Ripper Street Season 2 Review “A Stronger Loving World”

Ripper Street Season 2 Episode 6 A Stronger Loving World (4)

This week’s Ripper Street starts out looking like a battle is brewing between London’s Christian and Jewish communities. A church is burned. A synagogue is vandalized. Reid isn’t sure where to start looking for the culprits until he finds leaflets circulating through White Chapel that advocate hate crimes against the two religious groups and the Irish.

While the backdrop of this episode is the religious conflict, the main story revolves around Drake and his wife, Bella. As we saw last week, Bella has a past that she has kept from Drake. We know that Drake also has a past, his relationship with Rose, which he can’t entirely shake. We start with Drake finding an upset Rose in an alley. As usual, Rose bemoans her lot in life and Drake tries to comfort her. When Drake returns home, he finds that Bella is missing.

Drake frantically looks for Bella and then goes to Reid and Jackson for help. Reid is less than diplomatic when he suggests Bella is shacked up with another man. This prompts a sharp comment from Jackson that Reid shouldn’t be doling out marriage advice. None of them is doing particularly well in relationships. Jackson still hasn’t mended things with Long Susan. Jackson’s comment is rather harsh, but Reid should have been more sensitive under the circumstances.

Rose goes to visit Long Susan to see if she can help. But, Long Susan has her own problems and can’t give anything to Rose. It’s disconcerting to see Long Susan always on the verge of tears. This used to be the fearsome woman who could hold her own against any scoundrel. Now, she is broken by the weight of her financial burdens and their implications. When Drake and Jackson appear to ask if she or Rose has heard anything about Bella, she can’t help them either. When she excuses herself, Jackson follows her out and tries to get her to talk to him.

Jackson doesn’t fully appreciate the situation Long Susan is in, even though he knows the facts and helped put her there. He knows that she is being coerced into a sexual relationship that she doesn’t want and that she is struggling. He bitterly complains that the brothel is his home and he’s upset at being turned away. Boo hoo. You don’t see Jackson making any great efforts to make things right. He just wants to be forgiven. After losing all of the money in the Argentine speculation, though, I don’t think Long Susan will ever forgive him.

Meanwhile, the conflict in the community is escalating. Someone leaves a severed pig head in the synagogue and paints racial slurs on its walls. Reid knows that if he doesn’t solve the case quickly, this could erupt into a far bigger problem. Reid’s reaction to the situation echoes what we have seen from him throughout the season; he is exceptionally open minded and tolerant and just wants everyone to get along.

Drake returns home and finds Bella, along with a man who she introduces as her uncle, Gabriel Kane. In the beginning, I thought that Kane must be Jewish and that Bella was hiding her past because she was also Jewish. Kane’s religious affiliation is not clear until later in the episode when he’s revealed to be a leader in the Order of the Golden Dawn.

Kane has plans for his followers, including Bella, who turns out to be his wife. Instead of Koolaid, he wants the group to drink some Belladonna and journey to the afterlife. Bella managed to flee from him once, but is having a hard time doing it again. Even though she loves Drake, she falls under Gabriel’s sway again.

The Order founded its first temple in London in 1888. The focus of the group was more occult than it was aligned with any particular religion. It reminds me of the Rame Tep cult in the Young Sherlock Holmes movie. It’s a little difficult to sort out what exactly the Order believed in. It appears to be a mystical mishmash of rituals and magic. This role of mysticism and religion was a hot topic in the 1890s in England thanks to the publishing of The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion by Sir James George Frazer. This is the book that Reid reads when sitting before the fire with Jackson.

Rose inadvertently falls in with the group when her friend, Maggie, takes her in. Rose is wary of the group and flees after seeing Gabriel kiss Bella. Rose tells Drake what she’s seen, and he ends up backhanding her. Rose’s motivations are unclear. Does she really have feelings for Drake or is she just regretful that he moved on? Clearing Bella out is a handy way to get Drake and Rose back on a relationship track, but maybe they shouldn’t be. It seems like they just bring each other heartache.

Reid gets closer to figuring out who is behind the attacks after noticing that the leaflets have a similar smudge, indicating that the same printing press created them. He goes to Fred Best for assistance in finding the press. The exchange between Reid and Best is great. Best thinks that he has some kind of bargaining power with Reid, but quickly learns how wrong he is. These are the moments when you see the more aggressive side of Reid and when you understand how he attained the position of Detective Inspector.

Reid is able to find the printer, but before the man can be interrogated, he stabs himself in the neck. Fortunately, a man from the synagogue recognizes the writings of Gabriel and points the police in his direction. Reid and his men are able to uncover Gabriel’s hideout just as things have taken a nasty turn. Gabriel has given the Belladonna to his followers and to Drake, who he took captive. He also seized Rose, who manages to break away at the most opportune moment.

Rose bursts in on the scene of sacrifice and finds the police, Drake, Gabriel, and Bella. Rose attacks Gabriel with a fireplace poker, and he dies from a blow to the head. This is an epic moment for Rose. The fact that she doesn’t hesitate and takes Gabriel down was surprising. Unfortunately, what should have been a triumphant moment for Rose – helping to save Drake – ends up fizzling out. Bella tells Drake that she knows he loves Rose and that she can’t live without his love. She commits suicide by stabbing herself in the stomach.

Bella’s death was probably the least effective scene in the episode. While Jerome Flynn gives an amazing performance of Drake’s grief at watching his wife die, the actual death seemed wrong. If Bella loved Drake so much, why did she go along with Gabriel and not come clean to Drake earlier? Her paranoia over Rose seemed excessive since Drake hadn’t given her any reason to doubt his love. It felt like too neat a way to get rid of the character.

Next week, it looks like the drama heats up with Long Susan. I’m hopeful that she will also pick up a fireplace poker to take care of her problem.

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