There's no let-up for the weak of heart in episode two - 'In My Protection' opens with the brutal bludgeoning of elderly toy-seller Ernest Manby (David Coon). The people of East London take it upon themselves to dispense vigilante justice, shackling the prime suspect - 14-year-old Thomas Gower (Giacomo Mancini).
Gower's swiftly found guilty of the crime and these early courtroom scenes help lend this episode a tone distinct from last week's journey deep into the bowels of the London underworld. Refusing to give up on the condemned teen, Detective Inspector Reid (Matthew Macfadyen) and his trusty partner Bennet Drake (Jerome Flynn) uncover the machinations of Carmichael, a sinister Fagin/Bill Sikes amalgamation who terrorises his youthful lackeys, and soon our heroes find themselves under siege...
Ripper Street's lead performances remain solid this week, and Richard Warlow's script does a good job of affording each of our central trio some character progression. We learn the most about Adam Rothenberg's Captain Homer Jackson - the hard-living surgeon's brought firmly into the fold when he's given his own 'dead room' in Reid's East London cop shop, but we also glimpse a darkness behind his bravado and hear tell of a shady past.
The now-awkward, stilted marriage between MacFadyen's straight-shooter and wife Emily (Amanda Hale) following the apparent death of their daughter also lends a little meat to the show's procedural bones. We dwell the least on Flynn's heavy-handed Drake, but even he's allowed a brief reminiscence in which we learn a little of his history. Hopefully we'll get to know Drake a little better in future weeks - a romance with Rose (Charlene McKenna) is on the cards, we suspect.
Leading the guest cast, Joseph Gilgun (Misfits, This Is England) is clearly having a ball as wild-eyed villain Carmichael and meets a suitably bloody end. Michael Smiley, meanwhile, dispenses with his usual loveable Irishman routine, bringing a suitably menacing edge to the ruthless George Lusk, while his Luther co-star David Dawson also remains great fun as weaselly reporter Fred Best.
It's not all platitudes and plaudits for Ripper Street this week though - the show's female characters remain badly under-utilised, with the excellent MyAnna Buring currently spending far too much of her time either sniping at Captain Jackson or as a damsel in distress. Her Long Susan desperately needs more to do.
And while Warlow's script may nail the procedural plot and character development, the show's dialogue continues to veer awkwardly between grand Victorian language and more modern phrasings.
That being said, 'In My Protection' is an improvement on Ripper Street's series premiere - it has all of the atmosphere and fine performances of last week, but what it has in its favour is a quicker pace. While our attention occasionally wavered during 'I Need Light', episode two successfully held our interest throughout.
It's not perfect and is unlikely to convert anyone who was unconvinced by episode one, but those who thrilled to last week's antics will find much to enjoy here.