Previously on Ripper Street: Reid met an interesting lady politician and Susan got kidnapped by a complete nutter.
Flyte goes to confession and admits to being a liar. Also, he suddenly seems to have a rather Irish-sounding accent now.
A prisoner is taken in a prison cart through a very Irish-heavy area of London, singing a patriotic Irish song. Why the hell would they transport this guy through this neighbourhood? Surely there was another route the driver could take? And if you’re going to take this guy this way, why not bring some backup along? It’s just the driver, who looks nervous. This is just asking for trouble. Oh, and sure enough, the driver drops off the cart, dead. The prisoner calls for the gathering crowd to free him, and some kid is paid by someone to grab the keys off the driver’s belt and hand them to the prisoner, who escapes from the cart, looks down at the dead driver, and declares that a dead Englishman is a good start. He grabs some clothes from a nearby laundry basket and goes into a back alley to change. While he’s there, someone (presumably the same person who paid off the kid) shows up and offers him more clothes. He greets the man happily.
Cobden and Reid are just leaving a lecture on the state of poverty, she hoping he wasn’t bored. He swears he wasn’t and that he admires the fervour of the speakers. They talk about what needs to be done to really improve people’s lives, but before they can have too much fun, a policeman appears to summon Reid to work.
There, he finds Jackson and Drake in the dead room with the late driver of the prison cart. Drake says the man just dropped dead after passing underneath a clothesline and that was that. Jackson thinks it was heart failure, but he’s going to open the guy up to make sure. Seems like it’s a slow week in Leman Street anyway.
Upstairs, Reid gets the lowdown on the escaped prisoner from Flyte. His name is Aiden Galvin, an Irishman associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood who’s been in prison for a bombing 20 years previously that killed 12 people. Flyte—who’s suddenly got that Irish accent again, and maybe he had it all along and I just didn’t notice because it’s not a very heavy one—reassures Reid that he’s not on the side of the radicals. Reid dispatches Drake and his billyclub to the Irish quarter to see what he can find out.
Reid and several coppers arrive at a bar run by a pretty red-haired lass and, unsurprisingly, the patrons start throwing punches almost as soon as they’re through the door. Lass swears the man they seek isn’t there. Drake threatens her with prison if she doesn’t let him search the place and she steps out of the way.
Jackson lectures Reid about the dangers of getting involved with bohemian types (I guess this has something to do with Cobden?) and Reid, getting annoyed, asks why he needles him like this. Jackson tells him that’s just what men do. But truthfully, he thinks she and Reid make a good couple and he wishes Reid’s life wasn’t so…complicated. Less complicated is the man on the table, who seems to have rather clearly died of a heart attack.
The pub’s now empty, and as Lass (whose name is Evelyn) pours herself a drink, Aiden steps in. Turns out, he’s her dad. She can’t believe her eyes, since apparently he spent all 20 years on the inside not bothering to write to her, but now of course he’s coming to her. He says he has some errands to run, but when he’s done, he wants to get to know her and help her. He talks about taking her away from London, and then leaves.
A group of well-heeled men sit around at a gentlemen’s club, smoking and talking about how much they hate the Irish. Upstairs, Aiden places a rather elaborate bomb under a bed, sets the trigger, and clears out. Downstairs, the most vociferous of the men heads upstairs to bed, and when he lies down, he has just enough time to catch sight of the Irish flag that’s been hung from his canopy before he’s blown sky high.
Abberline stomps into Leman Street with some recovered components from the bomb and orders Reid to have Jackson take a look at them while Reid himself goes with Abberline. He takes Reid to meet with another IRB member, Michael Donovan, bitching the whole walk over about how bad it looks that a prisoner who busted out in Whitechapel is now setting bombs in the posh part of town. Michael explains to Reid that the IRB is now trying to establish itself as a reasonable, respectable political party that’s willing to compromise and negotiate like adults. He resents being made to meet with the two policemen in a dank basement, but Abberline has no time for this crap and punches him hard in the face. Michael says this is an act of war and Abberline corrects that this is retaliation. He shows him the charred flag that was found over the murdered man’s bed and hits him a few more times, while two men hold Michael still. Michael swears that this was in no way sanctioned by the IRB and that Aiden is totally working on his own. Abberline asks Michael where Aiden might go, and Michael claims not to know. Abberline rubs salt in the man’s wounds (literally) and Michael tells him Aiden has a daughter, Evelyn, who owns The Black Rose pub.
