TV REVIEW: Ripper Street - Our Betrayal Part 1

‘Our Betrayal, Part 1’, was by enlarge the Ripper Street episode we’ve been waiting for all series. With a strong character focus and a reasonably simple plot, free from overly flowery language and crowded narrative arcs, it was actually rather enjoyable to watch. And just as I was beginning to doubt I would ever type those words.

The tortured and bereaved Sergeant Drake (Jerome Flynn) having not been seen since the death of his wife six months ago, Inspector Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and young Flight (Damien Molony) have been left to run H division without him. Despite Bennett never having seemed to play too vital a role in proceedings before, it seems that in his absence this is easier said than done. A jewellery conman is on the run, and it is left to Flight to find him. However, when the search takes him into the territory of Inspector Shine, played by Joseph Mawle with as effective a sly menace as ever, we are presented with a man who, at best, has divided loyalties, and at worst, is a traitor and a mole in the camp of the hand that feeds him.  Meanwhile, life gets even trickier for Jackson (Adam Rothenberg). Still living with Reid, having been kicked out by Lazy Susan – sorry, Long Susan (MyAnna Buring), it is understandably awkward when his trouble-making long lost brother turns up from South Africa sporting a rather large uncut diamond.

This diamond however, at least in Jackson’s eager eyes, could be the very thing to save Long Susan and her brothel from the slimy clutches of Silas Duggan (Frank Harper). Things haven’t improved much in that department since last week’s episode,  with Duggan moving into a room in, as he puts it, ‘his house’. His bargain to Susan remains on the table (thankfully that’s all he puts on the table) – namely that he will lift all debts should she agree to spend just ‘one night of pleasure’ with him. Yum. He has made it clear, too, that he wants no one but her. Susan is understandably concerned about this, as unlike poor former employee Rose (Charlene McKenna), who has been wandering Whitechapel in search of Drake for months, Susan knows ‘what it is like to lie with the man she loves’, and is anxious about selling her body –despite having built a career overseeing dozens of girls doing that very thing.

Despite the obvious hypocrisies of her position, however, the storyline is a moving one. In fact it’s been one of the better storylines of the series, as well as one of the most underused. Her final resolution on the matter is little short of heart-breaking, particularly as she has always been one of a very small number of women in the show with any kind of independence or freedom. To watch that being slowly eroded does not make for easy viewing. Her relationship with her estranged husband underpins it all of course, although again we’re left unsure whether their marriage is indeed broken beyond retribution. Set alongside the relationship between Rose and her beloved Bennet, we’re left wondering if there is any hope in Whitechapel at all for wives, husbands and would be lovers. Never fear though, Inspector Reid is on the case, with amorous feelings of his own… I don’t really want to discuss that any further as I found it more than a little awkward.
Moving on, then, to new boy Flight, who in all honesty as had plot device sewn into his waistcoat since he first stepped on the screen, particularly as he has been perpetually  picked up and dropped like a yo-yo depending on what else has been happening in the episode. To that end, his involvement in the betrayal was one of a few elements to the episode which did not feel wholly believable. There needed to have been at least a couple of signs along the way that he was not to be trusted, and, unless I nodded off for half the series, which admittedly is quite likely, there have been none. Also feeling unbelievable were the series of co-incidences which brought Bennet back to H division. Epic as the moment of his prodigal return felt, it was all just a little, or a lot, too convenient. I also found it rather amusing that it had seemingly  taken Rose six months to notice that Jackson was no longer living at the brothel, but in the grand scheme of all things Ripper Street that’s probably by the by.

Fingers crossed this momentum can be kept up for tomorrow night’s finale- that way I might even depart the series with a couple of positive things to say.


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