5×01: “The Slaughterhouse”
Directed by Adam MacDonald
Written by Ian Carpenter & Aaron Martin
* For recaps & reviews of earlier seasons, click here.
* For a recap & review of 5×02, click here.
We find ourselves in 19th-century Toronto. The streets are awash with dirt and blood. A well-dressed man called Jack is confronted in the streets when he tries to go off with a young woman. He’s told to stay away by the man who prostitutes the girls, Horatio Dixon (Jefferson Brown). So ‘Jack’ heads off to look around for more young women on which to prey. He eventually crosses paths with a man covered in a black veil. He pulls out a blade, threatening the woman, but before he lifts her veil he’s attacked. The veiled woman ties the man up, pulls off his pants, and starts cutting off his jacket and shirt. Then the lady disappears into the darkness, leaving ‘Jack’ alone, tied, and vulnerable. Out of nowhere, she returns and cuts into him like a butcher would a piece of beef.
The next morning, Detective Kenneth Rijkers (Gabriel Darku) is called out to the scene of the murder, where ‘Jack’ a.k.a Alistair Simcoe is found. Horatio says the name Jack was just Simcoe’s way of “getting off pretending to be Jack the Ripper.” Simcoe was a “society man,” so he used an alias while trolling the streets. Dt. Rijkers has a look over the body, noting that the killer used “a double–bladed weapon” of some kind. Already there’s a name brewing for the murderer: The Widow, on account of the dark veil.
At home, Regina Simcoe (Clare McConnell) is wondering why her husband might’ve been in “The Devil‘s Elbow.” Viviania Botticelli (Paula Brancati) has brought news of Alistair’s death even before Dt. Rijkers arrives. She figures it was probably Alistair going into that part of town to minister to the downtrodden. Mrs. Simcoe’s convinced it was wrong place, wrong time. She refuses to believe in any of the “uncomfortable questions” that Alistair’s murder is bringing up. At the same time, Basil Garvey (Eric McCormack) is planning to make sure The Devil’s Elbow stays in line, not wanting any ruckus when it comes to business. He sends his muscle man down there to throw around a little weight.
Later, Dt. Rijkers goes to see Terrence Crenshaw (Christopher Jacot), as well as Salomé (Salvatore Antoino), who was viciously scarred on the face by Alistair once upon a time. Could that be a motive? Is it possible that Salomé could be The Widow? Or The Widow may not even be a woman at all. Crenshaw does insist he protects the girls and boys who work for him. He says “any of the cheap pimps and lost souls” in Toronto could’ve been behind Alistair’s murder. And he certainly doesn’t feel any kind of sorrow for Simcoe dying.
Dr. Melanda Israel (Lisa Berry) is working in the operating theatre for a group of spectators. She has a patient with kidney issues. She has to do lots of gruesome work. Meanwhile, people in the audience degraded the experience by using non-medical terms like “piss.” Dr. Israel has to put her patient back under sedation after he wakes up while she’s holding his kidney. All in a day’s work.
A while later, the doctor meets with Dt. Rijkers to go over the body of Alistair. The cop notes that Simcoe’s wrists were tied with a cordage known as “Hayanawa,” also referred to as Hojo Cord. Could this be an important clue? Dr. Israel notes how the attack was overkill, and Dt. Rijkers believes the murder was personal, that the killer was “sending a message.” When the detective tries telling this to Superintendent Isaac Kashtinsky (Daniel Kash) he doesn’t get much support, especially when he says this murder isn’t random. His boss thinks he’s just a new detective trying to do big things. We’ll see.
