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Why Does Ripper Street Keep Mistaking 'Cryptic' For 'Confusing'?

And other almost-burning questions about the fourth-season premiere.

Why is Jackson pretending he's still a day-drinking wastrel for Drake's benefit?

I think the idea is that he doesn't want anyone to know he's saving his money to pay a lawyer to...well, to tell you the truth I don't think I entirely understand what's going on with the lawyer, either, and I watched Jackson's post-court panic attack twice, but we'll get back to that in a second. If he's saving every penny to pay a lawyer to get Long Susan out of prison, or merely imprisoned for life versus hanging, or just get custody of their son, who's now a toddler -- I believe it's that last thing, or I did until she kicked Jackson out of her cell towards the end for running out of ideas to get her out -- who cares whether Drake knows what he's doing? If Drake knows he's sober, does Jackson then have to become friends with Drake, and further confide in him about his familial machinations?

And seriously, what is going on with Jackson and Long Susan?

He's not visiting her! Until he is. He's trying everything he can to...something! But nobody can know about it, including the audience. Look, I know I don't pay the most religious attention to the show every second, but I'm not a moron either, and the show is so consistent in muddying the waters of who knows what and what's going on that I inevitably get lost around the 23-minute mark. Why does Ripper Street insist on postponing reveals, obfuscating relationships, and using six florid sentences to tell us nearly nothing when what's required is a direct "the lawyer couldn't get me custody of the kid, sorry"?

And who's the doctor guy? Is Susan meant to give him a beej so he'll let her tunnel out?

Is it time to let Susan die, maybe?

MyAnna Buring's performance has done worlds for a character who, on paper, I wouldn't have much use for. Alas, the writers have run out of things for her to do that don't involve much battling to maintain her composure in the face of repellent sexual blackmail and/or her own moral compromise. It's not that Susan or Buring suck, but the come-here-go-away with Jackson is tired, and it's time for the character's journey to end.

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How'd JACKSON get out?

A couple of years have passed. Did he get paroled? Enough real-world time has gone by between seasons that I had to go back and review my write-ups from S3 just to see why he got locked up in the first place, and I...still don't know. This is what I mean when I talk about the show's purposeful opacity; it is, at the end of the day, a procedural, or in any event is the most successful when it doesn't stand back to admire its own production design and overly elaborate Victorian locutions and concentrates on straight-ahead vintage detective work that's enhanced by the chemistry amongst the leads...not by rococo melodrama befalling them in their personal lives. Rose.

Poor Rose, but: who cares if she can get pregnant?

Not me, not you, not Drake. I like Rose and I love them together, but the star-crossed home lives of our heroes is not why I watch the show. Well, unless any of the leads gets shirtless, which for my money doesn't happen often enough.

Is the show planning to turn Mathilda into a serial killer herself?

Because if that's not where her creepy spying on a woman getting head is going, I don't get it. If it is going that direction -- and her firm assertion to her father that "I am made, and cannot be re-made" would indicate that it's possible -- I'm here for it, even though we'd have to sit through a full season of Reid's pearl-clutching agonies over the perversion of his sweet child's blah blah blah just get your Dexter on and let's solve some gnarly murders, people!

I can accept that they had crazy walls at the turn of the last century, but: surveillance photos?

Fine, Jackson early-adopts the fingerprint. Fine, Isaac Bloom is mathsplaining the Kabbalah to Reid. Fine, the station has a telephone. That kind of thing always presents as too convenient, but it's not usually jarring, because it's not usually incorrect. A photo that just happens to show suspects talking to each other, taken from a rooftop angle that forgets we didn't have CCTV cameras mounted above the streets as of the Diamond Jubilee is a London bridge too far.

For Star Trek Week, we remember:

Data's hobby of playing Holodeck Sherlock Holmes. Surely Ripper Street could have made room in its final season for a non-human Edwardian crime-solver?

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