Friday, December 11, 2015

Ripper Street, Season 3

I needed some bit of Victorian melodrama to fill the gaping void left in my life since the second season of Penny Dreadful ended; luckily, I had somehow missed the third season of Ripper Street in January, so it made for a handy replacement.

Ripper Street is a crime drama set in Whitechapel after the Jack the Ripper murders. Although the Ripper isn't present in the series, his shadow continues to lengthen across the East End of London; the area is rife with destitution, squalor, crime, and violence. The program follows three coppers are they try to institute justice and order without being fully dragged down into the brutality of the streets they police. Ripper Street could easily lapse into Whitechapel: SVU territory, but thankfully any police procedural traits are counterbalanced with a healthy dose of personal drama between the characters. 

The third season mostly concerns itself with a train robbery that inadvertently ends with a railway accident that claims the lives of many innocent residents of the East End. What is interesting about this plot line is its structure: usually in this kind of show the viewer follows along with the detectives, piecing the clues together as they come, hoping to discover who the guilty villain is. In the third season of Ripper Street, the responsible party is made clear to the viewer early on; all the drama and tension is wrapped up in watching the characters come to the same knowledge that the viewer possesses--and in the resolution of the fallout from that revelation.

If you're looking for a bit of gritty costume drama (or looking to fill the hole in your life in this post-Vanessa Ives world we live in) you could do much worse than turning to Ripper Street.