Abberline suggests to Reid that they send Flyte in undercover, but Reid insists the man’s still too green. Abberline says they don’t have anyone else who would fit, and he knows Reid’s cautious because of the whole Hobbes thing last year, but they really need this. They go into Leman Street and immediately tell Flyte that Abberline has a job for him.
Jackson checks out the bomb components, frowning, and then turns to look at the body still on his table. Reid finds him shaving the dead man’s head and asks what he’s up to. Jackson tells him the bomb was charged with a leyden jar, a glass jar with silver sheeting around it designed to carry a current. When the dead man laid back, the bedsprings depressed the circuits, which when connected set off the bomb through electricity. Jackson’s found a shock scar on the driver’s head, which suggests he came into contact with something electrically charged which could have stopped his heart.
Reid and Drake go to the scene of the man’s death and find the jars in one of the tenements nearby. The jars are connected to a wire wrapped around the clothesline, which shocked the driver as he drove underneath. Reid thinks this is too subtle for the IRB and wonders who else would benefit from the posh man’s (Knightly’s) death.
Flyte, his hair mussed and wearing worn clothes, makes his way into Evelyn’s pub and orders a lemonade. Someone is playing a fiddle while another man sings a melancholy song about Ireland. In comes Michael, a bloody mess, who asks Evie for a word in private. He orders her outside, a little roughly, and she goes, secretly followed by Flyte. Outside, Michael tells Evie her father will probably be coming to her soon. She insists he won’t, lying quite well, and he tells her that, if he does show up, she’d better tell Michael, because they can’t have Aiden going rogue here. Flyte steps in and tells the guys to get lost, but Evie sends him on his way, backed by Michael and his men. Once he’s gone, Michael reminds Evie to tell him first if Aiden comes around.
Abberline bursts into Leman Street and delivers a dossier on Knightly, who, among other things, was on all sorts of committees that awarded government contracts for public works. Flyte, still in disguise, joins them and he says he gave it the old college try but was rebuffed, so he thought it best to retreat. Abberline leaves, and Reid notes that one of Knightly’s committees is working to tear down a slum so a new power station can be built. Jackson turns his attention to Flyte and tells him that, if he’s going to fit in with the Irish, he’s going to have to start drinking. Reid and Drake back him up, and Jackson adds that Flyte’s going to need a good sob story to get Evie’s attention. And it has to be a really convincing one, too. And to speed up the process, they think Flyte should pretend to be the victim of police brutality. Drake’s put up for the job, tells Flyte this is done with contrition, and punches him in the face. Jackson declares him irresistible. That was actually a strangely cute scene between the men.
Flyte reports to Evelyn’s the next morning when she opens and asks for whiskey, telling her the police got a bit carried away. She asks what he’s doing there and he says he has no real home. His mother died of typhus and his father died of drink soon after, so he has no roots. She tends his wounds and then shows him to a bedroom upstairs where he can rest. Someone downstairs calls for her and she urges him to rest before leaving. Once he’s sure she’s gone, Flyte starts going through the drawers and things, finding a bunch of letters postmarked Raritan, New Jersey and signed from her loving father, James Holland. When he hears her coming back up the stairs he hastily puts everything away and pretends to be admiring the pendants she has hung from her mirror. She tells him they came every year, on her birthday, from a man in America who claimed to be her father. Though she had been told that her real father was the man in jail. She’s not entirely sure which guy is the real deal, because apparently her mother had something of a reputation, if you know what I mean. She serves him some milk and a sandwich and they bond a bit over the idea of family and how awful it is to be without it. Before long, they start making out.
