TV Review: Ripper Street Series 5

I finally get around to watching Series 5 of Ripper Street on Amazon Prime

“No rumpus here with you two pansy flaps”

The fact that it has taken more than 5 years for me to get around to watching the fifth and final season of Ripper Street for once says something more about my TV habits rather than the quality of the show. Whilst it may never have really become a must-see series (although the third really was excellent), I have enjoyed it a lot and if the last series didn’t necessarily live up to its predecessor, it ended on a humdinger of a cliffhanger to whet the appetite. But tucked away on Amazon Prime, the release of the last set of episodes was too easily sidelined on my watchlist – I too easily forget there’s things to watch on there.

So – spoiler alert – Drake is dead! And Reid, Jackson and Long Susan are on the run, as the culprit is serial killer Nathaniel who is being protected by his brother, who just happens to be Assistant Commissioner Dove. And with Jedediah Shine now in charge of H Division, their Whitechapel world has never felt more set against them. Their only ally seems to be theatre owner Mimi who hides them away while they attempt to pursue justice, as even more victims fall to the Limehouse Golem and the evil of his brother and those around him (the venomous Miss Chudleigh in particular).

It is thus predictably all a bit downbeat, as the ‘crime of the week’ format is completely jettisoned in service to this all-out battle. And with one of its main characters already killed off, all cards are off the table in terms of who lives and who survives, there’s a genuine sense of peril that resonates through the six episodes. The storytelling is often gripping but the pacing doesn’t always quite feel quite there, you feel that more than one episode could do with an effective trim.

But the performances in this swirling vortex of vengeance are what make it compelling. Layers of personal and professional history interact as faces from the past reappear, reckonings with previous deeds continue to shape relationships, and the grimly foreboding shadow of their contemporary justice weighs heavily on several. MyAnna Buring’s Long Susan remains the MVP, seeking a reunification with husband and son that she knows cannot last. And Matthew MacFadyen’s Reid is dourly effective as ever, relentless in his chase for justice no matter the cost to himself. 

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