Ripper Street: Mother Russia

Courtesy; BBCPreviously on Ripper Street: Drake and Jackson started to find some common ground and we had hints of something bad having happened to Reid when his daughter disappeared.

Workers are striking down by the docks as one man who reads rather stereotypically Jewish detaches himself from the crowd and moves away from it with purpose. He makes his way to a door marked International Workers Educational Club, knocks, and is admitted.

Inside, he’s greeted by name—Joshua—by a man putting together broadsides, who praises Joshua’s latest piece for them. Joshua’s looking for someone and asks his one-man fan club, in Russian, I believe, to tell the man he has what Joshua promised him, sent by their comrade in Petersburg, and they’re to meet up at Joshua’s place that night. Fan Club agrees to pass the message along. Joshua pauses to listen to some guy talking about how great the strike is.

Later, Joshua makes his way through quiet, darkened streets and lets himself in somewhere. He’s barely through the door before the place blows up spectacularly.

Reid arrives home with a bouquet of flowers and Drake. They find Emily upstairs, sitting on the bed in her daughter’s room, watching a bird that’s been trapped inside. Drake makes himself scarce and Emily hollowly tells Reid that the bird came down the flu and got trapped and she came in to catch it and found herself just sitting there, staring at their daughter’s things. She guilts him a bit for not being home much lately but he explains that the dock strike has them all busy. He promises to be home that night and shows her the flowers he brought. She’s not interested. She tells him she wants the room packed up and cleared out. She leaves and Reid gently catches the bird and lets it out the window.

Back downstairs, Drake tells him Emily left for church before rather awkwardly telling Reid he understands he’s in a lot of pain. Reid thanks him before a knock at the door takes them to their bombing site.

Jackson’s already there, having already discerned that this wasn’t a gas explosion, as the first policemen on the scene though. They note the body on the ground and Reid finds some papers that haven’t burned (they appear to be some of those broadsides). He also finds a box hidden under a loose floorboard that has a group picture of some soldiers inside. Jackson tells him that this wasn’t a gas blast—he found bomb-making parts around. Jackson figures the man’s dynamite was unstable and went off. Reid tells them to get the body back to Leman Street so they can examine it. Hobbs pokes his head in and mentions that there were two other officers poking around when he arrived. They said they were Scotland Yard (I think), and that they took one look and then left. Yeah, that doesn’t sound odd at all. Reid brandishes the broadside and tells them they’re going to pay a visit to the Workers’ Educational Club.

The WEC is empty, however. Reid and the others just find an office that looks like it’s been raided or rather thoroughly tossed.

Back at Leman Street, Monroe tells Reid that Special Branch were the officers at the blast site, and that once they checked that out they raided the WEC. He reassures Reid that the matter is in hand. So in hand he even knows the bomber’s name: Joshua Bloom, an anarchist, who’s been under the observation of Special Branch for some time. He tells Reid that this is a Special Branch case, and Reid’s to stick to the strike. They’re worried about the strike paralyzing the docks. Reid clearly sympathises with the striking workers, but Monroe tells Reid he needs to get this in hand. He suggests they send Jackson the ex-Pinkerton in undercover.

Jackson, however, is not keen to pick up such dirty work once again, having already experienced the nightmare of strikebreaking in Chicago during the Haymarket Affair, by the sound of it. Reid tells him the violent element needs to be rooted out, and that his guys are all too well known. Jackson’s even more vociferous than Reid about not wanting to attack regular working men in the name of some plutocratic 1%, so Reid plays his trump card: he’s been told to arrest Jackson if he doesn’t play along. Kinda low, Reid. To his credit, he does look a little ashamed of this.

They turn their attention to the body and Jackson points out a stab wound direct to the heart. Bloom was already dead when the place blew.

Reid heads back upstairs, where he finds Miss Goran waiting for him. He shows her to his office and she tells him she’s come on behalf of Bloom’s brother, to ask Reid to release the body for burial. She knows the brothers Bloom because they all fled Kiev together. Reid asks if she knew about his politics and she tearfully says he hated violence and was no bombmaker. Reid shows her the photograph, which she only recognizes as being of Russian soldiers, and he also shows her a slip of paper that was in the box as well that seems to be written in code. She can’t read it, so Reid asks her if she can show it to Bloom’s brother, Isaac. She explains that Isaac is grieving and is unlikely to want to be friends with the police right now. Reid tells her that Joshua was murdered and he’d like to speak to Isaac. She agrees to show him the items, and as she goes to leave, Reid tells her he’s very sorry for the loss.

