Monday 28 January 2013

Review - Episode 5 - Ripper Street

A much simpler and specific crime this week, which brought out quite a bit more about the troubled DS Bennett Drake (Jerome Flynn).

Following the skilled killing of a horse, clearly by a skilled marksman, in order to allow a team of criminals to blow open the safe in a security wagon, with clear Military precision, Drake encounters his former Colonel, Madoc Faulkner (Iain Glenn).

I am always disappointed when TV companies cast 'bad guys' as bad guys - it somewhat gives away too much, too early. Why can't we have some bumbling comic or romantic surprise us all with a villainous role BBC?

Knowledgeable of Drake's demons, and aware of his current weaknesses - Rose (Charlene McKenna) - one of Long Susan's top 'toffers', Faulkner looks to tempt Drake into becoming part of his merry band of Robbers, and 'do his duty' to put up two fingers to 'the bitch Queen'. Faulkner has clearly been stalking Drake and has the initial edge.

I was not aware how much revulsion there actually was of our beloved Queen Victoria and her Governments,  until I started researching the second novel in my series, which will be called 'The thin red line', a story of anarchists and war (set against the backdrop of the Crimean conflict) and their pursuit by 'The Borough Boys'. Only then did I read of the anti-war feelings that the ordinary people had, and of the appalling way our servicemen were treated back in 1854, et seq.

Drake's love of Rose, clearly not reciprocated - and seen by all but Drake, including Captain Homer Jackson (Adam Rosenberg), who is busy smoking some recreational drug whilst Rose herself shows she really is a multi-skilled tart, 'pleasuring' the hedonistic American, and being warned not to break Drake's heart! 

Drake starts to have his flashbacks, vague to begin with, and eventually succumbs to temptation, or so it appears, joining up with Faulkner's band, who include other ex soldiers he has served with.

In an attack on the Mint, we see Drake's moral integrity tested, when one of his ex corporals shoots one of the Mint staff, against the plan, and his honest 'copper' comes through all the temptation and he dutifully intervenes. 

Suddenly he is alone in a group of heavily armed bad guys. Surprise, surprise, he is infamous to Faulkner and to the Corporal as having single-handedly killed huge numbers of the enemy back in Khartoum, when the only survivor in his unit. This is the source of his flashbacks, it would appear.

In a funny sort of twist, we find that Faulkner is not looking for gold, but to seize and destroy minted medals to be awarded in future circumstances, and show his disgust for the treatment of fellow soldiers. Drake spoils the event by pouring water over explosives and Faulkner's wrath is exposed.

This fighting spirit and fearlessness is demonstrated and the 'beast is let free' as he mercilessly overpowers many of the group before being overpowered and threatened with death by the irate Faulkner.

He is 'rescued' by the adaptable Homer Jackson, who shows us his own military skills, using a recovered sniper rifle to pick off the captors, before Faulkner has the final say and shoots himself dead rather than losing his dignity as a criminal. Jackson's American Civil War role has still to be fully exploited.

Free again, and trust restored by Reid (Matthew Macfayden),Drake goes back to Long Susan's and seeks out Rose, telling her he wants her and that he will give her everything a woman would want. Sadly, Rose has other ideas, and clearly prefers her present lifestyle.

The touching release of two Lovebirds that Drake has bought her in anticipation, was a bit of an obvious irony.

So, Drake is an ex soldier - we knew that. He suffers from flashbacks and has ghosts and monsters - we knew that. Now we know that he was a lean, mean killing machine - I suspect most people had worked that out. He suffers from what we would now recognise as PTSD? - I pointed that out two episodes back! What I am waiting for is when and how it will finally come out in full - that will, hopefully be worth waiting for!

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