I've complained in previous weeks about Ripper Street's insistence on prioritising the case of the week over character development, which has meant that what could be a fantastic drama has been disappointedly run-of-the-mill. But 'The Weight of One Man's Heart' strikes a more satisfactory balance between character and plot, delving deep into Drake's emotional life.
The show's impressive list of high-calibre guest stars grows longer still this week, with the fantastic Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Spooks) arriving in Whitechapel as Madoc Faulkner - Drake's old brother-in-arms...
Watching actors like Glen and Matthew MacFadyen face off is predictably involving television, and Faulkner's arrival means the episode delves still deeper into the past and dark heart of Jerome Flynn's tough-as-nails copper - the brief but graphic flashes back to his wartime experiences and his later near-breakdown on Whitchapel's streets are both wonderfully vivid.
Best of all, character and plot are neatly - if somewhat obviously - tied together when it's confirmed that Faulkner is the one committing the rash of robberies that are so confounding Reid and his team.
A conflicted Drake is tempted away from Reid not only by his feelings for Rose but also by his loyalty to Faulkner, who mocks his new role as Reid's "slavish henchman". We've lamented Drake getting nothing more to do than beat suspects bloody and kick down doors for Reid, and now it transpires that it's been taking a toll on the man himself - a nice touch.
The only problem with revealing Faulkner as the villain so early in the episode is that it means the viewer's attentions wavers when the episode shifts focus to Reid's ongoing investigation, since we're always two steps ahead of him.
The size of Adam Rothenberg's role this week doesn't match his co-star Flynn's, though by way of compensation his Yankee medic gets all of the episode's best and filthiest lines.
Unlike some previous adventures, this episode's robbery plot - boosted by Drake's personal connection to the thieves - is complex and compelling enough to hold the viewer's interest for the near-hour running time. And the episode's climax - involving a daring attempted heist at the London Mint and the already unstable Faulkner bidding farewell to what little is left of his wits - resolves matters in a tense and exciting fashion.
There's also a nice line in ambiguity here - did Drake really turn to the dark side, albeit briefly? Or was it all a ruse to bring down the robbers? Faulkner lying about his fellow soldier being held at gunpoint and Drake's apparent near-confession would suggest the former but we're never provided with a definite answer either way - a far more interesting option than blatantly stating the character's motivations.
The emotional torture isn't over for Bennett though - Rose's retort to his declaration of love, "You will always be my friend" has to be up there with up there with "It's not you, it's me" or "I think of you like a brother" as one of the most painful lines a man can ever hear. And the final revelation that he had purchased her the two birds she had desired - likely spending the last of his meagre earnings to do so - makes for a powerfully emotional final sting.
This is the Ripper Street we've been waiting for - a visceral and exciting drama that focuses on plot, character and emotion in equal measure. Let's hope it's not a one-off and that this promising new series has finally found its feet.