Sunday, 10 February 2013

Ripper Street - The Good of This City

The Good of This City marks the halfway point in season1 of Ripper Street.  I refuse to acknowledge that there are now only four episodes left.  Season2 is a very long way away!
I have never taken a journey on the London Underground let alone know anything about its construction so I am willing to give Ripper Street the benefit of the doubt once more with the historical aspect of the show.
There are spoilers within – consider yourself warned.
PLOT:  Hobbs (Jonathan Barnwell) finds a young woman walking along Leman Street covered in blood which leads to Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), Drake (Jerome Flynn) and Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) investing a double murder in a slum known as Dogsneck.  Reid learns that the murders are connected to politician Stanley Bone (Paul McCann) and his construction of a new underground railway however as the investigation progresses it appears that Susan (MyAnna Buring) knows more about the young woman Lucy (Emma Rigby) than she is letting on.  END PLOT
Ripper Street is very good at giving each episode historical context.  The Good of This City manages to deal with society’s attitude towards woman and the construction of the London Underground.  There is a great line about the Underground having “the chill of eternity” which I thought was a nice touch.
As per the norm this episode juggles several plot threads and which are all tied up nicely by the end of the episode.  The main story arcs take a backseat but we are reminded that Jackson and Susan are on the run and we see that Emily Reid (Amanda Hale) has now opened her shelter for troubled woman. 
Reid promised that he would open up to his wife in the last episode. This does not occur and Emily only makes a minimal appearance but interestingly her character is not missed.
Macfadyen makes playing Inspector Reid look easy with Reid and Jackson’s argument being full of tension despite some awful dialogue in the form of “a man who holds secrets is a secretive man”.  Obvious comment is obvious.  Macfadyen and Rothenberg work well together and long may their edgy alliance continue.
Rothenberg’s screen time is significantly cut this week however the few scenes that he takes part in are the most memorable.  Jackson jumps from shady/genius/comedic relief as a when required but it is always great fun to watch. 
The Good of This City gives Susan (MyAnna Buring) more screen time which is not a bad thing.  Susan is the strongest female character and Buring gets an opportunity to show us Susan at her bitchy best.  Macfadyen once again displays great chemistry with his co-stars in the excellent interview scenes with Buring. 
Unfortunately with a densely plotted episode Jerome Flynn’s Drake is almost completely forgotten about.  Another sweet little scene with Rose should keep the Drake fans happy but I am now ready the very capable Flynn to get his moment to shine.
There have been a few continuity errors but the production of Ripper Street has been top notch.  The Good of This City gives us a couple of gorgeous day-to-night shots over the river and outside the whorehouse.  The shots added a nice cinematic touch to the episode.
The episode is by no means perfect as the editing was unusually choppy – when Jackson was threatening to shoot Hobbs and Artherton (David Wilmot) there should have been a reaction shot of Susan who was still locked in the cell beside the desk.  It made no sense for her not to acknowledge Jackson’s behaviour given their relationship.
Similarly, Jackson disappears after telling Reid about the amphetamines.  It is likely that Jackson was in the carriage with Reid and Drake but this shot was cut from the episode.  I found that parts of this episode were not well edited.  It had no effect on the storytelling but it was noticeable.
Despite a few dud lines and choppy editing The Good of This City is still a great episode as it allowed Macfadyen, Rothenberg and Buring an opportunity to show off their acting skills.  Emma Rigby also deserves a mention and has been the most memorable guest star so far.  Episode4 is the first time that we see the characters really testing one another and it made for brilliant viewing.  The Good of This City gets 8.5/10.
Lines of the week:
Reid:  “The greater the number of homeless we send to the wider world the faster our measure of crime falls”.  Reid is not against progress but he is aware that it will be the people of Whitechapel who are left to suffer.  No matter the situation Reid is always thinking about how it effects the residents of his square mile.
Drake: “I hope he has not left you out of pocket!” (Drake to Rose).  Drake causes Rose to lose a client and then worries about her loss of income.  Drake’s jealously towards Roses paying customer has been noted.
Jackson:   “It….is…….Amphetamine!” (Jackson to Reid).  Jackson has had some sharp one liners scattered through each episode but when Rothenberg gets an opportunity to play straight out comedy he proves to be very skilled at it!

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