Whitechapel series 4 finale review

Whitechapel closes its 4th series with a fitting and tense finale, tying up loose ends and putting our characters through the wringer...

This review contains spoilers.

So cannibalism turned out to be a grisly red herring, or rather a slightly blackened Proboscis Monkey. Instead of booking a group of cannibals who had been feasting on residents of Whitechapel, Chandler and Miles had located a group who had a taste for exotic creatures. The actual motive for the murders turned out to be less gruesome, but still disturbing as a doomsday cult were offering the sacrifices of good, virtuous people in order to prevent the End of Days. The climax, a tense recreation of the Old Testament’s Abraham and Isaac story, also highlighted the religious undertones that the series has been developing as well as cementing the possible presence of the supernatural in Whitechapel.

There have been a lot of questions left unanswered at the end of this episode but not frustratingly so as there was a satisfying conclusion to several strands too. First of all, the little old lady, Louise Iver, is revealed to be the person sabotaging the station as has been long suspected. Rather than supernatural curses, it was simply a case of sticking massive nails in the pipes and leaving the rest to work itself loose and infect the station with damp, faulty electrics and creeping mould. It’s a good, creepy yet grounded solution to the flickering lights all over the place rather than a heightened paranormal conclusion that I feared we were heading for.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the paranormal aspect of the series is entirely ruled out; there are still a lot of questions around Iver after all. She’s been a great addition to the series, something to watch out and theorise about, which of course we have. With her predilection for nails and wandering in front of police vans, Iver’s methods aren’t exactly based in floating objects or ghostly apparitions. She’s a practical saboteur and though she may be using ancient symbolic nails, it’s a lot more grounded than was initially suggested. However, there is the small question of her appearance in the photo with the Krays, looking not a day younger than she does in the current series. Miles is determined she’s something to do with all of the cases that have gone before and, though without their knowledge, the one they’re currently trying to solve.

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Chandler is, as always, in the centre of it. His fastidiousness is usually of benefit to any investigation, an endless pursuit of detail and facts that lead them to killers time and again. However, his steadfast ways also mean that on this occasion, his refusal to acknowledge the psychic’s note or let Miles chase down Louise Iver mean that once again, he never actually catches the killers. But could Chandler be having visions of his own? All series, we’ve been seeing flashes of him in a red room, tearing his shirt off and generally looking a bit peeved. In this episode, the same thing happens on his way to the church and a neat coincidence of a helicopter passing by (which you handily see before he and Miles enter the sewer) leads to him being mistaken by the cult for an angel.

However, this is not the first moment in the episode to make this connection and allows for some speculation about Chandler. In the mausoleum, at the site of the third victim’s murder, the blood patterns on the walls form a pair of red wings sprouting from his back. The association with red is something that has been following Chandler in the form of these visions as well as in the pipe room that Iver has been sabotaging. It’s not necessarily the colour you would associate with a holy angelic being and it seems more to be hinting that Chandler is more an angel of death than one of redemption. All of the people he catches in the act die horrible deaths shortly after and the horrific murders started when he came to Whitechapel to solve the Ripper case. It’s always been a fascinating element to the character, a man who wants so much to bring people to justice but never seems to manage it, a conflict that looks set to continue.

Overall, the fourth series has been a strong one, full of fascinating side characters and suitably grisly murder mysteries which, though occasionally side-posted, provided enough scares and chills along the way to keep it interesting. The slowly-building arc around the decay of the station and the team as well as the concept of Whitechapel murders being connected in some way has proven to be an excellent development. The characters have been pushed to their limits, had their faith questioned and generally been put through the mill a bit again. Chandler, Buchan and Miles’ relationship continues to be the show’s strength, but they’ve been capably aided by the triumvirate of Ripley, Mansell and Kent, who so very nearly confessed his feelings for Chandler.

If we get a fifth series (please ITV), there are plenty of strands left to pursue and if we are heading down a supernatural route, Whitechapel taking its time and building it slowly rather than rushing in will be an intriguing development and one that won’t alienate its audience if done right. Whitechapel has been a strong series from its inception, primarily because of a willingness change things up a bit and not adhere to a strict format across the different series. If it is to continue, I am more than happy to see what they do with the various supernatural elements that they’ve thrown up in this time around.

Read Becky’s review of the previous episode, here.