The murder of a telegraph boy uncovers a secret network of homosexual prostitution within the post office. Two of the young men are found to have been blackmailing a client, which could lead to potential scandal.
As the police raid a homosexual brothel Reid investigates the murder of telegraph boy Otto Roberts though the intended victim David Goodbody was in bed with his boyfriend Vincent at the time. The boys were planning to blackmail Solomon Quint, a married banker recently dismissed from his post. Quint is found dead but Homer deduces that he was murdered and his death made to resemble suicide. Reid discovers that a rent boy ring was being run from the GPO offices but David tells him that Quint's boss Franklin Stone was the man who most wanted his disposal and indeed the eventual motive has nothing to do with sexual peccadilloes and everything with money. Meanwhile Homer's attempt to confront Duggan over the money Susan owes does not end well for him. Written by
don @ minifie-1
The episode opens at a time when police were cracking down on male brothels, or molly houses. It is inspired by and contains allusions to a police investigation in 1889 that centred on a molly house in Cleveland Street in Fitzrovia involving telegraph boys, peers and MPs. See more »
When Reid confronts Stone in his office, Stone is only halfway done his drink when Reid storms out. In the next shot, as Stone is alone and contemplating their conversation, he idly tips the glass from side to side in his hand (nothing spills as it is now empty.) See more »
Do you understand, lawman? The only goodness I may achieve in this wretched life will be the timely leaving of it.
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Not since the golden era of THE GOOD OLD DAYS (a BBC variety show purporting to be set in a Victorian music hall) and the seemingly endless and convoluted vocabulary of its master of ceremonies, Leonard Sachs, has there been such a shameless wallowing in the obscure and fascinating sub-pathways of Victorian slang, in this case gay and sexual.
At times I was sure the writer was sitting with a dictionary opened to the most obscure and forgotten of terms for homosexuals and various sexual practices, striking out any that were still in common usage. Thus I heard "manticore" again and "mary-anne" and "rantipole" which shows just how impoverished our vocabulary has become recently. Why, there was even "gamahuching", a term I haven't heard since delving into a reprint of "The Pearl, A Magazine of Facetiae and Voluptuous Reading" published in 1879 which I was perusing purely for research purposes (of course).
Actually it's extremely difficult not to slip into this style of writing after an episode of RIPPER STREET. The love of language goes hand in hand with a subversive political anger that powers every episode. All the characters have a curlicued style of speaking that comes straight from Victorian novels. Why, even a lowly GPO telegraph boy accessed a deep well of sexual slang in order to get arrested that made me think he had at some time been one of the panthers Oscar Wilde had feasted with and who had gained more from the encounter than a mere half-a-crown.
What distinguished this episode however was not just the immense erudition of the slang or the sensitive exploration of the Victorian gay underworld. It was the clever unfolding of a plot that exactly mirrors our current relationship with our broken and crooked financial institutions. People were ruined and many were murdered to keep a bank from crashing and every trick in the book from blackmail to extreme violence was used to save the reputations of the monsters at the top of the social ladder.
However, for all its wonderful attention to detail (everyone looks dirty!) and its historical accuracy (some GPO telegraph boys WERE notorious as rent boys on the side) there is a telling moment that tells you that RIPPER STREET is, in the final analysis, fiction.
In the end, the banker is punished.
That tips RIPPER STREET over from fiction to fantasy.
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