Ripper Street: In Extremis

BBC/Tiger AspectPreviously on Ripper Street: We found out that Drake served as a soldier (presumably during the Second Anglo-Egyptian War) and came home with some tattoos and nightmares. He also developed a serious crush on Rose.

Drake is getting ready for his day, shaving, getting dressed. While he’s doing that, a man loads up a sniper rifle, takes aim from a second story-window at a horse drawing the Victorian-era equivalent of an armoured car, and fires.

The horse lies dead in the street, and before the stunned driver can even react, smoke cannisters go off and masked men emerge and attack.

Drake, meanwhile, is all dressed up, holding a bouquet of pink roses, and waiting for Rose. He nervously hands the bouquet over as soon as she appears, and it quickly becomes apparent that this is a date—he’s taking her to the theatre. Awww! She’s clearly rather touched by all this.

That poor horse still lies dead in the middle of the road as the cart driver comes to and looks around for help, dazed.

Drake and Rose leave the theatre, having seen Romeo and Juliet. She’s transported; he’s more of my mind that it’s not terribly romantic to die. Especially when you die of utter stupidity, overwrought emotions, and poor timing, which is pretty much the last half of Romeo and Juliet in a nutshell. Rose reels off a couple of lines and Drake tells her she could be an actress. That gets her mind firing, as she tells him about a girl she knew once who got in good with someone with money, and he made all her theatrical dreams come true. I’ll bet. Rose spots a stall where a man’s selling birds, and she’s immediately taken by a pair of lovebirds. The stallholder starts the hard sell, and Rose turns on the pleading eyes, but Drake can’t afford them. While they’re discussing all this, someone watches him from a distance.

And here comes Hobbs to cock-block poor Drake. He’s got a message from Reid that Drake’s urgently needed, even though it’s his afternoon off. Drake excuses himself to Rose and follows Hobbs, and we finally see that the man watching him is none other than Iain Glen, aka Sir Richard Carlisle, aka Ser Jorah Mormont, which means that two of my favourite Game of Thrones badasses are going to start doing some scenes together. Squee!

Drake meets Reid at the Dead Horse Cart, where Reid immediately notices that Drake’s rather dressed up. Drake ignores that and turns his attention to the cart, which has a safe in the back that’s had a giant hole blown in it. It’s similar to another robbery that took place not long ago. They can’t fathom what would have blown open this safe, and Reid thinks these are some seriously talented thieves, because the route was unmarked, and yet they were clearly waiting for the cart. He asks Hobbs where Jackson is, tells the boy to rouse him, and tells Drake to fetch a saw.

The horse’s head is now sitting on Jackson’s table in the dead room. Jackson can identify the compounds used in the smoke bombs, but not the stuff that blew through the safe. Reid starts reeling off various explosives, like this is an A-level course in chemistry or something, but Jackson rejects them all. Drake’s amused that Jackson’s stumped, so Jackson gets back at him by ‘accidentally’ spattering his cheek with horse blood when he goes to remove the bullet. He IDs the bullet as belonging to a Whitworth rifle. They’ll have to hit up a rifle range to see if they can get a lead on their horse-killing sharpshooter, but it’s too late in the day now. Drake takes the opportunity to ask Reid for a word, but first Reid has to talk with the representative of the insurance agency whose client (I believe) owned the haul of jewels that was snatched. And hey—the insurance agent’s played by the same actor who played Brother Jerome in Cadfael! Nice to see him again! It’s not terribly surprising that he’s playing someone a little overwrought and annoying here too. Talk about playing a type.

Reid takes the man, Mr Ween, I believe, to his office and tells him that this was a clearly targeted robbery. Ween starts to panic that his clients are being targeted (I believe the previous robbery was one of their clients as well), but fortunately Hobbs shows up to put his fears at ease by telling them the jewels have all been delivered, save for one sapphire. Mmmkay.

