This review contains spoilers.
After last week’s horror-themed shenanigans, Whitechapel opened its fifth episode with the team going through their very own zombie apocalypse in a hilariously over-dramatic role-playing exercise.
The zombie training served as an amusing opening, but it also demonstrated just how much the team are struggling to work with each other. No one is listening to Chandler or Miles, Buchan gets a bit too carried away and Mansell, Ripley and Kent are at each other’s throats. It’s a dynamic that continues through the episode as they struggle to solve a case involving missing organs and possible cannibalism. Yes, another episode not for the faint of heart.
A reverse of sorts from last week, there’s no flaying this time around, just careful surgery, gaping chest wounds and absent livers. An initial investigation of a body in the sewer leads them to a cryptozoologist who believes that the tunnels beneath Whitechapel are occupied by the Black Swine, mutant pigs adapted to living underground. The thought of your organs being harvested by screeching pigs is not the nicest, but the writers, perhaps thankfully, decided to opt for a human perpetrator, or more specifically, a group of them. Cannibalism also seems to be the order of the day with the final scene showing something possibly human cooking in the journalist’s oven, but of all the killer-related scenes from this series, the murder of Anne Ayres had to be the scariest yet; disembodied voices, a face through the grate, lumbering silhouettes in the dark.
There is also the small factor of Anne Ayres being a nurse for an elderly lady who has been cropping up in various places all over Whitechapel. Yes, she was back and spent the most time on screen since the book launch way back in the first episode. We still don’t know that much about her, but she’s becoming more central to this case certainly. Plus, once the lights finally went out in Whitechapel police station after weeks of flickering light bulbs, did anyone else think that the flashing silhouette may be hers?
The signs of infection have been everywhere throughout the series and manifested in various ways; Chandler’s anxiety, Ripley’s boil and the mould in Buchan’s basement. Whitechapel has always been excellent in terms of the attention paid to its characters and the psychological stresses upon them are never forgotten, but usually focused on Chandler. Seeing the rest of the team going through their own trauma really compounded the idea that something is trying to fracture them from within, producing some emotional scenes for the other members, especially those with Buchan and Mansell.
Riley, so often the sympathetic heart of the group, was instrumental in both of them, first with Buchan in the basement with both of them still recovering from their recent traumas. The other was with Mansell on the roof, contemplating suicide after Erica, Kent’s sister, breaks up with him and the mysterious phone calls he has been receiving are now urging him to kill himself. Mansell has always been a bit one note with his laddish behaviour and disregard for others so to see him so vulnerable through this series has been an interesting development, particularly as he is usually the one to shrug everything off. Credit must go to actors Hannah Walters and Ben Bishop in this scene for making what could have seemed mawkish actually quite emotional.
Returning to the murders, the choice of victims seem to relate directly into this idea of corruption; these are people who haven’t, that we know of at least, been corrupted by anything around them. They live for other people, engaging in charity and supporting those in need. As Chandler observes, they are “local heroes”. Our police team are similarly inclined, dispatching and arresting murderers for the past few years now and though much to Chandler’s frustration, they rarely get to catch the killer, they usually manage to stop them. Wingfield’s map shows just how many murders have gone on in Whitechapel and the MI6 agent believed them to be connected. If there is a malevolent force at the heart of the district, then it is slowly trying to get rid of those living to stop these things from happening. If we suspect correctly, then the little old lady may be at the centre of it all.
It’s always a question at the centre of most television shows that are centred on bad things happening in one place; why do so many bad things keep happening in one town? Whitechapel has had its fair share of grisly murders, not just in the timeframe of the series, but historically speaking as well, a connection that has been integral to the show. If there is a central force connecting all of these murders in Whitechapel, then how they answer that question becomes immediately intriguing.
In what was perhaps the best episode of the series so far, Whitechapel has set the wheels in motion for a dramatic, and possibly quite icky, finale. Let’s hope we find out what the little old lady has been up to.
Read Becky’s review of the previous episode, here.
Follow our Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here. And be our Facebook chum here.