Previously on Ripper Street: Drake lost his way after the death of his wife, despite Rose’s attempts to drag him back to the land of the living. Reid started to turn into the worst possible version of himself, Jackson screwed things up so badly with Susan it looks like curtains for them for good, and Susan got her hands on a bad man’s considerable financial holdings.
Man, I am SO stoked to have this show back. Three cheers for fan outrage!
A man limps into a dingy warehouse, joining some thugs who are already there. He introduces himself as ‘railways’. They are ‘guns’. That makes things simpler. Gun 1 tells Railways to tell them what he knows and he shows them a railway map and tells them he’s figured out how to make the train they want to steal go exactly where they want it to. There’s also a little talk about the fact that none of them have met the man who’s actually hiring them for this job.
I think the opening credits are slightly different. More pictures of the boys getting up to the things they do best.
It’s now 1894, so we’ve skipped ahead a few years. There’s now a railway going right over Whitechapel. Reid goes down to the archives, where Abberline finds him and asks for a word. Reid’s like, ‘yeah, yeah, in a minute,’ and goes upstairs, where a young constable named Grace measures a suspect’s head and notes a scar on the man’s neck. Reid identifies the suspect as Mr Cree, which is not the name he gave when he was arrested. He’s got a decent rap sheet. Reid wants him to become a CI.
Afterwards, Abberline pours a drink (Reid declines) and tells Reid he’s retiring and he plans to recommend Reid for his job. I see we’re playing a bit fast and loose with actual history, because Abberline actually retired in 1892. Reid wants to keep working on his archive—I guess he’s building up an early criminal database here. Abberline worries about Reid’s obsessions and provides a little exposition: Drake has moved on elsewhere and Jackson’s been dismissed.
The man in charge of the railway switches reports for work, only to get a rifle butt to the head, courtesy of one of the Guns thugs. Railways starts nerding out about the switching and signalling system that he’s about to operate while Guns take off to set their own trap.
Reid reads a book about fingerprinting techniques over breakfast, then gets ready to leave, stealing a glance at some family photos nearby first.
Jackson wakes, naked, in bed with a woman. Oh, hey, it’s the actress who played Emily in The Making of a Lady. He lights them both a cigarette and she starts to introduce herself as Hermione (Mimi), but he creepily knows her name, and a lot of other things about her as well. She asks who he is, and when he says nothing, she playfully goes to investigate, finding his exam room next door. She spies a knife and brings up the Ripper, jokingly asking if she should be worried. She finds a certificate on the wall, so now at least she knows his name. They get flirty, and then get sexy.
Susan is meeting with Miss Cobden when her solicitor, Capshaw, arrives with some documents for her to look at. Susan hands Cobden the papers and tells her that the clinic they’re opening together will not be met with overwhelming approval, not that either of them are strangers to such things. Cobden praises Susan for her immense turnaround and says how great it is she’s turned her former whorehouse into a place where people can come and get well.
Susan next goes to the actual clinic, where the doctor she’s appointed to be in charge (a woman) presents her with a list of their first trainee nurses, all personally chosen by the Doctor. Susan is pleased.
Railways consults his timetable and starts throwing switches, diverting their target train. The train driver wonders what the hell is going on, but it’s not like he can take a left or blame the GPS or something. He gets a clue pretty quickly when his way is blocked by two men with guns. He pulls the most efficient brake ever and the train swiftly stops. Guns take over the engine. Railways works some more switches as Guns get back underway.
Railways watches for the approaching train, as the actual switch operator comes to and tells him that, this particular day, the Necropolis train uses the same track he’s just switched the stolen train to. Railways freaks out, in part because of that, and in part because the switch operator knows who he is. As the two trains realise they’re on a collision course, Railways demands to know which lever to pull. Switch operator tells him just in the nick of time. The Necropolis is diverted safely. The stolen train chugs into the yard. Guns shoots the lock off of a trunk and is pleased by what’s inside.
