Ripper Street, S4 Ep4 – Men of Iron, Men of Smoke

This was a particularly tragic episode of Ripper Street (and that’s saying something) that was more devoted to a character study than the case of the week. The show revisited the life of a character from way back in season one, Thomas Gower, who had been convicted of murder as a child and then sent to the army by Bennett in an act that he hoped was borne of mercy. The consequences of this decision come back to haunt him as he crosses paths with Thomas once again.

Ripper Street, S4 Ep4 - Men of Iron, Men of SmokeMuch of this season of Ripper Street has been about confronting the consequences of one’s actions. It gets more evident as the season progresses that none of the things that H Division has done exist in a vacuum. Eventually, the past comes back to stir trouble at the least convenient moments. Bennett feels this keenly as he tries to save Thomas Gower once again, seeing that the ravages of war have only made the boy more miserable. Thomas is clearly suffering from serious PTSD, which has pushed him to try and find solace in alcohol.

Ripper Street, S4 Ep4 - Men of Iron, Men of Smoke

The case itself was unremarkable and the culprit did not come as much of a surprise. The evidence was pretty obvious and it doesn’t help that the casting was a bit of a give-away. Fans of Game of Thrones will surely recognize Ser Alliser Thorne and they will know that even in a Victorian crime drama, he will probably be up to no good.

Despite the relative simplicity of the case, there were some procedural elements that remained intriguing, keeping up with the quality of Ripper Street. There was Jackson trying out the basics of blood spatter analysis, and then there were Reid and Drake’s differing interrogation approaches. Thomas Gower’s character polarized the two, revealing some weakness in Drake’s judgment from his stubbornness to believe the boy was capable of any ill while Reid was biased against him. The latter was particularly ruthless in his interrogation, almost convincing the poor boy that he was guilty.

Ripper Street, S4 Ep4 - Men of Iron, Men of SmokeSusan was busy bonding with Abe Croker and his companion, the silent Nathaniel (Jonas Armstrong who used to be BBC’s Robin Hood). She uses her charm to reach out to the taciturn young man, and to try and manipulate him into revealing how he acquires Croker’s smuggled goods. Susan is successful as always and manages to concoct a plan to sustain her future. She makes the fatal mistake of visiting her son and briefly showing her face in the window, spooking the already stressed out Rose.

The tale of Thomas Gower ends in a bloody tragedy that also ties up with the over-arching case of the season. A mysterious, fur-cloaked figure brutally murders Gower in a dark alleyway, and it looks like poor old Isaac Bloom was innocent after all. It’s a bloody way of tying everything together to the main plot, but it works. It looks like the last two episodes of Ripper Street will be exploring more consequences of the characters’ actions, and how their lives will be thrown into chaos from which they may never recover.