Viviana and her sister Venetia (Sabrina Grdevich) are introducing their youngest sister, Verdi (Sadie Laflamme-Snow), to society. They’re actually just trying to sell her off to be married with the intent of getting some kind of financial gain out of it. They’re now introducing her to Basil, which is probably not a great thing; he seems like the type to definitely exploit women, or anybody. Although later that night, Viviana smacks Verdi in the face, angry that her younger sister supposedly wants to steal Basil away even though Verdi assures her it’s not true. We find out that Verdi’s not considered a full part of the family, that she’s looked down upon by her sisters. An unsettling, creepy situation for Verdi, who now has to endure psychological torture and physical abuse, like spankings, from her sisters. Yikes!
Everyone’s spending their night at the theatre to see Georges Rondeau (Thom Allison), a world-famous magician. Rondeau welcomes all the “timid hearts and frightened souls” in attendance. “You are under my power,” he tells his audience, before snapping and disappearing in wisps of smoke. After that comes the traditional box that will be cut in half with someone inside, in which Rondeau appears. The magician hauls out his long saw before directing his assistant Shanika (Mercedes Morris) inside the box. He says nobody is immune to the dangers of this world and talks subtly about the “tender backsides” of the bourgeois in Toronto after Simcoe’s murder. Following that, Rondeau saws into the box. But halfway through, the saw sticks, Shanika screams, and blood leaks from the box. Verdi even stands up, screaming she can’t watch. The audience starts to murmur. Of course it’s all a magic trick courtesy of Rondeau, who says he has “the power of Osiris” and can restore Shanika, albeit with “great cost.” He rolls his eyes into the back of his head, chanting in another language. He commands Shanika back into the land of the living, and she comes out from behind him to the audience’s applause.
Dt. Rijkers sneaks into the morgue to have another look at Simcoe’s body. He notices what looks like a potential needle mark on Simcoe’s arm. He’s interrupted by Dr. Israel. They talk about the needle marks and the doctor has a look in the hole, discovering something stuck inside. She pulls the object free, seeing that there’s a little paper message within. She hands the rolled-up paper to Dt. Rijkers and he unrolls it. After that, the detective heads for the theatre, as Rondeau’s onstage showing off a boa constrictor knot, supposedly a secret of the Egyptian royal family. Rijkers shows Superintendent Kashtinsky the note, which reads: “Alistair was first, one of many. The other gents will bleed from wounds aplenty. Friends of Margaret are my target.” Then we see Kashtinsky with Garvey, talking about something that happened 12 years ago and how everyone who was there is in danger now.
Dt. Rijkers is sent immediately to see Mrs. Simcoe about the message. She reads it but doesn’t understand any of it. The detective’s curious if Regina knows who the Margaret is referenced in the note, though she has no idea. They head for Alistair’s private study to try seeking answers. The place is full of anatomical genital pictures, dildos, and 1800s bondage gear. Quite the revelation for Regina. She had no clue that her husband was a sick fuck, evidently.
After Horatio has a verbal scuffle with Basil’s tough guy Eddie, he’s visited again that night by Eddie and punched in the face with brass knuckles. Then he has to have a go with Eddie and some other guys. He might be feisty, but it looks like it may be a losing fight. That is until some of the women jump in to help. Eddie winds up tossing one of the women, Daisy (Nataliya Rodina), into a pole, cracking her head open. He and his boys run off while Horatio weeps over a bleeding, dying Daisy.
At the Simcoe residence, Dt. Rijkers and Regina find a false bottom in one of Alistair’s cabinets. Inside of the false bottom is a book with all sorts of things like newspaper clippings about “Toronto‘s own Jack the Ripper,” pieces of hair, and strange drawings. Jump back to 12 years ago. Rijkers wasn’t yet a detective. He was alerted to a disembowelled body in the streets. He recalls the name of the dead woman: Margaret Mehar (Genevieve DeGraves).
As Horatio holds Daisy’s corpse, he’s visited by The Widow. He says Basil’s the one who killed Daisy. The Widow closes Daisy’s eyelids. Horatio welcomes The Widow’s cleansing of Toronto, but urges that the killer work higher up the social hierarchy than someone like Garvey.
Then, The Widow kills Horatio, cutting off his head.