Drake walks down a platform towards a train to London. He helps a harried mother and her young son, loading their extremely heavy bags onto the train and joining them in the compartment. The train chugs off and Drake looks at a letter from Abberline, inviting him to come back from Manchester to take over H Division. Well, now. He also spies a giant story on the front page of the newspaper announcing Rose is coming back to London. Apparently she’s a big star now, despite the fact that she conclusively showed in the last series that she can’t sing worth a damn. The kid asks where Drake’s headed and he says he’s going to Whitechapel. Kid asks if he knows the area well and Drake says he hasn’t been there for four years, but he knew it quite well once upon a time.
In Whitechapel, people mill about the streets, going about their business while, on the raised bridge above them, the Necropolis train chugs to a stop and the driver realises where they are and that they’re on the passenger line. Oh dear.
Drake’s train bears down, full speed, while the passengers blissfully go about their business. Whitechapel folk do the same, Jackson has sex, and Reid works on his archive.
The passenger train sees the stopped Necropolis and hits the brake, but it’s far too late. The trains smash into each other head on and the screen cuts to black.
After a moment, we come back, with Reid and Arthurton staggering out of H division in shock. Staring at the carnage before them. Train cars have taken out a couple of buildings, the air is thick with dust, the ground thick with bodies. There’s a silence, and then the screams and groans begin. The police are galvanized into action and immediately rush forward to help the victims. The kid from Drake’s car staggers forward, looking ok, wondering where his mother is, and is directed away from the scene by a policeman.
The switch operator identifies Railways as Gregory Enwright, whose injured arm is a dead giveaway. He tells Enwright that many people have just died. Enwright returns the last switch to its place, then loads up his gun and points it. Switch operator begs for his life, but Enwright shoots twice, killing him on the second try.
Best has arrived on the scene with a camera and is shooting photos. Jackson arrives and immediately offers his services. Reid accepts and Jackson tells Arthurton to start numbering victims: 1 for those who can be saved, 2 for those who can be saved with serious care, 3 for the hopeless cases. Jackson’s date has come along and looks at the chaos, bewildered.
And just as we were wondering if his inclusion in the opening credits was a mistake, Drake emerges with the kid’s mother in his arms. He calls Reid’s name and Reid looks even more shocked to see him than Jackson.
Some time later, as victims continue to be seen to, Reid notices a doll near a pile of rubble and starts yanking bricks away, finding a little girl trapped underneath. He cradles her tenderly for a little while, and then Drake urges him to let her go so she can be taken to safety. Reid reluctantly hands her over and then looks exhausted. Drake takes her to Jackson, who asks what he’s doing there. Drake tells him nothing, just dashes off to help others.
A carriage from Susan’s clinic, the Obsidian, pulls up and starts disgorging her doctor and the nurses. Jackson’s new girlfriend, Mimi, meanwhile, asks him to give her a task. He tells her to gather all the cash she can and go get some morphine. But Susan pulls up and smoothly says that won’t be necessary, they have medical supplies covered. He seems almost as thrown to see her as he was to see Drake and tries to introduce the ladies, but Susan shortly says she knows who Mimi is. Does that mean Mimi is a pro?
And here comes Rose, which is a bit ridiculous, because what is she doing just wandering around Whitechapel today? Best spots her and asks for a photo op with the wreckage in the background. Jesus, Best, come on. I know you’re a slimy fellow, but that’s pushing it. She wisely declines because, you know, she’s an actual human being. She also sees Drake and it’s like she’s seen a ghost.
He helps someone inside H division and spots the boy crying over his now deceased mother. Rose stumbles in and comes over to welcome him back, despite the horrible circumstances. He awkwardly tells her he went and saw her on stage the year before, but he didn’t stick around to say hi afterwards, because she was with a man, and looked happy. They both look down at her engagement ring and he says he’s glad she’s happy. She asks what brings him to London and he again declines to say.
Best has made his way inside and spies a victim he knows, a man named Tom. Tom is a 3. Jackson sees that and gently tells Best to comfort him. Best, all his slick journalistic patter suddenly stripped away, takes Tom’s hand and reassures him over and over that he’s there for him.
