Ripper Street: Womenfolk

ripper_street_7Previously on Ripper Street: There was mysterious weirdness between Susan and Jackson, who are both on the run from someone. Drake attempted to hand his heart to Rose, who kind of trampled on it.

You know, I really have to hand it to this show. I expected the Susan/Jackson story’s resolution to be the series finale, since it’s been so carefully drawn out, but they went and tackled it in this, the penultimate episode, leaving a whole other week to fill with something else. And you know what? I’m intrigued for next week. There are definite possibilities. Good move, show.

We start with a white-haired patrician type being welcomed to the grand London home of someone named Daniel. White-haired guy is Swift, the aptly named owner of a shipping company. He’s accompanied by a cadre of Pinkertons, including the also aptly and ridiculously named Goodnight. Seriously? Goodnight? That’s a terrible character name. Before Swift and Daniel go inside, they pose on the doorstep for a photo. While it’s being taken, Goodnight starts unloading a huge crate of rifles.

Inside, Goodnight pulls his men together and shows them the newspaper with Susan’s picture on the cover that she brushed off just a few weeks ago. He tells his men that if they find her, they’ll find Jackson. He also produces a photograph of a group of men that include both Goodnight and Jackson in the good old days. He pulls out a switchblade and drives it through Jackson’s photographic head.

Unaware of the danger he’s in, Jackson strolls through Susan’s place and joins her in the sitting room, where she’s reading the paper. He helps himself to her cup of tea and flops down on the sofa. She asks if he’s comfortable and he says he is. Yes, yes, we get it. You’re complacent.

Hobbs and some of the other policemen pull a body out of the river and take it to the dead room, where Jackson looks it over and quizzes Hobbs on the man’s condition. Hobbs has come along enough to know that he’s been dead between 12 hours and three days. Reid notes some burns on the man’s arms and thinks they look like they could be from a steam pipe. Hobbs pipes up that the man might be some sort of engineer. Reid comments that he’s really coming along and sweet Hobbs just beams. Awww. Jackson says the man was drowned and murdered—his spinal cord was cut using a very sharp, thin blade, paralyzing him before he went in the water. So, he would have been aware of the fact he was drowning but unable to do anything about it. Yikes! Reid sends Hobbs to search the area and see if an engineer’s gone missing.

It turns out one is: a man named Fanthorpe who was working as an engineer for a shipping line. Reid and Drake go to the man’s workplace and report to the owner of the shipping line, Bruton, who’s upset to learn of the death because Fanthorpe was working on creating a triple-screw engine that would put his floundering company back on top. And wouldn’t you know it, just at that moment, Fanthorpe’s wife shows up.

Convenient, that, as it means they can take her to formally identify the body. She does so, with uncommon sangfroid. Reid asks her what she was doing at the office that day and she shortly says that her husband hadn’t been home for a few days. Reid gently comments that that’s unusual and she even more shortly tells him it’s not, in their marriage. Reid inquires about the engine Bruton mentioned and asks if her husband had completed the design. She says he hadn’t, but it was close to completion.

Reid next sits down with Bruton, who tells him that, now the engine won’t happen, company shares will plummet. There’s already an offer on the table to buy the company that will be voted on in two days. And that offer comes from…Swift.

Meanwhile, Goodnight and his cronies are paying a visit to Best, showing him the newspaper article on Susan, which he wrote, and asking for some info on her. Best knows which side his bread is buttered on (and also didn’t see the huge crate of guns these guys brought with them) and claims not to know where she is or who Jackson is. All he gives Goodnight is that Susan owns a cathouse. Goodnight responds by pinning Best down on the desk and bashing his cheek with what appears to be a cricket ball. Still, Best refuses to give up the goods, telling the men Susan fell foul of the police and was moved along. I’ll give him points for loyalty and fortitude, at least. Goodnight doesn’t believe him and slices his ear off with his switchblade and warns Best that, if he finds out he was lying, he’ll be back for the rest of his face.

