Previously on Whitechapel: Episode 3.
This episode started with something that doesn’t happen very often — in fact, it doesn’t happen, full stop. Ever. Chandler being a laughing, joking git is something scarce indeed. Unfortunately, the levity doesn’t last very long.
In the end, it’s another one that got away. That’s the grim and simple truth about this case, and there isn’t a lot else to be cheerful about besides. Let’s take stock.
Mansell didn’t have any more disturbing phone calls this time around, but it looks as though Kent might be the one doing the disturbing next time he sees his colleague quite so up close with his sister. (What was that, by the way? Emma comes to the station to talk to Mansell, but doesn’t bother to see her brother even though he hasn’t called in ages?!) Kent’s reflections are still morphing into something deformed and vaguely demonic, so although whatever it is that’s been brewing has quietened down a bit for Mansell — Chandler’s outburst notwithstanding — and Kent, it’s still lurking.
It’s more than lurking in the cases of Miles, Riley, and Chandler. Riley’s injury must be seriously gross, and its grossness is amplified by the camera not actually showing it to us. Judging by Riley’s desperation about it, she’s clearly afraid, and hasn’t had anyone look at it, but we can still only suspect what it is — that’s another thing Gothic horror likes to do. Your inner imp can go to town on this, because there’s hardly anything that a make-up artist can do that’s worse than your very own twisted imagination and penchant for worst scenarios.
It’s very telling that Chandler should be having the clearest and most affecting visions/flash forwards in the station chapel, tying him — and Miles — to a distinctly religious imagery. I’m still waiting for that bit of angelic imagery tied to Joe to make itself visible, so I’m keeping mum about it for now. Miles, so far, seems to be the most seriously affected by what’s happening to him in his hallucinations, and it seems that the escalation is going to converge on him first since he appears to be most aware of a presence in the station. His street smarts, as he says, are definitely paying off in that direction.
In the middle of one of the creepiest cases on this show — and that is really saying something — there is one shining light of hope: Chandler and Miles and his acceptance of who Chandler is, how he works, and what that means for their relationship as colleagues and friends. We now also finally know how Chandler has developed his OCD: his father drowned himself, and Joe found him in the bathtub and, God help us, tried to revive him. He was ten years old. The little boy couldn’t cope in the face of his father’s unexpected suicide and his mother’s overwhelming grief. She stopped taking care of things, so he did instead.
And then, in the middle of all that, there’s Miles. Chandler is this close to breaking down, but Ray pulls him back, tells him it’s alright, he’s alright. It may be the first time that anyone who mattered has told Chandler that, has bothered to get to know him well enough to put their own unease at his condition aside. Miles isn’t uneasy about it anymore, he navigates it, he works around it, it’s part of their world and their routines. He knows when to push and when to give Chandler space, and Chandler feels safe with him. Miles knows how to talk to him about because he’s the only one who’s allowed to; and the development of their relationship is one of the most significant plot strands of the entire show, it’s the red thread that runs through it.
What’s connecting the cases in this series of Whitechapel is injustice, suffering through no fault of one’s own, and then seeking for someone to pay the price. The baker from the first case believed to be set upon by a witch; and this time, a book shop keeper and court stenographer experienced a traumatic loss that triggered his thirst for revenge. Using his records, he tracked down people who have killed and murdered and got away with it, and he put them down, executed them, at the same time playing a twisted game of tag with the police due to his disillusionment with the criminal justice system. That’s the bare truth of it, if you look at it written down like that, but what the actors, directors, and writers have done with it is so much more than just that. Now that more than half of the series has aired, I feel confident saying that the finale is going to be truly harrowing and excellent. I can’t wait for this to come to a head, and to see what the fallout for the team is going to be, in the end.
Next: the series finale (Episode 5 +6).