Reid and Drake go to discuss the case alone and immediately dismiss Ween as a suspect, since they don’t think he has the stomach for it. And he doesn’t, so this is not a red herring. Drake asks again to talk to Reid, and they sit down together so Drake can rather awkwardly ask for a raise. Reid tells him he deserves one, but the budget might not allow for it. To his credit, Drake does not point out that they had no problem finding the funds to hire Jackson and fit out what must have been a very expensive and well-equipped dead room. Reid goes man-to-man and asks Drake if this is what he wants, or what Rose wants. Drake looks like he isn’t quite sure, but he insists that’s not the case. Reid tells him that he should be wary of a woman like her. Drake immediately backs off, withdraws his request, and gets the hell out of there.

On his way out the door, someone barks ‘stand straight, sergeant!’ and Drake snaps to with all the practice and reflexes of a former soldier. He’s stunned to see Iain there—his former commanding officer, Col Faulkner. Faulkner tells him to relax and Drake immediately breaks into a smile and introduces Faulkner to Reid, all earlier awkwardness now forgotten. Faulkner asks Drake and Reid to join him for dinner, claiming he’s only in London a couple of days.

Dinner quickly turns to Faulkner ranting a bit about Gladstone and how real soldiers have little time or patience for those who sit behind desks and just issue orders, without knowing what’s going on on the battlefields. Reid looks the teensiest bit uncomfortable at all this talk, since he himself has never seen action. Faulkner notes that he’s eying a heart scarab he wears around his neck, and he hands it over so Reid can have a better look. He asks Drake if he remembers the Ceremony of Judgment, and though he tries to wriggle out of answering, Drake eventually tells Reid that the Egyptians believed that the gods placed the heart on a scale balanced by a feather. If the heart was pure, the scales balanced. If not, well, not so good. Faulkner quickly twigs to the fact that Reid has a command position now but never served, and he obliquely accuses him and the other police of making war against the poor and desperate, rather than against the enemies of the empire. Reid, naturally, gets a bit defensive, but Faulkner’s on a roll and tells Reid that plenty of good soldiers who went through hell came back to a country indifferent to their sacrifice and unwilling to help or support them. It may be a tidge heavy handed, but I do have to applaud this show for so starkly addressing a situation that still has so much relevance today. Faulkner says that men in extremis will act in extremity, and Reid says that may well be true, but they still have to answer for it. Faulkner says that’s Reid’s law, and then turns to Drake and asks if it’s his as well. Poor Drake, trapped between his two authority figures, doesn’t know what to do. Faulkner doesn’t press him and tells Reid he has the finest man at his side, and that he wishes he could have recognized Drake with a commission on the battlefield, considering how fiercely the man fought. ‘I never knew a man so hungry for dervish blood,’ he says. Reid seems interested by this tidbit.

After dinner, Faulkner takes Drake on a tour of the back streets, where they see other veterans forced to beg. Faulkner baits Drake, mocking his profession, and telling Drake that this is how glorious Britannia treats her men.

Jackson’s at Susan’s, smoking a hookah and getting a blowjob from Rose. He’s a multitasker, this one. Once she’s done, he starts making fun of Drake a bit (mood killer) and she tells him to leave Drake alone. She asks why he never takes her to the theatre. ‘You think I need a bunch of fake people selling me a bunch of fake feelings? I live in a goddamn whorehouse,’ he reminds her. Touché, sir.

Drake’s now got Faulkner at his place for tea, and Faulkner immediately guesses that Drake’s in love. Drake tells him the lady’s name is Rose and Faulkner pleasantly asks a few questions about her. When he asks about her profession, though, Drake clams up. ‘In extremis, extremity,’ says Faulkner. ‘Those who need it most in this cruel city find mercy least.’ Judging from this show, that’s very true. Faulkner suggests something a bit stronger than tea, and when Drake goes to get some brandy, Faulkner leaves a small pouch on the table and departs. Drake comes out, finds Faulkner gone, opens the pouch, and finds…a single sapphire. Well!

Jackson has somehow figured out what blew the safe (let’s hope he didn’t try drinking it this time)—it’s some sort of acid, military grade. Reid tells Jackson to start asking all his lowlife friends who might have purchased the stuff and then has Hobbs send a telegram to the safe company, asking to speak to them. He also wonders where the hell Drake is.