The strikers are being whipped up by the same guy Joshua was listening to at the club. Jackson’s in the crowd, listening to him speak. The guy seems to be a bit radical for some of the listeners, who shout back that they’re interested in fair play, not anarchy. The speaker keeps up the rhetoric, and the crowd cheers, Jackson included.

Back home, Reid silently starts packing up his daughter’s toys. Guess Goran’s orphans are going to be getting a delivery soon. He stops to wind up a music box and flashes back to his daughter laughing and playing. The memories are too much and he starts to unpack the toys, putting them back where he found them.

He walks down the street, lost in thought, taking deep breaths to calm himself and clearly willing himself not to cry. Hobbs finds him and hands over a most welcome distraction in the form of a message that takes Reid to Isaac’s home, where Goran greets him. Reid sees some Fibonacci Spirals, and when Isaac comes in, he’s impressed that Reid knows what they are. They talk maths and religion and how Reid tries to find order in chaos. The conversation turns to anarchy and Isaac says his brother hated force and wanted a peaceful end of man’s subordination to man. Isaac goes on to tell Reid about the Okhrana, the dreaded Russian secret police, who really, really hate Jews or, really, anyone who doesn’t perfectly fall into line. ‘Mr Bloom, this isn’t Russia,’ Reid tells him, a bit condescendingly. Well, it doesn’t have to be, Reid. Secret police work knows no boundaries. Isaac opens Reid’s eyes to this fact and says that Joshua had evidence the Okhrana were in London. Isaac’s sure the evidence was in the items in the box—he’ll need time to unravel the cypher, but he’s sure that one of the men in the photo is the spy and that he’s Joshua’s murderer.

Back outside, Reid offers to walk Miss Goran home, and as they stroll she tells him that he and Joshua had quite a bit in common. Like Reid, Joshua saw what was wrong in the world and tried to fix it.

Policemen are holding back the strikers while some nervous non-strikers unload a cart, directed by Drake. The speaker from earlier—can he get a name, please? He’s going to be Bob until further notice—gets in Drake’s face and Drake tells him to back down. Bob does, or seems to, at least. The workers finish unloading their boxes, and as they all go to leave, along with Drake, they’re met by a big crowd of men with kerchiefs over their faces, led by Bob. Instead of clearing out, as Drake tells them to, they attack. The workers flee, but Drake taps into his badass reserves and starts taking on the crowd single-handed. After an admirable tussle, they overpower him, and Bob pulls out a giant knife and asks who wants to ‘carve the pig’. There are no takers, until a new kercheif’d man, who is obviously Jackson, steps forward and eagerly says he’ll do it. Bob hands the knife over, and as Jackson approaches, he shifts his coat so Drake can see he has a pistol tucked into his waistband. He hesitates just long enough for Drake to headbutt him, grab the pistol, shake off the two men holding his arms, and send the rest fleeing, along with Jackson.

Bob, Jackson, and some of the others have a drink and ask Jackson who he is—Richards, he says, and Bob finally introduces himself as Peter Morris. He asks Jackson what he’s doing in Whitechapel and Jackson non-lies that he left his last town, Chicago, under a cloud. Talk turns to Haymarket, which gives Jackson a chance to tell them just how on their side he is. Seems like he sells it, too. Peter tells him that only violence will win their freedom. Jackson couldn’t agree more. Peter downs his drink and says they’ll talk again.

Peter heads out, trailed discreetly by Jackson, and winds up in a very posh neighbourhood, where he goes into one of the buildings.

Reid, meanwhile, is meeting with Abbeline to find out who’s handling Bloom’s case at the Yard. Abbeline tells him it’s a man named Constantine. After a long silence, Abbeline apparently reads Reid’s mind and tells him to let his daughter’s disappearance go. Not sure where he got that from, and it seems like Reid doesn’t either, but Abbeline persists and firmly tells him to let it go. Reid tells him about Emily wanting her room cleared, but he’s still convinced the child’s out there, somewhere. He knocks back a couple of drinks, and Abbeline, clearly concerned, offers to see him home, but Reid shakes his had and says these are his streets, and he’ll walk them.

