Ripper Street ‘Threads of Silk and Gold’ – Series 2, episode 5
There was only one word for this week’s instalment of Ripper Street: grim. While it started off as the ‘typical’ gay period drama love story, complete with the edges of the screen blurred like a dream sequence, it soon all descended into death, debt, blackmail and gore.
All of the deaths in this week’s episodes were quite gory, from the banker who has his brains blown out and splattered all over his neat glass cabinet bookshelf to the gay telegraph messenger boy brutally stabbed and drowning in his own blood. Grim.
Time and again Ripper Street outdoes itself in the graphic violence stakes and this week was no exception. I wanted to wretch into the nearest bowler hat. No doubt I’ll be repeating myself again this time next week. Who knows, maybe we’ll have some more stabbings or a bizarre graphic torture sequence – possibly while someone is filming/photographing it. My stomach is already groaning in dread at the thought.
As adventures go this story was one of the most anachronistic ones in this series. It’s odd how everyone in Whitechapel is so accepting of homosexuality given that they are in Victorian England. Heck, even the usually straight-laced Reid is becoming pro-gay rights despite the fact it goes against the law. Then again, Whitechapel does basically consist of prostitutes, thieves and perverts, so they are hardly ones to judge others. It’s anachronistic but it does put a smile on my face.
Jassa Ahluwalia and Alfie Stewart are wonderful as the young lovers Vincent and David. They are young and innocent and we are rooting for them, so when tragedy does strike it’s just depressing. I wanted them to have a happy ending even if it meant blackmailing a banker. Instead I was left with glumness.
There were no silver linings. Even our muckraking hack Fred Best was left drunkenly crying into a bottle of something after getting blackmailed and having to spike a story exposing Barings Bank, which has been hiding losses from its investors after being exposed to an Argentine default.
None of the parallels to the global recession currently engulfing us were lost on me. Whether it was the bursting debt bubble, lying to investors about debt, or being bailed out by the Bank of England it was all very much in yer face. On top of that the irony and the knowingness about the eventual fate of Barings Bank was a tad grating. It was of course the oldest merchant bank in London which collapsed in 1995 thanks to a certain rogue trader by the name of Nick Leeson who lost millions.
But it wasn’t just big banks facing tough times, oh no. Long Susan’s continual money problems played a part – her land lord is raising the rent and she is unable to pay – could this too be a reference to the sky rocketing rents in modern-day London? I just can’t tell any more. I just can’t tell. I was half expecting something about payday loans and credit cards to be mentioned.
However, watching the soap opera drama play out between Long Susan and Jackson was painfully dull to watch. It was pure padding for an otherwise interesting episode and just depressed me further. It’s as if the writers were trying to tie all the cases of corruption ever in the financial world via Victorian London and neatly fit it into the space of 60 minutes. Where was the Bernie Madoff and Jérôme Kerviel equivalents?
To sum up, this was the gay rights and credit crunch episode. By the end of it I felt like finding a bottle and helping Fred to drown his sorrows in solidarity, that’s how depressing Threads of Silk and Gold was. Just a note to the writers for next time, please can we have more escapism and fewer parallels to the deepest financial crisis since World War II. Ta.
Next week on ‘Ripper Street’… Maggie the call girl shows up and things get decidedly anti-Semitic. Paul Kaye shows up as possibly an Orthodox Jewish man before we see Drake slap his wife. Just what is going on? All will be revealed next week.Tagged in: Adam Rothenberg, Damien Molony, jerome flynn, Matthew Macfadyen, Myanna Buring, Ripper Street, Victorian
Recent Posts on Arts
- Friday Book Design Blog: The Ariel Poems, and other seasonal pamphlets
- Children’s book blog – Ask the illustrator: Rebecca Cobb
- Piggott's post: Jacobson, Heller and reflections on "real life"
- Ric Blackshaw tells us Scrawl about his street art enterprise
- Children’s books for November: The Something, The Imaginary and Eren
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter