Previously on Ripper Street: A train crash brought Jackson, Reid, and Drake back together after four years apart. They found some of the men involved, but not the ringleader, who is, as it turns out, Susan’s lawyer, who had the train robbery committed at her instigation.
A man sifts through the mud along the river, finding some junk, which he takes to some little workshop nearby. He’s got a butterfly in a jar there, which he takes home with him. At home, his wife reports that there have been no customers that day. She quietly tells him (it appears he may be a bit slow) that they have nothing left.
Right on cue, in comes Capshaw, who informs the man, Buckley, that he represents Buckley’s creditor. He presents a list of the man’s debts, which are considerable. Capshaw presses the man to give up ownership in the shop, but as he refuses, the debt is passed along to Mr Kendrick, who accompanied Capshaw and is now sifting through Buckley’s stuff. Kendrick is clearly a thug in a nice suit who tosses some things off a shelf just to be a douche before closing the shop door and heading into the back. There, he finds a padlocked door and asks if that’s where the treasures are kept. Mrs B throws herself in front of it and tells him to get away from the place before accusing Capshaw of devouring the entire neighbourhood. Kendrick roughly drags her away from the door and Capshaw forces the lock. Inside, he finds a trapdoor hidden under a rug, with stairs leading down. Mrs B jumps on him, trying to keep him from going down, but he throws her off and smacks her hard. She hits her head as she falls and dies instantly. Buckley freaks and accuses the men of murder before taking to the street, with Kendrick in pursuit. A boy takes note of this.
Capshaw, meanwhile, goes down to the basement, where he finds a cell, and inside is a bedroom all set up nicely for the girl playing with a teaset and dolls inside. She turns and looks fearfully up at him.
The police arrive at Buckley’s and Drake and Reid check out the body of the now late Mrs B. Reid notes the debts and Drake finds a music box that plays a waltz. The song seems to disturb Reid, who grabs the music box and swiftly shuts it, cutting off the music. Reid covers the awkwardness by telling Drake it’s nice to have him back. Drake’s glad to be there.
Susan shows her clinic to Rose and introduces her to Dr Frayn, the woman in charge. Frayn’s rather excited to meet a celeb but quickly excuses herself to take care of important things like patients. Susan tells Rose that she’s really hoping to turn the clinic into a sort of teaching hospital for women.
A young woman comes to fetch Susan, who grabs Frayn and goes to one of the bedrooms in the former brothel, where Capshaw has brought the girl from the cellar. He looks pretty freaked out, as one would. Frayn checks the girl, who’s unconscious (fainted, according to Capshaw).
Best waits for Reid and Drake to return to H Division and asks for a minute. They try to give him the brush off, but Best accuses them of sweeping the train crash investigation under the rug and denying the people of Whitechapel actual answers. He wonders if Reid just can’t handle this. Reid promises that anyone found with blood on their hands will know justice, but right now, he has to look into the death of another. Best visibly deflates, but he offers up some information on the Buckley murder: a little informant of his brought Best the story of Kendrick chasing Buckley through the streets. Best adds that the Buckleys were decent and deserve some justice.
Frayn gives the girl laudanum to keep her knocked out, because she’s severely frightened. She also reports that the girl is slightly malnourished and has some old burn scars on her back, but is otherwise completely unharmed. The girl only gave the name Alice. Frayn is worried that the child’s mind is in poor shape, because she keeps talking about having to be returned to her pupa. Susan tells her that this one girl’s welfare is to be her chief concern. Yeah, never mind that clinic full of patients! Frayn heads off, and Capshaw joins Susan and tells her that Buckley gave them the slip, but he’ll be found soon, and silenced. Susan tells him to find Buckley and bring him to her.
Reid and Drake go to Kendrick’s and ask about the Buckleys. Kendrick lies that he’s been in his office all morning—his wife backs him and everything! Oh, well, in that case, guess it must be true, right? Kendrick admits he’s only a debt collector, not the person making the loans. Reid asks who the lender is, but Kendrick clams up. Reid has no time for this and helps himself to the Buckleys’ file from Kendrick’s filing cabinet. The lender was Obsidian Estates, Susan’s business, and the papers were all signed by Capshaw. Reid asks how much business Kendrick gets from Obsidian and Kendrick says it’s a new client.
