The King Came Calling
Season 1, Episode 3
Air date 13 January 2013
Written by Declan Croghan and Richard Warlow
Directed by Andy Wilson
Episode Guide
In My Protection
The Good of This City

The King Came Calling is the third episode of Season One of Ripper Street.


What appears to be a cholera epidemic strikes East London, until Jackson notices signs that the epidemic is a deliberate act of mass poisoning. Reid becomes desperate when his wife is afflicted with the mysterious illness.



At an intersection between Whitechapel and the City of London, people are filling jugs from a water pump, while a preacher exhorts that, though the two areas of the City appear divided, they are all human beings under God.

A heavyset man in a fine suit and a jaunty boater stumbles into the square and vomits, then collapses to his back. Some of the crowd gather around in concern, and the man raves, seeing visions of terrible things. The preacher tries to help him, but the man splutters and dies. The preacher warns the crowd to stay away from the water pump. "It is the King returned... King Cholera."

Part OneEdit

In the Eastern Dispensary, Emily Reid pours a glass of water for herself, and offers comfort and sandwiches to one of "her women", a prostitute named Kathleen who has been savagely beaten by her pimp. She thanks Emily for her kindness, but steadfastly refuses to name the man.

Edmund Reid stands on the bank of the Thames, overseeing Constable Hobbs collecting a heavy bag from the river. He is hailed by his opposite number in the City of London Police, Inspector Sidney Ressler, whose fine suit and elegant top hat make him look more like one of the bankers in his district than a policeman. He asks what Reid is doing on his "patch", and Reid explains that he is conducting an experiment to determine where Elizabeth Jackson's remains were dumped into the river. Those remains washed ashore on a bank in the City of London, and Ressler has been eager to claim jurisdiction over the case, believing Jackson to be a victim of the Ripper.

Reid disputes that Jackson is a Ripper victim, and has had sacks of diced pigs weighing the same as those remains dropped into the river at various intervals upstream. The package that Hobbs has just retrieved was dumped in Battersea, on Reid's turf, indicating that that is where Jackson was murdered. "Have it from me, Inspector, and remember it well: you want no part of this parade." Then one of Reid's constables yells for him, saying he is urgently needed back in Whitechapel.

Returning to Leman Street, Reid is surprised to find the street practically deserted, except for the street preacher. He says it is his job to help men fight against their worst fears, and Reid replies, "then you are welcome here."

Entering the station, Reid is dismayed to see all of his constables huddled in the corners, instead of out on patrol. Sgt. Artherton anxiously asks whether the dead man is really a job for them, rather than the medical authorities, and Reid says they must be sure it is cholera first. Artherton also asks whether the city's water pumps should be closed, and Reid says, not yet - do so and the populace will be "drinking from the river in a day, and the dead will line the streets."

In the Dead Room, Captain Jackson examines the corpse of the fat man who collapsed in the square. The body has all the external signs of cholera infection, but Jackson says he will do a complete autopsy and make sure - adding that, because of the man's heft, he will need an assistant. Sgt. Drake already has men out inquiring for other cases of cholera, and so far nothing has come back.

Leaving the Dead Room, Reid tasks Hobbs to assist Jackson with the autopsy, and angrily tells Artherton to make sure the men are out and seen on the streets by the public, and without the gas masks some of them are fingering.

In the Dispensary, Emily pleads with Kathleen not to go back to her pimp, who will send her back to the hospital, and others like her. Kathleen says that may be true, but a woman has to work to find food and lodgings in London. Emily says there are places where she can be housed and kept safe, and Kathleen retorts that all of them will insist on sending her to church every Sunday and haranguing her for her "sins". Their conversation is interrupted when a man in the hallway bows over and vomits, pleading for help.

Hobbs reluctantly assists Jackson in autopsying the dead man, but comes close to losing his breakfast when Jackson cuts free the man's bowels and hoists them out of his chest cavity. Taking a small sample from the man's gastric system, Jackson examines it under a microscope and finds no trace of cholera bacillus. Artherton pokes his head into the Dead Room and says word has come from the Eastern Dispensary: no others dead as of yet, but many sick.

