Whitechapel: The Thrilling Conclusion

Steve Pemberton as Edward Buchan
Steve Pemberton as Edward Buchan
In the Season 2 finale of Whitechapel, most—but not all—is revealed.

I’ll admit I’ve had my problems with this show’s outlandish premises, but it has bright spots. Steve Pemberton as sensationalist crimestalker Edward Buchan is one, because he seems to take such delight in playing the role. Ditto for Peter Serafinowicz as master manipulator DCI Torbin Cazenove. Still, I haven’t been bowled over.

If, on the other hand, you’ve loved Whitechapel, you’ll be happy to hear that Rupert Penry-Jones, Phil Davis and company recently finished filming Season 3, which is set to air in the U.K. in January. Although it sounds like they will be moving away from the copycat crime theme, there promises to be some gruesome stuff in store. When, or indeed whether, Season 3 will arrive stateside has yet to be announced.

But first, let’s wrap up Season 2 and the return of the Krays. If you’re sensitive to spoilers, please watch the final ep on BBC America before you read on.

Penry-Jones and Davis in Whitechapel
Well, now, the scenery is improving.
Episode 3 picks up a few minutes after the end of Episode 2, in which the Krays Mark II—Jimmy and Johnny—attempt to assassinate our hero DI Joe Chandler (Penry-Jones) and his right-hand man DS Ray Miles (Davis) by inviting them to a vacant pub and then blasting through its windows with automatic weapons.

Astute viewers might be aware that this is not the most effective means of ensuring that the people you want to kill will actually be killed. Thus, the Krays merely create a lot of noise and broken glass. (Their dad, real-life gangster Ron Kray, would surely have managed it better.)

Mildly shaken by the attack, Miles is now behind the wheel and Chandler’s swigging scotch from a bottle as they drive toward the home of someone Chandler calls “a family friend.” And blow me down! It’s Commander Anderson (Alex Jennings), who’s back to behaving paternally toward Chandler. Anderson reveals that he’s pulling all the strings behind the scenes (We knew this, right?) and he’ll have even more clout after Chandler brings down the Krays and clears the way for him to control…. Honestly, I’m not sure what.

Oddly, Anderson’s admission doesn’t bother Chandler, who apparently is Dudley Do-Right only when he encounters crooked policemen who aren’t “family friends.”

We know the Krays have infiltrated the police station. Last week Chandler insisted that their inside man was the trusting, eager-to-please DC Kent (Sam Stockman). This week we learn that the Krays did put pressure on a member of Chandler’s team—not Kent, of course—but even after he learns this, Chandler still looks for an unlikely suspect to blame. He even accuses Dr. Llewellyn, the medical examiner. (What’d she ever do to him?)

Then, faster than you can say “kingmaker”—a word that gets thrown around a lot in this ep—Commander Anderson abruptly announces that the Kray investigation is being shut down. “I’m responding to the political climate,” he sniffs. “It’s now more expedient to consider the Krays allies rather than targets.”

To which Chandler replies, “Wha…?” And, for once, I couldn’t agree more.

But wait! It’s all a ruse. Anderson merely wants the Krays to think they’re off the hook. Chandler’s team is told to continue their work in secret at Edward Buchan’s house.

Someone comes up with the idea that the new Krays might not be Krays after all, and wouldn’t that just shoot their whole second-coming thing all to hell? Proving this isn’t tricky at all because Buchan (Pemberton) knows just where to find a sample of Papa Ron Kray’s DNA—even though Ron’s been dead for 16 years. Then Chandler beats a DNA sample from the offspring out of young Jimmy Kray (Craig Parkinson) during a boxing match. “I was junior boxing champion in prep school,” Chandler crows. Well, of course he was.

Peter Serafinowicz as DCI Torbin Cazenove in Whitechapel
A brain is a terrible thing to waste all over the walls..
With the lab busy confirming the Krays’ paternity, all that remains is to determine who’s behind their rise. For that Chandler will trot out original suspect Steven Dukes (Andrew Tiernan), a small-time wiseguy. He’ll also confront DCI Cazenove (Peter Serafinowicz), who makes an eloquent speech about the future of crime before blowing his brains out all over Chandler. In the end, we’re reminded that all roads lead back to Commander Anderson, who inexplicably recruited the mysterious Jack Cheshire (Steve Nicolson) to be Chandler’s guardian angel through this whole Kray mess.

Writers Ben Court and Caroline Ip manage to tie up a few loose ends, but this isn’t a tidy package. Once again, Chandler doesn’t get his man. Nevertheless, he lives to fight another day (others aren’t so lucky) and the residents of London’s East End might breathe a little easier. Then again, with Chandler on the case, so might the criminals.

Leslie Gilbert Elman, author of Weird But True: 200 Astounding, Outrageous, and Totally Off the Wall Facts, would like to remind you—subtly—that books make excellent gifts. Follow her on Twitter @leslieelman.


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    Oh, I’d have to have a lot of time on my hands to watch season three. I still don’t like or trust Anderson, and think Chandler is a wimp (despite the boxing.) I was also put off by the show’s raising Chandler’s OCD (or what ever) to such great import that it can only be controlled by copious amounts of scotch. Still, Buchan and Davis were worth watching . . .so maybe.

  2. Megan Frampton

    I watched, and have to admit (grudgingly) that I liked the increased attention paid to the relationship between Chandler and Miles. But everything else just seems to meander, or get solved too quickly; there’s no inbetween. I’m not sure I’m on-board for Season 2 when it airs here, despite RPJ’s many charms.

  3. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    @Terrie – I agree about the OCD. Because it bugged me, I did some research on this. Chandler tells Miles he’s “self-medicating.” This does happen in the real world, but to me it’s just another flaw in an already bothersome character. Couldn’t he/the writers have come up with something original instead? And how does he go from sipping OJ in the pub (“I couldn’t find any tea-making facilities,” he says) to swigging Scotch from the bottle in the next scene?

  4. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    @MFrampton You’re right. There’s no in-between. Things don’t progress in a logical way. Whether a series is hard-boiled or farce, it has to have logic and consistency. I don’t think this one does. And I guess this bothers me most because it’s a good cast (with charms duly noted!) and an interesting premise. It should have been better.

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