Reid sees Bruton, Mrs Fanthorpe, and Bruton’s secretary, Mr Fields, out of the station and asks them all to stick around town. Once they’re gone, Reid observes that Mrs Fanthorpe’s kind of chilly for a woman who’s just lost her husband. He tells Hobbs to get himself into civvies and follow her to see if he can find anything out. Hobbs practically bounces out of there he’s so excited. Reid next turns his attention to the week’s newspapers, one of which features the photo of Swift and Daniel (Swift’s banker) on the front page. Reid catches Jackson on his way out and asks if he knows anything about Swift. Jackson says he doesn’t, but he’s clearly lying.

Goodnight interrupts a dinner party and pulls Swift out. Swift asks if he’s found ‘her’ and Goodnight admits this is going to be a tough one. Swift reminds him that he doesn’t pay him for the easy jobs.

Jackson rushes back to Susan’s, where he finds her standing around pissily with Best, who’s smoking and clutching a handkerchief to his ear. Best says he has a Pinkerton named Goodnight to thank for this and offers to tell Jackson what the man said, if Jackson agrees to fix up his ear.

Good deal. Jackson gets to work and Best explains that Pinkertons hold no sway in Britain, so he had no reason to hand Jackson over to him. Best, don’t sell yourself short. These guys bashed your face in and cut off most of an ear! I’d say you had pretty good reasons to sing like a canary. Best goes on to say that keeping Reid sweet is rather important, and surely he’ll not be so sweet to someone who sells out his buddy, Jackson. Jackson bandages up Best’s head and Best makes his play: he’s done Jackson a solid, and now he wants a good story out of it. Jackson and Susan both claim not to know who Goodnight is or what he wants, and Jackson rather boldly tells him to go right ahead and get back in touch with Goodnight, if he wants to. Best gets up and leaves, rather calmly, considering the circumstances. If I were him I’d have been seriously pissed off.

Once he’s gone, Susan starts screaming about how ‘they’ can’t do this. Jackson retains his cool and tells her to settle down. She does and he tells her to let him take care of this, since he used to be friends with Goodnight. She reminds him that Jackson then went on to kill the man’s brother and wonders what Jackson will do if the man wants to kill him right back. Apparently that’s a risk Jackson’s ready to take.

Bruton and Fields are wandering around near the engineering offices and Bruton comments that Fields looks rather glum. Fields points out that he has every right to, since his life savings are tied up in the company and now it’s about to go under. Bruton decides to let him in on a little secret about Mrs Fanthorpe.

Hobbs is stationed across the street from Mrs F’s house, trying to stay awake. He straightens up when he sees her open the curtains and start going about her day.

Jackson, meanwhile, is staking out Daniel’s house. He watches as Reid and Drake arrive and are shown into Daniel’s study, where Reid explains the crazy invention known as the ticker tape machine clicking away in the corner. In come Daniel and Swift and Reid says he has some questions for Swift. Reid tells him about Fanthorpe’s murder and asks where Swift was on the 21 and 22 of the month, the days Fanthorpe was said to be murdered. Swift agrees and shows them into the billiard room, where Goodnight and his men are cooling their heels. Swift asks Goodnight to show Reid their papers, which prove that Swift and all his men were on a ship on the 21 and 22. So, obviously they couldn’t be responsible. Daniel blusters about what a relief that is.

As Reid and Drake leave, Goodnight follows them and tries to get information about Susan’s whereabouts from them. Reid gives the exact response that Best did: they moved her along and he has no idea where she is. Goodnight reports to Swift that the police are lying, but Swift tells him to leave them be for now, because there are new developments in the other thing they’re messing around in. He wants the cronies to keep up the search for Susan while Goodnight goes to collect a package for Swift.

Hobbs watches as Mrs F leaves her home.

Best receives a pile of American papers—and a very strange look from the colleague delivering them—and sets about finding out who these Pinkertons are.

