By Daniel Wood | Yahoo! Contributor Network – Mon, Sep 9, 2013 22:50 BS
Whitechapel is back for its fourth season, and the first episode does not disappoint in the slightest. We immediately get acquainted to the three main characters, DI Joe Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) and DS Ray Miles (Phil Davis) as they attend Edward Buchan's (Steve Pemberton) book signing, three leads have excellent chemistry together and waste no time re-establishing themselves.
Straight away we get the trademark eeriness and underlying horror that Whitechapel has been excellent at delivering so far and you can't help but feel a sense of dread and unease right from the start of the episode. The frequent flips between the book signing scenes and the first murder of the new series really helped to amp up the horror element by juxtaposing a seemingly innocuous book signing with the wince-inducing scenes of poor Alexander Zukanov (David Grant) getting crushed to death.
Whitechapel is a show that is never for the faint of heart, as it really does pull no punches, evidenced by director Jon East's almost cruel refusal to cut away just before the sickening moments happen. The caving in of Zukanov's chest was an incredibly affecting moment, as were several other moments throughout the episode, such as Dorothy Cade breaking the neck of a pigeon, and her eventual demise. This stalwart 'testing' of the audiences gag reflex and refusal to make things easy for them is a credit to the show.
Following Zukanov's murder the team finds itself embroiled in a storyline that mixes the occult with international espionage in a mash-up that provides many thrilling, and also completely disconcerting moments. You really get the sense that although quietly mocking its conceit, when Buchan mentioned Whitechapel as containing a 'Gate of Hell' that they really want you to consider this a possibility.
Match this with the fact that a creepy old lady in the book signing is called Louise Iver (Lucifer) uttering prophetic sentences about the main characters secrets and the apparent rogue agent Crispin Wingfield hinting that there was a force that was responsible for all of the previous Whitechapel cases. As a result we get the real sense that this is more than a crime procedural drama and that the show is maybe heading in a direction that sees the supernatural actually behind the real life crimes. Not sure what my thoughts are on that yet.
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