Ripper Street ‘Become Man’ Recap – Episode 02.03

Ripper Street
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrby feather

A gang of women are abducting prominent men. Reid meets an extraordinary woman who is a member of the London Counsel. Susan struggles with her debt to Duggan and her sympathy for the female gang.

The Breakdown

Rose is working as a waitress at a music hall where Susan and Jackson are spending the evening. Rose’s ambition is to be a performer on the stage. A pair of older men highly disapprove of the theme of the show – a Jack the Ripper parody – and claim that they’ll have the place closed within a week. The lights go out as part of the show and when the come back on one of the older gentlemen has disappeared and his friend has blood on the front of his shirt. He calls for help.

Reid and Drake come to investigate. Rose and Drake have an awkwardly charged meeting. The missing man is Sir Walter De Souza, a member of the London City Counsel. One of the waitresses, Ettie, is missing from the staff and said to Rose that she would see to the gentleman. Jackson leads Reid and Drake to a trail of blood that leads outside to where De Souza was taken away in a sewage cart. Jackson finds cigarette ends that he takes to analyze.

The cigarette ends are an herbal brand being aimed at women. Mr. Irwin, the smelly owner of the sewage cart, is brought in for questioning. He says that his cart was stolen by a gang of women and his shame at being conquered by them was why he had not come forward about the theft. Fred Best comes by to report a letter he received from De Souza retracting his opposition to a female counsel member Jane Cobden. The assumption is that the gang of women kidnapped De Souza and forced him to write this retraction. De Souza hated having a woman in office and blocked Cobden every chance he got.

Susan goes to see Silas Duggan, offering to sell him her business in return for a small fee to provide for she and Jackson to relocate. Duggan refuses, saying that the business will be his soon enough, that Susan will eventually be unable to pay. Susan begs Duggan to free her from their agreement. Duggan reminds her that her freedom is easily accessible, that all she ever had to do was sleep with him. She leaves.

Jane Cobden comes to see Reid. She says that any harm that comes to De Souza would likely end her career and that she would never advocate such action. Reid asks for records of dispossessed women who have written to Cobden for help and she has them sent over. Meanwhile, a man comes to Susan’s to engage Ida. Susan is distracted by a brick crashing through a window in another room while two women sneak up the stairs after him. Susan checks upstairs and walks in on the women abducting the man. Susan is knocked out and she and Ida are taken away. The police are sent for and Reid, Drake, and Jackson arrive to investigate. They determine that the same gang of women that took De Souza also took the man and the women. The man’s name is unknown to Charity, but she tells them that both Rose and Bella were favorites of the man while they worked there.

Susan awakes in the company of Ida and a woman called Rain. Susan tries to escape a couple times, but a large, veiled woman called Max holds her tight. Rain says that Susan should have a care for evil men and what they do, and that the man they abducted, Thomad Eli,  is one of those evil men. Max unveils her face to reveal a gaping hole from her cheek to her jaw. Rain says that Eli is the cause.

Rose and Bella come together over Eli’s personal effects and identify him together as the lawyer Thomas Eli. Reid assumes that De Souza was not the gang’s first abduction and looks into reports before that. A man called Cullington was abducted two weeks back. He was the foreman at a match factory while there was a general strike, the women at the factory often prone to a condition caused by the phosphorous in the matches that would eat away at their jaws and eventually cause death. All the men taken had some involvement in silencing the workforce and maintaining factory conditions.

Rain shows Susan their little gang of women. Susan disapproves of their thieving lifestyle and poor conditions, but Rain insists they have more independence than the women who work for Susan. Rain has Susan stitch up a wound in her back as she talks of her sister and how she helped build their little family. Her sister is now dead. Susan tries to convince her that the men they have taken will drive everything she has built into the dirt. Rain goes kind of crazy and decides to cut off De Souza’s finger.

Reid goes to see Cobden to ask about the match girls and she specifically remembers one, an Agnes Thornell and her sister Rain. Reid and Drake pour over records but find nothing about Rain. Arthurton brings in a disheveled Susan who brings Reid a bag of fingers from the three men held captive, along with a ransom note. Reid collects the money demanded and has Susan deliver it. Jackson objects, but Susan says she does it in the hopes that the girls might find a way through this that does not involve a man and a rope.