Part Two Edit

Reid and Drake cross the boundary into the City. A financial paper in the victim's pocket indicates he is a City man, and a news vendor's handwritten note in the corner leads them to the man who sold it, who directs them to an exclusive block of flats. After bullying their way past the doorman, Reid and Drake enter a sumptuous apartment and find a naked woman lying on a divan. Drake's first thought is that she is dead, but Reid finds an opium pipe lying next to her and says she is merely unconscious. They briefly examine the other rooms, then question the woman as she wakes up. She admits that the fat man, whose name is Algernon Winston, installed her there, and he was with her last night, complaining loudly about pains in his head and belly. She herself feels fine, and Reid says she may have had a lucky escape.

Emerging from the flats, Reid and Drake are confronted by Ressler, wanting to know what they are doing there. Reid says he has a dead man on his slab, bearing all the signs of cholera infection, and Ressler tells him to keep his voice down. Seeing Hobbs waiting behind Ressler's constables, Reid motions him forward, and Hobbs tells him he's needed at the Dispensary.

Reid, Drake and Hobbs enter to find the Dispensary's waiting room packed. He is alarmed to see Emily sitting in a corner, patting a sick child's head. She assures him that she's well, she just happened to be visiting when the patients started coming in. Jackson enters and says that whatever killed Winston, it wasn't cholera. Reid asks what else could afflict so many at once, and Jackson says he doesn't know. To Reid's surprise, Ressler enters the dispensary with his constables. Confronting him, Reid says that Ressler must know more than he's said about what is going on. Ressler admits that four of the City's inhabitants have died under similar circumstances in the last two days. He kept the deaths secret, out of fear that a panic in the City over a real or imagined disease outbreak would cause a crippling financial loss to the country, but the chaos in the Dispensary has convinced him that the outbreak is much more widespread.

One of the patients begins raving, and Ressler confesses that one of his dead men did the same before he died. Reid and Jackson have the same thought - ergotism, a sickness caused by a fungal infection on rye grains. Jackson says the signs are consistent, but it does not account for the fat man's manner of death. Reid says it is at least a start, and tells Ressler to bring his four dead men to Leman Street, so Jackson can autopsy them. Jackson also says that he will need to study a patient who is near death, and monitor the symptoms of the disease as they become fatal.

Aside, Reid tells Emily to go home, but she says she can't, she has appointments in the City with possible sponsors for her shelter. Reid says he can't do his job if he's worrying for her safety, and she retorts that, as a policeman's wife, she worries for his safety every day, but is determined not to let it stop her from doing something with her life. Reid reluctantly agrees.

Interviewing the various patients, Reid and Drake can see no common thread as to what they have eaten or drunk, but notices one man, George, who, despite being large and strong, appears worst taken by the disease. Reid says he believes they have found Jackson's "case study".

In a small room, converted into a chemical laboratory, a man (unseen in the dim light) sits at his worktable and looks through the newspaper, finding no article on the outbreak. On the walls are news clippings, with portraits of the Ripper's known and suspected victims.

Part ThreeEdit

Back at Leman Street, Jackson tests a sample from Winston's stomach contents, and confirms ergotism, but again, says that does not wholly account for the manner of death.

Reid installs George into a cell downstairs at Leman Street, asking a constable to keep an eye on him and call Jackson if his condition changes. Called outside, he sees Ressler standing beside a wagon, carrying the bodies of his four dead men.

Emily is shown into the home of Mrs. Flora Gable, the widow of a prominent miller and inheritor of a considerable fortune. As they take tea, Emily lays out her proposal for a shelter, badly needed by the "fallen women" of Whitechapel. When Mrs. Gable asks if Emily plans to improve them through prayer and enforced chastity, Emily admits that she does not, fearing that such strictures would discourage these women from seeking shelter.

