Ripper Street Season 1 Review “The Weight of One Man’s Heart”


Sergeant Drake has been fixated on the prostitute Rose for quite some time. This week, he decided to take the next step by trying to court her outside the brothel doors. Despite Inspector Reid’s warnings to “Beware the kitten’s claws,” Drake paid with his honor and dignity for a woman that he still could not afford.

Drake is drawn to Rose because she quells the violent memories of his past. This becomes much more difficult, though, when Drake’s former colonel, Madoc Faulkner (Iain Glen), appears on the dirty streets of Whitechapel with an offer too good to refuse. Faulkner has his own demons that stem from the poor treatment he and other soldiers received after returning from the war. His grudge is against Queen and country, and he has no respect for men like Inspector Reid who never served in the military. Drake is initially unwilling to participate in Faulkner’s plan to rob the Mint, but agrees to do so as his feelings of isolation from Reid grow and he becomes more desperate to obtain Rose.

During the robbery, one of the soldiers turns on a Mint worker and guns him down. At this moment, Drake realizes he cannot be a part of this crime. In a dramatic showdown, Drake flashes back to his time in the war and a specific incident where he slaughtered numerous enemy soldiers. Drake’s frustrations at his current situation and old life boil over. He unleashes his fury on his fellow soldiers and ends up with his gun drawn on Faulkner. Even though he shares a troubled past with this man, Drake realizes that he is not the same as him. Drake has transgressed, but it is clear that he does not want to embrace lawlessness.

Though not the focus of the episode, Reid is demonstrating troubling behavior that suggests he is also hurtling towards his breaking point. When Jackson refuses to appear at a crime scene, Reid flies into a rage. He meets Jackson at the coroner’s room and proceeds to scream at him, while Jackson looks on passively. Jackson is a more sedate character, which is probably due to his nature and habit of smoking opium. Even so, it is somewhat surprisng Jackson has not fired back at Reid. Perhaps Jackson tolerates Reid’s abuse because he likes his job. Working with the police has brought Jackson out of the underworld and tethered him to something greater than himself and his vices. However, he has to stand up to Reid at some point.

Reid doesn’t treat Drake much better. Reid ignores the effect of Faulkner’s war-time recollections on Drake. Similar to his treatment of Jackson, Reid also treats Drake like a dog under his command. When Drake fails to capture one of the shooters and is injured while trying, Reid doesn’t ask if he is ok; he chastises him for letting the man get away. When the man is later captured and interrogated, Reid ignores Drake’s hesitation to beat a fellow soldier. Reid is so focused on his own agenda that he is not seeing his impact on others.

Surprisingly, Drake’s most sympathetic ally is Jackson. Jackson sees that Drake has given his heart to a woman who is unwilling to receive it. Jackson tries to be friendly with Drake, but doesn’t quite realize the extent of Drake’s feelings for Rose. Jackson asks Rose to be gentle in letting Drake down. Jackson knows that Rose is only interested in money, and Drake will never have enough to buy her devotion. When Rose rebuffs Drake’s marriage proposal, Jackson sympathetically tells him, “No man’s heart aches forever, I promise you.”

If you enjoy researching Ripper Street’s Victorian era references, you should look up Whitworth rifles and picric acid. I have a suspicion that more references to Jack the Ripper will be coming at the end of the season. So far, though, the show stands on its own even without the focus being on the notorious serial killer.

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  • Jim J.

    Poor Sgt. Burke, such a hopeless romantic. Love Iain Glen, he played the same character in MI-5(Spooks in the U.K.), a damaged icon who returns to ruin the life of a main character.

    The heavy handed nature of Reid’s treatment of Burke was a bit too pronounced. Burke’s betrayal was easier because Reid was doubly dismissive of him this go round. I thought that lacked subtlety.
    The siege lasted too long. It is as if Faulkner had no intentions of leaving with the gold. He hung around forever ranting and raving and I was only thinking about when someone is going to remind him that “we gotta go.”

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