling to watch than it was before.
Ripper Street continues on Amazon Prime on Fridays and will be broadcast on BBC one early next year.