Again, WTF, BBC? First I had no idea The Paradise had come slinking back, and now Ripper Street made a fairly unlauded return? Only months after the first series aired? Don’t get me wrong, I’m delighted to see it back, but now I’m wondering what’s going to make my long, dark winter nights more enjoyable come January. Unless that’s when they’re planning on running series 3 (if there is a series 3).
We open on a man who’s about 90% teeth—and a copper with K division, apparently—pounding on a door with one of those slidey eye-hatches and demanding to know where ‘she’ is. The man who appears at the hatch—a Chinaman, and yes, that is important—says she’s not there and slams the peephole shut.
Detective Dentures stumps through Chinatown, angry enough to be throwing people aside left and right, then stops in an alleyway and rubs his eyes as his vision gets a bit wonky for a moment. The chyron tells us it’s 1890, as Det Dentures knocks on a door.
On the street outside, urchins play music and dance, and then Det Dentures comes flying out an upper story window, stopped in his descent only by impaling his leg on an iron railing, thus saving an urchin from a crushing. This man’s having a terrible day.
At Leman St, Reid washes up and makes the cot in his office, so I guess he’s back to living at the station again. Below, Arthurton yells at some unruly prisoners, and some other policeman stupidly unlocks the cell they’re in to try and calm them down. They rush past him, and Arthurton rolls his eyes and blows his whistle.
Back upstairs, Drake pleasantly tells Reid Arthurton’s politely requesting a hand. Reid’s like, ‘I love the smell of police brutality in the morning!’ Better ‘n Folgers! He and Drake start cracking heads, and Jackson comes strolling up from the dead room to inform us this is not the first time this has happened. He also accuses Drake of having gone soft after getting married (!!). Oh, and he rescues Drake from a throttling by putting out his cigarette on the throttler’s hand.
Once the riot’s quelled, Arthurton hands out drinks to the lads and tells Reid they need more men to keep order around the place. Or a Gatling gun. Reid tells him they don’t have the funds or the reputation for more men. A policeman bursts in and tells them about Det Dentures, still impaled on the railing.
Reid, Jackson, and Drake hurry to the man, who’s attracted a crowd and is somehow still alive and screaming in pain. Jackson tells them they can’t remove the spike, because he’ll bleed out, so an ironmonger’s sent for. Drake recognises the man as a friend of his, Maurice, and Reid wonders what a K division man’s doing in Whitechapel. Jackson gives the man some laudanum and directs the ironmonger. Reid tells Drake to go to the hospital with Maurice and make sure he gets Treves as his surgeon. A lovely Chinese woman watches the whole scene, her face impassive.
Jackson and Reid go inside, to check out the room Maurice took his header from. They find a picture of a young Chinese woman—the same one who was out on the street last scene—as well as some morphine. They figure the man was thrown through the window, probably by two men. Below, Maurice is freed from the railing and loaded into a carriage.
Drake cradles Maurice in the carriage and distracts him with reminiscences. Maurice warns him that things are going to get really bad in the neighbourhood soon.
He’s taken to the London, where Reid finds him being attended by Treves and the nurses. The H Division Three watch the surgery from a gallery and Drake reports what Maurice said in the carriage. Below, Treves orders Jackson to put out his cheroot. Jackson starts asking about the condition of the patient, noting a fist-sized bruise on the sternum. Treves tells them the man also has some kind of infection from getting a bunch of needles in one leg, which has an old injury. Jackson and Reid hesitantly tell Drake that it’s possible the rooms were those of a prostitute.
A loudmouthed man in an extremely loud coat (so we know he’s evil, because all the good men dress much more soberly) bursts in and demands to know if Maurice’ll live. This is Shine, Maurice’s boss. Treves orders him out and Reid goes out to talk to him.
Reid shows him the woman’s photo and asks if there’s a file on her. Shine says there is none, but rest assured, she’ll be hunted down. Maurice comes out of surgery and Treves tells the men they need to leave him be for now, because it’s pretty touch and go.
Reid and the others head out, but first, Reid takes a moment for a pleasant word with Joseph Merrick, AKA The Elephant Man, who lives on the property. The men of H division are extremely polite to him, and apparently escort him when he goes out for his occasional underground walks. Reid finishes his conversation and tells Jackson he’s off to speak to Susan, to find out if this girl really was a prostitute.
At Susan’s—dear God, I just realised she’s played by the same actress who plays Edna on Downton Abbey. I like her a lot more on this show—he gets tea and Susan informs him that, though she once tried to tempt the girl to a life of sin, she didn’t get a bite. That was two years ago. And her name was Blush Pang, which sounds like a nailpolish colour. Susan tells Reid that the girl clearly had some way of supporting herself. Before he goes, Susan sends one of the girls to fetch Reid’s shirts. Wow, so, are he and Emily well and truly separated now? Also, Jackson apparently knows nothing about this shirt laundering or whatever’s going on.
