Previously on Ripper Street: Reid apparently came back from the dead (nearly).
Artherton is nursing a gouty foot, which is apparently giving him a lot of pain. Jackson shows up, having been summoned, and he’s not happy about it, because he has plans tonight (as evidenced by the rather snazzy suit he’s wearing). He’s been sent for by Reid who, being superhuman, has totally gotten over being shot twice, once in the head, and is now up and about and running the station again. Yeah, sorry, but I’m calling BS on this. Even if he lived, it would have been a while before he was in good enough shape to do policing again, and later events in this episode suggest that not much time has passed since the last episode.
Anyway, Reid has called on Jackson because they have a case, and now here’s Drake bringing in their suspect: a very well-dressed and pretty young woman who’s bloodied and gives her name as Vera, Lady Montacute. She is sent to the cells while Jackson is dispatched to the dead room.
The latest body awaits him. Her name is Ida, a flowerseller whose dead body was found in bed beside a naked Vera in a Whitechapel boarding house. Interesting. Reid figures they don’t have much time before Vera’s family and their lawyers descend, so Jackson needs to get started ASAP.
Vera is escorted into a cell while the rough types in the adjoining cells whistle and yell at her. She is utterly unperturbed. A curtain is hung to shield her while Jackson gathers evidence from her body. He leaves and Reid and Drake ask if she killed Ida. She calmly and blithely says she did not, and she’s really not sure how she wound up in the state she was found. She explains that she and some friends came down to Whitechapel to catch some shows at a music hall. They drank champagne, and before you know it, she was waking up in bed with a dead body. You know how it is! Reid calls her out on her rather chipper attitude and she says she was raised not to get shrieky. Well, lady, there’s remaining calm under duress and there’s talking about being found nude at a brutal murder scene in the same tone you’d use to chat about a particularly diverting garden party. You aren’t calm, you’re creepy. She’s not too worried, because she knows her family is going to rally to her side and spring her from jail any moment. A lady warden is brought in and the men depart. Vera cheerfully introduces herself and the woman just throws a rough gown at her and orders her to strip.
Reid repairs to his archive and starts looking things up while Drake delivers Vera’s bloody dress to Jackson. The bedding from the murder scene is in the dead room as well and Drake notes that velvet quilts and silk sheets are fairly unusual for that type of establishment, which suggests Vera visited often enough to make herself comfortable.
Jackson gossips about Reid, wondering why he hasn’t left London, as he first intended. Drake offers no opinion on the subject. He checks out the murder weapon and wonders if Vera has the strength to carry out such a brutal murder. Jackson says that women are capable of anything men are, and along the way drops the news that he’s expected at Mimi’s birthday party by ten, and if he’s not there he’s in heaps of trouble.
A well-dressed man comes strolling into the station, approaches Artherton’s desk and announces he’s looking for Vera, his wife. Artherton directs him to a nearby parlour to wait. As he goes, Grace and another copper bring in one Thomas Denton, brought in at Reid’s request. Denton is not pleased. He’s dead Ida’s cousin. He’s sent down to lockup, and Vera is moved up to Reid’s office to wait.
She’s conducted there by Grace, and she immediately starts flirting with him, which seems odd under the circumstances. She asks him to move a step closer to the lights and seems happy that she can now see him better.
Reid goes to speak with Montacute, thoughtfully bringing him a cup of coffee. Reid asks when Montacute last saw his wife and Montacute says they went to a music hall the night before. His description of the entertainment matches Vera’s, so that part at least seems to be true. Montacute seems rather upset by all this and asks Reid why his wife’s being kept. Instead of answering, Reid comments that the lord and lady seem pretty far off their usual track. Montacute says his wife wanted to come to Whitechapel, and after the music hall he left and went home. He warns Reid that, come morning, he’s going to have a shitstorm on his hands and Vera will swiftly be released.
Vera is having some fun with Grace, giggling and asking him his name. He tries to remain professional but finally tells her it’s Robert. She immediately (and rudely) begins calling him Bobby, calls him handsome, and asks about his girlfriend, acting all hot and bothered the whole time. What’s this woman’s deal?