Drake has tracked Faulkner down to a restaurant, where he’s just tucking into some breakfast. He plunks the pouch down on the table by Faulkner and Faulkner calmly asks him if he’s tattled to Reid yet. He has not. Drake warns him to leave London, but Faulkner tells him he has a major operation in the works, and he needs Drake at his side. Drake reminds him that he’s a policeman, so Faulkner starts to talk about justice. He reminds him of the soldiers they saw the night before and brings up the fact that the country has abandoned them. He wants to show the country what true justice is. Drake begs him not to do anything but Faulkner ignores him, pulls out a tiny pistol, and holds it to Drake’s head, fiercely calling him the slavish henchman of a crippled coward as everyone else in the place just gets up and shuffles out, not all that concerned, but uninterested in getting involved either. Kind of a theme for this hour. Faulkner tells Drake that Reid is keeping him from Rose and that he deserves to have her. He wants all the soldiers to have just what they deserve. He backs down, puts the gun away, pulls out the sapphire, and adopts a more paternal tone, reminding him that Cleopatra herself had sapphires in her eyeshadow, so she could see more wisely. He tucks the stone into Drake’s pocket and returns to his breakfast. Stunned, Drake leaves.

Reid and Drake head to the shooting range and Reid asks the man in charge if there’s a sharpshooter hereabouts they should be speaking to. The man produces the name of one George Doggett, who was a great shot but got kicked out of the club for stealing and being a little too keen on live targets: birds, squirrels, neighbourhood pets… This whole time, Drake just stands there, and the sound of the guns firing apparently starts to trigger his PTSD, as he flashes back to his time in battle. Reid calls him back to the present and Drake claims he’s fine, just getting a bit of a head cold, that’s all.

The men go to George’s flat, and when he doesn’t answer their knock, Reid orders Drake to kick in the door. It seems Faulkner’s accusations of Drake being Reid’s henchman have hit home, or are at least starting to, because Drake hesitates until Reid starts to get annoyed, and then he halfheartedly kicks the door. Inside, they find the sniper rifle and a few burnt pieces of paper in the hearth. One of them is part of the policy relating to the latest heist.

George comes down the hall, whistling The British Grenadiers, which is rather appropriate, if you know the lyrics (they’re pretty much all about how great the regular soldiers are). As soon as he walks through the door, he’s jumped by Drake, but manages to escape and run down the hall. Drake catches up with him, but is caught by surprise when George knows who he is and calls him the ‘scourge of the goddess’ before kneeing him in the nether regions and getting away. Drake manages to grab the man’s satchel as he flees. Reid finally comes sauntering out. ‘You let him go?’ he says to Drake. Yeah, Reid, he just let the guy go. Come on and give your right-hand man some credit here! Has he ever let you down? Reid takes the satchel, rifles through it, and finds a blueprint or something, also copied from Ween’s files. Drake, still in pain and down on the floor, tells Reid it’ll take ages for them to match it up with a target. Reid heads out, toting the rifle, to speak to the safe guy.

Back at Leman Street, the safe guy’s in Reid’s office, insisting the safes are tested repeatedly. Presumably not against magical acid, though. It’s not really that the safe utterly failed; no safe is completely bulletproof, you know? Throw something heavy enough at it and it’ll break eventually. Reid tells him that these are no ordinary thieves and he needs to know every person who has bought one of these safes. The man hands the names over, and there are quite a lot of them, so Reid hands it all over to Hobbs, telling the young man to cross reference them with everyone who’s ever so much as nodded at Ween. Hobbs despairingly notes it’ll take him all night to go through this and Reid tells him he’s sorry there’s no such thing as Google to help him out with this (no, seriously, he pretty much does) before advising he get comfortable with Arthurton’s military-grade Turkish coffee.

Meanwhile, Drake has made his way to Susan’s, where he paces nervously until Rose finds him. She seems genuinely happy to see him and asks if he’s ‘booked her’. He seems genuinely horrified by the idea and quickly changes the subject, asking her if she would let him support her as an actress if he was a man of means. She smiles and tells him that’s a pretty thought before offering him some tea. Susan appears and dismisses her before telling Drake he’ll have to pay for her time like everyone else. Drake puts down his teacup and goes to leave, but on his way out he sees Rose heading upstairs with a client, and he loses his head and goes to attack the man. Susan intervenes and tells him to get lost, and he does.