Reid walks back to Leman, looking sad.
There, he finds the other two in Jackson’s lab and informs them of Pang’s name and the fact she wasn’t a prostitute. Jackson’s testing the morphine on a rat and tells Reid he thinks he might know what happened to Maurice. He launches into a fairly long story about how, when he was in San Francisco, he saw this Chinese guy who could do amazing things. He was basically a Jackie Chan/Jet Lee combination. How is it that Jackson always knows everything? They think someone with similar training tossed Maurice out the window. Reid goes through a jacket they found in Pang’s room and finds a gambling chip. Happily, there are only two streets with Chinese gambling establishments on them.
Pang walks into one of them, picks out one guy, and leads him into a back room, while outside a man in plain, dirty clothes looks up at the place. In the back room, Pang’s customer drops his trousers while she prepares a syringe. She injects him in the leg as the man outside knocks on the door and asks if Pang’s there. She’s fetched, but when she spots the man (before he sees her), she panics and says she’s not to be disturbed. Then she hurries away, while the guy is told to get out. The second someone tries to lay a hand on him, Jackie Lee starts kicking ass.
Reid, Jackson, and Drake walk through Chinatown and Reid talks a little bit about illegal immigration. He seems to have some sympathy for these people, because he’s a good man, our Reid. They find a crowd outside the gambling parlour, and inside they find crying women and unconscious or dead men. And Shine. The place is extremely trashed and Shine says he hears this is the work of one man. Shine reminds Reid that this is K’s jurisdiction, but Reid and the others ignore him and go to check out Pang’s now-dead customer, who they note has the same leg markings as Maurice and a piece of a blade stuck in his sliced throat. There’s a marking on blade that Shine identifies but I can’t for the life of me make out what he says. Some gang symbol, maybe? And Shine apparently spent 10 years in Hong Kong. They also find a watch on the body that apparently belonged to a 60-year-old German, while the body is of a much younger man.
Jackie Lee practices his moves in a warehouse somewhere.
Drake is home, with his wife, Bella, one of Susan’s former girls. You may remember her as the replacement Rose who was used to lure the white slaver in last season’s final episode. She shows him the drawing she’s working on—their names, intertwined—and he admires it, fairly adorably. She notes that something’s bothering him and he tells her about Maurice. She tells him to go help his friend, if he wants to.
Jackson and Susan chat about Chinatown while they get ready for bed. So, let me just get everything sorted out: Reid’s sleeping at the station and getting his laundry done at Susan’s, Drake’s married, and Susan and Jackson are completely reconciled again? I feel like there’re a lot of gaps here I’d like filled. Hopefully they’ll get filled in eventually. Jackson suggests he and Susan sell up and hop a ship to Asia. She asks about Reid, but Jackson doesn’t care about him. Like hell he doesn’t.
Reid returns home—to his actual home—but it looks like nobody else is there. He goes upstairs and looks around, a bit lost.
Drake goes to the hospital and heads into Maurice’s room for a visit. He finds him shaking and in the grips of quite the withdrawal and sits with him a moment, then goes to the nearby closet and starts rooting around. He eventually finds a sheet of paper that sends him dashing off. He runs into Merrick in the garden and talks to him for a moment about his friend, whom Merrick knows about, from Treves.
In his office, Reid examines the watch, then starts to tap out a message on the telegraph. Drake shows up and hands him the paper he found in Maurice’s room: a receipt of sorts for 300 pounds of raw tar opium, ordered by Pang, to be collected by a Maurice Linklater. So, now Drake doesn’t trust his buddy anymore and is committed to bringing him down, if necessary.
Susan receives a letter from her landlord, Silas Duggan, demanding an extra 500 guineas. Yikes!
Drake and Reid hit the docks and find the morphine shipment. Reid also finds what looks like an altar with still-smoking candles, and while he’s puzzling that out, Jackie Lee attacks, nearly kebab’ing Reid. Drake saves him, disarming Jackie Lee, but it’s not long before Jackie’s overpowered the man and is threatening to choke him to death unless Reid tells him where Pang is. Reid insists he doesn’t know. The man says he’s there to take Pang, his sister, home, after a British policeman stole her from Hong Kong. Reid says the man he’s hunting is not Drake, so Jackie lets him go and runs off. Reid and Drake try to quickly digest the fact that Shine’s their man.
Shine himself returns home, where Pang’s already in bed, and wonders if they should take a break for just a little while. She asks if Reid could harm them, but Shine says Reid’s not the problem, it’s her brother. He asks what the man wants and she tells him he wants to restore honour. They don’t seem likely to break up anytime soon.