Reid goes to the dead room where Jackson tells him and Drake that the dead woman sustained nine blows to the chest. Reid notes that this seems rage-fuelled. He produces a file on Denton, who was once accused of drugging and robbing a couple. Denton alleged that the couple was drugged at their own request. Apparently, Denton’s a local dealer. Jackson produces a vial he found on the body, I guess, pointing out that most of what was inside was consumed, but there are dregs of some powdery composite. The boys figure Vera’s a slum tourist who’s come to Whitechapel to be real and, apparently, slaughter some random flower woman. The rich have strange tastes, you know.
Jackson gets ready to leave, because unlike these two he has a life, but Reid hands him the vial and tells him to determine what’s inside.
Reid goes up to his office and asks Vera how frequently she comes to Whitechapel. Instead of answering, she says she just loves experiencing real life and man, it’s so cool that she gets to meet Reid, who was nearly killed and everything! Reid accuses her of being callous for not even caring about the actual lives of misery around her. He tells her that her husband’s waiting for her, that the life of genteel restriction that she so wants to escape has come for her after all. At last, she seems a little downcast. As Reid goes to leave, she tells him her husband’s a soldier.
Drake goes to question Denton, trying to make a connection with the man so he can get the information he needs, but Denton’s not playing this game. He claims innocence and clearly loathes policemen, so Drake’s fighting an uphill battle.
Jackson has finished his analysis of the drugs and is again trying to get the hell out of there. He tells Drake and Reid that the drugs are a blend of cocaine and morphine. Woah. Ida took some for sure, and Vera probably did as well. This particular drug, according to Jackson, would basically be like the best coke ever, giving you all the euphoria without the attendant despair. At least, that’s what one would hope for, but this was mixed up three parts morphine to one part cocaine, which would seriously knock you out. Reid guesses Denton did that deliberately so he could rob Vera. Unfortunately, when it comes to designer drugs, you can’t always know the effect from one person to another. So this person might just go to sleep, while another one might go axe crazy.
Jackson points out the unusually elaborate hairstyle on Ida, and Grace points out that the hair’s been dyed as well. She’s been made up to look like Vera. Again, creepy! Jackson, figuring his work here is done, tries to go, but Reid guilts him into staying.
Reid next asks Drake how things went with Denton. Drake tells him that Denton hates him, so Reid suggests they make it seem like they’re willing to torture the man for information, in an effort to get him talking.
Drake returns to the cells with a bundle and starts his interrogation. He tells Denton they know all about the cocaine/morphine mix and accuses him of having his cousin made up to look like Vera and delivering her to her own murderer. Drake threatens to take the man’s big toe off with a saw and Denton freaks out. As soon as he starts screaming, Reid pretends to burst in and fakely yells at Drake and sends him away. He then sits down with Denton and asks for some answers.
Drake goes and chills with poor Artherton for a while, when the doors burst open and in come Mimi and her brother. She’s in a right state, ready to string up Jackson by his dick. She swirls off to find him, accompanied by Artherton. Once they’re gone, Morton sucker punches Drake. Drake’s ready to hit back, but they both gather themselves and Drake pours some drinks and promises he hasn’t seen Rose since that night he almost drunkenly gave everything away. Morton knows; he’s not there to fight, but to try and persuade Drake to give her up so she and her future children can have a happier life, living out in the suburbs being loved and cherished and climbing trees and things.
Mimi arrives at the dead room and starts yammering on about how Jackson was supposed to meet her dad that night. Jackson turns, covered in blood and wielding a saw and she freaks out, jumps back, and puts a high heel right in poor, poor Artherton’s toe. He screams in agony.
Denton’s talking up a storm. He tells Reid that Vera requested a look-alike for the man she was going to bring along with her. He insists that the plan was for Vera and the guy to be sedated before anything funny could happen, and then Denton would go about his robby way. He swears he doesn’t know who did the killing. Reid asks about the man he was procuring for and Denton says it was Lord Montacute, whom he saw on his way into the station.
Jackson—unbloodied—and Mimi, now calmer, have a few moments in the archive. Jackson asks if he’s just a bit of slummy fun to her and she quietly says he’s not. There’s some making out that starts to get intense, but then Reid comes along to ruin things, as always. Mimi is sent away and Jackson grabs a book on fingerprints before heading back downstairs.
