After further questions were raised about Jackson’s past by Constantine in Tournament of Shadows Ripper Street didn’t waste time in giving us a Jackson-centric episode. There had been hints about a dark past scattered throughout the season and episode7, A Man of My Company, promised to answer them.
There are anachronistic errors in the episode but I can only comment on those that I noticed myself. My knowledge of ships, rudders and sailing methods is none existent and as per usual I have given the makers the benefit of the doubt.
Although the series has finished its television run the usual spoiler warning still stands. If you do not wish to read spoilers kindly mosey along now.
PLOT: Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and Drake (Jerome Flynn) investigate the murder of Samuel Fanthorpe, an employee of a local shipping company, which is in the process of being bought by Swift Intercontinental a rival American firm. Theadore Swift (Ian McElhinney) arrives in London to complete the purchase and is accompanied by a branch of the Pinkertons headed by Frank Goodnight (Edoardo Ballerini). With the Pinkertons in town and not subtle in their desire to find Susan (MyAnna Buring) Jackson’s (Adam Rothenberg) past comes back to haunt him and has costly consequences for H Division. END PLOT
Each episode of Ripper Street comes with some form of social context however A Man of My Company skims over this usual feature. The engineering developments and the effect it will have on the shipping trade are mentioned in passing and not covered in any great depth. This is not a complaint as there was so much going on in this episode something had to be sacrificed.
A Man of My Company is complicated and branches off into several subplots which come crashing together during the final third of the episode. The fast pacing of the storylines helped to amplify the tension and sense of urgency throughout this episode.
Episode7 had one of the biggest television shocks in recent memory with the murder of Constable Hobbs (Jonathan Barnwell). Hobbs was killed in the same manner as Samuel Fanthorpe and as Jackson had described this death in great detail it made watching poor Hobbs suffer the same fate all the more distressing. I didn’t see it coming and several weeks later I can’t quite believe that they killed the character off.
The loss of the fantastic Jonathan Barnwell at this stage of Ripper Street's short run was a bold move. Production of season1 appeared to be completed long before it was announced that a second season would be made. I can’t help but feel that if the renewal decision was made during the filming of season1 Hobbs may not have met such an early demise.
The death of Hobbs was handled well with all of the characters getting a moment to share their grief – Drake's “Not the boy” was a brilliantly delivered line but was topped by Artherton’s “Mr Reid, when you find the person what done this, we may kill them, may we not sir?.
Matthew Macfadyen and Jerome Flynn were excellent at repressing their emotion over Hobb’s death but, as per usual, Adam Rothenberg steals the show.
Jackson and Susan’s love story almost appeared from nowhere due to the characters having a very limited amount of screen time together. If they had the chance to share a few more moments with each other over the course of the season it would have given greater credence to their declarations of love. The performances of Adam Rothenberg and MyAnna Buring made up for this as when the actors get the opportunity they have great chemistry – hopefully the writers will have taken note of this and we will see more of their relationship in season2.
The pistols at dawn showdown between Jackson and Goodnight, which took place in broad daylight on Leman Street, may have required some suspension of belief as it isn’t likely that police officers would allow such a duel to take place. It gets a free pass as it suited Jackson’s character perfectly. The fact that he bent the rules meant that the duel was won it in typical Jackson fashion. Susan’s “I never knew a man who could make cheating so heroic” sums the character up perfectly.
MyAnna Buring is usually the strongest female cast member and in A Man of My Company she excelled. It was interesting to hear that Susan’s real name is Caitlin showing that she is just as capable as Jackson at creating a new identity.
Jackson’s secret life may have been a bit of an anti-climax but A Man of My Company made for brilliant television. It was by no means a perfect episode but it is easily my favourite. It gets 9.5/10. The cliff-hanger with Jackson being framed as Jack the Ripper will bring the series full circle in the final episode.
Lines of the week:
Reid: “What little I know of you, I know this, you would not fire on me”. (Reid to Jackson). Macfadyen had some great moments of repressed anger but this line shows that after everything he is still willing to put faith in Jackson.
Drake: “You come to me out of fear Rose, not natural affection. I know I am not much but I am worth better than that”. (Drake to Rose) This was a great throwback to The Weight of One Man’s Heart. Drake’s pride won over love as he turned down Rose’s advances. It was a great little character moment for Drake and a complete turnaround from his previous actions.
Jackson: “This is my home field” (Jackson to Goodnight). Jackson freely admitted that Goodnight was a faster draw earlier in the episode and yet he still challenged him to a gunfight. Jackson is usually the smartest person in the room and even when the odds are against him he will come out on top......Goodnight had the last laugh though.....