'Ridley Road' Recap: Episode 3

Daniel Hautzinger
Vivien and Colin Jordan in Ridley Road. Photo: Red Production Company and Masterpiece
Vivien grows ever closer to Colin Jordan, to her danger. Photo: Red Production Company and Masterpiece

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

Vivien, asleep on a couch in Colin Jordan’s bedroom, starts awake to a touch by Elise, the pregnant house manager for the National Socialist Movement (NSM). Vivien assures everyone that the NSM leader didn’t touch her. Hearing arguing downstairs, Vivien descends and see Jordan’s son Paul grabbing a pistol from a chest and walking into the room where his parents are arguing. She follows, grabbing the weapon from him, and comes face to face with Françoise Dior, Jordan’s wife, who taunts her and Jordan both.

Having rifled through Vivien’s pockets, Elise now tries to return a card from Vivien’s salon to her before she leaves—but Vivien claims it’s not hers. She’s now regretting telling Elise she is a hairdresser. Elise’s boyfriend, Lee, drives Vivien back to London.

She is once again late to the salon, where the owner Barbara is dressing a wound on her son Stevie’s hand. Apparently he was jumped, again. Vivien has given to Sol tapes from the recording device she and Jack planted in Jordan’s office, and Sol’s wife Nancy visits Vivien at the salon to get more information. She realizes from Vivien’s description of an American who has arrived at the NSM house that he is George Rockwell, the leader of the American Nazi Party. He and Jordan must be planning something big if Françoise is there: she’s banned from traveling to the UK.

Back at her lodging, Vivien realizes that her landlady Nettie has seen her Hebrew prayer book, and confesses the truth to Nettie, who asks that she doesn’t tell any more lies—and warns Vivien against going to the dancehalls, lest she be captured for “white slavery.”

Vivien then stops at the NSM headquarters, pretending that Lee asked her to drop off ink. She finds Jack working the printing press, making fliers for a rally. Another NSM member, Jeff, quickly ushers Vivien out, but she claims to have a “girl” thing for Françoise, and he uncomfortably lets her go upstairs to give it to her.

Rockwell is trying to convince Jordan to commit his men to more action and violence, since some big investors are expecting results, but Jordan wants to be more cautious. The women are sent away, but Vivien stops to wipe smeared makeup from Françoise’s face outside the door and overhears plans to march to Rabbi Lehrer’s synagogue.

She then goes to get a drink for Françoise but is accosted by Lee, who’s wondering why she claimed he asked her to bring ink. She says she used the lie as a cover story: Jordan asked her there, but she wanted to be discreet since Françoise is around. Lee then asks Vivien for her subscription fees and documents to confirm her identity so that she can become a member of the NSM. Jordan interrupts. He apologizes to Vivien for his complicated marriage—and then Françoise interrupts in turn. Jordan whispers a meeting place to Vivien and then finally lets her leave.

Sol is waiting outside in a cab to pick her up, with a surprise guest: her father David. David has been training infiltrators for two decades, and he’s furious that Vivien went undercover with so little preparation. He wants to bring her home to Manchester, but she argues that she must continue her work: Jordan is beginning to open up to her.

David relents, and Vivien warns Rabbi Lehrer of the coming march. Sol wants to meet it with violence, but David and the Rabbi insist that he go to the police with the recordings from Jordan’s office. The Rabbi refuses to cancel or move any more services.

Sol reluctantly goes to the police, whom he doesn’t trust, claiming an anonymous source sent him the tapes. The meeting ends up being more of an interrogation of a belligerent Sol than of the NSM, and eventually the police admit they can’t do anything about the march: the NSM has a permit. As for the tapes, while there are slurs on them, there is no talk of weapons or violence. And the police investigation into the death of the boy killed in an NSM raid has determined it was the result of a party gone wrong, given the glass bottles—which actually contained Molotov cocktails.

At the salon, Stevie notices a flier for the upcoming NSM march in Vivien’s coat pocket and takes it. Elise walks in and Vivien manages to disappear before she sees her. Elise is suspicious, as she tells Lee later. No one at the salon knows a “Jane Carpenter,” but Elise saw Vivien’s coat there. She must be an undercover cop, maybe even working with Jack, who might also be undercover. She begs Lee not to attend the rally—she can’t cope on her own if he’s arrested, and she “can’t have them take another baby away.” He ignores her.

Back in Manchester, Roza realizes that Liza hasn’t opened the envelopes she gave her from David’s office. Liza has convinced herself she doesn’t want to know her husband’s secrets, but Roza encourages her to find out. Liza is confused by the contents: a girl’s birth certificate, bank accounts.

Vivien is at the front of the march to the synagogue, next to Jordan. Upon arrival, Jordan rants against the Rabbi and “white slavery,” and Rockwell begins banging on the doors. Sol quickly locks and props furniture against them. Suddenly, the NSM’s paramilitary group arrives with nightsticks. Vivien and Jordan urge restraint, but Rockwell goads them on. Then Stevie and other anti-fascists arrive, and chaos breaks out.

Jack slips away from the march and ducks down an alley to help the Jews inside the synagogue escape through a side door, but he is followed by Lee. Jack beats Lee unconscious. When the police arrive, Jack tries to flee, but another NSM member, Jeff, makes him help carry Lee away. Rockwell staggers backwards from Stevie, scared of a biracial man—and Stevie is handcuffed by police.

Jordan spirits Vivien away in his car, then chastises Françoise back at the NSM headquarters for sending in the paramilitary. He’s sending his wife out of the country again, and he will keep one of the suitcases she brought.

He then orders his men to torch the building. They’ll blame Jewish activists, and give the police their addresses. Jack tries to save Vivien from going with Jordan, but she chooses to follow the leader, to Jack’s distress. That’s heightened when Jack quickly searches Jordan’s desk before lighting it on fire and finds a Jewish newspaper with Vivien’s engagement photo in it.

Back at the estate that the NSM borrows, Vivien sneaks into Jordan’s bedroom and opens the suitcase he took from Françoise to find receipts for weapons and chemicals. She slides it back under the couch and Jordan enters. He unzips her dress. After a moment of hesitation, she turns around and kisses him.