Ripper Street: Lonely Hearts

Reid, Jackson, and Drake in episode 8 of Ripper StreetPreviously on Ripper Street: An old enemy of Jackson’s showed up, seeking revenge, and ended up with a bullet in his skull. Before he wound up in the dead room, however, he killed Hobbs and framed Jackson for a Ripper-esque murder, and Abberline wasted no time locking him up.

The Leman Street policemen are all at the Bear having a wake of sorts for Hobbs and reading a rather prominent article in the newspaper about the beloved policeman’s death. Artherton climbs up on a table and starts singing The Unfortunate Rake, which seems like an odd choice, considering it’s about a guy dying of syphilis, but I guess the sentiment’s there. Meanwhile, Rose arrives at Emily’s safehouse and is shown to a room, and Jackson smokes in his cell. Back at the Bear, everyone, save Drake and Reid, join in the song, and when it finishes Artherton gets down, clearly very upset. Drake, no doubt dredging up some memories of other young men he’s seen die before their time, looks almost as if he’s about to cry.

Reid escapes the wake and goes to Goran’s. Sigh. Sorry, but I’m still not at all on board with this ‘relationship’ of theirs at all. I find it rather cheap and tawdry.

The next morning, Reid shows up at work and sees some other doctor leaving, having been summoned by Abberline to examine the dead prostitute. Reid heads down to the dead room, where Abberline’s standing over the body and musing that we have yet another woman cut down by Jackson. Wow, he’s skipped right over all the policework and trial and gone right to guilty, I see. Well, that makes life easier, he can go home early now. Abberline’s surgeon is convinced that the woman is the Ripper’s work, as she shows all his hallmarks, though I’m pretty sure it was established in the first episode that those hallmarks were fairly well reported in the press, so why wouldn’t they even entertain the possibility that a copycat crime would be fairly easy? I guess it’s just Abberline’s desperation to have this case closed already. Still, I’d thought of him as a rather more measured policeman than that. Reid points out that it’s a bit suspicious that the same person who reported the woman’s death also led Abberline to Jackson’s home and the organs that were stashed there, but Abberline’s determined to see Jackson swing for this. Reid warns him that hanging Jackson won’t ease his conscience, because obsessions are serious addictions, and Reid would know.

Reid next goes to Jackson and tells him that Abberline is fixated, but he’s also a decent fellow, deep down, so if they can find evidence that exonerates Jackson, he’s sure Abberline will listen. You really think so, Reid? Jackson tells him the best thing to do would be to let him out and give him his pistol back. What’ll that accomplish? Reid warns him that everyone thinks he’s the Ripper, so now isn’t the best time for him to be wandering the streets, armed.

He goes to Artherton and asks about a witness, a cigarette seller named Lavenham who saw Catherine Eddowes with the Ripper the night she died. He asks Artherton to fetch the man.

At Emily’s Home for Former Tarts, Rose thumbs through a paper, circling something. When Emily knocks on the door, Rose shoves the paper out of view before calling for Emily to come in. Rose has a visitor.

That visitor is Susan, who wants Rose back now that her house is back in order. Rose asks after Jackson and Susan says that Abberline is making is case and they’ll probably end up hanging Jackson. She’s not completely unfeeling here, but she’s strangely cold considering it seemed like she and Jackson were getting a bit of their old spark back at the end of the last episode. Rose seems more upset than Susan does. Emily overhears their conversation and tells Susan she won’t be permitted back to see Rose if she’s just going to try to get her back into hooking. Susan warns Rose that Emily will make a penniless drudge of her and Emily counters that she’ll provide a home for her so she can figure out what she wants. Rose thanks Susan for having taken her off the streets, but she’s set on improving her circumstances. She’s got a plan and everything—a secret one.

Back in her room, Rose takes some letters out of her desk drawer and reads them, smiling giddily.