He goes right to the Bear to drown his sorrows, where it happens that Jackson’s also having a debauched evening of drinking and poker. Jackson invites Drake to join the game, but Drake’s in no mood to deal with Jackson just now. So, Jackson instead suggests they bury the hatchet, noting that they have something important in common, having both been to hell and back. It seems like he might be reaching Drake, but then he makes a fatal mistake and brings up Rose, sneering a bit about their date and telling Drake to watch his purse strings. Drake warns him to shut the hell up, but Jackson’s an idiot when he’s drunk, and he doesn’t realize he’s gone too far until Drake crushes a glass with his bare hand and then promptly hands Jackson his own ass before staggering out.

Out on the street, he starts to get a little crazy, as he stumbles along, looking despairingly at couples walking past, seemingly oblivious to his bleeding hand, flashing back every now and again to wartime hell. He finally plunges his head into a horse trough—and man, how desperate must someone have been to clear their head to put their face in that water? He turns and sees the birdseller again, and focuses in on the lovebirds.

Jackson has taken his wounds to Rose for tending and tells her to be kind when she inevitably breaks Drake’s heart. She asks why he cares and Jackson tells her he’s been in Drake’s place, and he knows this is going to end badly.

Leman Street. Hobbs is still at Ween and Harker, which has put Reid in a bit of a holding pattern, but then Drake comes in with George in handcuffs and the sapphire, telling Reid he tracked the guy down trying to fence the stone.

They put the man in a cell and Drake prepares to get to work on him. The man’s defiant—no surprise there—and says he’s as good as dead whether he talks or not. He knows what they found in his satchel but also knows that they don’t know where the place is. He tells them to get stuffed and Drake punches him right across the face. He reels out Faulkner’s line about how he and the others fought for gutless pigs like Reid. Reid tells Drake to hit him again, but Drake’s heart clearly isn’t in it. George offers a bargain, but Reid says he doesn’t bargain. He gets hit a couple more times and still gives (busted) lip, so Reid finally asks him what he wants. George tells him to send Drake away, and Drake acquiesces, heading right out the front door of the station, seeming to be almost in a trance. Once they’re alone, George makes Reid promise he won’t go down for the coming heist, and then tells him they’re hitting the Metropolitan Precious Metals. Reid uncuffs him (stupid, Reid) and then tells Arthurton to gather all the men, before wondering where Drake has disappeared to.

He’s gone to meet up with Faulkner and his men. How he knew where they’d be, I’m not sure. He climbs into the back of a closed wagon with a one-eyed corporal he knows, as well as several others. Off they go. One-Eye tells Drake that what Faulkner has planned will be an eye-for-an-eye, and then he laughs at his cleverness.

Drake arrives at their target, flashes his badge, and tells the guard at the gate he needs to speak to his superior. The guard immediately starts to unlock the gate.

George, sitting in his cell, whistles The Grenadier Guards as he removes a bit of the magical acid in some paper, as well as a match, from his sock. He pours the acid in the lock of his cell, lights a fuse, and goes to hide under what must be a very sturdy blanket in the corner.

Jackson and Reid are staking out Metro Metals and Jackson’s telling Reid what he’s discovered of late: that the thieves are ex-soldiers led by a Col Faulkner. Not terribly smart of him not to use an alias, but I feel like that really fits with his character, so that’s a wash. All the pieces fall into place in Reid’s head and he screams for a hansom cab.

The door on George’s cell blows and he lets himself out.

Smoke bombs simultaneously explode on Leman Street. Wait, who set those? How’d they know the exact moment George would get out of his cell? I’m guessing, at this point, that George’s capture by Drake was all planned out, so George would be a distraction (which would explain how Drake knew where to meet the others—he’d arranged all this ahead of time) but I still don’t get how this would be possible.

Drake and one-eye knock out the guards, push open the gate at their target, and let the coach in.

Reid arrives back at Leman Street to find a crazy, chaotic scene. Somehow, he manages to spot George trying to make his escape and catches him, with an assist from Arthurton, who holds the man while Reid demands to know where Faulkner is. He gives Reid nothing, but then Hobbs arrives with his list of three possible targets. Reid checks it out and figures they’re hitting the Mint. Yeah, that’s bad.