Goodnight heads out to collect his package, but first he’s called aside by Jackson, who’s having his shoes shined. Goodnight recovers from his surprise and steps up into the booth beside him so they can have a chat. Goodnight asks how he can stand living in London and Jackson tells him the charms grow on him. Goodnight recalls that there was only one charm that brought Jackson there, and Jackson shrugs that she moved on. Goodnight comments that he’s awfully casual about a woman who cost him so much. Jackson says he’s really sorry about all that, and that what happened ‘that day’ was all a mistake. He’s also sorry about Goodnight’s brother getting killed. Jackson asks him what he wants in London but Goodnight gives him nothing, because he knows Jackson’s lying about not knowing where Susan is. Jackson whines a bit about nobody ever trusting him, though perhaps it’s because he’s not particularly trustworthy. He is, after all, living under an assumed name. Goodnight calls him a string of names that’s quite Deadwood worthy and Jackson gets up to leave. Goodnight flashes his gun and Jackson says his boss might be rather annoyed by such a rumpus so close to where he’s staying. Powerless, Goodnight has no choice but to let him go.

Hobbs continues to follow Mrs F through a market. At one point, she actually bumps into him and seems to recognize him, but she says nothing and goes on her way.

Finally, Best has found what he was looking for: a newspaper article from 1887 about William Goodnight and his men being killed by their Pinkerton colleague, Matthew Judge, who had abducted the daughter of Theodore Swift and was holding her for ransom.

Judge—or Jackson, as we know him—is getting a serious piece of Susan’s mind, while the whores hang around outside, listening to mommy and daddy fight. Jackson, who’s calmly cleaning his gun, tells her this is all her fault for getting her face in the newspapers, and she counters that this is all his fault for getting the hots for her in the first place. He points out that it wasn’t exactly a one-sided thing. She picks up one of the guns and aims it at his head, sniffing that any other man would have caused her less trouble. He easily disarms her and basically gives her a ‘right back at ya,’ so she stomps over to a fainting couch to pout. He says to the back of her head that, despite everything, those first few months were the best he’s ever had, and how many men can say that to their wives after three years?

Woah, hold up here—WIFE? Jackson and Susan are MARRIED? Guess I should have figured that out, because in hindsight they do kind of squabble and then care for each other in a rather comfortable, married-ish way, but I honestly didn’t see that one coming. It begs the question—what the hell happened? Why do they seem to hate each other now? Why is she fine with him screwing Rose and the other girls?

Jackson gets up and quietly tells her that he’s going to go run some errands, then come back and collect her and head out of town, yet again. He leans in to kiss her and pretty soon they’re full-bore making out. And then she slaps him. Hard. Ok, then. He hands her one of his guns, telling her he’d feel more comfortable if she had that on her.

Back at Leman Street, Drake pokes his head into Reid’s office and tells him nobody’s seen Jackson all day. Reid, who’s examining a ticker tape, tells Jackson he’s been doing a bit of digging into Fanthorpe’s past and all he found out was that the man graduated from technical college dead last. Hardly a likely candidate for the position of man about to change the face of transatlantic shipping. Arthurton then arrives to tell Reid that Emily’s there to see him.

Downstairs, Emily’s pacing back and forth in agitation. As soon as Reid appears, she tells him she needs his help at the shelter.

Off they go, where they find Miss Goran tending to a very badly battered prostitute. Apparently Goran’s the one who found her and brought her to Emily, and that’s her only purpose in this episode. Reid asks the woman who hurt her so badly and, with some reluctance, she says it was four Americans who were looking for Susan.

Apparently she gave them the goods, too, because they’re just now arriving at the cathouse, punching Susan’s girls and tearing through the place, looking for Susan. She has just enough time to slip away into a panic room she had the sense to install in her sitting room, and there she waits, trying not to lose it, listening to her girls getting roundly abused by men sent to find her.