Lavenham arrives at Leman Street, and as soon as he sees him, Abberline screams like a maniac, wondering what he’s doing there. Is he coming unhinged? Reid says that he brought the man in to help them confirm that Jackson is Jack. Abberline pulls him aside and tells him Lavenham is nuts and wasn’t able to describe Jack back in the day. Reid says it can’t hurt to just show him Jackson and see if something rattles his brain. That is, if Abberline isn’t afraid of what the man might say.

That makes Abberline fall in line, so they take Lavenham down to see Jackson. He takes a look, but says that when he saw Jack, he saw no face, only darkness where a face should be. The Ripper is basically a Ring Wraith, I guess. Lavenham is shown out and Reid just manages not to bang his head on the bars of the cell in frustration.

Upstairs, a very young woman is handed a box of Hobbs’s things. She thanks the policemen and slowly walks out, the policemen respectfully touching their foreheads as she goes. Drake whispers to Reid that she’s Hobbs’s wife, and the fact that Hobbs was married is news to Reid as well as to the rest of us. I guess it’s particularly surprising because Hobbs looked all of about 15 years old. Once she’s gone, Drake heads for the door, but Reid calls after him that he’d like to hear his thoughts on where they should go next on this investigation into the latest Ripper case. Drake says he’s going to be spending the rest of the afternoon drinking, thank you very much.

Reid follows him outside and asks him to explain himself. Drake tells him he’s just going to have to set Jackson free all by his lonesome. He goes on to remind Reid that the man who killed young Hobbs came to town in search of Jackson, and claims that Reid’s association with Jackson has brought them little more than grief.

Ok, let’s pick this apart a bit. First of all, Goodnight would have come to town whether Jackson was working with the police or not. And the police would have investigated the case whether they were associated with Jackson or not, so Hobbs would likely be dead even if Reid didn’t know Jackson from Adam, so laying Hobbs’s death at Reid’s door for bringing Jackson into Leman Street is kind of stupid. And even laying the death at Jackson’s door doesn’t make sense, because Goodnight came to the city and started his killing spree in part to help his boss take over that shipping line, which was a separate thing from the whole Susan and Jackson deal. So, even if Susan and Jackson weren’t in London at all, there’s still a fairly good chance Goodnight would have been there killing engineers and young policemen. Also: the guy was a psycho. You can’t account for that. And Jackson got rid of him, so really they should be thanking him. He got rid of him in revenge for his killing of Hobbs, no less. And as far as Jackson not helping them: bullshit. He’s done plenty to help them out. Yes, there was that time he totally risked their lives so he could wriggle out of a tight spot, but he saved their asses in the end, and his information on a number of cases has been invaluable. As has his marksmanship and genuine badassary.

Reid says none of that and Drake walks off.

Rose, all prettied up and carrying a parasol, goes to meet a man named Mr Trumper—the same one who was writing her letters—in the park and oh, shit, it’s Juan Borgia! Rose, RUN! This actor never, ever plays a good guy! He’s always a sociopathic rapist/murderer!

She does not listen to me and agrees to go for a walk with him. He tells her all about his ranch in Argentina and rather bluntly tells her he’s looking for a wife. She smiles, pleased, and it transpires she’s found this guy through the lonely hearts pages in the newspaper. She tells him she’d be willing to exchange England for the Argentine, if that’s what he wants. He asks her to call him Victor and they sit down for a picnic.

Afterwards, as they’re walking along, she starts to feel faint. He catches her and yells for someone to call a cab. He takes her to a rather nice looking house, where she’s laid on a bed and attended by a fancily dressed young woman.

Drake’s deep in his cups at the Bear while Reid’s drinking with Jackson. Jackson asks what the guy in the next cell is in for and learns he threw his neighbour’s son off the roof of a church. Charming.

Drake’s made his way to Susan’s, where he hands her a wad of cash and says he’d like some company for the night. He and one of the girls repair to a room and the girl says she thinks Rose was a fool, because all the girls think he’s a really stand-up guy. She starts to help him undress, but he stops her and asks if it would be ok to just kind of cuddle? She cradles his face and smiles sympathetically at him. He settles down in a chair and she curls up with him.