Drake and the others knock out a few more guards, but Drake gets upset when one of the men gets a bit heavy-handed with the butt of his rifle, because Faulkner said nobody would be hurt. Faulkner tells Drake he said nobody would die, and they won’t, if they cooperate.

In they go, where they order the employees to get down on the floor. Faulkner pleasantly tells them they’re there for ‘her wretched majesty’s gold’ and that they have no intention of harming anyone, just so long as they don’t interfere. One of the men starts to drill through the door of a massive safe, and then they blow it with some more of the magical acid as Drake watches. Inside are many, many bars of gold. Faulkner urges them all—Drake included—to help themselves. While they’re doing that, one of the Mint workers tries to take out one of the thieves, only to get himself a savage beating from a gold bar. Drake starts to look like he’s really regretting this decision and tells the guy to leave off. The man does, but then One-Eye steps up and just shoots the man. Jesus, One-Eye. Drake freaks out, disarms him, and turns the rifle on Faulkner, who tells the others to hold their fire, then calmly takes out a cigarette and lights it. Drake tells Faulkner to call this off. He’ll take in One-Eye for murder, but the others can go, as long as they leave the gold. Hmm. You’re one man (armed, true) against about 10 (also armed), Drake. I don’t think this will end well for you. Drake begs Faulkner to just disappear. Faulkner tells the others a hell of a war story about how Drake found himself isolated and surrounded, but killed all the enemy soldiers around him, in what must have been a horrific bloodbath. Faulkner manages to distract Drake just long enough to disarm him, and several of the men overwhelm him (One-Eye takes the opportunity to headbutt him, just because). Faulkner tells the men to go about their business and takes Drake, who’s been handcuffed, to see what Faulkner’s target is: war medals, which he considers the tawdriest bauble of them all. He starts unloading trays of them all over the floor, intoning that ‘they’ shall know what he thinks of his metals. He starts to spread some of the magical acid over the medals, but Drake manages to overturn a bucket of water, which presumably ruins the acid and really, really pisses off Faulkner, who pushes Drake against the wall and spits that he won’t come between a falcon and his prey. Ooookaaaaay, then. Couple of sarnies short of a picnic, this one. ‘Of all men on earth, you were the last I thought could betray me,’ he says. One of the men appears and tells Faulkner the police have arrived, so Faulkner has them drag Drake along with them while he goes to deal with this.

He goes out front and fires randomly in the direction of Reid and the other policemen, just to warn them off, and gets really crazy with the language, saying he’s thrown open the doors of the firmament. His dialogue got a tad out of hand during this portion, I will say. It was on the flowery side, even for this show, but Glen managed to make it work and even seem natural (not an easy task, believe me, so my hat, as always, is off to him), but this part got a little out of control. He pulls out his wee pistol, holds it to Drake’s head, and drags him over to the window so Reid can see. He tells Reid that, if he tries to enter the building, Drake will be shot. He wants safe passage for himself and all his men to a ship to take them away from ‘this befouled land’. Reid says he can provide no such thing, but it looks like he’ll have to, or this bromance is over. Jackson casts his eye around and asks Reid if he still has that sharpshooter rifle. Did you know Jackson’s a sharpshooter? Yeah, I didn’t either.

Reid pretends to give Faulkner what he wants, sending the men out of sight. One-Eye confirms it, marching Drake back to the window at the end of a rifle to act as a human shield. There, Drake spots Jackson, ready to take his shot, and he ducks just in time. Jackson’s shot takes out One-Eye, and Drake grabs the fallen man’s rifle, takes out several of the men, and puts a bullet in Faulkner’s shoulder. Jackson reloads, just as four more men overcome Drake and get ready to slit his throat, and one more well-placed shot gets rid of one of them. Drake gives himself over completely to his bloody war memories and goes on a rampage, finishing only when the room is blood spattered and he’s panting and spent.