Susan goes to see Silas and begs him not to screw her over like this. He tells her that, as her landlord, he can pretty much do whatever he wants, and she just needs to suck it up. Needless to say, he’s super creepy.
Reid and Drake return to the station and hear that they have an ID on the German name from the watch. They go down to the dead room, where Jackson’s cooking up a concoction, and learn the man was murdered a couple of years back, and the only suspect is now their dead man, Carston. Both the men were chemists. Jackson says the rat hasn’t been acting the way one would expect him to on morphine, so Jackson’s reverse-engineered the stuff and is about to try it out on himself. Right, that seems sound. He asks the other two men for privacy and shoots up.
Later, he vomits into a basin, lies next to the body, hallucinates a bit about Susan. Even later than that, Reid brings him around, as he sits in a chair, smoking, and looking out of it. Not quite with it, Jackson nonetheless manages to tell them that this stuff is much stronger than morphine and makes you feel amazing. It’s heroin, in case anyone’s curious. And it’s probably cheaper than morphine, since it’s made from the tar. Reid figures Shine’s just going to set up shop wherever he wants and look the other way while reaping the profits and getting the whole East End hooked on the stuff. Reid tells Drake they need to get Maurice to talk. Drake orders Jackson to cook more up.
The two men return to the hospital, ignoring the detective at Maurice’s door ordering them to let him rest. Maurice is in full-on Trainspotting mode, so when he sees the syringe, he practically weeps in relief. Before he’ll give it, Reid wants some questions answered. Outside, the detective rushes off to find Shine.
Outside the hospital, Jackie Lee sees the detective leave.
Reid learns that Maurice met with the dead German, who told him he was going to make this awesome stuff that would make him feel great. Reid demands to know where the stuff is cooked, but Maurice instead turns to Drake and begs for help. Drake refuses to give it, telling him he has to own up to what he’s done and name his commander and all the man’s crimes. Reid moves to leave, so Maurice agrees to tell them everything. He says the cookhouse is underneath the place where he was impaled, but he won’t list Shine’s crimes until he gets his juice. Yeah, that should result in useful information. Reid obliges and Maurice passes out. And then Treves bursts in and tells Reid to get the hell out. Once Reid leaves, Treves notices the fresh needlemark in his arm.
Pang rushes to the cookhouse and tells everyone to pack up and get out.
Reid and his men arrive at the cookhouse to raid it, right around the time Jackie Lee arrives and eyes the place from the street. They find a secret door downstairs and chase the cookers out. Pang tells them this is a legitimate business (morphine was totally legal back then), but Reid orders her arrested. Before Drake can move, Jackie Lee shows up and grabs her and says she’s his to take. Lee eyes the roomful of policemen, then starts kung fu fighting with Drake and all the rest of them, with an assist from Pang, who throws vials at the men. Once Lee’s got the upper hand, Pang pretends to be relieved to see him. He drags her outside, where he meets up with Jackson and his pistol. Reid and Drake rush out and Reid tells the man that taking Pang home will achieve nothing, because she’s been corrupted by London. Pang promises she’ll be a good girl.
And now, here comes Shine, who ostentatiously thanks Reid for finding and bringing down this criminal enterprise. He goes to arrest Lee, but Reid says he’s in Whitechapel, where Reid rules, so if he wants to take Lee, he’ll have to fight him, man to man. Shine laughs and removes his jacket, calling Reid a Roman emperor for wanting someone to fight for his entertainment. They fight, and it’s hardly surprising that Shine fights a bit dirty. Still, Lee gets the upper hand, until his sister stabs him in the back, killing him and telling him she intends to stay in England, with Shine. Reid arrests her, even though Shine says she shouldn’t be charged for aiding an officer. Reid insists and Pang yells at her lover for letting Reid lock her up. Shine’s pissed off. Reid promises that Shine’s greater crimes will come to light soon enough, because Maurice is ready to sing. Oh, Reid, you idiot. Never reveal your hand to the Big Bad.
Naturally, Shine heads to the hospital that night and tells Maurice what a shame it is he’s become so vulnerable. Maurice swears he’s loyal to Shine. Shine prepares a massive dose of heroin and tells Maurice he’ll be incriminating Reid now. He injects the man, and Maurice overdoses, naturally, but unknown to Shine, Merrick’s out for his walk and sees all (or at least sees that distinctive coat) through the window.
Reid and Drake have a drink at their local and are sad about how good men go bad sometimes. Shine shows up and Reid tells him he’s got quite a pair, showing up there. Guess H and K divisions don’t get on. Reid accuses him of being a corrupt liar, and Shine says Reid’s not the type who should be throwing stones. He also informs them of Maurice’s death, which Treves believes might have been due to an overdose of narcotics. And who was the last person to be seen with a syringe in the patient’s room? Reid. Shine tosses back his drink and leaves while Reid looks a bit sick.