In the morning, Artherton’s reading petty crimes aloud to Reid and the other coppers. As he finishes, Emily shows up and Reid takes her to his office. He’s rather short with her; I’m going to put that down to guilt over the Goran thing. Emily gets to the point: Rose has disappeared, and she thinks there’s something fishy about it.

Reid goes and finds Drake at the Bear, drinking. He sits down beside him and orders up a whisky before telling him that Rose is missing. Drake’s in a fairly bitter mood and thinks Rose has gone back to the street, but Reid says it looks a bit odder than that: the shelter was broken into and the only things taken were Rose’s personal papers. He asks Drake what use their work is if they can’t protect the ones they love.

Emily shows Reid and Drake into Rose’s room. Emily tells them the papers were taken out of the wastebasket, which she thought was a bit odd. She also says that Rose wrote several letters, even though Drake says Rose had no family and friends. Reid puts a piece of paper over the blotter and runs a pencil over it to see what Rose was doing. He finds what look like circles and asks Emily if she thinks Rose might have been running and responding to lonely hearts adverts. Emily says it’s possible.

Back to Leman Street, where Reid has Artherton go through the petty crimes, skipping down to two teenage girls who’ve gone missing. Reid tells Artherton to have their effects brought to the station while he and Drake go trawling through the old Ripper files. Abberline comes by to give him some shit about being desperate enough to go through all their old suspects, reminding Reid that they have the man in a cell, but Reid ignores him. In the file for one Victor Silver, a cattleman out of Argentina, they find old lonely hearts adverts. Apparently he used to bring his beef to England, and while he was there would snatch a few girls for reasons unknown. The only reason they heard about him was because one managed to escape. Abberline reminds Reid that they ruled this man out as a Ripper suspect because he’s dead, having apparently been killed in the same hellcruise that Reid and his daughter were on. Small world! Reid tells them that no body was found, so he thinks he’s amongst the mysterious missing.

Rose comes to in a nice bed and finds a lovely white dress laid out beside her. That nicely dressed lady is standing beside the bed and kindly introduces herself as Clara, Victor’s sister. She tells Rose that she was taken ill, but she seems all right now, so when she’s ready, go ahead and get dressed and join them for breakfast.

Rose does so, joining Clara in the breakfast room, where she’s dining with her other brother, Barnaby (played by yet another Game of Thrones alum, the actor who plays Hodor), and their ‘friend’, a young girl named Mary. Hmmmm. Mary tells Rose that she’s very pretty, and Rose takes a seat at the table. While she takes in the elaborate spread, a bell rings on the rather large bell-tree on the wall behind Clara, and Barnaby gets up to attend to it. As he goes, Victor comes in and says he’s glad to see her up and about. Rose looks like she can’t believe her luck.

Reid and Drake have gone to see Best, who tells him how lonely hearts work. Reid wants to place an ad himself, and Best immediately thinks he’s trying to play yenta for Drake. Drake threatens to take off his other ear for even suggesting it. Best says they can place an ad, but he’ll want something in return-perhaps an interview with Jackson? Reid says he’ll pay the going rate for the ad.

The next stop is Susan’s, where he enlists the girls to write the lonely hearts adverts. Susan reminds them all that they’re doing this for Rose and they all get to work.

Victor comes upon Rose relaxing in the dining room post-breakfast and he asks her if there’s anyone who might be missing her. Anyone? Anyone at all? She says there’s no one. He says that’s sad and she counters that she’s quite happy where she is. He hands her a rose from a nearby bouquet and kisses her on the forehead, but when she tries to take things to the next level, he shoves her away rather violently and offers her some cordial instead. She eyes it, probably connecting it now with the drugged drink she had in the park and refuses, instead suggesting she head home. He grabs her arm and tells her they’re too fond of her to let her go. Barnaby collects her and takes her off to Clara for calming.