At Leman Street, he’s entertaining Monroe again, and is confused because Monroe’s telling him to pull Jackson out of his undercover job. Monroe refuses to explain why, and Reid has no choice but to go along with it. Before Monroe goes, Reid asks for a word with Constantine about the Okhrana’s involvement in Bloom’s death. Monroe gets right in Reid’s face and yells that this is not his case. He goes on to throw the Ripper case back in Reid’s face as well and tells him to fall in line already. Reid sits and stews for a bit, then goes out and tells Hobbs to get out of uniform and go down to the docks to find Jackson. But the work’s been done—Jackson’s already there.

Jackson sits down with Reid and Drake and tells them about Morris and how he followed him to the Russian Embassy. Well, now! I can’t help but wonder how stupid the man had to be to waltz right into the embassy’s front door, unless he didn’t care who saw him going in there. Surely there were subtler ways to check in than to visit in broad daylight. Reid shows Jackson Joshua’s photograph and Jackson IDs Morris in the group. Morris is their spy. Reid tells Drake to go with Jackson to meet Morris later and bring the man in while Reid takes off to go do something. Drake takes a moment to hand Jackson’s gun back to him. He can’t quite bring himself to thank the man, but Jackson understands what he’s failing to say.

Reid shows up at the embassy and shows the photograph to the ambassador, who claims not to know Morris. Upon hearing that Reid is from Whitechapel, he recalls that the police there recently raided a den of ‘Jew radicals’ and he urges Reid to finish the job before they murder the queen, as they did the tsar. Reid accuses the man of sending Morris to London to whip up the strikers and make them all look crazy. The ambassador denies this and says that Russia is not the source of every dead Jew in Whitechapel. Reid asks how he knows the dead man was Jewish and the ambassador covers by saying he thought everyone in Whitechapel was a Jew. Before he goes, Reid tells the man to stand Morris down, or he’ll be hanged.

Reid arrives back at Leman street and finds Isaac waiting for him. He’s deciphered the letter—it’s a communiqué about an explosives expert having been sent to London by the Okhrana. Furthermore, the letter says that Morris is to unleash bomb-related chaos in London. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say where the bombs are going to be set off. Reid runs out and calls for Hobbs to start calling everyone in, because they have a bomber on the loose.

Back at the docks, Jackson tells Drake to watch his back as he goes to wait for Morris. Morris, meanwhile, has spotted both Jackson and Drake in the crowd and clearly has things figured out.

Reid’s on his way…somewhere when he notices the driver’s taking him to a park. He sees a couple of men standing by a carriage by the lake and he gets out, realising this has all been set up, though how they managed to set this up with a hired cab, I don’t know. They would have had to plant the hansom, and that just seems needlessly complicated when they could have just gone to Leman Street or made Reid come to them for this little chat.

Anyway, one man introduces himself as Constantine, the Special Branch agent in charge of Bloom’s case. Reid tells him there’s a Russian bomber in the city. Constantine knows and tells Reid to stay out of the matter. He’s not to touch Morris, because Morris has been turned and is now a double agent working for Constantine. Oh, what a tangled web. Reid asks who told Morris to go after Bloom, and it seems Constantine did, though he doesn’t say so. He says Bloom had ideas, and people listened to him, and that’s dangerous, you know. Reid accuses Constantine of being an accessory to murder and threatens to tattle to Monroe, but Munroe already knows, and is, in fact, relaxing in one of the carriages. He gets out to tell Reid to chill and Constantine promises he can stop this strike and get things moving again, with Morris’s help. Monroe sides with him, telling Reid that these are desperate times, and we know what desperate times call for. He gets back into his carriage, and Reid tells Constantine to go to hell. Constantine goes all creepy and comments that Reid used to like the water—he and his daughter, Matilda, both. What a shame, that terrible thing that happened, but Reid can’t possibly blame himself, can he? And Emily wouldn’t blame him, or would she? He warns Reid to be discreet, and then says he may have a use for Jackson after al, before he gets back in his carriage and drives away. I still don’t see why all the cloak-and-dagger was necessary.