The men all gather in the dead room so Reid can rant a little bit about the entitled rich. They paint the scene: Vera unconscious, Ida perhaps sufficiently euphoric to possibly go along with whatever debauchery had been intended, and Montacute insanely homicidal. He kills Ida, runs home, gets right, and can’t remember what’s happened. Maybe. And then his wife wakes up beside her husband’s murder victim and is apparently pretty much fine with that. What a pair. Or maybe Vera did the murder, they can’t be sure.
Drake and Reid leave to do some more policing and Jackson and Grace get ready to do some groundbreaking forensic work by pulling fingerprints off the murder weapon.
Drake is sent to talk to Montacute because they have similar military backgrounds. It seems to work: they bond as much as people of such different social backgrounds can. Drake, however, refuses to be made to feel a subordinate and starts asking about the craziness that apparently went down the night before. He asks Montacute who killed Ida and why she was made up to look like Vera. Montacute says that it was Vera’s idea to make Ida up to look like her, and that Vera wanted him to make love to them both. Weird! He was not into the idea at all and couldn’t get it up, and one of the women—he’s not sure which—began laughing at him. He starts to get confused, saying he couldn’t tell them apart because of the drugs. Drake asks if he killed the woman for humiliating him but Montacute—clearly genuinely confused—says he doesn’t remember at all what happened.
Reid is with Vera, who’s still playing mind games because apparently this is the most fun she’s had in ages. Reid asks her who killed Ida and she offers to tell him, if Reid tells her what he remembers of being almost dead. Reid acquiesces, telling her he saw nothing, but he felt unafraid and sensed he was held by…something. She’s entranced and asks for Grace to be brought in so she can dictate a confession.
She tells them that she stabbed Ida to death while under the influence of drugs. She asked Denton to find a girl who could be made up to look like Vera because she…wanted her husband to enjoy slumming? Ok. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Reid asks why Vera killed Ida and Vera says it’s because Ida was not amusing, and she wanted to know what it would feel like to kill someone. She’s like Leopold and Loeb rolled into one, isn’t she? She’s still totally calm about all this and signs her confession. As she goes to hand back the pen, she looks sad and quietly reassures Grace that not all women are like her. In fact, no woman is like her. Jesus, I hope not.
Reid and Drake don’t feel like this is all quite right, and now here’s Jackson to show them the fingerprint he pulled off the knife handle. Reid is delighted. They hurry upstairs and use soot from a candle to get thumbprints off of Vera, Denton, and Montacute. They compare these to the photographs of the print from the knife and find that it was Montacute who wielded the weapon.
Just as they’re discovering this, Abberline shows up (is this guy ever going to retire?) and reminds Reid that he has a signed confession, so it’s time to put this case to bed. Reid can’t quite figure out why Vera confessed falsely, but she almost certainly wasn’t the real killer. But fingerprinting was too new a technique at this point and almost certainly wouldn’t have held up in court, so Abberline decrees the confession stands.
Vera is led through the station on her way to prison. Reid begs her to recant the confession, but she won’t. As she goes to leave, she passes her husband and they have a long, slow-mo moment of staring at each other, then she’s led out. As Reid unlocks the handcuffs from Montacute, he urges the man not to let his wife hang for him. Montacute says nothing, just gathers his lawyers and leaves. What a prize. Abberline congratulates Reid on having solved a murder his very first day back, but Reid doesn’t look very satisfied.
It’s finally morning. Drake heads home while Reid and Jackson enjoy coffee and cigarettes outside the station. Jackson finishes both and goes to leave, but then turns around and asks Reid why he’s still in London. Reid says he just thinks he’s got unfinished business in the city.
Jackson heads inside to grab his hat while Reid cautiously leans his chair back and enjoys the feel of the sun on his face.
In the dead room, Jackson moves some books aside and pulls out a gun that was hidden behind them. It’s the gun that was used to shoot Reid, and there are three nice fingerprints on it.
I’m not sure about this episode, folks. It was beautifully written and acted, as always, but the story just kind of fell apart. I don’t buy that Vera would confess to a murder purely for kicks. They hanged murderers. How tired of your life would you have to be to want that? Even if you’re so miserable you’d rather be dead, there are better and easier ways to get there than hanging. I just don’t buy it.