Out on the street, Reid asks Drake if he thinks Susan could really be shaking down half the neighbourhood. Drake says the Susan he knew was a decent woman, but it seems she’s changed now. He and Reid talk about Kendrick, but they can’t charge him without any evidence. Drake agrees, but says they really need to get Jackson in on this to examine Mrs B and tell them what they don’t already know. Reid is not at all enthusiastic about this idea.
Mimi is showing Jackson the script for a play, which I guess is going to be performed at the dinner theatre-type place where they’re hanging out. He tells her it’s absolute crap. She tells him that, if he wants to keep hanging around the playhouse, he’ll be around to pick her up at seven for dinner and sex.
She takes the script to the theatre’s owner, who’s having a meal with Rose, and tells him Jackson thinks it’ll pack the house. Reid and Drake come busting in and Rose immediately gets awkward and uncomfortable, introducing them to her date, Morton, her fiancé. Drake politely congratulates the guy and then asks Mimi if Jackson’s around. She nods in Jackson’s direction and the guys join him. Drake says they need Jackson and asks him to put aside whatever bad blood is between him and Reid. That just pisses Jackson off, and before long he and Reid are sniping at each other. Apparently it wasn’t just one bad incident: Jackson essentially climbed into a bottle after Susan kicked him to the curb, and Reid had absolutely no sympathy for that, though Jackson rightly points out that, if anyone should understand how awful being dumped like that feels, it should be Reid. Jackson offers to help them out, but only if Reid sucks up to him. He throws back every insult Reid sent his way, yelling that what he needed was a friend, not a sanctimonious asshole, and he wants Reid to basically tell him he’s the best. Reid sucks it up and does what Jackson wants.
The dead room has been cleaned up and Mrs B is on the slab. Jackson takes a look and notes that whomever hit her wears a ring. He also checks her hands and says she was clearly holding onto something—something made of wood, judging from the splinter under her nail.
Their next stop is the Buckley shop. Reid takes a look at the door and deduces that’s what she was gripping. He finds the trapdoor and they all go downstairs and find the cell. It’s decorated with dolls made to look like fairies, with butterfly wings. Drake takes note of some of the toys and furniture and says Buckley must have a workshop somewhere, because this salvaged wood needs to be dried and treated. He asks Jackson to examine the mud on some of the stuff found upstairs to see where along the river Buckley might hang out. Jackson agrees, and then tells the guys that this place was very recently occupied by a girl. He shows them some clothes that were darned many times to make them bigger as the girl grew, so she’s been there for years. There are also scratches near the door that indicate the girl was fighting to stay in. Since Buckley and Kendrick both ran, they figure there must have been at least one other person there. Reid decides to go back to Kendrick and see what else they can get out of him.
Alice wakes and sees Susan and Frayn. She immediately starts to panic and begs them to take her back to her pupa, because the wicked king will take her wings again if she’s not there. She calls for daddy as Frayn drugs her again. She falls into a sleep and Susan wonders what they’ll do when she wakes again. Frayn suggests some psychotherapy she’s heard of. Susan agrees.
Buckley flags down some boy passing by in the street and asks him to deliver a message, pressing a coin into his hand and telling him a princess depends on him.
Reid and Drake return to Kendrick’s, only to find the place empty and wiped clean.
Capshaw blithely tells Susan that Kendrick has taken off for Glasgow and Buckley has sent a letter offering everything he has in the world, as well as his silence, in return for the girl. Capshaw agreed so he can set a trap for the man and bring him to Susan, as requested. She says she just wants to know the truth about this girl, wondering who would keep a child in those circumstances. Capshaw promises to get her answers by whatever means necessary.
Jackson starts running some experiments on the soil from some of Buckley’s finds, while also trying to figure out which butterflies the man was catching. They all look the same to him, so he takes off to go find an expert, ordering Grace not to let the soil stop bubbling.
Reid’s been doing some research and found that Obsidian’s been forcing tenants out of properties all over Whitechapel. He tells Drake it’s time to pay Susan another visit.
