The Whitechapel season one finale opened where episode two left off: with Mary Bousfield’s kidney bleeding on DS Miles’s breakfast table. Of course this makes him even grumpier (“My son picked up that parcel!”) and more determined to find the killer. Chandler points out it’s only half a kidney. A note the killer included in the package claims he fried up the other half and ate it, and that “it was very nice.” Well, I was eating fettucine with red sauce while watching this and it was not nice at all. (Spoilers aren’t nice either, unless you’re expecting them—Expect them!)
Chandler declares that the handwriting must be Eastern European—what a talent!—because he’s “done a lot of courses.” Miles gives him a “you’re a weirdo” look but for once, Chandler’s formal schooling comes in handy and makes up for his lack of street experience.
After talking to the owner of the company with the van in which Mary was killed, detectives get the name of the driver for the night in question: Anthony Pricha, who works in the morgue at the hospital. He gets hauled in for an interrogation but says he neither works for the company nor drives a van. Turns out someone stole his identity.
Meanwhile, Chandler lobbies for Buchan to be released from police custody, since the Ripperologist had unwittingly become mentor to the killer by communicating with him and sharing details of the original Ripper killings via Buchan’s website. Chandler believes “Ripper fan” will contact Buchan again before claiming his final victim.
But Buchan tries to prevent the murder by calling a press conference to say he believes that Mary Kelly, the last victim credited to the Ripper in 1888, was not killed by him at all because of completely different methodology. He dramatically burns his books in his attempt to convince the copycat to stop killing. Of course that doesn’t work, but it does redeem Buchan in my eyes after he interfered with the investigation.
Chandler is certain the killer lives in an area central to the murder sites and goes knocking on doors at a rundown apartment building. He actually runs into his prey but before he can nab him or get a good look (the killer’s wearing a hoodie), Chandler gets slashed and shoved down a flight of stairs. Backup police arrive, they go through the killer’s flat with Chandler, and find all sorts of creepy evidence, including a shrine to the original Ripper, a collection of disguises, and the other half of poor Mary’s kidney. Chandler figures out that it must be Dr. David Cohen, someone they’d spoken to earlier at the hospital about Anthony Pricha, but it’s a tense race against time to find out where and who his victim will be that night.
The unlucky woman is a midwife at the hospital, and it’s a close call for her; police burst into her place as she’s being strangled. Miles gets stabbed in the gut, while Chandler tussles with the killer but the man gets away. This makes Chandler’s superior, Commander Anderson, very unhappy, especially since the tabloids splatter Chandler’s photo on the front page with a headline screaming “Incompetent: The officer who let the ripper [sic] escape.” But Chandler argues, “The 9th of November is over. He doesn’t get another chance to kill a Mary Kelly. He’s failed. Nothing left to live for.” Sure enough, we see Cohen’s body in the river, implying that he committed suicide.
The ending finds Chandler and Buchan drinking to Mary Kelly at her grave, though it looks like they’re drinking from a family-size bottle of Scope. Then Chandler gets called out to a crime scene, a presumed mugging gone bad. Chandler says maybe that’s what the killer wants them to think. Miles argues that nine of ten times, if it looks like a mugging, it is a mugging. Chandler points out the last time they thought a body was a result of a domestic dispute—referring to the Ripper copycat’s first victim—it wasn’t that at all, and the camera fades out as the detectives are still debating.
It’s a nice ending, seeing as how Chandler and his team seem to have come to a better understanding of how the other thinks. One of the detectives is seen passing out tea to everyone and eating “brain food,” something Chandler had advocated at the beginning to their ridicule. And Chandler seems to have gotten the knack of this detecting business.
But I would have liked to know more about the killer. What motivated him to copy the Ripper? Is he really Eastern European? Why did he jump off a bridge? As Commander Anderson says, “We know nothing about his real identity.” It seems producers wanted to keep the focus on Chandler, and as a fan of Rupert Penry-Jones, I can’t complain about that. I’m also a fan, however, of good crime fiction, which usually includes an antagonist or villain we understand, a true foil for the protagonist, not just someone who exists simply to move along plot points. Because of that, I found the finale lacking, but the suspense factor has been high so I’ll tune in as Whitechapel moves into season two this week with a storyline about killings reminiscent of the Krays’ bloody handiwork.
Will you watch?
Elyse is a freelance writer/editor who likes soup and the Bee Gees, but doesn’t enjoy piña coladas or getting caught in the rain. She also blogs at Pop Culture Nerd and tweets as @popculturenerd and @EditNinja.