Ripper Street: All The Glittering Blades. Television Review.


Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 8.5/10

Cast: Matthew Macfadyen, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Buring, Killian Scott, Benjamin O’ Mahony, Joseph Mawle, Jonas Armstrong, Lydia Wilson, Anna Burnett, Matthew Lewis, Ellie Haddington, Maeve Dermody, Jack Bannon, Joseph Harmon, Gerry O’ Brien.

No matter where you put a man, in a cell or out of harm’s way, the Victorian thinking was they would all eventually revert to a type, that each person could not escape their basic human trait. Good or evil, eventually your character would show and for those caught between the two, being in your guard was not enough.

The third episode of Ripper Street is unique across its five series for barely glancing at the trials and thoughts of either Edmund Reid or Homer Jackson, the Detective and the Captain on the run, instead and with great care it focused its attentions on the criminal of the last series and the three instalments so far of the fifth and final offering of Ripper Street.

Whereas Jonas Armstrong has seemed to almost play a side show, the shadow in the streets of Whitechapel, he has played it with a sense of gracious terror, to be seen as devoid of retribution and a personification of the evil that sometimes stalks the streets filled with the unwary and the profligate. However in All The Glittering Blades, the attention of the plot is very much on his character Nathaniel and how he is seen to be more than just the monster who relishes the blood of his victims in his mind’s eye.

The treatment that the writers have bestowed upon the character in this episode is one of luxury, they offer a sense of redemption in the soul of the killer and hope of being able to find a way of being at least to be normal, of being a part of humanity and not the blood lust creature he has become. It is one that Jonas Armstrong plays with huge humility and purpose and not once during the time on screen does he falter or fail to convince the viewer that he is not beyond saving.

Whilst pretty much taking a back seat for the entire episode, All The Glittering Blades still serves to remind the viewer exactly what is at stake and yet it also is at pains to show that the thin blue line has been crossed by those who swore an oath to protect it. The divided bridge that joins the life of Nathaniel and Edmund Reid all boils down to who can redeem themselves in the eyes of those they profess to love.

As Nathaniel reverts to his own animal instincts, the net will close in, and what awaits him is nothing more than All The Glittering Blades.

Ian D. Hall