Clara, having presumably calmed Rose, finds Victor at work building what almost look like coffins. Yikes! She tells Victor that Rose is a bit of a fighter, which could be a problem when the time comes to sell her. Victor tells her that, after seven weeks at sea, she’ll be pretty tame. He urges Clara to hold fast and stay strong before sending her off to look after Mary and make sure she doesn’t run away.

Drake delivers the ads to Best and tells him to make sure they all run in the next edition.

Goran wanders the orphanage, tucking in sleeping children before withdrawing to her room with Reid for some more chemistry-free sex. Afterward, Reid tells her about Silver and how he was on the same boat with Reid and Matilda. Goran immediately picks up on the fact that, if Silver’s still alive, then Matilda could be too. She gently says that this is something he should really talk about with Emily and tells him she can’t offer him the forgiveness he seeks.

Reid returns home and sits the rest of the night by the fire in the sitting room. In the cold light of dawn, Emily comes in and he asks her to sit down with him. He tells her about Silver and goes on to say that Matilda was with the man on the steamer. She’s confused by that, so Reid goes on to say that really, Matilda was with her father, Reid, while he was at work. Silver was a Ripper candidate, and Emily had Reid babysit one afternoon, and wouldn’t you know it, he got called back to the office to trail Silver. It was either take Matilda with him or leave her alone at the house, so he took her along, and they followed Silver onto the boat. Emily is not pleased to hear any of this, as you can imagine. On the boat, Matilda joined a group of other kids and was playing while Reid continued to follow Silver. He started to intervene in Silver’s attempted abduction of another girl when the accident happened, and Matilda and Silver both fell overboard. Reid thinks that Silver might at least be able to tell them what happened to Matilda, whether she lived or died, but I think that in the chaos of that accident it’s unlikely that anyone would be able to remember specific people around them. Emily, sobbing, begs him to stop talking.

Over breakfast, Victor reads some of the lonely hearts aloud. Clara dismisses one woman as being too old (at 32). In a bedroom, Rose wakes and finds herself tied to a bed. She tries calling for help, and when she moves one foot she activates a pulley system that rings one of the bells in the dining room, Clara and Barnaby get up to go attend to her. As she struggles, Rose hears another woman calling for help. Bells start ringing all over the dining room. Victor rolls his eyes, menacingly tells Mary not to move, and goes to take care of things.

Clara and Barnaby drug Rose into submission.

Best gets a letter from Victor Trumper, responding to the lonely hearts ad, and sends for Reid.

Reid goes to Susan’s and collects the girl, Bella, who wrote the article. Incidentally, she’s also the girl Drake ended up with the other night. The poor girl looks terrified, even after Susan gives her a little pistol and says she’s very proud of her.

At the park, a stakeout’s been arranged, with Reid and Drake and several other coppers looking on secretly as Victor approaches Bella. He charms her and she manages not to look completely freaked out, even when he suggests a stroll. Reid and the others reposition themselves, but they’re all going about this in such an obvious way, it’s not long before Victor realizes something’s up. He takes Bella hostage, threatening her with a knife as Reid approaches. Reid recognizes him, and Victor grabs her and drags her over a hill. She screams for Drake, and a shot rings out. The police run over to find Victor bleeding out on the ground, Susan’s small pistol in Bella’s hand. Drake gently takes it from her as Reid hysterically asks Victor if his daughter’s alive or dead. Never mind asking about the missing woman you’re actually supposed to be looking for. Victor dies without answering and Reid loses it a bit. Bella suddenly cuts in and tells them that Victor mentioned a sister.

