After several episodes of having very little to do The Weight of One Man’s Heart finally gives Drake his own episode.
I have no idea whether or not love birds should be separated so I will give Ripper Street the benefit of the doubt as I do with every episode.
There are spoilers within. Consider yourselves warned!
PLOT: Reid (Matthew Macfadyen), Drake (Jerome Flynn) and Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) investigate a series of stage coach robberies. Drake’s mind is focused on his courtship of Rose (Charlene McKenna) until his former Colonel, Madoc Faulkner, (Iain Glen) returns to London and offers Drake a chance for a new life outside of the law. END PLOT
Episode five marks a slight change in format for Ripper Street as it is the first episode which doesn’t focus its attentions on a murder. Save for a horse the lack of death allows the urgency of the investigation to ease up slightly and for Bennett Drake's character development to take centre stage.
As with every episode there is a heavy element of social context bubbling underneath the main storyline. The Weight of One Man’s Heart is no different and this episode makes some uneasy parallels with soldiers returning from war. They are shown as living on the streets or resorting to crime to survive. Their plight is made all the more sympathetic by Faulkner’s passionate speeches.
The tension between Reid and Faulkner could be cut with a knife. Faulkner makes it clear that he has little respect for Reid with “I have little clemency for men behind desks in high places with low honour”. The conversation between Faulkner and Reid is one of the best written and acted scenes in the episode.
Faulkner is the most complex guest character we have had so far. The fact that he is played with such grandiose by Iain Glen is an added bonus.
Drake is given the vast majority of the screen time and Jerome Flynn does not waste a second of it. The episode opens with Drake getting ready for his date with Rose and closes just as Drake’s heart has been broken which brings the episode full circle. The final shot of Drake releasing the expensive love birds was a clever shot to end on as it packed a greater emotional punch than any scene with dialogue could.
Aside from the brilliant scenes with Iain Glen, Matthew Macfadyen takes a back seat however the episode does not suffer for it. As all the sympathy is being given to Drake there are times when Reid comes across as unnecessarily harsh towards him. This is not really the case but Reid’s mishandling of Drake’s request for a pay rise did make for some wonderfully awkward moments between the characters.
Jackson doesn’t get much to do but as per usual Adam Rothenberg steals the few scenes he is in with some cracking one liners and his usual dark humour. Jackson’s attempts to bond with Drake appear genuine but in typical Jackson fashion his inability to stop talking leads to him getting his ass kicked….again. Jackson admits to being in the same position that Drake is in with Rose. His belief that it will all end badly and that “no man’s heart aches forever” means we have inadvertently found out more about Jackson’s past in this episode than in any other.
Charlene McKenna takes centre stage as the episodes leading lady. Rose is ridiculously sweet and even when breaking Drake’s heart you could tell she was trying to do it gently - even though her efforts didn’t quite work. Rose's sweetness is emphasised with Susan (MyAnna Buring) appearing in a few short scenes in full bitch mode. It has been a while since we have had any Susan/Jackson scenes and they are missed.
As per the norm the cinematography is stunning with Drake’s grainy flashbacks being seamlessly interwoven with his fight scenes and in less capable hands the closing scene with the birds would have been cheesy.
There is nothing about the episode that can be faulted. Ripper Street has always been a polished production but the writing and the cast have never been stronger. The Weight of One Man's Heart gets 10/10.
Lines of the week:
Reid: “I have no reason to doubt the candour of the man’s confession” (Reid to Drake). Reid shows that his sense of loyalty is just as strong as Drakes and doesn’t acknowledge that Drake may have gone over to the dark side. Reid also respectfully gives Faulkner back his scarab necklace as he says this line.
Drake: “What I cannot offer you in wealth and luxury Miss Rose, I offer you my whole heart for always, for when I look upon you I feel a mercy I felt lost in me and I will work as hard as any man is able to provide every day for your happiness and to be a better man, if you, that is to say, that if you might consider of doing me the utmost honour of being by my side” (Drake to Rose). Drake’s beautiful proposal was turned down by Rose. *sob*
Jackson: “They see in each other the burns that other people don’t” (Jackson to Drake). It was tempting to go for “isn’t this the most honest face you have ever sat on” but that would have been too obvious! Jackson is the humour of the show but he has just as much depth as Reid and Drake.