Back to the former whorehouse Reid goes, and he’s shown into Susan’s office, where she welcomes him warmly. Capshaw sits in a corner, working. Reid wastes no time asking Susan if she knows the Buckleys or Kendrick. She claims not to, so Reid asks Capshaw the same question, showing them the paperwork with Capshaw’s signature on it. Capshaw says that sometimes they sell debts on, and he’s really sorry if Kendrick turned out to be a bad sort. Reid takes note of the elaborate gold ring on Capshaw’s hand (remember that Mrs B was hit by someone with a ring) but instead brings up the inflated interest rates the Buckleys were being charged and the fact that Obsidian is lending money just so it can squeeze people out of properties Susan wants to acquire. Capshaw says that this is all totally legal. Reid brings attention to the ring and Capshaw looks a little uncomfortable. Susan quickly intervenes and promises to look into all these accusations. At Reid’s request, she dismisses Capshaw (who offers to shake Reid’s hand and is rebuffed) and tells him that she only wants to bring prosperity and hope to the East End. But she will not tolerate illegal dealings in the pursuit of that end. Reid rhetorically asks her what Capshaw’s prepared to tolerate, before seeing himself out.
He returns to H Division and tells Drake that they’re being played for fools by Capshaw. They need to protect the people of Whitechapel, who are being extorted and bullied by Obsidian. He mentions the man he once knew (I think it was Shine, but I’m not 100% sure) who insisted that chaos was the natural order of things, and though Reid didn’t believe it at the time, now he’s starting to. Drake reminds him that he once said this was a fight without end, but a good fight, ultimately. Reid gets up from his chair and tells Drake it’s time to start cracking some skulls.
Reid gathers the men of H Division and tells them there’s counterfeit money out on the streets, especially in the properties owned by Obsidian, so they’re to get out there and start beating some answers out of people. Damn, Reid. Drake looks uncomfortable but doesn’t intervene. Isn’t he in charge now?
Alice is awake again, and calm, so Frayn gently hypnotises her in order to get some answers.
Reid is home, reading and not eating his dinner. He’s interrupted by Drake, who wants a word because he’s seriously disturbed by Reid’s new ‘kick some ass and take some names’ attitude, which reminds him of Reid urging him to kill Shine in the boxing ring last series. There’s no counterfeiting going on out there; Reid’s just sending his men out to roust innocent people. Reid’s response is basically: ‘don’t tell me what to do.’ Drake warns him against becoming a man driven entirely by rage, a monster, because that’s a true point of no return and he doesn’t want to see his friend fall into that abyss. Reid does not seem to appreciate his friend’s warnings.
Alice tells Frayn (and Susan, who sits at the foot of the bed) that the wicked king made her his prisoner and made her forget that she was a fairy princess. Her daddy, Buckley, made her safe and taught her about the wicked king. As she speaks, we see Reid go into his daughter’s preserved room and handle some of her things, including a music box that plays the same waltz as the one from Buckley’s. Alice goes on, talking about how sad the king is and when she went into his throne room she found pictures of dead fairies. Reid, meanwhile, finds an envelope in his daughter’s things and sits on the bed to look at the contents. Alice talks about how he took her on his ship and there was a fire, which burned her. The wicked king wants to burn her, so her wings will never grow back. Susan asks her to say what the king looks like and Alice replies that he was a man on fire and he reached for her but she was carried by the river.
The envelope has family photos in it. Reid weeps as he looks at them.
Alice continues, saying that Buckley found her and told her her true name and the truth of who she was. Susan goes into the hall, finds a newspaper, and shows Alice a picture of Reid. Alice begins to panic, saying that he’s the wicked king. What’re the odds? Susan embraces the girl and reassures her, over and over, that she’s safe.
Best goes to see Reid, and with some reluctance, Reid agrees to see him. Best tells Reid that he’s learned from some stevedores what was stolen from that train. Reid is very interested to learn about these bearer bonds. He asks Best if he’s going to print this story but Best is not, because he doesn’t want to give anyone involved in this any knowledge that this information is known to the police. He asks nothing in return, only justice for his dead lover. He’s clearly still very affected by that death. Reid thanks him. Best urges him to follow the bonds.
Jackson finishes his soil experiment, admiring his handiwork, and tells Drake and Reid that they need a spot near a tannery, with milk parsley growing nearby, because that’s what these butterflies eat. Reid compliments Jackson on some fine work.
Buckley’s workshop is found, and wouldn’t you know it? Buckley’s there! He sees the police and takes flight, but Reid takes him down.