There’s only one man left: Faulkner. The two men are in a standoff, as Faulkner creepily welcomes the old Drake back. Drake says the holy man and the goddess helped him deal with all this guilt and tragic craziness, and he’s not what he was. ‘Tell them that,’ says Faulkner, indicating all the bodies. Drake orders Faulkner to lay down his gun so he can be arrested. Faulkner has no intention of doing so, so Drake rather desperately tells him he’ll be cut down as soon as he sets foot outside. Faulkner takes the end of Drake’s shotgun, puts it to his head, and orders him to kill him. Drake tells Faulkner that he’s not his sergeant anymore.

Defeated, Faulkner slumps against a table and calls out for Reid, knowing he’s nearby. Reid emerges and sends someone for Jackson, noting that Faulkner needs medical attention. Faulkner tells him that Drake was kidnapped and was not acting of his own accord. Furthermore, he tells Reid, with no rancor, mind, that when he goes home that night, he should give thanks he’s never had to see what Faulkner has. He sadly paints a picture of wartime carnage, and Reid actually looks fairly affected, as does Drake, naturally. Faulkner removes his heart scarab and says the Egyptians were fools, for what god could reckon the weight of one man’s heart? He tosses the scarab on the floor, pulls out his little pistol, and shoots himself in the head. Drake, shocked, stumbles away, and then looks over at Reid, like, ‘now what?’

Outside, Faulkner’s body, and those of the others, are carried away. Drake tries to tell Reid what his involvement really was, but Reid cuts him off and says he’s going with Faulkner’s version of events. As Faulkner’s body passes, Reid gently places his scarab on his chest.

Once he’s cleaned up, Drake, toting a large satchel, heads back to Susan’s, where he tells her he intends no trouble. She gives him some time alone with Rose, and Drake, of course, is fumbling and adorable and heartbreaking as he, in a very roundabout way, tells Rose he wants to marry her, or, at least, have her permanently at his side. And, of course, she turns him down, as gently as she can manage, and though she doesn’t mean it, there’s an edge to her dumping, as she rather derisively tells him she can’t be ‘some bobby’s housewife.’ Ouch. But much more realistic than her being all sweetness and light. But man, when she tells him he’s a lovely, lovely friend, that’s just devastating. This poor guy has had the worst week.

Susan comes back in and gently tells Rose she has a queue forming, just to remind everyone here what Rose’s real business is. Rose kisses Drake on the cheek and heads out. Drake takes a few minutes to collect himself before making his way towards the door, passing Jackson on the way. Jackson kindly tells him that no man’s heart aches forever. Drake can’t even look at him as he speaks (how galling must it be for him to know that Jackson’s going to get this full story later?), but he pauses on the stairs, absorbs that, and leaves.

Out on the street, he finally opens the satchel and pulls out…the lovebirds. He gently removes them from the cage and releases them. Oh, MAN! Show! Right in the gut, that one!

I have to say, although this had some logic flaws, this was a great episode that confirmed my deep respect for Iain Glen and gave me a whole other level of respect for Jerome Flynn. Faulkner could have been just a crazed whackjob, but Glen made him believable and even sympathetic. And he made sense—what are these people, so damaged in so many ways after going through hell to protect their country and its people, supposed to do when they return and are surrounded by people who don’t seem to care or understand? How could that not fill you with rage and make you want to seek revenge? Hell, even I was kind of cheering them on as they took over the Mint. Nearly.

And Drake—where do I begin with this guy? I really appreciate that the writers and the actor have given this character some actual dimension, instead of just making him the token thug, and it was nice to see the focus shift from Reid for a while (much as I love MM, I needed that break) so we could round out Drake’s backstory. Flynn plays him with—dare I say it?—delicacy, making him the muscle with a brain, a sense of humour, and a tenderness and vulnerability that he isn’t afraid to let seep out every once in a while. He actually seems very much like a real person, certainly a damaged and hardened one (though, I feel like anyone in his job, whether they’d seen battle or not, would be fairly hardened), but not one devoid of feelings. Which is why it was so heartbreaking to see this thing with Rose play out. We all knew it wouldn’t have a happy ending (and, surely, he knew it too), but my heart still ached for him when she turned him down. He put himself out there, and he got burned, and we’ve all been there, right? That hurts.

So bravo to both of these actors. I tip my hat to you and hope to someday see you face off on GoT, because you’re both great together, seriously.

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