'Ridley Road' Recap: Episode 2

Daniel Hautzinger
Nancy and Sol in Ridley Road. Photo: RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE
Nancy and Sol are upset that a boy has died on their watch and fear that Jack has been compromised. Photo: RED Production Company and MASTERPIECE

Ridley Road airs Sundays at 8:00 pm on WTTW and is available to stream. WTTW Passport members can stream the entire show now. Recap the previous and following episodes.

Vivien is in the heart of the enemy. She is speaking to Colin Jordan, the head of the National Socialist Movement, in the Movement’s London headquarters. Trying to learn about Jack’s wellbeing and location, she is posing as Jane Carpenter, his friend from Manchester. Jordan is reluctant to share any information, so she spins a tale of racial grievance: her father and grandfather both served in the Royal Air Force but have been “discarded” by their country in favor of “foreigners” and “colored” people. She feels she must join the NSM fight.

Outside, the lurking Stevie, who has followed Vivien, is ordered to move on by a policeman. Distracted by this disturbance, Sol doesn’t notice Vivien being ushered into a car and driven away until too late. He loses her.

She is brought to a country estate where Jordan’s young son greets him. Jordan sends Vivien off with Elise, the only woman in sight. Elise is pregnant, and is responsible for both Jordan’s son and the cooking. She reveals to Vivien that the estate is owned by a duke who lends it to the NSM occasionally for “training.” Vivien accidentally tells Elise that her father is a tailor. Elise then turns to her work, muttering that “they bury ‘em quick.” She won’t answer any more of Vivien’s questions, and then Jordan’s son appears with a butterfly in a jar, and Vivien indulges his interest in the insect.

Finally, she is brought to Jack, who’s bruised and recovering in bed. They manage to convince Jordan that they know each other, and then he leaves them alone for a minute. Jack is upset that Vivien has put herself in danger, and tells her that he’s fine; the bruises were just an accident. The NSM still trusts him.

Vivien escapes unscathed and reports back to Sol, Ronnie, and Rabbi Lehrer about the estate. They realize Elise’s comment about burial means the NSM is planning to attack the funeral of the boy killed in the raid during which Jack was injured.

When the NSM arrives at the cemetery for the funeral, no one is there except a Jewish worker who hides behind a grave. They urinate on the graves and leave.

The funeral takes place in a different location. Sol is upset that a boy died on his watch, and thinks the NSM might be on to Jack and is feeding him bad information. Why else would a reconnaissance mission at the Jewish school turn into a full-on attack?

When Jordan catches Jack in the estate library—Jack was searching Jordan’s papers, but pretending to simply be reading a book—he tells him, “I’m on to you.”

He means about “Jane” and Jack’s relationship with her. Jack pretends that he’s not interested in Jane, and convinces Jordan that she didn’t just come to the NSM for “Peter;” she also wanted to meet Jordan, whom she admires.

Vivien’s cousin Roza is also engaged in some subterfuge. She almost tells her uncle David something, then decides against it. She retreats to her room and hides some envelopes in a book.

Books can be incriminating. Vivien’s landlady Nettie Jones accidentally knocks one off a dresser while in Vivien’s room and notices it is in Hebrew. Nettie is being forced to move into a public housing tower so that the government can bulldoze her flat of 60 years. She’s one of the last English ladies on her street, Mr. Burns, the anti-Semitic leader of her local action meetings, reminds her. He helps her pack up her house, meeting Vivien on his way out.

Vivien also lends Nettie a hand. She notices some pamphlets inveighing against “Zionism,” and asks Nettie not to tell anyone about her, pretending that she is hiding from a dangerous ex-boyfriend.

Stevie wants to know more about Vivien. He angrily confronts her at the salon over her visit to the NSM headquarters, but she doesn’t answer questions. Her aunt Nancy arrives for a haircut and gives her a message to meet that evening.

The Rabbi thanks Vivien for her intelligence about the funeral attack. Now he asks Vivien to get evidence of the paramilitary group the NSM is training at the estate by planting a recording device there with Jack’s help, so that the NSM can be prosecuted. Vivien is startled by the mission, but when Sol confronts her over whether she is passively against fascism or actively anti-fascist, she agrees to do it. Welcome to the 62 Group—his and the Rabbi’s network of activists—Sol says happily.

Nancy slaps Vivien and musses her clothing to make it looked like she was attacked, then sends her to the estate. Vivien begs to see Jordan, saying she was jumped and called “Nazi scum.” Elise, who now has a black eye and says her boyfriend doesn’t like her dressing “suggestively,” lends Vivien clothes. She rifles through Vivien’s pockets while she changes, and pockets a card for the salon.

Luckily, Vivien has the recording device hidden on her. She hears Jordan give an inflammatory speech to a table of rowdy men, then runs upstairs to the library. Jack soon follows. After some passionate kissing, he begins planting the bug under Jordan’s desk. Hearing approaching footsteps, Vivien goes to distract the person: Jordan.

She flatters him, and he begins to get aggressive with her, grabbing her face. Luckily, his son appears, and Vivien sets off to comfort him and tuck him into bed. Jordan then apologizes for getting “excited” and asks her to sit and talk with him into the night. Jack overhears, with dread, from the staircase.

Meanwhile, Vivien’s father David calls Sol and says he’s coming down to London. Vivien’s fiancé Jeremy is taking over as landlord of David’s shop, and Liza is worried they will lose everything. Jeremy said that he will have to start charging high rent if he’s not part of David’s family, for whatever reason—say, the wedding not going through.

After David leaves for London, his wife Liza laments to Roza about her life as an “unpaid housemaid,” always left in the dark. How do you keep going in life? she asks Roza.

Roza decides to hand over the envelopes hidden in her book. They were taken from David’s office. It’s time you find out what he does on his business trips, she tells Liza.