At the beginning of the finale, we see Beresford Brown (Kevin Mathurin) attempting to hang a picture in Reg’s old dwelling. He notices that the wall sounds hallow and finds wallpaper peeling nearby. He pulls away at the wallpaper and discovers a hidden door. The door is open and a cadaver is found inside. Then, we jump 3 years earlier. Christie (Tim Roth) gets himself prepared for court. He heads to the courthouse with Ethel (Samantha Morton) by his side. Tim’s mother also arrives at this time. Reg quickly takes the stand. He claims he awoken by a disturbance upstairs and now believe the noise to be Tim (Nico Mirallegro) trying to dispose of Beryl’s body. He also admits he thought Tim was decent at first, but his opinion changed when he became aware of the boy’s constant drinking.
He complains about the couple’s constant fights and admits he was once forced to notify the police. Reginald recalls a time when Beryl (Jodie Comer) was nearly pushed out of a window. Tim seems genuinely startled by the allegations. The defense is given the opportunity to question Reg. He is questioned about the illegal abortion, but denies everything. Reg insists he had fibrositis and was simply unable to move around at that time. The court takes the bait and Reginald is offered a seat. He is then asked about being arrested for attacking a woman in the past. He admits to being imprisoned for 6 months, but insists he was acting out of self defense. The defense stops their questions there. The court day ends and Ethel quickly asks Reg about the woman he attacked.
Reg confesses he was renting a room from the woman and they wound up arguing about the rent amount. He insists the woman came after him with a cricket bat and he defended himself. He then tries to make Ethel feel guilty, by explaining how much he needs her now. Christie meets with Dr. Odess (Tim Bentinck) and tries to obtain a doctor’s note to get out of testifying any further. His demand is refused, but he is offered a stronger dose of medication. At home, Reginald instructs Ethel what to say when questioned in court. The next day, Ethel takes the stand. She follows her husband’s orders and repeats what he told her. After Ethel has finished, Tim takes the stand. He denies killing his wife and reiterates his claims that Christie killed her. His confession is mentioned. The prosecutor brings up Tim’s past lies and classifies him as a self-confessed liar. Tim admits he has no idea why Christie would kill his wife.
Christie is recalled and forced to answer more questions. The prosecutor attempts to paint Christie as an innocent individual. The defense tries to disprove this. However, Reginald gains sympathy by telling the court about his time in the army and being gassed twice. He insists he was blinded for three months and left unable to speak for 3 and a half years. Reginald’s police work is also brought up to solidify his good character. Tim is found guilty and sentenced to death. His mother calls Reginald a murderer, as Tim is led out of the courtroom. We jump forward and watch Reginald and Ethel pay a visit to Harry (Christopher Hatherall) and Janice (Sonya Cassidy). Reginald describes how he treated Tim like a son. He complains about the accusations made against him. Moments later, Ethel and Reg admit they would like to move.
The group heads outside. Harry and Janice offer to help the pair find a place near them. However, their offer is refused. When they return home, they discover Beresford Brown rummaging around upstairs. He introduces himself to the pair, before Reginald attempts to give him rules for the place. Beresford laughs and insists those are Reg’s rules and not the landlord’s rules. Ethel and Reginald speak about the man and his wife later. Ethel complains about being unable to move and also insists Beresford was laughing at Reg and his rules. Ethel lashes out at her husband and admits she helped send an innocent man to his execution. Reg denies the accusations and tells Ethel she needs to go to bed. He leaves and strolls the streets that night. When he returns home in the morning, he finds Ethel sobbing. She complains about Beresford’s wife attacking her.
Reg promises to speak with them. He heads upstairs, waits a few seconds and returns to his wife. He fibs and insists he told them. Later, Reg sits by his wife, as she sleeps in bed. He wakes her up, before jumping on top of her and strangling her to death. He drags the body downstairs and hides it under the floorboards. Reginald leaves his house and is confronted by one of Ethel’s friends. He makes up a story about her being away. He visits another doctor and attempts to get more medication. The doctor tries to convince Reg to admit himself to the hospital, but he insists he cannot leave his wife. After leaving the doctor, Reg meets with Hectorina (Erin Armstrong). Reg invites the woman to come over and get some of his wife’s clothing. Her boyfriend, Alex (Toby Wharton), interrupts and drags her away.
The woman visits Reginald and begins picking out clothing. Alex enters and Reg changes his mind. He only allows the woman to take one item. After Alex leaves, he tells Hectorina to return later without her boyfriend. Later, Reginald invites another woman into his house. He explains that he has performed the procedure many times. The woman’s coat is removed and she is told to sit in a chair. Christie removes the woman’s shoes, before stepping outside to grab his briefcase. Christie returns and kills Hectorina. He also kills the other woman. Christie hides the body before getting a visit from an officer. Reg explains he is moving out, since the council found them a flat in Willesden. The officer complains about the smell of Reg’s flat. He blames it on his neighbors and their culinary choices. Once the cop leaves, Reginald attempts to cover up the smell of Ethel’s body. He puts wallpaper over the hidden door and leaves with the dog.
Reg ties the dog to a park bench and strolls off. Later, newspapers begin to print stories about Christie’s murders. He notices the papers and keeps walking. He is eventually caught by a cop and taken to the station. He is asked about the murders, the bodies found in his home and the four different pubic hairs. The detective explains that the pubic hairs did not belong to the victims found inside the home. He is asked whether or not it could be Beryl. He admits it could be. He complains about having a nervous breakdown. However, he confesses to having an idea that he did kill Beryl. He denies harming the baby. After being taken away, Reginald remains adamant that the court will not execute an insane man. Reginald is photographed by the press, before being escorted to the courtroom. Reg is found guilty and sentenced to death.
Again, Tim’s mom screams at Reginald and tries to encourage him to tell the truth about Geraldine. He is taken away and given the opportunity to speak with a priest. Reginald mentions the names of his victims, but leaves out Geraldine. Moments later, he is led out of his cell and executed for his crimes.
Rillington Place Review
The true story behind Rillington Place is so insanely bizarre that it is hard to believe. Initially, it appears that Reginald John Christie singlehandedly fooled everyone, while the body count continued to climb higher and higher. It is highly unlikely Christie was simply an evil genius. Instead, those in his life and those investigating Tim Evans refused to look elsewhere. So many people could’ve stepped forward and righted the wrong, but nobody had the courage to do so. The detectives zeroed in on Tim Evans and refused to take off their blinders. Plus, Ethel continued to sweep her husband’s hideous crimes under the rug.
The combination allowed Christie to keep his crime concealed, while carrying out even more. How many victims would’ve been spared had the police investigated further or Ethel had spoken out? Sadly, Christie was given a free pass for a long period and he used that time to murder more. All in all, Rillington Place was a good exploration of the complex case, but it is truly a shame more emphasis wasn’t placed on the investigation and the incompetence of those involved.
Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed the series greatly. An 8 out of 10 is awarded to the finale. Catch up with previous recaps of Rillington Place now!