This review contains spoilers.
1.7 A Man of My Company
After a week’s break, Ripper Street returns to our screens with the much-anticipated back story of The Yankee and uptight Long Susan. Well, as much of a back story as the series seems to want to offer. To make matters worse, Jackson’s old gang are in town looking for him, headed by the aptly named Mr Goodnight, who is as deadly and unremorseful as they come.
A Man of My Company follows TP Swift, an industrialist who arrives in London from New York with a group of Pinkertons to acquire an ailing shipping line. Incidentally, the company’s engineer is murdered whilst on the verge of a magnificent breakthrough which could change the future of shipping. While Reid gets to work on finding his killer, Captain Jackson and Long Susan, or indeed whomever they may be, find themselves being hunted down by enemies from their past.
We quickly return to CSI Whitechapel in this week’s episode when a man’s body is dragged out of the Thames. Young, lovable bobby Hobbs is in training in the PM room and the audience is being told in detail how our chain-smoking American deduces the cause of death with such ease. The man on the slab is said engineer and was killed by a professional. But wait, haven’t some trained killers just arrived in town with a shipping magnate? Don’t call me Sherlock but… ?!
The victim’s wife, Mrs Fanthorpe appears to be a very cold fish. Hobbs is sent to watch her undercover which sadly leads to him joining her husband in Jackson’s PM room. This certainly adds some shock value to the series, particularly with Hobbs being a young and innocent character. However, it isn’t a particularly groundbreaking idea to kill off a well-liked character and perhaps the series could have seen him develop further. It made sense to ignite passions within the force to unite and fight against Swift and his Pinkertons and I am all for shock and gore, but I think Hobbs was taken from us too soon. Really, did he even have his first tart? Or, indeed, see one cut open?
Upon learning that Goodnight and his gang are back in town, Susan throws a hissy fit in front of Jackson. Throughout the series, there has been some sexual tension between them, but not enough chemistry to convince me that there is any deep love lost between the pair. But lo and behold, they’re only bloody married. Not only that, but he risked everything to run away with her, and now it’s all catching up with them. It’s a quaint idea, although what on earth happened to make them hate each other? And why does she put up with him shagging all the other women under her roof? They then admit that the few months after they met were the happiest of their lives, but offer no explanation to what went wrong. Slightly irritating.
The Pinkertons eventually find Susan’s whorehouse and trash the place, so she decides to go to Swift to offer herself up as a trade for Jackson’s safety. Now this is where it all gets a little uncomfortable. Not only was she once Swift’s woman, but it turns out that she is also his daughter. It wasn’t uncommon back in the day for the eldest daughter to take on some of the wife’s duties if the mother passed away, but still it’s all rather grim for Sunday night viewing. Slicing and dicing is fine, but the incest just doesn’t settle well on this gal. And I’m from Devon, which is saying something.
After a truce, Goodnight is told that Jackson must be unharmed and does not take kindly to this new arrangement. Pulling one of his grumpy emo faces, I can’t help but think that his character mopes around a bit like a stroppy teenager, skulking and making eye movements with utter disdain as though you were taking his Xbox away from him. Rather than hunt Jackson down this time, he decides to frame him for the next ‘Ripper’ murder.
But it seems for the men of London that there is something far worse roaming the streets. Both educated and opinionated, this truly is a fearsome beast. The horror? A woman! The engineer that wound up in Jackson’s PM room was a cover for his wife’s talents, and the shareholders are less than impressed. Amidst the guffaws and table-slapping Reid returns with metaphorical cock in hand to arrest Goodnight and his men. Swift of course is untouchable with his money and power and leaves his dogs to take the rap.
Outside the station, our man Jackson makes a triumphant return and challenges our gormless Goodnight to a duel. With trickery on his side, he ‘pops a cap’ is his, er, head and becomes everyone’s favourite hero again, just in time for the second series, no less. And all in front of his wife, with whom he is now madly in love again. Sadly there’s still not much chemistry but it still makes for a nice ending … but wait, this is Ripper Street – this isn’t the place for happy endings. Oh, what’s that-a woman’s organ under your floorboards Jackson? That’s more like it.
Read Jamie-Lee’s review of the previous episode, Tournament of Shadows, here.
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