The outstanding first series of BBC’s new crime drama Ripper Street sadly had to come to an end last Sunday. In this season’s send off H Division did not just have one task placed on the table in front of them: ruling Jackson out as a Ripper suspect, making an investigation into another and finding out whether or not that man held Reid’s missing daughter captive were the obstacles placed in front of our Victorian crime fights this week. Did “What Use Our Work” top the sterling series off or did it add to the disappointment of last week’s showing?
Writers Richard Warlow & Toby Finlay clearly set aside droves of time to type up “What Use Our Work’s” screenplay; the plot had a plethora of enthralling action and riveting twists that kept me guessing and in awe right until the last. The pinnacle of the finale’s story was Inspector Reid’s unrelenting determination to find and reclaim the daughter he tragically lost on the sinking ship incident; that same sub-plot brought with it the most disquieting moment in the entire series. The sinking expression on Reid’s face when he recognized the small girl held captive was not his daughter caused misery beyond measure. Miraculously Matthew MacFadyen managed to remain 100% convincing in the act of portraying such an extreme sadness; MacFadyen is undoubtedly destined for a greater career having performed so brilliantly in both Ripper Street and “Anna Karenina.”
Sergent Drake’s prominent parts in the more recent episodes continued in “What Use Our Work” and rightfully so, Drake’s average-man’s background makes his strength and depths of intriguing characteristics worlds broader than most of the series other characters – I’m not saying their bad by any means, Drake’s character is just exceptionally fantastic. Drake’s character ultimately gained a sense of progress in the finale as his affections for the mistress Rose were returned tenfold following his second rescue of her from the hands of a victim drugging psycho-maniac, a rescue which unfortunately felt a tad stale because it heavily mimicked the ingenuity seen in the first episode. “What Use Our Work” wisely left some big questions unanswered that have me aching for the second series: Will anything come of Reid’s disloyalty to his wife? Is Jackson’s place at H Division secure? and most importantly what will our protagonists come up against in series 2 ? Personally I’m hoping for the Ripper case to have more time in the limelight in season 2 despite some viewers saying they lost interest in the case.
No huge progression came from the technical crew from what can be seen in the series final installment but such progression honestly isn’t desperately needed. Both the editing and sound teams are performing well creating tension or sadness where necessary, however there is one particular track that I’ve noticed being repeatedly played at almost every hugely significant dramatic moment in the series, whether due to a lack of resources or sheer laziness I can’t determine. Lead cinematographer P.J.Dillon is making some very noticeable improvements in his work, in last nights episode there were a few cracking shots in there that captured the moods of any given scene with spot on precision (the best of which can be seen below.)
Final Thoughts: Ripper Street came almost out of nowhere and took me by complete surprise early this year, after a magnificent finale it is safe to say Ripper Street is now a contender with the best. Granted it is no Sherlock, Game of Thrones or Breaking Bad but nevertheless Ripper Street is an embodiment for many of British televisions greatest assets that immaculately depicts no-forensics Victorian crime stopping. Here’s hoping next season will bring much of the same when it airs around the same time next year. Feel free to leave any thoughts in the comment section below!
Series Grade: B+