Mrs. Gable faces a portrait of her late husband, then turns and confides that most of her acquaintances thought he was a good man, unlucky only in that he had a barren wife and a childless marriage - but in truth the fault was all his, since he gave most of his energy to the whores of London's various bawdy houses, and whenever he had commerce with her, it only succeeded in infecting her with whatever he had picked up from them. Increasing in volume and vitriol, Mrs. Gable says that she rejoiced every time the Ripper "judged" one of the whores of Whitechapel; she initially thought Emily's proposal was worthwhile - a plan to get these filthy women off the streets - but instead Emily is "insulting" her by asking her to feel compassion and mercy towards "WHORES, MRS. REID! WHORES!"

During this tirade, Emily's vision swims, and Mrs. Gable's eyes appear to turn pure black. Hastily excusing herself, Emily stumbles outside and vomits onto the steps. Shrugging off the inquiry of a concerned stranger, she makes her way home. Clutching her belly, she takes a few steps, then hears a child's laughter from upstairs. Rushing up to her daughter's room, she opens it and sees a flood of light. Smiling joyfully, she walks into the light...

As Drake is putting on his coat to leave for the night, Reid asks him to look in on Emily, since Reid cannot leave the station yet. Drake agrees, and Jackson, passing by, asks him to also look in on Susan's.

At Tenter Street, Drake instructs Susan and several of her anxious girls how to treat their food and water and protect themselves from possible contamination. Susan thanks him. He turns to go, but stops and asks after Rose. With a little smile - since Drake's affection for Rose is common knowledge in the house - Susan promises to keep her safe as well.

Drake knocks on the door of the Reids' flat, but there is no answer, and he reluctantly uses his pocketknife to jimmy the lock. Calling out for Emily, he starts to climb the stairs - and sees her collapsed on the floor of the upstairs bedroom. Drake starts to scoop her into his arms, but is briefly taken aback by the room, clearly for a small girl.

George's condition quickly takes a turn for the worst, and he clutches at Jackson, pleading to confess his sins. Jackson asks Reid to fetch the preacher, but listens as George confesses that the Ripper was hardly the first man in Whitechapel to do violence to a woman; he did it, he did it often, and he enjoyed it. "Am I forsaken?" George asks. "I reckon so, brother", Jackson responds coolly. But the preacher enters with Reid and takes George's hands, assuring him that one sinner who has repented will be welcomed into heaven more joyfully than ninety-nine men who have lived righteous lives. Those are the last words George hears, before he dies. Reid asks if anything was learned from the manner of his death, and Jackson says he will know more once George's body is taken to the lab.

Part FourEdit

Completing his autopsy, Jackson notes that George's eyes were conjunctival, indicating that the poison that killed him was some kind of heavy metal compound. What remains a mystery is how it was delivered. Examining the contents of George's stomach, Jackson finds undigested alum husks, indicating the man's meal contained a lot of unprocessed flour. Having autopsied Ressler's four dead men, Jackson found the remains of white bread in each of their stomachs. The poison, whatever it is, is milled into flour and thus distributed. Reid and Ressler are equally horrified: "It is in everything."

Drake rushes into the station carrying Emily in his arms. He lays her in the camp bed in Reid's office, and is joined by an anxious Reid. He lays a hand on her forehead and tells her she is safe, and working to find a cure for the sickness, but she is too weak to respond.

In the Dead Room, Drake and Ressler watch as Jackson performs the Marsh Test, burning a solution from the victims' stomach contents and holding a small porcelain bowl over the flames. As he expects, the flames deposit a silvery black residue on the dish. Lifting a small glass of sodium chlorinated lime, Jackson says that if the residue dissolves, their poison is arsenic - if it does not, "there is but one other." Reid enters as Jackson pours the sodium into the bowl, and the residue swirls, but does not dissolve. He has identified the poison: an amalgamation of ergot and antimony, designed not just to kill, but to ensure a gruesome and intensely painful death.

Ressler laments that their poisoner could introduce his compound into the food chain at any number of stages, from any number of locations - "he may be in Dundee for all we know." Reid disagrees; the type of man they are dealing with wants to witness his handiwork firsthand, and he will be in London somewhere, keeping watch.

In the poisoner's secret lab, he opens the newspaper again, seeing a front-page article about the mysterious illness spreading from Whitechapel. He clips the article from the paper and then crosses out the faces of the Ripper's victims with a pencil. Outside the lab, he slips unnoticed onto the floor of a mill works, opens a hatch and pours a small bag of powder into the grinder.