Reid and Drake return to Leman Street and bust Jackson out of his cell to help them out. They have Victor in the dead room. Jackson starts checking him out as Reid rifles through the man’s pockets and finds customs receipts for a ship that sails the following day. Jackson finds matter in Victor’s lungs and some strange substance on the man’s trousers. While they’re waiting for some test results, Jackson strolls over to the body of the alleged Ripper victim and examines her briefly. He asks them to bring in Goodnight’s body, which they thankfully still have on hand. As he’s wheeled in, Abberline comes in and, of course, is seriously pissed off to see Jackson out and about. Reid shouts at him to calm down already and tells Jackson that, if he has anything to say, he’d better say it fast. Jackson points out some broken fingernails and skin under one on the tart, which would suggest she attacked her assailant. Jackson is unmarked, but Goodnight has scratches down his neck. Some of his hairs, smelling of some gross pomade he apparently favours, are also found on his body. Case closed. Seriously, that’s it. Abberline just gives up. Even though, if he were really this obsessed with seeing Jackson jailed for this, he could just say that the woman had an assignation with Goodnight earlier in the day that got a bit kinky. It’s unlikely, but not impossible. It certainly doesn’t seem out of the scope of someone who was so willing to accept really circumstantial evidence as absolute proof of guilt.

Whatever, Abberline backs off and Jackson’s back on the beat. The stuff in the lungs is sawdust, so it looks like Victor’s been building a lot. And on the trousers: ammonia. Reid figures he’s stripping the refrigeration hold out of his ship to make it more inhabitable. He immediately guesses that Victor’s trafficking women to the Argentine, keeping them heavily doped up on laudanum the whole way, which is pretty a pretty remarkable deduction, considering it’s a really far-fetched and insane plot. Why would a guy with a cattle empire so profitable he owns his own refrigerated ships need to make money in this manner? And how much would he have to get for these few women (apparently he only transports eight at a time) to make this worthwhile? That’s a lot of work, stripping out the ships’ interiors and then having to put them all back again, and this is pretty high-risk. Why do it?

I guess I shouldn’t be asking questions. Reid sends word out to all the pharmaceutical wholesalers by the docks.

Wouldn’t you know it, Clara, still seriously dolled up in a way that makes her really stand out, shows up to get a load of laudanum and is immediately apprehended by Reid. He tells her they have her brother.

Back to Leman Street they take her, sticking her in Reid’s office while the boys discuss what to do. Jackson has a plan, but he’ll need Drake’s help. The two of them head off while Reid deals with Clara. She demands to see Victor but Reid says he’s busy at the moment. He tells her what they know about the trafficking but admits he doesn’t know where they keep the girls until they’re ready for shipping. She’s completely calm, contemptuous, even, because she knows that Barnaby’s under orders to kill all the women if she and Victor don’t return by nightfall, unharmed.

Drake brings the child murderer to the dead room, where Jackson’s preparing to scalp Victor.

Reid and Clara are still having their little verbal tennis game. She twigs to the idea that he thinks one of their girls is known to him and she lists them by profession, adding that they have one more, one they’re nurturing until she can be sold for a really good price. Reid struggles to keep from throwing her right through the window and she confirms that he was the policeman on the boat that day, with Victor, and Reid launches himself on her, finally freaking her out. He drags her down to the cell, where the child killer is locked up, his back to the door, Victor’s scalp on his head, being beaten to hell by Drake and Jackson. Clara finally loses it and tells Reid she’ll tell him everything.

She shows them to the house, and they find Barnaby and Mary in the dining room. Reid slowly walks in, and when the little girl is revealed…it’s clearly not Matilda. Ouch. He asks Clara where he found her and she says the girl was snatched from a street corner somewhere, and furthermore Victor reported seeing no others in the water with him the day the boat sank. So, I guess Reid has his answer now. Reid shortly tells her that Victor’s dead and she was tricked. She collapses in grief and Reid goes over to the little girl, sweetly introducing himself.

Drake finds Rose and unties her, cradling her in his arms. Later, once again at Emily’s shelter, Rose writes him a letter, thanking him for being such a good man and apologizing for how she treated him. But she stashes the letter in a drawer without sending it. She’s probably terrified of the post now.

