Drake struggles to uncover the dangerous secrets of his wife’s past. Rose finds herself in an awkward position between Bella and Drake. Reid investigates multiple desecrations of various faiths and believes it is the work of one group trying to start a war.
As Drake buys flowers for his wife he sees a despondent Rose sitting in an alleyway. He asks her what happened and they go to sit together at the theater where Rose works. She tells him that the theater owner would only let her keep her job if she slept with him and she refused. Drake reassures her that something will come her way and starts to tell her how much he admires her, but cuts himself off awkwardly. He goes home to his wife.
As Drake arrives home he sees smoke rising in the distance. When he enters his house Bella is nowhere to be found, a pot of soup still simmering on the stove.
Reid arrives at a burnt church smeared with Hebrew graffiti. The church was burned deliberately with whale oil and a child was hired to distribute anti-Semitic fliers to the gathering crowd. Back at H Division, Drake is out of his mind with worry about Bella. Jackson and Drake go to see Susan to ask for insight. Meanwhile, Rose and Susan sit together as Rose asks for some financial help. Susan has nothing to give her. Jackson and Drake arrive and Susan can offer no help. Jackson tries to talk to her, but she storms off telling him never to come back again. Rose tries to help Drake but he’s upset with himself for spending time with her when he should have been home with Bella. He says that nothing good ever comes from being around Rose.
Reid investigates another religious desecration, this time at a synagogue and with a boy spread anti-Catholic fliers among the crowd. Someone in Whitechapel is trying to start a religious war.
Rose drinks gin at a bar and is approached by Maggie, the same woman that recognized Bella in the street the previous episode. She asks Rose to join her and her friends. At first Rose refuses, but after being crudely propositioned by another patron, she changes her mind. Drake arrives home to find Bella and a man she introduces as her uncle, Gabriel Cain. Drake is incredulous when Bella claims she left him a note, even showing it to him and where she had left it. Cain says that his daughter, Lily, had just died of Typhus and that he had brought Bella to see her. Cain makes all sorts of vague references that make Bella uncomfortable.
Meanwhile, Rose arrives to a condemned building with Maggie, intending to stay just for a night. When Rose is introduced to some of the other members of the collective, their way of talking and their references to the “Father” make Rose uncomfortable and suspicious. Back at Drake’s house after Cain has gone, Bella explains that she never mentioned Kane or Lily because it felt like another life.
Reid has a hunch about finding the origin of the fliers and goes to see Fred Best to get his opinion. Fred tells them that they were printed on an Albion press and that the regular ink smudge, or slur, would account for some regular disturbance in at the printing location. Drake suggests that it might be a location near the train tracks. Jackson analyzes the ink on the fliers to narrow down the location. They arrive at the location and find all the damning evidence. The man they find is one of the men Rose met from Maggie’s collective. He comes out shaking in a kind of ecstasy, holding a knife to his throat. He whispers the name “Father” and stabs himself dead.
Cain, the Father of the collective, and Bella play chess in his chambers. They are apparently married and he tries to convince her to come back to him and renounce her adultery with Drake. She protests that she loves Drake, so Cain tries to convince her to bring him into the collective. She resists, but he has some compelling power over her and they kiss.
As Rose prepares to leave the collective she hears strange chanting from another room. Everyone being occupied, she sneaks a look in Father’s Chamber where she finds Bella and Cain kissing. She runs out of the building, pursued by Maggie and another collective member. She hides in a rancid outhouse and escapes their search.
Later, Cain arrives at Drake and Bella’s house. Bella becomes upset, which upsets Drake and he throws Cain out of the house. Drake tries to get the truth from Bella, but she refuses to tell him, saying instead that she thinks Rose would have made him happier.
Another man from the collective, preparing to set light to a full church, was caught by a constable. Rather than be caught, he doused himself in whale oil and in rapture set light to himself. Drake arrives at H Division where Jackson is performing the autopsy. Drake is understandably distracted and Reid tells him to take the day and work things out with Bella.