Susan brushes Alice’s hair and Alice asks when she can go home. Susan promises she can go home soon, but first she needs to eat and get her strength back. Alice sadly says her wings won’t grow back unless she’s in her pupa, but Susan promises they have special medicines that can help her. Susan asks if the wicked king was very cruel, and Alice says he pretended to be good and kind so she would forget she was a fairy.
Later, Capshaw goes to see Susan and asks if it’s true that the girl is Reid’s daughter. Susan thinks so. He’s surprised she hasn’t notified him, but she says Frayn isn’t sure the girl has the strength to handle the reunion. Capshaw tells her that Reid is becoming a danger: he’s found Buckley, and he’s inquiring about bearer bonds. He tentatively brings up the fact that they now have a way to deflect Reid’s inquiries. Susan looks a little sickened, but she steels herself, probably thinking of all those East End women they can help, if she can just stay the slightly evil course.
Susan and Capshaw sit down with Frayn and ask her to play ball with them, because they just want to protect Alice. She promises to do right by the girl and asks them what they want her to do.
Buckley is interrogated. He says he didn’t kill his wife, it was Capshaw who did it. Reid only cares about who the child in the cellar was, but Buckley plays dumb on that subject. Reid’s getting upset, but Drake pulls him away and tells him they’ll go get Capshaw first and deal with Buckley later.
Drake fetches Jackson and off they go to Susan’s. Reid orders Capshaw arrested, but Susan bursts in with Frayn and tells Reid that the Buckleys were keeping a girl hostage, and Capshaw rescued her. Reid asks where she is and Susan and Frayn inform him that the girl was too messed up and traumatised and ultimately nothing could be done for her. She was buried that morning. Susan tells Reid that the girl had been starved and raped and now Reid wants to take in Capshaw on the word of the monster who did this to her. Reid asks Susan why she didn’t tell him about this girl sooner and Susan swallows and tells him she couldn’t be sure this child wasn’t his daughter. Jackson’s like, ‘Jesus, Susan!’ Frayn steps forward and says the girl was scarred from a fire. Susan goes on to say she’s pretty sure the child wasn’t Reid’s after all, but she was someone’s, and doesn’t Buckley deserve to pay for this? Damn, Susan, this is really, really messed up. Reid tells Drake he wants to know the truth and stalks out. They do not take Capshaw with them, for some reason.
Reid goes to the station, grabs Buckley, and demands to know who the girl in the cellar was. He roughly drags the man through the streets, accompanied by Drake and Jackson, who are weirdly chill about all this. They go to Buckley’s shop. Buckley babbles that she was his princess and he rescued her from the river, she was so burned. Reid hammers his head against a table a couple of times and drags him towards the cellar. Now Drake tries to step in, only to get a vicious backhand from Reid that sends him reeling. Reid takes Buckley down to the cellar and locks the gate behind them. Jackson and Drake try desperately to get the door open before Reid does something crazy. Reid grabs Buckley by the lapels and throws him against a support beam, demanding to know the girl’s name. He gasps that he made up the stories to help her, but then one day she remembered her real name: Matilda. Matilda Reid. Reid very nearly bursts into tears. He quietly tells Buckley that she was his daughter. And now he thinks she’s dead. Buckley weeps and says he knew but he kept her secret because she was afraid of Reid, afraid of the death that always surrounded him. He could never love her and keep her safe, as Buckley did. Jackson urgently tells Reid not to do what he’s thinking, and Drake chimes in. Reid takes Buckley’s head in his hands, almost tenderly, and then slowly, calmly, smashes his head against the support beam over and over and over until the man slumps to the floor, dead. Grace gets the door open just a little too late and Jackson swiftly examines the body. Drake turns to his friend and tells him he has a five minute head start. Reid, spattered with blood, turns and walks up the stairs. Oh, man, Susan is so dead when he finds out she lied to him. And why did she lie? Did she actually predict that Reid would lose it and kill this man? That seems like a bit of a stretch. And what’s she planning to do with the girl now? Because if she keeps her at her place word’s going to get out eventually and the jig will be up, right?
Reid emerges from the shop, onto the streets he’s worked so hard to keep safe, all these years. And now, he’s no better than the predators he’s always loathed and hunted down. People stare in shock as he walks past.