Ripper Street Season 3, Episode 7 Review: Live Free, Live True


After last weeks disappointing episode Ripper Street is back roaming the streets of Whitechapel as it should. In ‘Live Free, Live True’ the team are investigating the murder of a pharmacist, John Currie, who has been murdered and had money literally shoved down his throat. ‘H’ division quickly discover that the pharmacist had been performing illegal abortions that seriously injure or kill the women that they are performed on, so they naturally believe that the perpetrator is a partner of one of the women. The case raises the issues of women’s rights in the era, so the female cast take centre stage which is a breath of fresh air. Ripper Street is usually a more masculine and action packed show and although I love Reid, Drake and Jackson seeing Susan, Rose and the underused Dr Frayn at the forefront of this episode made it an incredibly compelling watch for me.

The era in which Ripper Street resides is hardly one that women can roam free as they please, and as a female I’m ashamed to say that I hadn’t really noticed it too much. Yes, I was aware that the female characters tend to have a lot less screen time than the males and they story lines up until now haven’t matched up to that of their male counterparts but I never took issue of it. This episode brings a lot of historical context into it and makes sense of the marginalisation of females because there is honestly not a lot for them to do at the time, they live in a male led society and lack the respect of those around them. In all honesty the females that we have had on the show in the past three seasons are more pro-active than they should be, but they are still at the mercy of the men around them.

This is mirrored with the abortion story line through the character of Mary Tait, one of the pharmacists clients. Her ‘father’, George Tait (a female masquerading as a man, no biological relation to Mary), assumes that she was seduced by the man who has impregnated her and now she is close to death due to the abortion she received from Currie. He blames her plight on the men around her as she is a female and was at their mercy, and decides to fight back so he kills the pharmacist and attacks the unborn child’s father in frustration. George Tait is an intriguing character as he is technically a female but has decided to live in as a man because it is a man’s world. If he had decided to live as a woman he would be suppressed and controlled by those around him, he even makes attempts to shield Mary from the ugliness of being a female by keeping her away from temptations and prying eyes. This is not me being a femi-nazi man hater, I didn’t even have to read too much into the episode to come to this conclusion.

‘Live Free, Live True’ also gives us more background on Dr Frayn, who as I mentioned earlier has been underused this season. She is a practicing female doctor which was incredibly rare in those days, and she doesn’t hide that she has struggled to get to where she is. She sympathises with the women that find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy and is pained because she can’t help them or educate them on contraception as it is frowned upon to teach women about their bodies and sexuality. Just as her frustrations come to head Dr Rolle, her old mentor, appears and helps her convince Susan that they should help their patients with their unwanted pregnancies. Dr Rolle is revealed to be in cahoots with John Currie, Currie gave the women a mixture to force a miscarriage and Dr Rolle then experimented on them without their permission. He is the reason that so many women have lost their lives, and all in the aim of sterilising them which he plans to do at Obsidian. We’ve seen a lot of awful characters on Ripper Street, but never before have I been revolted by one as I was by Dr Rolle. He takes the women’s choice away from them completely, and ends up killing them or taking away their chances to have children again enforcing the point of the episode, we live in a man’s world and women don’t get to have an opinion, even if it is about their own bodies.

Susan and Rose also have their own isolated issues this episode, Susan has to deal with the loss of Capshaw and Rose ponders whether she should marry Drake or not. Since Capshaw’s death Susan has had to take the reigns of her Obsidian project much to the dismay of people doing business with her. They attempt to take advantage of her because they think they can, they still see her as the owner of the brothel where they would go and pay for their women. Susan takes full advantage of that and makes them aware that she could use the information she’s gathered from her tenure as a Madame to make life difficult for them if they do not relent to her demands, and I fist bumped as I watched it unfold. Elsewhere Rose has just broken and engagement and is unsure of whether to embark on a relationship with Drake due to his reaction to her staying with Susan, giving Rose the impression he would be a controlling husband. Drake quickly changes his tune when working on this weeks case and seeing what women are having to put up with and assures her that she can be her own woman whether she marries him or not, so I guess they’ll live happily ever after. For now.


The episode explores women’s issues but the main storyline of the season is not forgotten, the end of last episode sees Jackson attempting to gain a finger print from the gun that Reid was shot with a few episodes ago. In this weeks episode he tricks Susan into giving him her fingerprint so he can compare it with the one from the gun so I think it’s safe to assume that the secret will probably be out next episode. The closing moments of the episode also mark the arrival of Susan’s long talked about father and judging from the preview of the next episode he is set to shake up Whitechapel. There’s only one episode left so I’m not sure how they will manage to explore both the Susan reveal and whatever her father is up to, but then again the show is now on Amazon Prime and there is no set run time so it is feasible that it will all get wrapped up with a bow at the end. Or we’ll see more of Susan’s father in the still to be confirmed season four.

All in all I thought this was a fantastic episode and I can’t wait to see what the season three finale brings us!

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