In the Dead Room, Reid stands over the bodies of George, Winston, and the four dead men from the City. He notes that there is a gap of 36 hours or more between the first five deaths and George's, indicating two waves of attack. The second is too widespread to be deciphered, but the first may help them identify the poisoner. Reid asks Ressler what the five City men had in common, and Ressler says, nothing. "No, we do not allow nothing!" Reid shoots back. Ressler repeats that, beyond the fact that they all worked inside the City, they had nothing in common: different professions, different places of employment and residence, different routes to work, and different means of getting there - "no sign or record that they knew one another from a hole in Bishopsgate." Reid asks Drake to spread his map of London on a table and asks Ressler to point out the men's routes. Ressler does, and Drake notes that three of the men would have passed through the same area of Whitechapel on their way to work. Ressler says that theory doesn't hold water; the other two men, Winston and a clerk named Hacket, lived in the City and west of there, respectively, so what reason would they have to visit Whitechapel? "What has always brought men here?" Jackson asks, rhetorically. The answer, though unspoken, is clear: vice.

Remembering finding a depilatory kit in Winston's apartment, Reid looks closer at Winston's chest and legs, and finds them stripped of hair. Jackson sees what Reid is getting at: Winston had a taste for transvestism. Jackson also admits, somewhat sheepishly, that he found sperm in Hackett's stomach. He didn't think it was relevant, but now it indicates that Hackett and Winston shared some of the same tastes, even if they never knew each other. Reid tells Ressler to ready a carriage: they will return to Winston's apartments and look harder for proof of where he, and possibly Hackett, visited in Whitechapel.


Main CastEdit

Recurring CastEdit

Guest Cast Edit

  • Patrick Baladi as Sidney Ressler
  • Penny Downie as Flora Gable
  • Simon Gregor as Claxton
  • Stuart Bunce as Preacher
  • Oddie Braddell as Boater
  • Jennifer Laverty as Kathleen
  • Dave Legeno as George
  • Emma Griffiths Malin as Harlot
  • Jonathan White as Madam
  • Malcolm Adams as Porter
  • Norma Sheahan as Distressed Woman
  • Mark Coney as Newspaper Vendor
  • Aron Day as Poor Man


  • Rose (Charlotte McKenna) does not appear.
  • In the opening scenes, Reid and Ressler are arguing over the "provenance" of Elizabeth Jackson, one of the victims of the Thames Torso Murders of 1887-89. These murders also involved the mutilation of several prostitutes, whose remains were dumped in the Thames River. They were speculated to be victims of Jack the Ripper, though this was never confirmed, and the murders remain unsolved.
  • Reid and Drake mention being out of London in 1876, during the last known cholera outbreak. Jackson says he was in New Orleans during such an outbreak in 1875. The Fourth great cholera pandemic spread throughout the world from 1863-1875. There were several outbreaks in the Southern United States in the 1870's, however, the last great outbreak in London was in 1866, not 1876.
  • Reid threatens that any of his men who wears a gas mask on London's streets will be exposed to "one of Mr. Lister's bacteria." Dr. Joseph Lister (1827-1912) was a British surgeon who pioneered the use of sterilization in modern surgery. The bacterial genus Listeria is named in honor of him, though it was not identified until the 1920's, or named after Lister until 1940.
  • Jackson also makes reference to Robert Koch (1843-1910), the German physician credited with identifying the bacteria responsible for cholera.
  • Ressler is Chief Inspector of the City of London Police, an independent police force created in 1839. It is responsible for law and order in the City of London (the financial district and surroundings), and operates independently of the Metropolitan Police's divisions.
  • Claxton remarks that Jack the Ripper has killed "seven, at most." The Ripper's "canonical" five victims were Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly. As of mid-1889, two others, Rose Mylett and Alice McKenzie, were suspected Ripper victims, but this was never confirmed. In September 1889, a woman's torso was found in Whitechapel, and in 1891 Frances Coles was found murdered in a similar manner, but like Mylett and McKenzie, their connection to the Ripper remains unconfirmed.

See AlsoEdit