Review of Ripper Street ‘The King Came Calling’
SPOILERS: Do not read this if you have not seen episode 3 of ‘Ripper Street’
Cholera hits the East End bringing with it panic and chaos but in the midst of it all there is something else at work.
This week’s Victorian jumping off point was the prevalence of cholera in this era, in fact the episode may even have been inspired by the 1854 Broad Street outbreak in Soho. This period is well-known in popular culture for its unhygienic conditions and squalor among the poverty-stricken. By putting in the cholera red herring right at the start threw audiences off the scent.
Yet it is not long before the dynamic trio realise that something more sinister is afoot when the symptoms do not match those of cholera and it is soon discovered that this is the work of a mad man poisoning people through flour in an attempt to gain greater notoriety than the Ripper himself.
Once again there were anachronisms aplenty from Emily’s project for fallen women that left aside judgement (a very forward-thinking and un-Victorian ideal), to a playback of the poisoner dropping his deadly concoction into flour – just in case viewers missed it the first time – which was bizarrely reminiscent of the highlights on Match of the Day.
Unfortunately, the ‘interesting’ and out-of-place camera work did not end there. Emily’s hallucinations while getting lambasted by Flora Gable (Penny Downie) seemed to transpose the viewer from Victorian crime drama to supernatural horror in the blink of an eye. One minute it was Ripper Street and the next it was something akin to The X-Files with corsets, top hats and twirly-moustached villains.
Then there is the cliché-ridden police procedural nature of the show. Given that there have been so many detective shows over the decades, they all start to merge into one and it is difficult not to see the similarities and the conventions employed here. Edmund Reid is the maverick officer, a workaholic who sees what others miss.
He is a man ahead of his time – employing an American to cut up bodies for him and using science to help him solve crimes. But Reid is also haunted by the loss of his daughter who he cannot grieve for because he believes she is still alive. With Emily’s life hanging in the balance, it felt like if she had died then the show would descend further into detective cliché territory.
As a viewer the most compelling element is the back story of the three leads which continues to drive the show forward. This week was testing to watch because there was no mention of either Jackson or Drake’s pasts – not even a hint. Luckily, to shake things up was inspector Sydney Ressler (Patrick Baladi), the head of the Square Mile, who created tension with a police turf war between himself and Reid.
While the pair battled for authority there was also a sense of synergy between them as they worked together to solve the case. It was a welcome and interesting change that extended Victorian policing beyond the streets of Whitechapel. Next week though the focus will return to the three leads and things are hotting up if the snippet at the end of the episode is anything to go by.
Next week on Ripper Street… Reid is questioning a girl covered in blood. Meanwhile Long Susan is seen in a cell – is the deception that binds her to Jackson slowly starting to unravel?Tagged in: Ripper Street
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