After being saved from the chop by Amazon Prime following the BBC’s surprising decision to axe the show after just two series, gritty period crime drama Ripper Street belatedly returned to BBC One for a third series last night.
The action picked up four years on from the last series to find our three intrepid detectives disbanded and in vastly different circumstances. Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) has withdrawn from active service and immersed himself in compiling a criminal archive; Drake (Jerome Flynn) has left Whitechapel for a new life in Manchester, where he has risen through the ranks to become an inspector (a development that adds an extra kick of tension to his relationship with his now-equal Reid); Jackson (Adam Rothenberg) has abandoned police work altogether, returning to a life of whiskey-fuelled debauchery; and Long Susan (MyAnna Buring) has finally found respectability as the benefactor of a nurses’ training scheme.
They’re all thrown back into each others’ paths again, however, when a horrifying train crash on the viaduct that runs above Leman Street leaves scores of innocent people either dead or injured, in a scene hauntingly evocative of a war zone.
We may be deprived of the central trio’s trademark bonhomie for much of this opening episode, but the result is no less compelling. The plot is still intense and relentlessly paced, the production design just as brutal and stylish, and the characters are as conflicted and vividly drawn as they’ve ever been. Ripper Street is still a ripping adventure like no other.
Click here to watch Ripper Street – Whitechapel Terminus on BBC iPlayer