Things are now under control. Susan joins Reid on the street and he says he hopes every day he’s seen the last of these streets’ cruelty. He’s sure there’s a cause of this, somewhere, which just needs to be rooted out. Jackson suddenly calls for silence and, in the quiet that follows, they hear someone banging nearby. It’s the driver of the Necropolis train, trapped under some wreckage. Once he’s freed, he’s brought to Jackson’s former lab, which is all cobwebbed and disused thanks to budget cuts. Jackson calls for laudanum for the man, but Reid tells him to keep him conscious, because they have to find out what happened and why his train was a good mile off course. Jackson opens the man’s shirt and reveals his seriously horrifying injuries. His abdomen is basically mush in a skin suit. Jackson begs Drake to give the man painkillers already, but Drake goes to the man, takes his head, and asks why he was so far off course. The man manages to gasp about masked men.
The men go upstairs and Drake tells Grace to send a wire to the train yard and find out what’s been going on. Jackson notes his authoritative behaviour and Arthurton breaks the news that Drake’s in charge now. How does Arthurton know that? Not even Reid knows.
Drake spots that kid and asks if he has anyone else in the world. Of course he doesn’t. Drake leaves him with Jackson while he goes to tend to some business, and Jackson, who’s not anyone’s first choice of babysitter, tries to leave him with Mimi. Meanwhile, Tom dies and Best kisses his hand and tenderly covers his face with a blanket.
Reid and Jackson go to the train yard and talk about Drake’s swift rise through the ranks in Manchester. He asks what Drake’s doing in London and Drake says he’s on leave. He also offers condolences on the death of Reid’s wife. Reid thanks him for that, and for the condolences he sent at the time. They put personal feelings aside and go into the switchroom, where they find the dead operator. Ok, so the episode started early in the morning with this guy reporting for work, and now it’s dark out, so nighttime, and nobody found this body until now? Is there not another shift? Doesn’t anyone else work at this train yard? Didn’t the railway think to send someone over there to find out why one of their trains was on the wrong track?
The guys do a preliminary exam, but Drake thinks they need Jackson’s help here. Reid is reluctant to call him in, because apparently there’s some bad blood there of some kind, and Reid is disgusted by Jackson’s whole lifestyle. It’s up to Drake to do this recruiting.
Enwright stops on his way somewhere to sob. Meanwhile, Guns arrives at the warehouse where all this began, toting two carpetbags filled with whatever they stole. He shouts to his unseen employer, telling him that they now have deaths on their hands—children even!—and he won’t have that sort of guilt. He leaves the carpetbags and tells the room that it can have it all—loot and guilt. He leaves and Susan’s lawyer, Capshaw, comes out of the shadows and takes the bags.
He brings them to Susan’s, where he takes a moment to massage his eyes and add a log to the fire before sitting down. She comes into the room, opens the bags, and finds stacks of bonds. She muses the possibility of throwing these in the fire so they can wash themselves of the guilt, and she does burn one, asking if that buys back a life. He snatches the bonds out of her hands and tells her to calm down. She reminds him that he’s her employee and she can do what she pleases. He agrees, but reminds her that they need money to keep this clinic going, and these bonds can keep their books balanced for a decade. And then what? Will they rob another train?
Reid examines the train that was hijacked, finding shotgun shells near the case that once held the bonds.
Jackson’s having a bite with the kid and Mimi when Drake comes into the pub to ask Jackson’s help with their body. Jackson refuses. Drake takes a seat and tells Mimi how remarkable Jackson is. Jackson says he doesn’t police anymore. Drake’s basically like, ‘oh, come on, you know you want to!’ and he does, so he finally goes along and, in short order, deduces the shooter was either the poorest marksman on earth or had an impaired arm. Nobody else was killed, so he thinks the signalman was shot because he knew his assailant. The injury must have been a giveaway, a workplace accident bad enough that everyone knew about it. He also finds a mark on the man’s forehead from where he was hit by the butt of the rifle, leaving the imprint of AWR. Winchester Repeating Arms Company. It’s an unusual gun to find in this area. The boys are quickly bouncing off each other as well as they ever did—better, even, because now Jackson has some respect for Drake.
