Ripper Street: The Dreaming Dead. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

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

The varying degrees of right and wrong quite often bleed in to each other like a sauce splitting in the pan, you can see where the line is drawn, the thin blue marker but quite often we all over step it and find only the act of redemption comes to save us when we do one good thing despite of deep we have gone.

It is perhaps ironic that the so called Victorian Age, that of great industry, great strides in human existence came about by what can now be seen exploitation and the terrible conditions of its workers and yet those at the top of the chain were considered above moral reproach, yet a woman stealing a loaf of bread to feed her children because of the low pay was soon shipped off to the other side of the world. Varying degrees of right and wrong, varying degrees of hypocrisy!

For the once proud man of Lehman Street, for the Inspector who was part of the investigation team who was haunted by Jack the Ripper, The Dreaming Dead have constantly been by his side, the victims of Whitechapel have been in his thoughts and with good cause, for some of them are by his own making, the varying degrees of right and wrong have never been more true in the dark alleyways and smoked streets of London East End.

With the series and the story of Ripper Street coming all too quickly to its end, betrayal of a fellow officer, of those charged with protection and the offering of small redemption by the man who started the fear in place in the fourth series of the provocative show, the killer and mass murderer Nathaniel, the bleeding of right and wrong is even more acute as the viewer’s attention is caught by the death of a runaway child and the capture of Edmund Reid.

It is in the excellent writing that this detail is shown, the shooting of a governess at the hands of Long Susan, played with tingling passion by MyAnna Buring, could be seen as brutal out of context but when placed against the thought that she battered to death a handyman as she sought to protect her employer, Augustus Dove, the blurring of lines is the true point of the programme’s reason d’etre.

As Ripper Street comes to its unfortunate but inevitable end, the justification of its life has been to raise awareness that existence is not completely black and white, that the grey in between is where we all reside and those whose reckoning of presenting a clean life is the one that is steeped in the wrath of its own stinking brutality.


Ian D. Hall