The series finale of Ripper Street is moving and bittersweet as loose ends are tied and the main characters face their justice.
It was hard to say good-bye to characters we’ve come to love over the course of five seasons. A proper send-off is always tricky to pull off but somehow the writers of Ripper Street managed this rare feat. The show ended on a high, with the first half of the finale dealing with wrapping up the current storyline, and the second half showing how the characters all shuffled off to their various ends. It was a sad ending but we did get some closure.
For one last time, Jackson and Reid engaged in good old-fashioned police work by using science and forensics to prove that Augustus Dove indeed murdered Robin Sumner. In an ironic twist of fate, a contagious disease that Robin suffers from leads to Dove’s downfall as he has become ill as well. His crimes are catching up to him and they are manifesting themselves in physical symptoms.
Meanwhile, Nathaniel makes a full confession to Mathilda and Abberline about all his previous crimes. Despite the gravity of the situation, it seems like a burden is being lifted from his shoulders and he is finally free. It helps that Susan is there to support and encourage him, even as they are both signing their death warrants. The case of the golem of Whitechapel is finally closed.
Ripper Street hits us with one more tragedy, as Susan is taken to be executed for her previous crimes, and she meets her fate with dignity and grace. She and Jackson say their farewells in a heartbreaking scene where the latter realizes there will be no way for him to get her to escape. Not sure why his being an American gets him so much immunity from British justice, but he needs to survive to raise Connor. He and his son leave for America on the day Susan hangs. The scene is hauntingly beautiful as are the final exchanges between Susan and Nathaniel, as they resign themselves to their fates.
After much internal debate within the police force, it is decided that Augustus Dove’s punishment is to be imprisoned anonymously and the final scenes with him languishing in a dark cell seem a fitting end to another tragic character. The police force wanted to avoid the scandal that would arise should his crimes be known, so the man determined to make a name for himself will die forgotten and unknown.
By some strange arrangement, Reid is re-instated as head of Leman Street as Abberline makes a case for his skills and says that he has always been able to see things in a unique light. And though at first this seems like Reid is getting off lightly, it becomes apparent that his return to Whitechapel is its own kind of eternal punishment. He is a slave to the work that he does and he will never be able to stop being a policeman. The moment he turned his back on the quiet life with Matilda was the moment he got irrevocably sucked back into his role as a law enforcer.
The second half of the finale also moves seamlessly between the past and the present, showing flashbacks to the case that gave Ripper Street its name, the Jack the Ripper murders, and how these took a toll on young Reid and Drake. Scenes from Reid’s early career and his current one moved back and forth, sometimes showing a contrast and sometimes reinforcing the idea that some things remained constant. Reid is destined to watch over Whitechapel, even as everyone else in his life moves on. Mathilda marries Drummond and starts her own family. Jackson dies and leaves everything to Connor. Even Ms. Morton finds a way to leave her past life behind. Everyone moves on but Edmund Reid remains, the watchman of Whitechapel until the very end.
Ripper Street ended with a superbly crafted finale, doing justice to the main cast, and leaving no loose ends. The series has consistently improved with every new season, and provided gruesome but human stories that have resonated with fans for the past five seasons. The strong writing and brilliant performances along with the great production values and the unique setting has made Ripper Street a truly memorable and high quality period drama that will stay in the hearts of its fans in the years to come.