Ripper Street, S4 Ep3 – A White World Made Red

This episode of Ripper Street was a particularly bloody one, and that’s saying something. The Victorian-era crime show doesn’t shy away from gore and violence, and with the transition to Amazon, Ripper Street has been given more leeway to show some unsavory images.

But this episode really dealt with blood as an ongoing theme, and not only the red substance that spills from a slashed vein or artery, but the symbolic bonds of blood as parenthood are once more explored. There are the familial bonds of the main characters, as well as having the love for a child being the primary motive for the main criminal.

Ripper Street, S4 Ep3 - A White World Made RedReid, Drake, and Jackson investigate the case of a murdered man hanging upside down in a slaughterhouse, his blood dripping into a bucket, as well as another similarly murdered Polish immigrant. Just like with “The Stranger’s Home,” Ripper Street is expanding its scope this season by including more diverse stories of immigrants and other oppressed groups who must contend with the squalor of Whitechapel.

The whole bloody theme is reinforced by Matilda reading Dracula (by candlelight in the dark, perfect ambiance) and sharing her interests with Drummond, about whom she is trying to learn more. Reid is hesitant about encouraging such an association, but his daughter is as shrewd and stubborn as he is and he eventually relents. While he’s aware of her interest, he still doesn’t know about the visits she’s been paying to the journalist Castello, who’s still investigating the so-called crime of the mathematician Isaac Bloom. We’ll surely be revisiting that case later this season and I am looking forward to it.

Ripper Street, S4 Ep3 - A White World Made RedWe have an interesting juxtaposition of both scientific and mythical elements in this episode with the allusions to Dracula, as well as the exploration of the concepts of blood types, and the scene with a rudimentary blood transfusion as one of the younger detectives manages to save a Polish girl with his quick thinking and Jackson’s prodigious skills at improvisation.

There’s the ongoing issue of Susan’s son being in the care of the Drake’s and Bennet finds out about Jackson’s visits, leading to some tension in the home. Meanwhile, Susan has been bonding with her shady caretaker, Abel Croker, and there’s a contrast drawn between the kinds of criminals they are, with Susan, despite all the crimes she’s committed, feeling guilt over them, while Croker isn’t burdened with such inconvenient feelings.

Ripper Street, S4 Ep3 - A White World Made RedBut by the end of the episode, Susan gets drawn back into the darkness when she decides to stab Probyn, the prison doctor who had helped her escape and who threatened to reveal her whereabouts. She feels guilty about this latest crime, but she acted out of desperation while Croker looked on proudly. Susan hasn’t been up to much this season but she’s an integral part of Ripper Street and one of the show’s most compelling characters, so it will be very interesting to see where this season takes her, and how her arc will tie in to the rest of the story.