". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ripper Street -- Season 4 Finale -- No Spoilers

     . . . . I was wrong. Despite how much I'd heard, to the contrary there is a season 5 for Ripper Street. (I'd stopped paying attention having other concerns than television series throughout last summer and fall.) However, after watching the final episode of season 4 last night I'm not entirely convinced this is a good idea. But season 5 exists and that is that!

Detective Reid and his daughter, Matilda, who have been parted most of the girl's life.  She was raised mostly in captivity and on fairy tales ....
The season 4  finale opens with Reid's nineteen-year-old daughter, Matilda, reading Dracula and concludes with a Wolf Man ripping out the jugular of another human being.  Blood and meat, who is animal and who is human? What is fantasy, what is real?  As for families, what chance do they have with mothers dead, children dying, orphaned, given away, lost, and those who do not even know who their parents are?  Not to mention children who kill their parents . . . .  All four of our primaries, Reid, Drake, Jackson, Susan, crash and burn against marriage, commitment, family and parenting. All of them make the choices that mean failure and they know it.

The American, for some reason called Long Susan, love of Captain Jackson's life.  This woman is not to be trusted, even to die her own death ....
Unlike Ripper Street's previous seasons that concluded the final episode with solutions and ends tied, this one concluded with "To Be Continued . . . ." as our primaries slip into the darkness at the edge of ... town?  Well, the darkness at the edge of everything, the darkness under everything that is Ripper Street's universe. Into the sewers they flee. Our primaries fought the good fight against the darkness.  In the end, one way and another, each of them surrenders. After the events of this season it appears there is no future ahead for any of them, only their pasts, rising up to finish them off.  So, the struggle, why?

This was frustrating, as so much was packed into this season and particularly in the finale -- murders, breathtaking escapes, convoluted robberies, corruption, old, cold cases, young girls, crazy women, newspapers -- I couldn't follow all the various strands, which somehow were supposed to come together by bringing together the four primaries, Detective Inspector Edmund Reid (now just Detective), Detective Sgt. Bennett Drake (now Dectective Inspector) and the Americans, Captain Homer Jackson his lover, Miss Susan, i.e. Caitlin Swift.   Except that -- won't say more due to spoilage. The number of lies, betrayals and concealments, disguises and, yes, murders, in each of their pasts, some committed in company, and some not, racked up among all of them doesn't bode well for their common future, one would think.

However -- it has to be a good thing that this series, which has been so literate, well composed, finely acted, and cliche-free plots gets to do a real wrap-up, not just stop (as was done with Marco Polo, for instance, to be replaced the thoroughly stupid Medici, evidently).  I  did catching on to the character of Deputy Commissioner Dove almost immediately, i.e. way too soon,  because as an audience member I've been conditioned to these sorts of character reveals from many a cop series.

But mostly we must wonder -- what happens to Connor in season 5?  Yet another child left behind, again and again.

Deborah Goren, a Jewish refugee from Ukraine, who is director of an orphanage.  She is a kind, compassionate, generous, and generally a better human being than the milieu in which she's come to harbot.

Rachel Costello, an investigative journalist.
It was a pleasure to finally see Ripper Street in its season r find other ways for women to function in the storylines beyond being whores, insane, dead or dying.

Ripper Street remains a rare period series in which the grit and muck, the conflicted, complex characters, never great or noble, will show, sometimes in spite of themselves, these flames of decency and nobility that are thoroughly convincing. Nor does it flinch from showing this heart of capitalism run unregulated in which the poor are not only despised, but actively hated, blamed entirely for their situation, and in which doctors and others not only preach their extermination for 'the good of the race" do their best to carry out their creed.  That there are so many mad in this London, most of them starving and scrambling, is not a surprise. Subjects of unrelenting hatred do go mad.

These decades late in the 19th century have sometimes been called Age of Innocence -- presumably before WWI wiped out that innocence of unquestioned class systems in which those at the top lived lives of unrelenting ease. No.  No.  Rather, these decades are the Age of Horror, and Ripper Street shows us why.

In fact, the imperial luxe of London seldom ever showed itself in the series, other than the mendacious fronts of the brothels Long Susan managed, or the music hall.  The focus stays unwaveringly upon the working classes, the discarded soldiers, the activists -- women mostly -- who work to improve the lot of the poor -- or to exploit them hypocritically -- mostly men -- the newspapers, the police, the immigrants and all the others struggling to survive one more day in the center of Britain's global empire that sucks the life from all.

Seasons 1 - 5 stream on amazilla prime and will come to BBC later this year.

Seasons 1 - 3 stream on netflix.

Season 5 is definitely They All Say the final, the very last season of Ripper Street.  It's an attitude and time that won't roll well into 1900 and beyond, They Say.

No comments: