Ripper Street, S5 Ep2 – A Brittle Thread

After all the set up in the first episode of Ripper Street season five, the second does much to undo what has been established by shifting allegiances in some unexpected ways. Reid and Jackson try to smoke Nathaniel out of hiding by disguising a corpse to look like one of his victims. Meanwhile, Shine continues on the trail of Reid, using increasingly unsavory methods to get information.

Ripper Street, S5 Ep2 – A Brittle ThreadThe second episode features a bit of the Victorian-era forensics (a bit of CSI: Whitechapel) and gore that have become characteristic of Ripper Street as Reid and Jackson improvise on a corpse to make it look like it was a victim of the Golem of Whitechapel.  

Meanwhile, Augustus Dove continues his role as guardian of Connor by enlisting the help of a governess, Mrs. Chudley, who looks the complete opposite of Mary Poppins and who makes Nanny McPhee look like the sweetest governess ever. Dove also tries to draw his brother out, by bringing the same breed of wolves who had traumatized them as children into Whitechapel, knowing full well that Nathaniel will not be able to resist. 

After they reunite, Dove brings his brother to a secluded area behind his estate, into a small cottage, away from the chaos of the city where the man can live in peace, at one with nature, and hopefully with his animalistic urges in check.

This episode of Ripper Street also tackles the fickleness of the public, especially when it comes to how the media portrays certain individuals. Reid started out as a fugitive from the law, the law he had sworn always to uphold, and public opinion was against him. Ms. Castello paints him in a different light and makes him look like some noble crusader for justice. Dove refuses to tolerate this and in a scene with Castello that for once shows the assistant commissioner lose his cool (giving us a glimpse of the beast within), he asks her to change her story.

Later on, the tide of public opinion turns against Reid once more when Castello publishes the truth about his involvement in the deaths of Theodore Swift and Horace Buckley. The latter is particularly damaging because it changes Mathilda’s opinion of her father. She is horrified at learning that he murdered the gentle, kindhearted man who had kept her hidden for several years. And it doesn’t help that Reid is so focused on exposing Dove and Nathaniel that he neglects to give his daughter the explanation necessary, prompting her to betray him by giving his note to Dove.

Ripper Street, S5 Ep2 – A Brittle ThreadJedediah Shine’s ruthless methods are also exhibited in this episode, as he is not convinced by the corpse Reid and Jackson have left behind as evidence. But what makes Shine’s methods truly repulsive is their blatant misogyny. Here is a man accustomed to using force to get what he wants and while seeing him beat up men would not be that shocking, seeing how he forces women to give him information, through overt sexual harassment, is truly blood curdling.

First, he and Thatcher confront Mimi Morton who admirably keeps her cool despite Shine’s advances. She does not give anything away, even if her “guests” are appalled by the way Shine treats her. Ms. Castello, as formidable a journalist as she is, is no match to Shine’s brutish ways, and he manages to make her reveal all the information she and Reid have gathered to build the case against Nathaniel.

Witnessing Shine’s maltreatment of Castello is the final straw for Thatcher who, despite being humiliated by Reid earlier in the season, decides to switch allegiance at the end of the episode. He sees Shine for who he truly is, a terrible bully, and he chooses to help Reid and the others. So as Reid and company lose allies, they also gain new ones, as they continue their quest for justice and freedom.