They make the hand off at the market, where Rain shows up shrouded in black lace. Reid follows her. Another woman dressed the same way appears and Drake follows that one. Yet another comes around and Jackson follows that one. Rain appears normally clothed and goes her own way unhindered. Susan follows her. Having lost the trail, Reid, Drake, and Jackson return to H Division. Jackson analyzes the dirt found at Susan’s for clues. Cobden tells Reid that there is a church that might hold some information about the Thornell girls. They narrow down the area possible and go to search for signs of the women’s hideout.

As the women prepare to move out of their hideout with the new money, Susan seems to have joined with them. She looks for Rain in all the commotion and finds her preparing to kill her captives. Susan tries to talk her out of it, saying that she condemns her girls to death if she kills those men.  Meanwhile, the police storm the hideout. Susan convinces Rain to cut the men loose, but as Jackson walks in and Rain has a knife in her hand, he panics and shoots her dead. Susan, who has come to care for Rain, is deeply upset.

After the fact, De Souza rather dramatically refuses a truce with Jane Cobden and sets himself against her once again. Reid professes his support for Cobden and encourages her to continue fighting. At Susan’s, Rose comes to see her. Susan has decided to be Rose’s patron to help further her career and Rose comes to thank her. Jackson comes in to apologize for killing Rain, saying that he thought that she was going to kill Susan. Susan is still upset and says she wants to be left in peace. 

The Analysis

It is nice to see the struggle of women and female rights come into play here. It was certainly an important point in history for women in Victorian London as they began to fight for their rights. And even as today we have different ideas and opinions about what feminism means and what the “right way” is to go about leveling the playing field between men and women, here we have many different ideas and methods as well. Cobden fights for women’s rights defiantly through politics and legal means. Rain and her gang have the right goals in mind, but go about it in an extreme way that ultimately does them no credit – even eventually setting them back even further. And then there is Susan, who is stuck between her husband and Duggan. She is drawn to these female outlaws and empathizes with their struggles, but knows that their plans will lead to their ruin. Try as she might, there seems to be no right way to turn for either herself or for these women.

As for Reid and Jane Cobden, it seems that there is something serious brewing there. It makes complete sense that Reid would be attracted to a woman who represents the future. Reid is fascinated by progress and discovery, and a defiant and intelligent woman in a position of power is the epitome of everything he finds attractive and compelling. I love any storyline that involves Reid and a woman of interest, because it allows Matthew Macfadyen – usually so articulate and  self-assured as Reid – to showcase that adorably painful awkwardness he does so well when approaching his personal feelings for a woman. It is part of what made his Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (2005) so compelling, because he wasn’t just a jerk – it was clear that he was painfully shy and self-conscious and deeply uncomfortable expressing himself emotionally. But the admirable part about it all is that he ultimately struggles through it, painful as it is to him, and does express himself.

Speaking of awkwardness, there is clearly a good deal of charged emotions between Drake and Rose. Rose, of course, missed her chance with Drake somewhat short-sightedly last season. Now, as Drake finds himself seemingly happily married, he runs into Rose and clearly still has some pretty deep feelings for her. Jerome Flynn as Drake is maybe one of my favorite parts about this show, and I love a good Drake storyline. Poor guy never catches a break, but its amazing to see what he does with the character. And seeing him react to seeing Rose again after what I assume has been some time is a moment of real beauty. You can see he’s suppressing a real, physical reaction to seeing her. Its so subtle, but at the same time so visible and specific that we almost feel it ourselves. We know exactly what he’s experiencing in that moment and how violently he’s feeling it. There’s no doubt that he still has feelings for Rose, complicated as the situation and those feelings might be. It should be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out over the season.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinteresttumblrby feather

About the Author

Bethany Lewis
My cinema education started when, at three years old, Charlie Chaplin's "The Gold Rush" became my earliest memory of cinema. Since then, I've been obsessed with film and television, learning more about it, analyzing it, researching it, and experiencing different kinds of it. After getting my BA in Theater, I went on to get my MFA in Film Studies. I now spend my free time watching and writing about movies.
Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE
Google