Cobden arrives at her office to find Reid waiting for her. He asks her about the slum and she tells him that some, like her, want to build better homes there, while others want there to be a big power station on the site. Apparently it’s perfect for that. Cobden tells Reid there’s going to be a practical demonstration by one of the people vying to build the power station: Charles Broadwick. She shows Reid a flyer for it and it’s apparently going to be a demonstration of how dangerous alternating current is.
Cobden and Reid go to the demonstration, which has Broadwick directing alternating current into the cage of one poor goat, which fries, and direct current (allegedly) into the cage of another, which goes on calmly munching its food. To be honest, it’s actually pretty horrifying to watch. Broadwick tells them direct current is the only way to go.
After the demo, Reid and Cobden go to speak with the man. Broadwick’s pleased to meet Cobden and is charming towards her. Reid guesses the DC goat cage wasn’t charged and Broadwick admits to it. He asks Broadwick if he knew Knightly and Broadwick says he certainly did and wants to know who he has to bribe now Knightly’s dead. Cobden laughs but Reid gets stuffy and threatens to arrest the man for bribing a public official and Broadwick informs him that that’s just the price of doing business in the real world. Broadwick asks if Cobden’s going to be attending an exposition being given by a Mr Ferranti, who has a power station working on alternating current, that evening. She is.
Reid and Drake go to pay Ferranti a visit, with Reid explaining that this man has a lot to lose if a rival power station is built. Reid flat-out asks the man if he bribed Knightly to get the contract for St Paul’s Warfside and Ferranti, like Broadwick, admits he did. And he was sure he was going to win too, because alternating current is the safest and best way to deliver electricity. This was actually a major debate at the time, with Edison and George Westinghouse going head-to-head in a big way. Ferranti says he does not have any reason to have wanted Knightly dead. Indeed, it would have seemed to work against him, since he’d already bribed the guy ad all. On their way out, Reid asks Drake if Ferranti seems like the type to consort with someone like Aiden and Drake says he doesn’t.
Aiden, meanwhile, arrives at the pub and finds his daughter fooling around with Flyte. He’s not at all happy about this, but Evie gets in between them and tells Aiden he has no right to interfere here. He calms down and asks her for a private word. Evie asks Flyte to excuse them and he leaves. She quietly asks her father if he killed Knightly, knowing that Aiden will be pursued through the city and hanged if found. Aiden tells her he has one last job to do, and then he wants her to come away to America with him. He provides a steamship ticket for her, reassuring her that she doesn’t need to be the perfect daughter all of a sudden—this is just something he really wants to do for her. She eyes the ticket and seems tempted. She starts to ask about this other task he has to do and he reassures her it’ll be done soon enough and they don’t need to speak of it. Before he leaves, she tells him about the letters she regularly received. He seems even less happy about that than he did about finding Flyte in her room.
As soon as Aiden goes down the stairs, Flyte comes out of a nearby room and follows him.
He trails Aiden through the streets, and at one point he stops a policeman and hands him a message for Reid before continuing on his way.
The policeman delivers the message, which is all about the letters, which show postmarks all over the States for a while, but then seem to settle down in Raritan. Reid recalls off the top of his head that Menlo Park, the home and workshop of Thomas Edison, is in Raritan. Ok, I spent almost my entire life in eastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey and actually used to work in Menlo Park and I couldn’t recall off the top of my head that it was in Raritan County. Is Reid some sort of walking Wikipedia? That moment seemed a bit absurd. At least have Jackson, the actual American, be the one to point this fact out. Reid informs Drake that Edison wants to make sure the US supplies the world’s electricity and that everyone uses his chosen type of current: direct current. They go to wire Edison for more info.
Flyte trails Aiden to Broadwick’s office
Back at Leman Street, Reid gets a telegram from Edison, saying that he once employed an Englishman named James Holland, an IRB bomber just like Aiden. The letters stopped in 1887, which leads Reid to believe the man left America that year and travelled back to England under an assumed name. He looks up a list of incorporated companies from that year and see that Broadwick’s was one of them. Looks like Broadwick was once James Holland. Now he’s sprung Aiden from prison and is using him to kill off his competition.
