Ripper Street, S4 Ep1 – The Stranger’s Home

Ripper Street returns triumphantly for a fourth season with a 130-minute-long season premiere, aired in two parts on BBC One. The production values remain as high quality as ever, and the characters we have come to know and love continue to engage us with their stories.

Having such a long episode, however, makes this piece suffer from some uneven pacing at the start since it takes a while to build up to the main storyline. But Ripper Street has always been ambitious and for the most part, it succeeds in its aspirations.

“This borough here has a taste for monsters; for their birthing and nurture…”

Ripper Street, S4 Ep1 - The Stranger's HomeThe success of Ripper Street has always lain with its core trio, but at the onset of the season premiere, all three leads are involved in separate storylines. Drake (I have to say, it’s wonderful to see Bronn from Game of Thrones in a position of power) is now head of H Division and happily married (with some children issues) with Rose. He spends most of the episode investigating the case of a murdered immigrant, which shows that Ripper Street is at least expanding in scope and including some more diversity in its storytelling.

Captain Jackson continues to work for Drake but he is also worried about the fate of Long Susan, who continues to languish in jail after giving birth to their child. Though she spends most of the episode brooding over her impending execution, Susan emerges triumphant in the end, after an ingenious plan she and Jackson concocted that saw her literally cheat death. I never fully understood the physics of the contraption she wore but she survived a hanging and that’s pretty impressive. Ripper Street wouldn’t be the same without Susan and I look forward to seeing how she’ll weather out the rest of the season.

Ripper Street, S4 Ep1 - The Stranger's HomeAway from all the action and trying to live a quiet life by the seaside is Edmund Reid. After being reunited with his daughter last season, he is determined to shield her from the horrors of Whitechapel. But as the episode shows, neither of them can resist being drawn to the dark forces that lurk in that area of London. And when an old friend shows up at his door and asks for his help, Reid succumbs to the irresistible pull of Whitechapel and returns to investigate.

By the end of the episode, he has given up his idyllic life (and a chance at romance with a local lady), blown the dust off his bowler hat, and has re-established himself in London. (I love how un-subtle the costume decisions were for Reid, how he wore white/light colored suits when he lived in the countryside and then went back to wearing dark colors as soon as he set foot in London.)

Ripper Street, S4 Ep1 - The Stranger's HomeAnd though he argued with his two colleagues at the start (having never made contact with either of them after he left), by the end the gang is reunited and ready to rid Whitechapel of criminal elements once again.

Despite some uneven pacing, the show remains as excellent as ever.  This was a solid season premiere that showed how great the chemistry of the main cast only grew through the seasons, and added some intriguing new cast members (including Neville Longbottom himself!) such as David Threlfall’s intriguing new villain, Abel Croker.

Ripper Street is still beautifully shot, hauntingly scored, and expertly acted, with main characters who remain as compelling as ever and with cases still as gruesome and elaborate.