Obsessive–compulsive disorder — I don’t know why but it is a compelling character trait. It speaks to hidden emotions in a visual and psychological way that is as puzzling as it is fascinating. Not just any character can wear it well. I’m talking about Detective Inspector Joseph ‘Joe’ Chandler of Whitechapel. Rupert Penry-Jones has a bit of the OCD tendency, much as I myself do. It shows in his meticulous execution of his character’s habits and even extends into his physical movements and interactions.
DI Chandler is a tall, good-looking, polite, well spoken young man. Despite his uptight and fastidious habits, he’s well thought of by his superiors as he treats them with respect and deference. Meant to go places through his high-ranking career cop family, he’s snobbish and superior without really meaning to be. As he’s totally green to the act of investigation, he relies on hunches and making deductions rather than following the evidence.
Much to the frustration of his veteran DS Ray Miles who feels he must hand hold this fast tracked imbecile. This is what makes the dark and seedy Whitechapel a surprisingly fun watch. Their relationship develops slowly into a very affectionate bro-mance, despite or maybe even because of the great disparity in their age and experience.
Philip Davis is the perfect foil for Penry-Jones’ obsessive-compulsive Chandler. He’s a father figure, the best friend, the devil’s advocate as well as a rock once Chandler is set adrift by his superiors. Miles’ gruff and volatile exterior hides an old softy who realizes Chandler needs him. He’s not the only one who is attracted to Chandler.
There is also DC Emerson Kent, the most junior officer and the one member of Chandler’s disillusioned team to rise to the higher standard their boss represents. Kent has his own ways at dealing with the stress of the job and seems to take comfort from Chandler’s ideals. Edward Buchan is a ripperologist who is an expert researcher on the dark history in the Whitechapel district of London. He’s a point of contention with Miles while legitimately contributing to the cases. All three men illustrate and draw out aspects of Chandler that we wouldn’t normally see and that’s a good thing!
I loved how Chandler wasn’t all that meets the eye. What started out as a belief in dressing well and eating healthy with a clean work environment to help the mind make connections and solve cases evolved to a compulsive need. One to hit the light switch so many times before leaving and to wash his hands whenever he felt uncomfortable. Yes, he’s uppity and stilted with his squad but he also champions the vulnerable and weak. A bundle of contradictions I love.
This month I’m participating in a writing challenge to post everyday in April (except Sundays) called the A to Z Challenge. I’m exploring my love of characters, find the full list here. Read some of my other writing posts here. What characters do you love?