Hobbs has followed Mrs F to her husband’s offices, and so has Goodnight. Hobbs watches through a window as Goodnight starts sneaking up on the woman, and he finally decides he has to do something and races inside, just as Goodnight’s incapacitating her with some chloroform or something. Shaking from head to food, Hobbs tells Goodnight to leave her alone, brandishing his only weapon: a billyclub. Oh, dear, this is not going to go well at all, is it? Hobbs tells Goodnight not to move, but Goodnight refuses to listen to him. He approaches Hobbs and gets him over a drafting table. Hobbs has just enough time to grab a tiny model ship in one hand (a little model that Reid was examining earlier, when he came to the offices) before Goodnight stabs him once right through the spine. NOOOOOOOOOO! Oh, man! I liked Hobbs! I really should have seen this coming too, especially considering how everyone was commenting on how far he’d come just at the top of the episode. Dammit! Poor Hobbs, still conscious but paralysed, is dragged to the river—in broad daylight, mind—and dumped in. He floats, facedown, unable to do anything. Let’s all have a moment of silence for our sweet, dearly departed little bobbie.

Drake’s at home, relaxing with a book, when someone comes hammering on the door. He opens it to find Rose, panicked, telling him she didn’t know where else to go.

Reid’s been called back to Leman Street, though he doesn’t know why, and he’s not happy about it. He takes one look at all the sober bobbies standing around and realizes that something bad’s gone down. Sure enough, Hobbs is now in the dead room, having finally been fished out of the river. As Reid takes in this sad sight, Drake comes running in. Reid asks Arthurton where Jackson is and hears they have no idea. They went to Susan’s, but the place was empty and clearly ransacked. Drake is obviously moved by the sight of Hobbs on the slab and asks Reid what they’re to do now. Reid collects himself and steps in to start doing Jackson’s job as well as he can. He notes that Hobbs couldn’t have been dead more than ten hours, but mortis has already set in, which isn’t normal. He also notices that there’s something in his hand and he manages to extract it. As soon as he sees what it is, he sends men off to find Mrs F and to search the whole area around the offices. With Drake’s help, Reid undresses the body and sees the wound in the exact same spot as Fanthorpe.

Arthurton returns and, in all seriousness, asks for permission to kill the person who’s done this, once they find him. Clearly, Hobbs touched more hearts than just mine.

Reid goes to his office and finds Jackson there, waiting for him, gun drawn. Reid immediately guesses that Jackson’s going to be hitting the road soon, now that Susan’s being pursued. Jackson doesn’t confirm it, but the fact that he’s come for his ring makes words pretty much unnecessary here. Reid sits down and says he doubts that Jackson would kill him. And it’s true, Jackson wouldn’t, but he doesn’t have quite the same compunction about killing Drake, who chooses this moment to come into the office and report that Mrs F has gone missing. Jackson repeats that he wants the ring right now, so Reid reaches into his desk and produces it, confirming that Jackson is the Judge engraved on the inside. Jackson says it was given to him by his father, and it feels good to wear it again. Before he splits, Reid tells him about Hobbs’s murder and quickly asks him why mortis would have set in so quickly. Jackson says that sometimes very cold water can do that. He rushes out, and though Drake tries to pursue him, Reid tells him to leave off and direct that rage towards Hobbs’s killer. He points out that, if mortis is setting in early, that may mean they have Fanthorpe’s time of death wrong, which means Goodnight’s alibi doesn’t necessarily hold up. Drake can’t fathom why Goodnight would now be wasting his time on Mrs F and Reid tells him that Mrs F must be the real engineer and that her husband was just a cover, because, you know, girls can’t do math and stuff.

Jackson arrives back at Susan’s to find it completely trashed. She was nice enough to leave him a note telling him that her time with him has been really great, and now she’s going to offer herself up to these people in the hope they’ll let Jackson go free.

Reid leads an early-morning raid of Daniel’s home, catching Goodnight and his men unawares. The bobbies, having so recently lost one of their own, are not stingy in their use of the clubs. Reid holds Goodnight at the end of a rifle and tells him he’s still trying to find a reason not to scatter his brains about the room.

Swift is roughly pulled from his bed by Drake and dragged towards the billiard room.

