I can freely admit that the main reason I am watching Ripper Street is Jerome Flynn. He is not the lead, like Matthew McFadyen, or the Yankee eye candy, like Adam Rothenberg, but he is a superb actor, who can takes a sow’s ear of a role and turn it into pure gold. I loved him as the saucy Bronn in Game of Thrones, but there he made Bronn the perfect foil to Peter Dinklage‘s amazing Tyrion. It’s not easy to stand out in a cast so peppered with gob smacking talent – Flynn managed it though.
In Ripper Street, as two fisted cop Bennet Drake, he has been the enigma, making you wonder what is behind the grim faced, bare knuckle exterior of Reid’s hard man – we knew he is a former soldier, and we knew from when he dropped off 14-year-old Thomas at the army recruiting station that he didn’t think he was doing the boy any favours. This episode gave us a lot more insight into this man’s heart.
Frst he clumsily but tenderly romances Rose, from Long Susan‘s brothel, then he meets up with a former army colleague, played by another Game of Thrones refugee, Iain Glen. (He is Ser Jorah Mormont, another much loved character). Embittered by the treatment of former soldiers, he is carrying a kind of Robin Hood Crusade, robbing from the rich and giving it to the veterans.
He fits into the Ripper Street milieu perfectly, and I really enjoyed his performance. However, this really was Flynn’s episode. Tormented by his own dark memories of war, and longing to find peace and happiness with the woman he loves, instead he is brought face to face with the blunt reality of his life. He is too damaged and too poor even for the love of a prostitute. Jackson tried to warn him against offering Rose his ‘whole heart’ but Drake has to learn for himself. All he can do is set his gift for her – and his hopes – free.
Only the most stony hearted could have been unmoved by Flynn’s beautiful performance of a man letting go of his dreams in such a painful metaphor, and only a great actor could play it so beautifully, without a trace of mawkishess. I confess I wiped away a tear.
If this is what we can expect from Ripper Street, they’ve got me hooked.