Aiden, meanwhile, is confronting Broadwick about the letters he wrote to Evelyn over the years and Broadwick tells him he was fond of the girl and just wanted to write her letters. Sure, because most grown men are interested in the goings-on of women young enough to be their children. Aiden roughly asks Broadwick who Evelyn’s father was and Broadwick says the girl’s mother said he was, and he believed her.
As Flyte steals his way inside, talk turns to the jobs Broadwick’s sent Aiden on. Aiden’s smart enough to know that Broadwick’s not doing this because of his Fenian ideals, but because he wants more money. Broadwick says that’s true, but Aiden gets to profit from it too. And that night he’ll get to kill a whole lot of British politicians, if he sets the dynamite like he’s meant to, at Ferranti’s demonstration. Aiden can’t resist and takes the bomb. Once the two men are gone, Flyte comes out of hiding and finds some drawings on the desk.
Flyte tries to get out of the office, but the door’s locked. He kicks it down just as Reid and the others arrive and Flyte shows them the drawings. What kind of an idiot keeps drawings of the bomb he’s going to use in a mass murder just sitting around his office? Jackson notes that the bomb will be triggered when a wax plug is melted, which would happen if the bomb was placed beside a heat source. Or inside one. Like inside Ferranti’s transformer.
Cobden arrives at Ferranti’s, along with a lot of other well-to-do folk. Meanwhile, Aiden places the bomb inside the transformer. Good thing it had a nice big, empty space inside, right? Broadwick is there as well.
The demo gets underway. Ferranti first produces some direct current and gets a dig in at Broadwick in the meantime, then switches over to AC, which starts to light up a map of the city over his head. Everyone applauds. Broadwick gets up and leaves, slipping out of the building with Aiden, just missing Reid and his men, who burst in and order him to shut down the transformer. Drake clears the room while Reid tells Ferranti that the transformer’s been sabotaged.
As they make their way down the stairs, Aiden and Broadwick notice the bomb’s failed to go off. Broadwick tells Aiden to go back up and fix it—what’s he supposed to do in front of all those people, exactly?—but Aiden says he’s done being a dynamite delivery boy and now this is Aiden’s problem. He’s going to make sure Evelyn gets off to America safely. Broadwick throws on a repairman’s smock and rushes back upstairs, where he subtly flips the switch on the generator back on and opens the casing, only to find the bomb missing. Jackson’s got it, and now Broadwick’s been caught red handed. Idiot. Reid goes to put him under arrest, but Broadwick instead turns and places his hands directly on the generator, electrocuting himself to death.
Flyte returns to the pub, where Evelyn’s friends are seeing her off and wishing her well. She tells him she’s going to America and he quietly says he understands. He asks to wait with her for her father to arrive, so he can make his peace with the man.
Aiden makes his way towards the pub, pausing in a back alley to admire his ticket and think of happier days to come. But he turns a corner and runs right into Michael and two of his goons. Michael tells Aiden they will have peace, and then executes him with a single shot to the head.
Evelyn doesn’t seem all that surprised her father hasn’t shown up, considering he’s never been all that reliable. She jokes that Flyte should come with her and reveals she knows he’s not who he says he is. He doesn’t tell her who he really is, but that what he said about his past is true. Damn, that’s grim. He urges her to take the ship and get out of there. She takes a moment, then picks up her suitcase and walks away while he tries not to cry. Awww, Flyte! I’m really starting to get to like you!
Reid and Cobden are out for a walk, and she invites him to join her for a picnic that weekend. Reid reminds her that he’s married. She tries to get him to give this potential relationship a go, but he tells her it’s no good. Oh, Reid, what’s the risk? Will Emily go crazier? Let yourself be happy, man! But no, he’s self-punishing, so he goes into the station, and she walks away.