This review contains spoilers.
4.6 Edmund Reid Did This
Drake realises that Reid intends to investigate Augustus Dove’s ties to the Whitechapel Golem regardless of his orders, but he reluctantly listens to the evidence presented to them by Miss Castello and sees his Superintendent’s involvement is clear. They begin to put the assorted pieces together, find that Susan is alive and that Jackson has been up to a whole lot of dirty work in an attempt to free her. Dove is up to his own machinations, anticipating Drake’s discoveries by forcing Rose to divulge the location of the body of Theodore Swift, Susan’s father, left to rot by her and messrs Reid, Drake and Jackson. When Dove makes his move and tries to have Reid and Drake arrested, they go on the run with the evidence, determined to expose Nathaniel’s murderous tendencies and Dove’s resultant cover-up.
The ongoing power dynamics throughout this series have been continually fascinating, but none moreso than here in Edmund Reid Did This as the hierarchies established are chopped, changed, stabbed and eluded by just about everyone involved. Since the first episode, the fourth run of Ripper Street has been focused through the rise and slow fall of Bennet Drake, a man usually defined by his scrappy underdog status rather than the current position of power he finds himself in. He bears a greater responsibility as the head of Lehman Street and the consequences of his decisions have ripples far greater than, it seems, he ever expected in his personal and professional life.
Jerome Flynn has truly been the star of this series, bringing his gravitas to the fore as Drake finds himself once again at odds with the world he thought he could finally understand. The ongoing case of the Whitechapel Golem has been the focal point for this, a twisting case that rears its ugly head again to prove that Drake had been wrong. His political skill has been found wanting, as has his police instinct, fooled by Dove’s determination to cover up for his brother. It seems fitting then that Bennet Drake’s last act is to return to his considerable prowess as a fighter only to now find that too is wanting. It’s a moment of high tragedy, played beautifully as we watch the fight finally leave a character that has gone through life, treating it as a constant battle.
There’s a ferocity to that final scene that has only really been an undercurrent so far; just as Drake is let loose, so too is Jonas Armstrong as the normally silent Nathaniel. It’s the first time we’ve seen him in action, knowing his true identity, and Armstrong’s feral performance makes for something truly horrible. That final sequence is also aided by the beautiful production design in the tunnels, an incomprehensible maze of brick and fog that does as much to disorient the audience as it does the characters. The hazy lighting brilliantly reflects the moral murkiness that has characterised much of the fourth series and looks set to do so as we hurtle towards its conclusion.
Edmund Reid Did This, as even its title suggests, is all about consequence and culpability. Whilst that may sound like a lost, genteel Jane Austen novel, it has been anything but. In fact, social manners pretty much flew out of the window entirely in this episode. And just about everyone is culpable for something terrible at some point during Ripper Street’s time on the air, which makes the moment in which Reid and Drake decide to do the honourable thing by exposing Dove, knowing it will expose their own corruption, a big deal. Especially considering that for the biggest sins committed by these characters, lasting consequences have been few and far between. Susan has particularly benefitted from this, despite pleading her guilt on multiple occasions.
Here we see our main four heroes forced to face the consequences of not only their most recent actions, but the decisions they’ve taken throughout their lives that have led them to this point. It gives the episode a huge weight and an impact that feels earned as a result. It also seems fitting that it will be a loss at the heart of their group to spur them on, particularly Reid, who has been more invested in others’ interests since his return to Lehman Street than in his own. He often commented on the dark influence of Whitechapel over his life with Drake and it’s a neat twist that he now uses it for shelter in his hour of need.
Continuing with the fourth series’ atmospheric run, Edmund Reid Did This is an episode of great skill, combining the ongoing efforts to catch the Whitechapel Golem with an immersive, intimate character exploration of what happens when a man is forced to face up to both his successes and failures.
This review was originally posted in February 2016.