Reid asks Goodnight what he knows about the murder and abduction, just as Swift arrives. Swift claims to know nothing about Mrs F’s whereabouts, and Drake reports that Mrs F is nowhere to be found in the house. In comes Daniel, wondering just what the hell is going on. Reid tells him he’s got kidnappers and murderers as houseguests, though he has no direct proof of that. Which means he and his men have no choice but to stand down. Daniel shouts that he’ll burn for this and Reid shoots back that he will too, if he’s just sat back and enjoyed the dividends he’s made from kidnap and murder. That seems to strike a chord, and after Reid’s gone, he tells Swift that after they vote to take over Bruton’s company, Swift had better pack his bags and go, and never return.

Around a corner from the billiard room, Susan listens in to all this.

Swift returns to his bedroom to find Susan standing there, pistol leveled. He smiles sardonically and asks if she’ll really kill him, as he strolls over to a stool and sits down. People pointing guns without meaning it are a bit of a motif this episode. He calmly asks what brings her to the house and she says she has a kindness to ask of him. She asks him to call off Goodnight and his dogs and let Jackson go. Swift reminds her that he brought Jackson into his home, and as repayment, he snatched Susan and brought her to London to live as a cathouse madam. Quick question: if Susan’s the daughter of this American shipping magnate, then why does she have an English accent? Is she just really trying not to stand out, since they’re supposed to be laying low? But if that’s the case, why hasn’t Jackson tried copping an accent too?

Anyway, Swift wants to know what Susan is willing to offer in return. She’s ready to offer herself: Swift can take her home, and if he still considers her marriageable she’ll divorce Jackson. Odd—why would Swift need to marry her off? He seems to have plenty of money, and she’s not some 18th century princess being shuttled off to secure an alliance. Swift seems to be considering this, but then Goodnight wanders in, and as soon as he sees Susan he pulls out his own weapon. Swift throws himself in between Goodnight and Susan and tells Goodnight that, if he or any of his men harm her, they’ll be outside Swift’s protection. Goodnight lowers his weapon, but Susan keeps hers up. Good girl. But then Swift turns back to her and she lowers hers. No, Susan!

Daniel examines the ticker tape and asks his butler to bring in records of recent transactions, particularly sales of Bruton’s company and acquisitions of Swift’s.

Swift has filled Goodnight in on his deal with Susan and Goodnight is pissed off. At least, he is until Swift tells him there may be another way to take care of Jackson, if he has the stomach for it. Oh, Swift, you devious bastard.

Goodnight goes out into the city and picks up a prostitute—I think it’s the same one who went to Emily earlier. Once they’re alone down some back alley, he beats her unconscious, pulls out some news articles on the Ripper victims, and pulls a big, scary looking blade out of his bag.

Daniel has gone to Reid with his findings: someone’s been selling off large amounts of shares in Bruton’s company and then, just minutes later, buying up large amounts of Swift’s. The person behind these deals: Fields, Bruton’s assistant.

Fields has Mrs F tied up at what looks like his home. Drake and Reid burst in and find the two of them. Fields tells Reid that he’s worked his whole adult life for this company, so what was he supposed to do? Uh, not abduct anyone? Just a thought. Also, what exactly was his endgame here? His plan, upon learning that Mrs F was actually the person behind the revolutionary new engine, was to go to Swift and have her kidnapped? Why? If he’d just let things continue spooling out, the engine would have been completed, the company would have exploded, and he’d be a rich man. Instead, he’s going to jail. This was one of the dumbest plays I’ve seen on TV in a while, and this is coming from someone who just sat through the whole last two seasons of Downton Abbey.

Drake finishes untying Mrs F and she bitchily tells them to get her to the shareholders’ meeting. She’s a tough, smart woman, so of course she has to be a harridan.

Off they all go to Fanthorpe’s offices, where they’re joined by Susan, Goodnight, and Swift. Reid comes bursting in at the last minute to present Mrs F. Bruton’s horrified to see her, and so is Goodnight, who tries to slip out but is accosted by several bobbies and Drake. Bruton tries to restore order and reassures the shareholders that all is not lost, because their engineer isn’t dead, as they thought. The engineer is Mrs F, and that announcement gets the predictable response from a tableful of old Victorian men. While they start squabbling over the absurdity of a woman doing anything harder than cooking a turkey, Swift, Susan, and the rest of their entourage get up and leave.

