My poor heart has not quite recovered from last week’s finale of Whitechapel and ITV still hasn’t confirmed a fourth series. (Please, ITV! Pretty please!)
But series 3 is out on DVD today, so at least fans don’t have to go without. I’ll be recapping the old episodes, mostly for my own enjoyment, but I’m also hoping to get those unfamiliar with the show as hopelessly hooked as I am. Whitechapel isn’t a show. It’s a lifestyle. (What’s that from again? Gilmore Girls? I have a feeling it’s Gilmore Girls, but do correct me if I’m wrong.)
The episode starts with the team celebrating the arrival of Miles’s new baby girl.
That lot do enjoy a good party. The last case started with them celebrating Mansell’s wedding.
Work hard and play hard, that’s their motto.
Chandler is being mentally undressed by Miles’s sister-in-law. She thinks they’ve got lots in common. They both metabolise ATP is about as much common ground as I can see, but that’s as good a place to start as any.
The DI politely declines further acquaintance and joins Buchan, Kent and Riley who are playing a game of one-upmanship of who can name the most gruesome murder case.
Everyone gets a turn holding the baby with mixed results.
The baby will not stop crying until it is in Chandler’s arms. Is there anything that man can’t do? Apart from interacting with adult human females and not sweating at the sight of a pen that is not parallel to the edge of the desk.
Turns out the baby stopped crying because she barfed all down the back of Chandler’s suit. Everyone decides it’s best not to tell him.
Away from this heaven of cozy bliss, a motorcyclist has a showdown with a fox. Man and machine beat nature and the fox retreats, leaving behind a severed arm it has been noshing on. Ah, London. Never change.
Dr. Llewellyn, the world’s cheeriest pathologist, gives Chandler and Miles the benefit of her expertise. The arm was a woman’s who has been dead between a day and a half and four days. The arm was removed by an axe or similarly gruesome instrument, so they exclude the possibility that it is medical waste.
The fingerprints do not match anyone on the database. The only one who knows the dump site is the fox.
Buchan in his cave is surrounded by empty teacups and overflowing shelves. He’s expanding the crime archive to include crimes outside of Britain. There’s a slightly manic glint in his eye.
DI Norroy from Richmond visits Chandler in his office. A couple of miles upriver, a torso has been found that seems to be another bit of the victim.
Norroy is the female Chandler. Prim, buttoned up, professional and dedicated. Chandler invites her input on the case and he does not even mean that as a euphemism. Except a bit.
Kent is so busy watching Chandler and Norroy through the glass walls of the office that he spills water all over himself.
Mansell, thinking Kent was checking out Norroy, chips in that it’s a bad idea to shag above your rank. Man’s got professional standards.
Buchan has dug up the Thames Torso Murders, which happened around the time of the Ripper, but didn’t get half the press.
Riley meanwhile has been on the missing person’s database and found a girl who could be the torso in the path lab. Ella Bowe’s disappearance was never investigated. Riley will correct this now. I love it when they give Riley something to do. She always delivers.
Dr. Llewellyn has found the cause of death: Poison.
It is an as yet unidentified poison that would have made the victim feel like she was burning from the inside.
Let’s not ponder that image and move swiftly on.
Miles and Norroy bond over their dislike to Buchan. Will this show ever stop kicking that particular puppy? Doubtful.
Steve Pemberton does “put upon” particularly well.
Buchan’s little speech makes me suspect Ben Court and Caroline Ip read Judith Flanders’ The Invention Of Murder, which I’d recommend to anyone who, like me, has become obsessed with Victorian crime since watching this show.
Leaving library corner aside of a moment, the DIs Chandler and Norroy suspect they may be looking for a couple committing the murders. “Someone who poisons like a woman and dismembers like a man.” Sexists.
Riley has met up with Ella Bowe’s mother to get a DNA sample. Ella left home because her mother disapproved of her obsession with a band. Last the mother heard Ella worked at a sweet shop and spent her evenings at gigs. It’s been six months since she had any sign of life from her daughter.
The team are out on a foxhunt. Sadly they are not on horseback wearing silly red jackets. Instead they lounge about in pairs near where the fox had been seen.
Miles and Chandler do like teenagers. First they bicker and then they talk about girls.
Kent has been paired with Norroy. It is tense. Tenser than a suspension bridge. Tenser than tent pegs in a storm. Tenser than past perfect.
Mansell and Riley look bored, until Mansell confesses to cheating on his wife and Riley has a right go at him.