Morris finds Jackson walking through the streets and apologises for being a bit late. They go for a drink and Morris tells him it’s easy to talk of escalation, but one must actually do something, rather than just talk. He continues that there are police spies about, and that his rooms are being watched, so why don’t they continue the conversation at Jackson’s place.

They repair to Susan’s, where they find Constantine and Morris’s henchmen have already arrived and worked Susan over pretty well. Jackson immediately pulls his pistol but Morris takes him down with a cudgel blow from behind.

Reid goes to Goran’s orphanage and informs her he knows who killed Joshua and why, but he can’t do anything because the man’s being protected by the police. She gets angry and tells him that Joshua saved her life and they came to England because they thought they’d be safe. She attacks Reid, trying to shove him out the door, shouting at him to get out. She stops only when she hits his shoulder scars and she asks what happened to him.

And, at long last, we get this backstory: Reid and little Matilda were on some sort of pleasure cruise outing when another boat plowed into theirs, splitting their boat in half. Matilda slid away from him, and something hot and heavy fell on Reid and he couldn’t get to her. They never found her alive or dead. All but five people were accounted for one way or the other, but not her, which is why Reid’s sure she’s still alive somewhere. Ok, so if this is the real story, what is it that both Best and Constantine hinted it, that this was somehow Reid’s fault and Emily would be horrified to know it? I don’t think he’s lying about this to Goran, because why would he do that? But if this is what happened, it doesn’t sound like there’s much he could have done. It’s not like he took the kid to the park and got distracted and she was snatched or something like that. I’m a little bewildered as to what’s going on there.

Goran gives him a sort of ‘oh, you poor, deluded man,’ look and gently asks if Emily is as sure as he is that Matilda’s still alive. He shakes his head and she says it might just be too hard for her to cling to that hope. Reid tells her that this was his fault, and that Constantine knew.

Drake arrives and is cutely greeted by one of the kids. He scoops her up and carries her along as he heads inside…

…where Reid’s saying goodbye to Goran and taking the opportunity to lay a kiss on her. They start to make out. No. No, no, no, no, no. I’m sorry, show, but no. This was a poor move. These two have a good friend chemistry, but absolutely zero romantic chemistry, and despite a couple of moments of awkwardness a couple of weeks back (which came out of nowhere anyway), this feels like it’s coming out of left field. It feels somehow wrong for Reid’s character to do this. I really hope this doesn’t continue.

Of course, Drake comes in and sees them and they spring apart. Drake awkwardly tells them that Morris slipped away, before he hastens out of there. Reid follows a moment later, and outside, Drake seems like he wants to say something about what he just saw, but Reid tells him he’s going home.

At home, he finds Emily, rather dressed up, and he notices she’s not wearing her mourning clothes anymore. She says she has to move on, and then picks up her hat and says she has to go to the shelter. Reid begs her to stay with him, and without looking at him, she says they need her. He shouts that he needs her right now. Ooof, this is a bit brutal. Grief can do terrible, strange things to people. It’s made Emily selfish in a particular way, and she doesn’t even realise it. Reid asks her to consider him for once, before her shelter and her church. She leaves without another word.

Jackson comes to, tied to a chair, and asks where Susan is. Constantine says she’s locked up with her girls, and if he plays nice, he won’t throw them all in a syphilitic asylum. Nice. Jackson realizes Constantine’s police and Morris is his man and tells him to call Reid and he’ll explain everything. Constantine tells him Reid can’t help him now and gives him a confession to sign. It states that Jackson planned the bombing of a dockside warehouse, along with some other political dissidents. It’s all to give the police an excuse to start retaliating against the strikers with serious force. Jackson accuses Constantine of being insane for letting Morris run around bombing the city just to end a strike. Constantine dangles his knowledge of some of Jackson’s past—mostly the fact that there’s no record of a Homer Jackson anywhere, which means Constantine can make him a scapegoat, or whatever they want. Jackson tells Constantine that he thinks he has Morris in hand, but he’s not the type of man who’ll be handled. Constantine refuses to listen, and one of his henchmen goes to break some of Jackson’s fingers. Jackson keeps talking, so Constantine forces some liquid down his throat and at last Jackson gasps that he’ll sign. They stupidly oblige him by untying one hand, and he signs the paper. When Constantine takes it, though, it says Suck my Yankee Balls. Constantine tightens up in rage and Jackson invites him to ‘come and get yer cream, peaches’ before stabbing the henchman in the hand with the pen, freeing himself from the chair, and overcoming Constantine easily with an assist from a velvet curtain.

