Review of Ripper Street ‘The Weight of One Man’s Heart’

Neela Debnath
rose fina 300x218 Review of Ripper Street The Weight of One Mans Heart

Charlene McKenna as Rose (BBC)

On this week’s instalment of CSI: Whitechapel or “Ripper Street” as it is more commonly referred to, viewers were finally given an insight into Sergeant Drake’s dark past. There was of course the regular dose of sex, violence and anachronisms that come as standard with each episode.

Thus far Drake has been somewhat of a mystery to the audience and there have only been small hints of the man he used to be. During the lockdown at the orphanage in episode 2, Drake spoke about his nightmares and revealed a tattoo of an Egyptian goddess.

For those who may have wondered what lay beneath that cool, uptight and very proper Victorian exterior need wonder no longer. Drake was a former soldier who experienced all the horrors of war and more after slaying his captors when he was taken prisoner.

There is a reason he is Reid’s muscle and essentially tethered to a leash but it is a self-imposed restriction. Jackson may mock him for being too serious but perhaps he would be less cocky if he knew what Drake was capable and what he has done in the past.

It was a great story in terms of character development and the parallels it created between the treatment of veterans returning from the front line in the Victorian era and in 2013. It served as an interesting angle and way in for viewers. Drake’s former brother-in-arms Colonel Madoc Faulkner (Iain Glen) gave a fierce critique of the ‘reward’ former soldiers are given when they return home after serving. He made a compelling argument and raised an issue that applies both then and now.

While other villains in the series have committed crimes purely for their own ends, Faulkner is attempting to exact justice to those who have been wronged and deserve some sort of recompense for risking their lives. Although the ends do not justify the means, his actions are those of a man trying to give something back to his fellow veterans. Faulkner is an interesting character and not a pantomime villain. Glen makes him raw and real. There is sympathy towards the way war has damaged him. Both Jerome Flynn and Glen give solid turns and make the complicated friendship work.

Flynn deserves praise for his performance in The Weight of One Man’s Heart because of the emotional turmoil the character goes through. From the conflict with Faulkner to his flashbacks of war to his heartbreak over Rose, viewers are shown all the nuances of his character. Out of his colleagues, he is the most endearing and loveable because of his emotional vulnerability. Despite the fact that he can beat a man to a bloody pulp he is kind-hearted and soft. It was painful to watch Rose reject his marriage proposal because of all that he has been through. There was never going to be a happy ending though.

On the lighter side of things, this week’s anachronisms/references to the modern day included Reid telling Hobbs that one day there might be machines that could look through files, after the young officer complained about the hefty load of paperwork he was given. Then there were the shots of Jackson smoking shisha which seemed plain weird, saying this, the British Empire was vast and perhaps he did obtain a hookah pipe on his travels. The last one worth a mention was the scene where the Whitechapel trio discussed the substances found at the crime scene. The dialogue felt more like a GCSE chemistry lesson as the names of numerous chemical compounds flew through the air. Who would have thought Edmund Reid knew so much about chemistry?

Like the BBC’s reimagining to Robin Hood several years ago which saw the outlaw and his band of merry men clothed in hoodies and a step away from getting an Asbo, Ripper Street does come across as too modern for its own good. Despite this knowingness, there is no denying that it is an entertaining period drama with great acting and some beautiful cinematography.

But I will continue to poke fun at the anachronisms.

Next week on Ripper Street… Apparently some ruffians need to be brought to heel and the root cause of it is East End.

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  • Toby Forward

    Polite question. Are you sure about that? My OED (online, so up to date) gives 1871 as the first instance of the word, and it’s only used in America for quite a long time. No uses in England about 1888.

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