Previously on Whitechapel: Episode 4.
And with this last case, filled with cannibals, human sacrifice, and nasty little old ladies, ITV’s popular drama concludes its fourth series.
Complete ratings for Episodes 3 and 4 have arrived at 4.62 and 4.26 (excluding ITV HD), respectively (source: Wikipedia); and the overnight ratings for this series finale aren’t promising much. 3.27 and 3.50 million have tuned in for the last case, which is a number that can only yet jump significantly if ITV player and HD figures have increased dramatically. Which, I’m afraid, they won’t have. I’ve explored the possible reasons for this downturn in viewing figures shortly after the series began and halfway through, but I wonder if ITV will endeavour to make a statement after the finale.
Now, the beginning of the fifth episode was a bit nuts, wasn’t it? Role-playing the Zombie Apocalypse as a team-building thing — very forward-thinking of the Metropolitan Police. Also, a bit humiliating for the team and a bit too much as the segue into a new episode/case, I found (but maybe that’s just me). Good thing, however, is that it was a wake-up call. It was a short-hand and easy way of showing how huge the rift between the members of the team had become, and how badly it’s been affecting their work. As a warning shot, it heralded the resolution of their differences — but, as they say, it has to get worse before it gets better.
Mansell attempting suicide after Kent manipulated his sister into dumping him was the thing that shocked me most. Finley deserves a lot of the flack he gets, but this is the first real glimpse we got at the decent bloke that’s underneath that attitude of jokester and regular twit. You know, if I were Kent, I’d have been worried about Erica, too. Emerson was wrong to influence her like that, but I think what Mansell, after a bit of thinking, also realises is that, with his track record, any sibling would be concerned. But of course, it wasn’t just concern that made Emerson force her hand: it was envy and petty jealousy. Seeing other people happy makes him angry — if one were so inclined, one could attribute that to the mountainous crush he’s got on Chandler. Not being able to deal with other people’s happiness always gets exacerbated by not just being generally unhappy oneself, but by wanting something or someone unattainable on top of it. However, after Kent’s turn for the demonic, seeing the effect it had on Mansell, his decent side wins out. He’s ashamed of himself for what he did — I suppose what really did him in was Chandler’s shock at what he did. Well, Joe doesn’t know the half of it, but you saw his face when Kent admitted he’d lied. Whatever it was about, Kent lying isn’t on the list of things Chandler thought possible, and yet there we are.
One by one, the troubles get resolved: Riley’s been conned by Louise Ivers — that weird old woman at Buchan’s book launch — into fearing field work. She let the scratch on her hand get worse on purpose so she could stay at the station after that close call with Wingfield nearly dropping on top of her. Like poison, the entire team has been infected with doubt and fear, no exceptions. Miles is just getting his steam back, pursuing that lead, when Chandler tells him to drop it. Bad, bad mistake. Understanding what was causing their weird behaviour is a vital part of getting the team back together.
Everything has been leading up to this: all that’s been troubling the team, all the murders that have been committed, are with this series finale tied to religious fanaticism and the foundation of persecution in tropes of Christian belief. Witchhunters, vigilante killers, and now a group of people calling themselves The League of Abrahamians, a doomsday cult whose members sacrifice human flesh in and underneath churches or graveyards.
I’ve been waiting all series to show you this image that struck me when I watched the trailer over two months ago:
That shot — angelic wings, anyone? And then came this:
Chandler has been having weird flash forwards to something for the entire run of the series, and this is the clearest image we’ve been getting for ages before actually finding out what it means (though not really). Clothes being stripped away, him evidently being in pain. We know he gets his kit off to clean himself up — and a case in the sewers is definitely the worst bloody thing to happen to him, crime-wise. But I’ve also been thinking about Chandler in relation to angelic imagery for the entire series, and the most likely I could come up with was the fallen angel, and this is his trial. Now, bear with me.
Joe was on the fast-track, he could have gone anywhere at anytime — if he had caught the Ripper. He shouldn’t have stayed in Whitechapel for longer than absolutely necessary, he was supposed to just work a few cases to gain a bit of experience in the field, just enough to earn a higher rank, and then move on. But he didn’t. He stuck with Miles, he stuck with his team, and his reward was the severance of his career in upper management. Anderson warned him about that, and he said he didn’t want anything else. Being a DI — it’s what he loves, now. So, in the eyes of the higher-ups, he clearly fell from grace. For Whitechapel, however, and in the big picture of this chess game that is the placement of Louise Ivers and dark forces compelling good people to do evil deeds in the shadows of Christchurch, he’s the new guardian angel. He came closer than anyone’s come before to catching the people that that nasty old lady put up to murder and burning witches; that’s why the Provocateur is converging their energies on him — and his team.
And of course, the Abrahamian cult, true to the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, has chosen their own sacrificial lamb. So when the father calls, “Will an angel of the Lord stay my hand” — it’s Chandler that saves the boy’s life.
So as we’re now getting to the part where Chandler might actually have saved someone AND gets to arrest the people responsible, there’s a sort of… evolution. A promotion in angel mojo, if you will.
Because Chandler won. He’s broken the cycle, broken the curse. The imagery of him being stripped of his defences, solving the case anyway, and then changing into a completely new suit at the station — it’s as close to rebirth as you can get.
And in the wake of that, Kent just got as close to asking him out on a date as he’ll ever get. And he said yes! 😀
Except then everything goes straight to hell. As ever. Because dear old Louise is still on the loose. And the message from Chandler’s dead father is a warning.
Don’t put them all in the same van.
plans for a potential Series 5 have not been announced yet. And now we know: there will be no Series 5. Ever.
This fourth series has been a foray into the Gothic and into the Supernatural, especially the religious supernatural. The things we don’t want to see, the things that scare us because they’re not where they belong, safe in the corner cupboard that we have consigned myths and fairy tales to. Especially this last thing, the existence of Louise throughout the ages and the reality of the message from Joe’s dad breaks that barrier for good. On Whitechapel, the supernatural is now canon. And what bodes ill for Joe Chandler, bodes ill for us all.