Amazon Prime TV review: Ripper Street Season 3, Episode 5 (Heavy Boots)
Crime of the week6
Ivan Radford | On 05, Dec 2014
New episodes of Ripper Street Season 3 are added exclusively to Amazon Prime Instant Video at 9pm every Friday.
Warning: If you haven’t seen any of Season 3, this will contain spoilers.
Is he dead? That was the question left hanging on everyone’s lips after Long Susan gunned Reid down at the end of Episode 4.
The attack was a wonderful stab of shock following the cathartic resolution of Reid’s reunion with his daughter. But, of course, on the streets of Whitechapel, things don’t stay resolved for long: crime continues.
And so we’re treated to another episode of The Jerome Flynn Show, as Drake attempts to fill the shoes of the shot inspector. As he notes to Rose, and as the episode title tells us, they’re Heavy Boots, indeed.
Bennett doesn’t get it easy, either: as soon as the underworld of London senses a weaker police force, a new gang springs into action, with fire, looting and drownings aplenty. Pandemonium unfolds almost immediately, as an unexpected nighttime drink turns into an all-out riot. Amid the shattering glass and spilled bodily fluids, Captain Jackson snoozes, waking up to laugh at the scene and lunge for the nearest bottle.
It’s a striking opening tableau – and one that perfectly captures the stupor our main cast are in, caught between grief and a gruff resilience to carry on as normal. If Reid’s boots are heavy, though, Richard Warlow’s ensemble reminds us that he has more than enough people to help pick them up.
Adam Rothenburg steps up to the science plate with as much gore as director Anthony Byrne can get away with, ensuring Reid’s scientific approach to cases remains alive. With quick brains, good facial hair and a snazzy supply of waistcoats, his wise-cracking, lung-removing, lady-schmoozing character is just the kind of guy to make for a winning sidekick.
But if Rothenburg’s charm helps him coast into the Drake role, Flynn has more than enough mettle to shoulder the lead part. Still harbouring feelings for Rose (and getting worse and worse at concealing them), more concerned about his shot friend than the social unrest, awkwardly trying to decide what to do about Reid’s daughter, has Bennett ever had a happy ending in his life? Flynn’s face, like an Etch-a-Sketch in the hands of Tim Burton, manages to be colourful, tragic and dark without losing its sympathetic edge.
The supporting ensemble reveal themselves as equally substantial, from Clive Russell’s Chief Inspector Abbeline – who has a whale of a time knocking people out and blustering about – to Josh O’Connor’s young P.C. Grace, who quietly steals several scenes with his young loyalty. With a gawping expression like that, you know he’s going to get a beating at some point – when it comes, it’s nasty enough to make you choke on your beer.
The dangling threads of Reid and Mathilda (the still-heartbreakingly innocent Anna Burnett) might suggest that showrunner Richard Warlow and his writing team have lost faith in the case-of-the-week bones of the series’ skeleton. This season is certainly the best of the show so far because of its scale and over-arching narrative – and this is easily the weakest episode of the new run. But our gang story gradually evolves into a subtly complex tale of familial bonds and dedication to old traditions.
That work ethic neatly echoes the same drive behind our boys in blue; a ruthless determination to ensure that their chosen career has a future. More important than that, though, is the need to follow in the footsteps of our elders. Our villains – played with genuine intimidation by the young actors – may not grab you by the heartstrings as much as the previous four episodes have, neither do they have the enjoyably evil streak of the now sadly departed Specs, but their actions add to the mass of those boots Bennett is trying to don.
Should he do as Reid did? Or quit altogether? Blake may never have a happy ending, but his torment is fascinating to watch. Equally intriguing is Long Susan, who uses our old news reporter friend to convince the world Obsidian isn’t corrupt. A brief visit to see Reid’s body floats the question of whether she will continue down that path or give in to guilt.
Is Reid dead? Whatever the answer may be, Ripper Street’s boots are definitely still made for walking.
You can watch Ripper Street Season 3 online in the UK on Amazon Prime Instant Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. Or, if you want unlimited free delivery in the UK, as part of a £79 annual Amazon Prime membership. Seasons 1 and 2 of Ripper Street are available too.