Reid takes them to his archive, fetches a file, and goes to speak to Cree, who was apparently involved in the robbery of five pump action Winchester shotguns a while back. How convenient! Cree says he didn’t take the job because he didn’t like the look of the man hiring him, a skinny guy with super shiny shoes who didn’t seem to belong in the area.
Grace delivers a list of railroad employee accidents and Reid quickly finds Enwright, whose shoulder was crushed, an accident for which he never received compensation. There’s an address, so they hurry to his place and find an impressive railway model of London and the man himself, who emerges with his shotgun and holds it to Reid’s head. Drake tells him not to add another death to his tally. Enwright points out that, at this point, one more is no big deal. So Drake starts talking about how angry he must be at the railway, and then tosses one of the trains at him, giving Reid a chance to smoothly grab the rifle and turn it on Enwright, who turns into a blubbering mess. Reid asks who recruited him and Enwright sobs that he never met the man, he was summoned by a letter promising a £500 payoff, which he’s supposed to fetch that day.
The Leman Three gather at the station, where Grace reports that the owner of the stolen property still hasn’t made a claim, so they have no idea what it was, only the assumption that it was very valuable. Arthurton comes to fetch Reid to give instructions to the men on how to conduct this raid on the warehouse. Drake and Jackson both go to get their coats, but Reid coldly reminds Jackson that he doesn’t work for the police anymore, so he can go back to his bed or whatever it is he feels like doing. Damn, Reid, why the hate? Didn’t you fire Jackson? Before Jackson goes he warns Grace to get the hell away from Reid as fast as his legs can carry him.
Jackson returns home to find Susan waiting for him. He brings her inside, offers her coffee, and asks what’s up. She says that people are asking her to help find out who caused the deaths of their loved ones. Why are they asking her? She’s not investigating.
The police, including Drake and Abberline, gather at a warehouse to wait for the sting. Abberline asks Drake if he’s told Reid why he’s back and Drake says no, because it’s kinda been a busy day. Drake’s a little bewildered why Reid’s not getting the job and Abberline says he’s just kind of a lost soul at this point.
They’re called upstairs to join Reid in watching Enwright approach the door of the warehouse across the street. He’s admitted and joins the other men waiting for their payout. Their employer hasn’t shown up.
Susan goes to see Capshaw and tells him her canary has sung, so apparently she got Jackson talking big time. She asks Capshaw if he’s certain these men haven’t seen him. He is. She tells him to let the police arrest these men, then, and hang them for the deadly crash and let her and Capshaw escape. Damn, what the hell happened to Susan? I know that this clinic was important to her, but this seems so out-of-character. What made her so hardened? As tough as she always was, she was never this callous or uncaring. It seems like the deaths of 55 innocents should weigh more heavily on her.
Abberline urges Reid to just arrest these men already, but Reid wants to wait for the ringleader. Inside the other warehouse, the men wait. Finally, one of the Guns gets up and leaves, declaring he’s had enough. Others follow, and as soon as the police see, they close in and arrest everyone, under Abberline’s orders.
Afterwards, Abberline tells Reid that Drake’s rejoining H division as the man in charge. And Reid is being shoved out. Drake looks like he feels really badly about this and Reid is hurt.
Enwright and the others are swiftly tried and condemned to death.
Arthurton leads a memorial service for the victims of the crash. The crashed train cars haven’t even been removed yet, and now they’re the site of a floral shrine. Susan and Capshaw attend, along with Rose, who lays a wreath. Jackson pulls the orphaned boy close in a hug. Best tries very hard not to cry. Jackson and Mimi stand together. After the prayer is ended, the crowd starts to disperse. Cobden approaches Reid and congratulates him on catching these men. Things are really awkward between them. She excuses herself. Susan approaches Reid and comments on what a black day this is before introducing Capshaw. Reid shakes his hand and then notes his very shiny shoes.
Reid rushes down to Cree’s cell, only to find the man dead, a knife sticking out of his neck.