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Review of Ripper Street ‘In My Protection’

Neela Debnath

p00wk6ps 300x168 Review of Ripper Street ‘In My Protection’

Jerome Flynn and Adam Rothenberg in 'Ripper Street' (BBC)

SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 2 of ‘Ripper Street’

The second episode of this Victorian police procedural saw the trio investigate the brutal murder of a toy maker and as per usual the truth was far from simple.

While last week focused on the depraved sexual appetites of one Victorian gentleman, this week went more towards pure violence and featured a Scouse fagin by the name of Carmichael (Joe Gilgun) with a penchant for belt buckling people in the face. It was a bit like a warped version of Oliver! but without the musical numbers.

The writers have been drawing on every scrap of Victoriana from popular culture and pouring it into Ripper Street. From Dickensian literature and Sherlock Holmes to the holier-than-thou hypocrisy of sex to phrenology – there is something that every viewer will recognise.

At times the anachronisms, such as Reid’s hangover cure for Jackson, make Ripper Street feel like somewhat of a pastiche, combining tropes from detective crime dramas with a shared set of perceptions of the Victorians and it feels a little bit too clever.

Leaving this aside the strongest element of Ripper Street is the mystery that shrouds the three brilliant leads. Each of these men has their own back story and none of them is going to be pretty. The audience was thrown a large morsel this week and light was shed onto the back story of Edmund Reid (Matthew MacFayden) and his wife Emily (Amanda Hale), with the revelation that the couple lost their daughter – it is suggested that she went missing rather than dying.

While Emily has resigned herself to the loss and is ready to mourn, Reid lives in hope and refuses to accept that she is dead. He can leave the Ripper behind but Reid can never stop searching for his daughter.

Hale is wonderful at portraying a woman who has lost her child to tragedy and has lost her husband to his job. The interplay between MacFayden and Hale is tender and balanced and captures the delicate nature of their relationship, the repressed grief and the distance between the pair  comes out wonderfully through their shared silences and the pregnant pauses in their conversations.

Meanwhile Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) and Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake remain closed books for now. There are inklings that Jackson’s past is incredibly shady, presumably the mystery of this week’s ring will reveal itself fully later on. The heated exchanges between madam Long Susan (MyAnna Buring) and Jackson continue to fascinate.

We learnt that the muscle of the trio, Sergeant Drake played by Jerome Flynn was troubled by bad dreams so much so that he had to get a complex tattoo and a prayer to help him sleep better. He is clearly someone who has seen a fair few things in his time. For now Drake is simply quite amusing due to his constant mishandling of some miscreant or other if these two episodes are anything to go by.

The first episode has put to rest any notion that the series will be focusing on the Ripper murders and allows the programme to concentrate on the broader social landscape of the East End in this time period. Ripper Street delves into the social grievances in the fallout after the Ripper murders and the perceived incompetence of Scotland Yard which makes for an intriguing setup. The spotlight is usually on the murders themselves therefore Ripper Street’s writers have a lot of room for scope and creative licence.

Overall In My Protection was an interesting if less exhilarating episode with a searing turn by Gilgun as the unhinged fagin leading young ones astray. Although the second episode felt like somewhat of a downer there was some wonderful character developments.

Next week… The bodies are piling up on the morgue tables and what has happened to Emily?

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  • Jeremy K.

    It is very ham Victoriana but I think deliberately so, not to be taken too seriously. The dialogue is very difficult to hear, which is a pity. The accents are pretty fake “Gor blimey!” and that’s largely the problem.

  • Andy H

    I watched the first one and thought it so bad that I will not be bothering with the rest of the series. This is sub Sherlock Holmes(the Robert Downey Jnr version) tat, clunky dialogue, ‘mockney’ accents and the random American character as a sop to BBC America. Utter tosh and balderdash IMHO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnpaul.cleary.9 John-Paul Cleary

    fabulous telly. Love Love Love it. I don’t care if its silent witness mixed with sherlock holmes, the balance is right between intrigue, darkness, character depth and dare I say it…ENTERTAINMENT!!!

  • undergroundman14

    At least they don’t have a token black “Brit” in it. Only the odd realistic African/Caribbean sailor at the boxing match in the first episode.

  • undergroundman14

    At least they don’t have a token black “Brit” in it. Only the odd realistic African/Caribbean sailor at the boxing match in the first episode. It was just awful having to watch the BBC’s version of Robin Hood with that black Friar Tuck. I always get a big laugh over liberal attempts and tokenism toward Afro-Caribbeans.


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