If you were expecting an exciting, edge-of-your-seat, will-they-won’t-they resolution to Dove and Nathaniel and the LemTeam’s crimes, then I’m sorry to disappoint you, because you’re not getting it. Dove’s downfall comes so fast and so easily it’s handled in the cold open. Seriously. I kind of…expected better.
Ok, so Mathilda sits down with Nathaniel to record his whole confession, which he readily gives, supported by Susan, who literally holds his hand the whole time.
Meanwhile, Reid, Dove, Drum, and Jackson repair to the dead room one last time, so Jackson can try and gather evidence from little Robin Sumner. Everything he finds is circumstantial, until he notices that Dove’s looking a bit peaky. He recalls Mimi, too, having a rash and complaining of a touch of flu and figures they both contracted scarlet fever from Robin. A quick test shows Robin is, in fact, infectious. So, case closed. I’m not kidding, THAT WAS IT.
The powers that be, of course, want to brush all this under the rug. They put out the story that Dove was taken ill and went to live in the country, when, in fact, he’s been thrown in a hole in a horrible prison. Both Nathaniel and Susan will hang.
Jackson, of course, is NOT IN FAVOUR of that plan, and he promises Susan he’ll bust her out, but she’s resigned to her fate and realises this is the way it has to be. She tells him he has to take care of their boy now, and raise him right. They have a tender parting. She and Nathaniel also have a sweet moment of mutual support right before they’re both hanged. And yes, Susan is really dead this time. And this basically renders everything that happened last season completely pointless. Thanks, Ripper Street. Though, ok, I guess it did get Nathaniel off the streets, so there was that. Pretty roundabout way of getting there, though.
Jackson collects his son, hops on a steamer, and goes back to America, where he soon dies saving two kids from drowning. What the HELL, show? Seriously, why was that necessary? So, now Conner has no one and nothing aside from what I can only assume are going to be some SERIOUS psychological issues that will undoubtedly haunt him his entire life. That kid never smiles as it is: he’s probably going to be a complete emotional cripple.
And what of Reid? Why, he gets his old job back, of course!
Yeah. I guess nobody cares about the numerous crimes that were bandied about in the press quite recently. Nope, that’s all magically forgotten and he’s reinstated as the head of H Division.
This is all so completely messed up that Matilda (pregnant, by the way) and Drum get the hell out of there as soon as they’re married. She’s made her peace with her father and all, but they’re not interested in being eaten alive by Whitechapel the way Reid has. Drum doesn’t even stay in the police force; he decides he’s better off as a teacher. They move south, have a daughter, and Reid never visits because, well, talk about an emotional cripple.
He has some connection with a human being: Mimi, who invites him to the opening night of her theatre. Seems that now she’s not harbouring fugitives and the infectious children they acquire, she’s finally had time to whip that place into shape. It’s a hit–sold-out shows to a very fancy crowd. Reid attends in white tie, which almost makes up for the weakness of this episode. He also breaks the news of Jackson’s death to her, and she cries. A lot. Poor Mimi, I feel like she deserves happiness, but according to this show, no one gets to be happy. Ever.
In the midst of all this, Abberline has come to Reid to ask him to look into a man who was a suspect in the Ripper case. The guy left the country for a while, but has recently resurfaced with a dead wife. Reid’s not interested in re-opening that particular can of worms, especially since this woman, it appears, was poisoned if anything, and that’s not the Ripper’s MO. But Abberline insists, so Reid goes along with it.
And so we get flashbacks to the days when Reid and Drake (!!) were investigating the Ripper’s final known (and most brutal) murder. The loss of Mathilda is still raw, and Reid is barely keeping himself out of a bottle long enough to remain functional. It’s up to Drake to take care of him when he can barely take care of himself, and to drag him to inquests and convince him to tell everyone, in graphic detail, what’s happened. They also run into Jackson at a pub, and he gives them some lip and attitude, because this is pre-LemTeam. No indication how Jackson actually joined their merry band.
Actually, that’s the problem with these flashbacks: they’re totally pointless. They don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know and have known since, oh, season one. We know that Mathilda went missing, and Reid had some serious struggles around that, and he relied on Drake, who was loyal to a fault. We know that Jackson was mouthy and he and Drake didn’t always get on. Why are we bothering with this? It’s not providing us with anything useful. It’s not even tying into Reid’s current investigation into this old suspect, because the guy never shows up and is never mentioned in the flashbacks!
That investigation peters out about as fast as the Dove one did. Reid tracks him down to a pub the guy’s running, and rules him out as a suspect when he realises he’s right-handed. The Ripper was a southpaw, you see. So, back to the drawing board on that case.
It’s New Year’s Eve, 1899. A new century awaits. Mimi’s having a gala performance at the theatre. Reid goes a little early and asks if she wants to get dinner afterwards. For a moment there, I have a flicker of hope. But she turns him down, explaining that she’s decided to marry some rich old man she doesn’t seem to care for at all, mostly because she’s afraid of being alone. And Reid reminds her of her time with Jackson, so that’s a no-go.
Reid accepts it, and sits down in the audience. But then one performer comes out and begins singing a song that the last Ripper victim, Mary Jane Kelley, used to sing, and Reid absolutely loses his mind, screaming that this is some kind of horrible trick. The ushers bundle him backstage and beg him to calm down, pointing out that the song is popular, in part because of its prominent position in that particular case. Reid gets hold of himself and leaves.
It’s minutes before midnight, and he wanders back, through the snowy, quiet Whitechapel, to the police station. There’s no one at the desk–everyone’s off partying and getting ready to ring in the new era. You can hear them, dimly, from a nearby room.
Reid goes to his office, sits down at the desk, picks up a folder of occurrence reports for the previous day, and gets to work as everyone else cheers and toasts and rings in the new year.
This is all Reid has left.
Jesus, you guys, that was BLEAK. I mean, it’s Ripper Street, so I wasn’t expecting fairies and rainbows and for Reid to go skipping off into the sunset with Mathilda and Jackson and Susan and, I don’t know, Castello? Goren? But holy shit, that was just… kind of next level. Game of Thrones is more hopeful than this. I understand that it does kind of tie into Reid’s mantra that Whitechapel just keeps pulling you back in, but still. It pulls you back in because you let it, Reid. You could go see your daughter and granddaughter, you just choose not to. You don’t have to be alone, you choose to be.
And, I don’t know, I feel like that’s not a great ending for this show. I’m downright disappointed. One of the driving themes has long been that, whatever the differences between the members of the LemTeam, they were ultimately stronger and better together. They would break apart, but they always came back together. They formed a family, this motley crew. They did terrible things to each other, but somehow always circled back around to each other. That’s how families (mostly) are. So having Reid reject all connections and just doggedly go on all alone doesn’t quite work for me.
I feel like it should have shown him either finally breaking with this place forever, which could have worked with that Ripper investigation he was carrying out. Maybe realising that this case will always hang over him, so long as he remains in Whitechapel, could have been the catalyst he needed to push him out of the area at last. Or he should have begun forming a new team, or, at least, taking on a protege. Something!
Instead we got a squib of an ending to the Dove/Nathaniel case, which has been building for two whole seasons, and a series of pointless flashbacks. Don’t get me wrong, it was great to see Drake and even Best (!!) again, but not like that. Killing off Jackson, similarly, felt pointless and overly harsh. I loved this show, I really did. It was beautifully written and wonderfully acted. It had its weak spots, of course, but overall, I loved it. And this is not the way I wanted to see it go. I feel like it deserved better.
But I’m not the one that makes these decisions, so *shrug. On to the next thing.