Rabbit, Strauss and Mabel are on a stake out. They received a tip about a jewel smuggling ring and are hoping to break the case. Suddenly, they see a shady woman make a drop but before they can intercept, Detective Inspector Tanner swoops in and grabs the evidence. The three back off when they hear ticking emanating from the bag and their suspicions are proven true as a bomb goes off severely injuring Rabbit’s rival.
[SPOILERS FOR 1.2 AHEAD!]
The next day, the trio are walking the streets when they come upon an outline of a threatening figure carrying a knife. Mabel and Rabbit explain to their companion the drawing is related to an old wives’ tale about the Brick Man who comes out at night and stabs nonbelievers. A religious zealot begins hassling some children about their belief of the East End boogeyman. Later in the evening the same fanatic finds himself face to face with the Brick Man and is murdered.
Meanwhile, we see the mysterious woman from the series premiere who put the hit on our heroes. She’s meeting with her hired gun that botched the bombing the previous night. She has no patience for failure or excuses and shoots the assassin in the heart. She then leaves to take matters into her own hands.
The mystery woman tracks down Mabel, who is offering helpful hints to bystanders about securing one’s bicycle to prevent theft. Before the woman can shoot Mabel, a racist male bystander accosts the Chief Inspector’s daughter. Before fleeing, he robs the mystery woman but Mabel comes to her aid dispatching the assailant and returning the stolen goods. The woman is impressed and grants her savior a temporary reprieve.
Rabbit and Strauss are on the trail of their murderer and it leads them into the sewers. They see a man in the shadows take off so they give chase. It turns out to be an old acquaintance of Rabbit’s, Murky John. He has the unfortunate occupation of tosher, one who roams the sewers looking for anything of value that’s dropped down that they can resell. Though he’s not the man they’re looking for, he does confirm that the Brick Man travels via the underground tunnels.
The bodies keep piling up and the animosity towards bricks is mounting. The masses are ready to tear down every wall in the city. This alarms brick making magnate, Mr. Larkham, and he pressures the Chief Inspector to add Mabel to the investigative team. Word has spread of her taking down the robber. She brings fresh ideas to the case as they visit a research society to learn more about the history of the Brick Man.
They learn that Mr. Larkham is set to benefit greatly from the current hysteria. Afterall, if all the brick walls are torn down, they have to be put back up eventually resulting in a business boom. This is enough for Rabbit and they arrest the businessman. After Larkham insults Rabbit’s parents, the detective inspector utilizes his signature brand of interrogation, roughing up the suspect in the process. Unfortunately, another murder occurs while Larkham is in custody so he might not be the killer.
The trio reexamine the evidence and notice a pattern in the attack locations (it’s the shape of a brick). They stake out the place where the next murder will occur but the Brick Man gets the drop on them and drags them to his lair in the sewers. It turns out the culprits are the head of the research society and his daughter. They despise the industrialization that’s occurring and what to go back to cozy, grassy hamlets. Through quick thinking, Rabbit tricks the father into lighting a cigarette, igniting the built-up methane and incapacitating their captors.
Though they solve the case, Rabbit finds there are repercussions for his actions. A police brutality investigation has been opened and Mr. Larkham’s has powerful enough friends that Chief Inspector can’t shield him. Plus, Inspector Tanner is the lead and the rival is looking for revenge since he blames Rabbit for the bombing earlier. Oh, did I mention that Mabel looks to be the next recruit for the secret society?
“Brick Man” effectively weaves the case of the week format with building the overarching storyline. In Rabbit’s pursuit of the killer, his skirting around the rules is about to catch up with him. The police brutality investigation is another threat he’s facing in addition to the secret society. Likewise, Mabel is on the way to making her dream come true; becoming the first female police officer. She’s willing to pay her dues by starting off with preventing bicycle theft and in the process, impressed influential people like Mr. Larkham and the mystery woman.
The jokes are funny with sharp back and forth between characters. but yet they also pull off the silly and absurd with one liners and a whole bit about creating a sh*t squad with sh*tty police to search the sewers and find the killer. And as much as the show is a comedy, there were genuine chilling, spine tingling moments. When the mystery woman (we find out her name is Lydia at the end) shoots her bumbling henchwoman in the heart, it is so cold and bad ass, that you know she’s a worthy adversary to the team. Then there’s the scene while they’re staking out the Brick Man and he emerges from the shadows behind them. Almost worthy of a good horror flick.
Though it’s only the second episode, there seems to be good on-screen chemistry developing between the main team. Rabbit has taken a mentor role for Mabel and he walks the fine line of being supportive of the aspiring policewoman without alienating his boss who is overprotective of his daughter. Strauss is fitting as a sidekick; however, he’s come off as one note. His only real trait so far is horniness and actor, Freddie Fox, can lean into that a bit too much making the character uncomfortably creepy at times.
Insult of the Night
Mabel: It’s an East End thing. Don’t they have bricks in Incest-Upon-Avon