Cain holds a service, explaining that they set tribe against tribe to show them the hate that is bred from their wrongful idolatries, and that this will bring them sweeping into their church. Rose finds Drake in the street and tells him what she saw. He slaps her impulsively and she runs off as he regretfully calls after her.
Isaac Bloom arrives at H Division to see Reid and they have a philosophical discussion that frustrates Reid. Bloom eventually points Reid in the direction of the Order of the Golden Dawn, a religious order from which Cain originated and from which he was expelled. He created his own following under the belief that he was the Sword of Fire, an instrument used by a purifying god, and that he is preparing to lead his followers from this world into the next. Reid recognizes a pregnant Bella in a photograph of Cain and his followers.
Drake sees Bella leaving their house and follows her to the collective, where she pleads with Cain to leave her and Drake alone. Drake enters the collective where Cain reveals that he is the father of Bella’s child, who died after Bella escaped the collective. Drake is knocked out by a collective member. Reid arrives at Drake’s house to tell him of his discovery, but returns to H Division to talk to Jackson about it. Jackson discovers peyote in the burned man’s stomach. Reid calls Flight to find out where peyote can be obtained.
Bella and Cain watch over an unconscious and straightjacketed Drake. When he wakes, Cain forces peyote down Drake’s throat. They find Rose drunk in a bar and bring her to Drake. Reid discovers the address to which the peyote had been delivered but also discovers a shipment of Belladonna delivered to the same address. They rush to save the collective from committing mass suicide. As the police arrive, everyone has already had the Belladonna. They try to force peyote down Rose’s throat but she fight back and escapes. She grabs a fire-poker and smashes Cain’s head in. Jackson distributes a remedy for the poison and saves everyone. As Bella gets dragged away to jail, she goes crazy and stabs herself to death. Drake is inconsolable but there is nothing anyone can do.
The city comes together to clean up the wreckage of the collective. At Bella’s funeral, Rose lets Drake know that she’s there for him if he ever needs a friend. He tells her to stay away from him, because he brings nothing but death.
I love episodes of television that are in a constant state of tension. There really wasn’t any relief from tension from start to finish and that is a rare sort of thing. Even at the end once everything was finished and the cult was disbanded, there’s a different kind of tension – the fear you feel for Drake in his present state of mind and his ominous rejection of Rose. And really, there’s nothing quite as unsettling and discomfiting than a cult – especially one lead by the creepy Paul Kaye. I don’t know how he does that blind man, soul boring, mind taking stare, but it’s pretty darn freaky. There is nothing trustworthy about Gabriel Cain, from the way he looks to the way he talks. Everything he does makes your skin crawl, so I’m not entirely sure how he was able to build a cult. Maybe it’s one of those “if you build it, they will come” kind of things. There’s always going to be someone who will join your cult.
And I personally love any episode of Ripper Street that focuses on the amazing Bennett Drake. Jerome Flynn is a wonder of an actor – simple yet compelling, honest in his acting, with a face you can watch express itself for days – and his Drake is maybe the best part of the show. I don’t know if it’s his past on Game of Thrones or what, but Drake is always dealt a rough hand – usually involving the death of any number of his friends and family. When Drake says he is “made of naught but death”, that’s not an unfair conclusion to come to after what he’s been through. And while Drake is an intensely resilient character, there’s really only so much you can take before you just give up – which is exactly what it looks like he does in next week’s episode.
His relationship with Rose is another thing that has always been complicated but rewarding to explore. Drake was, and probably still is, in love with Rose before he met and married Bella. Obviously his feelings for Rose remained clear in Bella’s troubled mind and plagued her fragile grip on reality, eventually bringing her to kill herself. It has been a true joy seeing Drake interact with Rose this season, partly because his face does expresses those feelings in an amazingly subtle yet articulate way. There is no missing that intake of breath and constant breathless quality that first time he sees her since their last meeting in season one. And the desperation with which he calls after her after striking her in this episode verges on the edge of panic and heartbreak. Basically, watching Jerome Flynn act is a beautiful thing to behold and is one of the reasons I’m so excited for a third season of Ripper Street.