This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
This review contains spoilers.
5.6 Occurence Reports
A full series finale is always a tricky thing to pull off. Not only does the plot of the last few episodes have to be wrapped up, but also a fitting end given to characters that audiences have grown to love over the years. Ripper Street’s final episode, Occurrence Reports, is one that manages to meet both of those needs head on by splitting the episode in two. The first half is dedicated to dealing with the final confrontation between Reid and Dove whilst the second half spends its time saying goodbye to the characters as they slowly go off into their lives or to their deaths, one by one.
After taking over Leman Street station in the last episode, Jackson and Reid get back to basics, gathering evidence and building a case. Whilst Nathaniel records his confession with Mathilda and Abberline, Jackson pieces together the connection between Robin Sumner’s death and Dove, his killer. It’s a gloriously simple solution of infection, a fitting way for Dove, whose machinations through Whitechapel have spread near-silently but destructively like a disease, to have his guilt proven. Although it is nice to have such a typical Ripper Street investigation to close the series with, it’s all over for Dove so quickly that it is not as satisfying as the penultimate episode’s build-up would have had us believe.
Dove’s punishment is to rot in jail anonymously, Scotland Yard deciding that the scandal exposing him in public would cause would be too great. Nathaniel and Susan are to be hanged for their respective crimes, leading to a highly emotional farewell between her and Jackson, who promises to take care of Connor for the both of them. Mathilda and Drum go on to get married (she sporting a rather conspicuous baby bump at the time of their nuptials) and Reid is returned to his rightful place as the head of H Division.
At first, it seems somewhat disquieting that, out of the main cast, it is only Susan that faces up to the consequences of her actions, but it soon becomes apparent that Reid is facing his own kind of poetic justice. When he offers Reid his job back, Abberline observes that he has a special kind of ability to see through the goings-on in Whitechapel; he is its watchman. What Abberline doesn’t discuss is the cost of that for Reid, who must also stand and watch as everyone moves on with their lives and he remains alone in the place he guards. By showing us what happens to Reid after he defeats Dove, the episode offers us a great insight into the personal toll that his job takes.
From this moment on, the construction of the episode is a thing of beauty, slipping back and forth through time seamlessly and with great poignancy. After the chaos that Whitechapel became in the last few months for Reid, it makes sense to strip everything back and focus solely on the character around whom everyone else revolved. The flashbacks take us to a time before the series began with the final official Ripper killing of Mary Kelly and Reid’s actions in the fruitless investigation. It provides not only a welcome, brief return for Jerome Flynn as Bennet Drake (and a quick view of their first meeting with Jackson), but also allows us a short welcome cameo from David Dawson too as the since-departed journalist Fred Best. It is a fleeting moment of nostalgia for the characters who used to inhabit the series and a way of saying goodbye to them once more.
The Ripper still haunts Reid as he does Abberline and continues to do so throughout his life. Reid’s reaction to the song at the theatre, the one Mary Kelly supposedly sung the night she died, is a quick glance at the trauma he still suffers. The serial killer is a reminder of his major career failure and his constant struggle against a Whitechapel that refuses to adhere to the rules. It also serves as a measure for everything that Reid has gone through since that time. The friends he has made and lost along the way, the daughter who is returned to him only to be lost again, the enemies defeated, and the ones who got away. It is a life condensed into these moments and as the episode moves forward in time, it seems that little moments between work are all that Reid has, until they too are gone.
Occurrence Reports is a bold and surprising finale, but one which feels like a perfect farewell to a series reborn and allowed to meet its end on its own terms. Emotional, meticulous, and wonderfully performed, it is an excellent note to end on. And as the bells ring in the twentieth century, Reid sits alone, lost in his work. It’s a haunting end for the character, a man who admitted that he would never be able to leave Whitechapel. And so it proves; everyone else moves away, but Edmund Reid remains.
Read Becky’s review of the previous episode, A Last Good Act, here.