Everyone arrives back at Leman Street, where Best is waiting to get Reid’s explanation as to why he was employing a murderer and the abductor of Swift’s daughter. Reid tells him that’s old news and the story’s moved on considerably since then. Goodnight is taken down from the police wagon, but when Reid gets just a little too close, he grabs him and threatens to snap his neck if anyone moves.

Which means it’s time for Jackson to come rolling in, guns a’blazing. He shoots twice in the air and threatens to put the next bullet in Goodnight’s head if he doesn’t release Reid. He also offers to give Goodnight a chance to kill him, if he lets Reid go. They’ll both get a gun with one bullet in each. Susan rushes over to Jackson and he asks her to take all but one bullet out of the gun he gave her and hand it over to Goodnight, who’s had his handcuffs removed by Drake. Goodnight takes his gun and asks Jackson if he’s kept up his training. ‘Not so much,’ Jackson replies, with his typical insouciance. As he turns and walks a little ways up the street, he pulls out his watch and checks the time. He says he does have one advantage, though, as he puts away the watch and takes out a silver cigarette case. Goodnight asks what that advantage is and Jackson, glancing up at the sky and noting the sun just starting to peek around the nearby buildings, says this is his home field. He holds up the cigarette case, catching the sun, and shining it right in Goodnight’s face. Goodnight’s single shot goes wild, ricocheting off an iron sign way above Jackson’s head. Jackson puts away the case and strides towards Goodnight, stopping just a few feet from him. He tells him he shouldn’t have killed Hobbs, and then he shoots him almost point blank in the head, as the onlookers scream. Man, this show really isn’t messing around, is it?

Susan goes to her husband and says she never knew a man who could make cheating so heroic. He offers her his arm and asks if she cares to take a turn with him. She does, and together they walk away into the sunlight. Reid watches them go and tells Best that he knows of no man named Judge, but he does know a Homer Jackson who just took down a cold-blooded murderer. Best says that story’ll do for now. Reid next goes to Swift, who says that Goodnight was a mad dog who couldn’t be controlled. Reid knows that he was acting on Swift’s instructions, but Swift reminds him that he knows lots of very powerful people, so he’s going to get off scot free.

And he does, though Daniel refuses to shake his hand as he kicks him into his carriage. Inside, he finds Mrs F, to whom he’s promised a job. He claims that America will be much more accommodating of a female engineer, because America was so well known as veritable bastion of tolerance for all sexes and races in the late 19th century.

Drake arrives home to find Rose still there, camped out on the sofa. She wakes and asks if this is the lot of a bobby’s wife, not knowing when her man’s coming home. Drake says this is pretty much it, and as she said, it’s not much of a life. He goes on to say that she came to him out of fear, not affection, and he thinks he deserves better than that. She can go back to Susan’s, if she wants, and if she doesn’t, she needs to be brave and go make her own way in the world. Unable to keep looking at her and maintain his strength, he turns to the window and tells her it’s time for her to go. Wow. Can we have a slow clap for Drake, for realizing he’s worth more than that? Well done, sir.

The body of Goodnight’s prostitute is found.

At Susan’s, Jackson is straightening a picture as she directs him in a rather wifely way. In comes Abbeline and a crew of bobbies, who are all dispatched to search Jackson’s rooms. There, they somehow manage to immediately find a false floorboard. As they search underneath it, Abbeline tells them another woman’s been ripped, and a snitch sent them to Jackson. The bobby searching under the floorboard pulls up a bloody bundle, and inside is some kind of organ. Abbeline arrests Jackson, apparently completely ignoring the fact that a murderous psycho with a grudge against Jackson very recently ripped this place apart and had all kinds of time to plant something incriminating. Still, good ending. Like I said, I was expecting the Jackson/Susan story to be the finale, but taking it in this whole other direction and only using it as a jumping off point for the actual climax is somewhat unexpected and also brings us all back to where we started—with a dead prostitute and Ripper panic.



One thought on “Ripper Street: Womenfolk

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.