Chandler and Miles are the first to spot the fox.
They try to sneak up on it, but the fox notices them. Which could have something to do with the industrial strength torches they are shining in its face. Those two need to retake Sneaking Up 101.
They yell for the others and all together they take off after the fox. All this scene lacked was a bugle and some man servants carrying trays of hot toddy.
Can I just give a shout out to Ruth Barrett and her mad music skills right here? There’s a bunch of adults running around a garden, but with her music… it is intense. You might be forgiven for not noticing the score because it fits so perfectly, so organically with the action, but it just makes the atmosphere of the entire scene.
The fox with its foxy ways manages to shake everyone except Chandler and Norroy. They follow it into an overgrown back garden.
After a bit of useless groping around in the undergrowth (not a euphemism) Chandler finds a severed left foot.
Looks like they’ve found the murderer’s house.
Norroy and the others make a sweep through the garden while Chandler and Miles go in the house.
Only problem is, it’s not so much a house as a death trap. Wires are criss-crossing between mountains of stuff. Cobwebs hand off precariously heaped furniture that looks like it might fall at any moment and crush them. It smells like something died in there.
Against all sense and logic, Chandler and Miles go further. They find a room full of potions and tinctures in glass bottles of various sizes.
Then a sound like a chain rattling against metal echoes through the house.
A grey haired woman is tied up to the radiator.
When they try to take her out of the house, she screams her head off. The guys outside hear it and, thinking Chandler and Miles are in danger, run in the house like the big, damn heroes they are. Mansell is first in and gets a nasty cut on the ear from one of the wires.
It is now morning and the house has been sealed off with nobody allowed in until Risk Assessment have been round.
The team busy themselves bagging and tagging all the bones they find in the garden.
Chandler and Miles managed to get the old woman out of the house and to the station. She is Adelina Riley, the owner of the house.
Buchan found the case of HH Holmes’s murder hotel. The team believes that, like Holmes’s hotel, Adelina and her husband Jack lured girls to their house just to watch them die. Like the Saw films in a way, but less cuddly.
Adelina isn’t saying much. She’s most concerned about the foxes who go without feeding while she is away. Her husband Jack on the other hand she’s not worried about. He is “out hunting” and might not be back for weeks or months.
The worst she admits to is poisoning cats. The RSPCA will be delighted.
Riley is still on the track of runaway Ella Bowe. She visits the sweetshop where she worked. Her boss, who seems even sweeter than the chocolates he sells, hasn’t seen her.
Llewellyn check the DNA of the victim and it isn’t Ella Bowe. First thing they do is ring Riley and tell her about this. Except they don’t.
Prime suspect at the moment is the missing Jack Riley. Despite her protestations to the contrary, the police think that when Adelina’s term “hunting” refers to the most dangerous game.
When the officers threaten to go back into the house, Adelina has a near breakdown.
So they go back to check the house for torture chambers, killing rooms and burial pits. All in a day’s work.
They don’t find any of those, but under heaps of old newspaper they uncover a mummified body.
Llewellyn, who is always brilliant, but in this episode she absolutely kills it. No pun intended.
She examined the mummified body, which is that of Jack Riley, who died of natural causes. The bones in the garden are mostly chicken, with some mutton thrown in. The foot spent some time in the river. The fox probably found it and brought it back to its den in the garden.
Adelina is just a hoarder. (For more information on this condition, please check the Hoarders tag right here on Hey, Don’t Judge Me) The potions found in the house are folk remedies and she knows nothing about the foot or any missing girls.
Or so she says.
No, really, she doesn’t know anything. She’s just a hoarder anxious to get back to her house.
The team are back to square one with no theory and no leads. All they know is that the body parts were in the river for a time, so they do a search of both banks.
Chandler, Norroy, Miles and Kent hold the fort at the station. It’s getting late and nothing new turned up. Norroy does what Chandler couldn’t and suggest they adjourn to the pub. Just the two of them go, leaving Kent crushed and Miles asleep. The new baby is getting to the man.
Norroy and Chandler discuss the team over two refreshing glasses of tonic water. We find out Norroy had her sargeant transferred. When she sees Chandler’s scandalized expression she pretends it was a joke. She better not get on Miles’s case. She better not.
They put their coats on and just at the moment that might have turned into a “moment”, Riley calls.
A body part wrapped in bin bags has been found. When they open it, they see it is a left foot.
They already have one of those in Llewellyn’s lab.
There’s been a second murder.