This review contains spoilers.
3.4 Your Father. My Friend.
First of all, apologies for missing my review for last week’s episode, Ashes And Diamonds. Unfortunately, a combination of technical issues and personal circumstances meant that I couldn’t get my thoughts into writing. In brief, it was an episode in which the central mystery was weak, but the character work around it was strong, particularly that of Bennett Drake, stepping into the absence of Reid and doing so very well. It also shows that Jerome Flynn is more than capable of carrying the show.
The excellent character work from that episode carries over into Your Father, My Friend, as Rose’s sighting of Alice/Matilda running away from her captors prompts Drake to seek out his inspector and return him to Whitechapel. Matilda leads them on a merry chase through the streets of Whitechapel until Reid notices a pattern to her behaviour that echoes the Ripper killings. Meanwhile, Susan’s dealings with Capshaw grow darker as her complicity with the train disaster threatens to come to light.
It’s an episode that barely stops for breath and packs in so many moments during its runtime, that it should feel a little overwhelming. Wisely dispensing with an external mystery to solve, it deftly combines various ongoing narratives into a satisfying whole as the lamentable fall of Edmund Reid continues. Though the show didn’t noticeably miss him last week, Macfadyen’s presence here drives the episode as a man driven to desperation and resorting to increasingly violent methods to get to Matilda.
Matilda’s journey across Whitechapel, retracing the movements of two of the Ripper’s victims was a great twist that worked on multiple levels. First of all, it tied the show back to its roots, using the atmosphere of the infamous murders to enhance the dark and dangerous atmosphere of the show’s location. Matilda’s encounters with Harry Ward (played by a delightfully odious Dean Charles Chapman) were more overtly nasty than Ward’s literary predecessor of the Artful Dodger and her naivety was beautifully played by Anna Burnett.
Secondly, it also worked to show how Reid’s work has irreparably damaged his family; the loss of his daughter and his subsequent focus on his policing led to him ignoring his wife’s slow decline into depression. His work on the Ripper case is too responsible for Matilda’s early trauma, the memories of certain details playing out in her fantasies and allowing her to be so easily manipulated by the Buckleys’ stories. It foreshadows the episode’s end when, instead of simply leaving with Matilda, Reid’s sense of duty ensures he goes to meet and arrest Capshaw.
That final scene was incredibly tense and perhaps one of Ripper Street’s finest moments. Packed with foreboding, Reid’s conversation with Capshaw built slowly, but carefully, before that shocking moment from Susan. MyAnna Buring has excelled this series, given much more to work with in Susan’s character as her ambition slowly overtakes her morality. The beauty of her line, “you believe a woman must become a man to own such an act. How little you have learnt,” exemplified so much of her character’s struggles of succeeding in a patriarchal society that when she shot Capshaw, it felt almost triumphant.
It’s clear that this moment will be Susan’s undoing in some form or another with the life of Reid seemingly left hanging in the balance. Her emotional reunion with Jackson earlier in the episode hints towards further conflict between them and given Jackson’s reputation with the forensics of a crime scene, Susan’s clumsy attempts to cover herself will surely be discovered. However, the character development for Susan this series is something to be applauded, taking her from someone who often felt relegated to the sidelines to the person controlling Whitechapel from the shadows.
Your Father, My Friend was an episode that felt action-packed, but never felt overcrowded resulting in a remarkable piece of drama with a near heart-stopping climactic scene. As Reid finds redemption of sorts, Susan falls ever deeper.
Read Becky’s review of episode two, The Beating Of Her Wings, here.
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