9 reasons why you should be watching Amazon’s Ripper Street
Ivan Radford | On 08, Oct 2016
Ripper Street returns this week for a fifth and final season. This last run, which will be released all-at-once, picks up directly where the Season 4 cliffhanger left off – and follows its aftermath for six episodes, as our leads become fugitives on the run in an attempt to expose the corruption that has taken over Whitechapel.
“And?” you may be asking. “Why should I care?” Allow us to explain – because if you haven’t been watching Amazon’s resurrected Ripper Street (following its previous cancellation by the BBC), then there are several reasons why you should catch up.
1. It gets better and better
Ripper Street is one of the most underrated shows on television today – and you can understand why, given its short initial life on the BBC. But since Amazon brought the programme back for its third season, the show has gotten better and better, to the point where it’s significantly superior to its original form. It’s no surprise that BBC Two continues to broadcast the show several months after its premiere on Amazon, albeit in a cut-down version.
2. The female characters are real characters
One of Ripper Street’s biggest flaws at the beginning was its relatively undeveloped female characters, but Season 3 changed all that, with a train crash of a storyline (literally) that introduced a whole new side to Long Susan (MyAnna Buring), putting her relationship with Captain Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) to the test and effectively pitting her head-to-head with Matther Macfadyen’s Edmund Reid. Alongside her, Rose has also blossomed, her bond with Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) under equal pressure. The knock-on effect of their actions in Season 3 are still being felt two seasons later, turning the women from sidekicks into joint leads, emotionally conflicted characters and principal drivers of the narrative.
3. The men become more complex
It’s not just Rose and Susan: creator Richard Warlow’s knack for sympathising with supporting characters extends to the men too. In Season 3 and 4, the always-excellent Jerome Flynn – Bronn to Game of Thrones fans – takes centre stage, giving us a brutal, bruising and brilliantly tragic arc. Season 4 and 5, meanwhile, sees Adam Rothenberg get the chance to move into the spotlight, growing from a playful playboy to a rogue hero in his own right. Season 3, though, set the bar for surprising transformations – with Reid sinking to shocking depths to seek justice – and the subsequent seasons have consistently raised it.
4. Neville Longbottom’s in it
Wish you could see more of Neville Longbottom, now he’s all grown up and hot? Matthew Lewis joins the cast during Ripper Street’s new incarnation as Desk Sergeant Drummond – testament to the kind of guest stars and new faces the programme can attract, from Sherlock’s Louise Brealey as Dr Amelia Frayn (assistant to Long Susan) and David Threlfall as sinister wharfiger Abel Croker to David Warner as Rabbi Max Steiner.
5. Old faces return
To compliment the new faces, old friends also appear, including Jedediah Shine (Joseph Mawle) and Abberline (Clive Russell), which rewards binge-watchers for working their way through from the start.
6. It’s bloodier
Without the constraints of a TV broadcast, Amazon’s Ripper Street has the freedom to run a little longer and push boundaries a little further, which mostly means bloodier murders, sexier encounters and grislier violence – all of which helps to make the seedy Victorian-era backdrop that bit more convincing, from boxing and porn to prostitution.
7. It’s relevant
The show may have started out in Victorian-era London, but Warlow isn’t afraid to move forwards in Season 4, charting the change of England and its policing procedures at the turn of the century. The result is a richer world that introduces themes relevant to today, from immigration and gentrification to police violence. At the same time, our characters get the room to grow.
8. It tells one big story
All of this ties into the best thing about Amazon’s Ripper Street; where the series began as a string of relatively standalone crime mysteries, Season 3 onwards has told one continuing story, detailing the consequences of the train wreck for each of our characters, from revenge and being separated from their children to prison breaks and cover-ups. Season 5’s all-at-once release, as opposed to Season 3 and 4’s weekly instalments, is testament to how much Ripper Street has matured, with each of the six chapters forming part of the same moving, rewarding, gripping conclusion.
9. It’s finishing
Common logic dictates that a series that isn’t returning for another season isn’t worth tuning into, but Ripper Street hasn’t been cancelled: it’s found its natural end point, which means that you have a fixed number of episodes to watch – you’re not committing yourself to years of your life – and you’re guaranteed to have all the loose ends tied up. Season 5 premieres on Amazon Prime Video on Wednesday 12th October. What are you waiting for?
Seasons 1 to 4 of Ripper Street are available on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. Read our interview with Matthew Macfadyen and Adam Rothenberg here.