Emily and Reid take Mary to Goran’s orphanage, where she’s warmly welcomed, of course. Emily and Reid walk off, hand-in-hand, so I guess all is not lost there, though Goran looks a little sad.

Reid arrives back at Leman Street, where he finds Jackson and Drake hanging out in his office. Artherton pokes his head in and tells them there’s a hostage situation brewing. Back to work, boys!

Hmm. I hate to say it, but I think this was actually the weakest episode this entire season. I was all worked up and excited for an episode devoted to clearing Jackson’s name, which I thought would be rather compelling. Think of it, you’d have Reid fighting against his mentor and possibly a stonewalling establishment and Drake having to decide where to cast his lot. But instead, we got something completely different, and the Jackson subplot was dispatched in moments, which was a huge letdown. And I wouldn’t have minded getting something different if it had been a better story. This was lacking in tension, and everyone acted crazy.

Abberline was absurd, running around yelling ‘case closed!’ when there was absolutely no investigating done at all, and then backing down just as easily. Reid was a bit absurd too, insisting that this one man must know the whereabouts of his daughter, just because they’d been on the boat together. This and Abberline’s behavior might be some sort of commentary on obsession and how we can cling to absurd beliefs when we really, really need to, but I still didn’t find this particularly credible.

Speaking of incredible: how many times is Rose going to be drugged and kidnapped? Come on. I got annoyed with Downton Abbey for rehashing plots, but at least they’re on their third season now. When a show starts rerunning plots in its first season (a season that’s only eight episodes long, no less) it’s hard not to feel uneasy about the future.

So, yeah, not good. Susan was given nothing to do, Jackson was only half there, and other characters just ran around acting like crazy people. Too bad, because otherwise, I really liked this show, especially once it really got into its groove a few episodes in. I liked that it wasn’t afraid to be gritty and mean and even a bit bleak, and that the characters weren’t just good or bad. The costumes and production values were also fantastic. Yes, it was riddled with anachronisms, but I didn’t really care. I’m not here for a history lesson, I’m here to be entertained, and I certainly was. I was even touched, at times. This was not the usual light Sunday evening fare, and for that, I salute the show and fully intend to come back for season two.

See you all then!

9 thoughts on “Ripper Street: Lonely Hearts

  1. You wouldn’t happen to know what version of the Unfortunate Rake that was, would you? The version of the episode that I watched had the lines “Beat the drum lowly and play the pipe (or fife?) slowly” in it, which seems to be in “The Streets of Laredo.”

    1. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even realise there were multiple versions (though that makes sense, for such an old song), so I can’t report anything about which version was used here. Can any of the other readers weigh in on this?

  2. Still trying to figure out how Victor was implicated in the Ripper-esque murder when clearly he was on more of a kidnapping-and-lady-trafficking spree. Why would he have killed and mutilated that woman? Or am I overlooking something obvious?

    1. (On the IMDb “Ripper Street” web page, under Message Boards, I posted this, discussing the same subject:)

      Re: Pub song.

      Found it under “The Trooper Cut Down in His Prime”:


      Different version:

      The St. James Hospital version:

      Song sung by Ewan McColl and Peggy Seeger

      Yes, this song was the source of our American cowboy song, “The Streets of Laredo”. Its earliest mention may be from 1790.

      God rest ye, Dick Hobbs. You’re not real, but we mourn you just the same.

  3. Just watched the entire series on Netflix and really enjoyed it. So thrilled to find you had recapped! Made me love it even more. Can’t wait to read your season 4 Downton recaps!

  4. How do you not rewatch before writing that Drake doesn’t sing (he does), or call a whole relationship tawdry (it wasn’t, though the sex was, and intended)? What is this you write? I do not know.

    1. The relationship with Goran was an extramarital affair on his part. It doesn’t matter if it’s consensual, that’s still pretty tawdry, in my book.

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