Reid, meanwhile, sits broodingy in the Brown Bear, where Abbeline finds him. Reid invites him to sit for a cup of tea and makes it clear that he knows Abbeline filled Special Branch in on the whole story about Matilda. Apparently, Abbeline’s the only man he ever told. Abbeline tells him he had no choice, because they said Reid was compromising the operation. So you told them about how Reid’s daughter died? How’d that fit into the conversation? He tells Reid that Monroe threatened to have Reid disgraced and fired if he wasn’t made to back off the case. Reid silently gets up and leaves as Abbeline looks ashamed.

Reid returns to Leman Street, where he starts trashing his office in frustration. Just as he’s about to throw the chair, Jackson, looking a bloody mess, stumbles in, gasping that this is Constantine’s doing. He tells Reid that Constantine thinks Morris is targeting an empty warehouse, but he’s sure Morris is playing him. Reid yells for Drake.

The ambassador leaves the embassy and is quickly dragged into a carriage by Reid, Drake, and Jackson, who ask where Morris is. The ambassador claims not to know, which, rather marvellously, gets him a slap right across the face. Reid says he knows that Morris isn’t going to be targeting some crappy little warehouse. The ambassador gets all poetic, saying that the anarchists will be the first to taste the bitter rain of this coming storm, and from that Drake extrapolates that Morris is going to hit the chemicals stored in one of the warehouses. Specifically, arsenic, which is a pretty bad thing to blow sky-high. The idiotic ambassador gleefully tells Reid he’s already lost this battle, so Reid asks Drake to let the man out. Drake does so, tossing him from the moving carriage right into the middle of the strikers’ neighbourhood. Heh.

The boys head to the vast warehouse full of crates of chemicals, where they hear an ominous ticking sound. Reid goes to find Morris and tells the others to find the bomb. Thank God bombs were so loud back then. As they approach the sound, they’re surprised by Morris, who further injures Jackson’s arm before disappearing. They’ve found the bomb, at least, and Jackson can defuse it, but not by himself, in the shape he’s in. He has to coach Drake through it. So, we can add bomb squad master to the ever-growing list of Jackson’s specialties. While they do that, Reid continues to search for Morris, who taunts him in an echoey voice like he’s Moriarty or something.

With some effort, Drake and Jackson manage to diffuse the bomb.

Reid finally finds Morris, who has a bunch of dynamite strapped to him. Morris tells Reid he’s going to have to let him go, or he’ll blow himself and Reid away and poison half of London. Morris starts monologuing, while Jackson sneaks up behind him and manages to knock the detonator out of his hand. The boys quickly overpower the man and Drake gets ready to slap the cuffs on.

Back at Leman Street, Monroe tells Reid that Constantine’s been disgraced and this was all rather mucked up. Also: Morris is being handed back to the Russians in exchange for some British agents who were captured in Hindustan. Reid is shocked that politics are getting in the way of justice, though surely he’s seen this before. There is some silver lining, though: without Morris’s disrupting influence, the strikers have apparently won the day, so I guess they’ll get their equal pay, and the docks will continue to operate as normal.

Reid goes to see Isaac one more time and finds Goran there with him. She excuses herself and Reid says he’s sorry he couldn’t do more for Joshua. Isaac wonders if this is the way things are going to be and says all he really wants is some kind of order, however it has to be brought about, but the universe is constantly moving from order to chaos, and there’s nothing that can be done about that. Reid says he doesn’t quite believe that, and Isaac comments that Reid may be, after all, a man of faith.

In two weeks: Jackson’s secrets start to come to light.

6 thoughts on “Ripper Street: Mother Russia

  1. Hi. Like the recaps, and sense of humour–thank you! Minor detail, if you’ll allow me…it’s “defuse” (as in de-fuse) the bomb. To “diffuse” is to add dye into liquid…it “diffuses”…spreads and mixes in. Connor.

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