Pietro Ravini In ‘Ripley’ Series, Explained: How Does Tom Outsmart Ravini?

Thomas Ripley is one of those characters we end up rooting for, even though he’s practically a sociopath. We wouldn’t want to cross paths with a man like him in real life, but again, similar sentiments were evoked by Pablo Escobar in Narcos too. In Ripley, we see Pietro Ravini as a villain, even though there’s nothing villainous about him. Ravini is merely fulfilling his role as a righteous representative of the law. But again, It’s only natural that we, as the audience, have a tendency to empathize with the central character’s conundrums, regardless of the crimes he has committed. This tendency to resonate with morally ambiguous characters extends even to how people feel about the actual depictions of celestial beings in the Bible. While Ophanim or Seraphim might appear unsettling because they lack humanoid features, Satan, with his human form, is easier for people to comprehend. 


Come to think of it, Ravini’s portrayal, even in terms of his cinematic presence, reminds me of characters like Hans Landa from ‘Inglorious Basterds.’ Like the villain from the Tarantino movie, Ravini projects a dark presence whenever he appears on screen. He creates an atmosphere that even the audience find unsettling. In my opinion, his depiction as a character in this series highlights the subjective nature of morality. Perhaps that is Ravini’s significance in this series. This character enables the audience to perceive the world through the lens of a sociopath. We end up experiencing the fear of being apprehended by Ravini, an Ophanim-esque lawman whom we cannot imagine as a human. 

Spoilers Ahead


Who Is Pietro Ravini? 

Ravini is a chief inspector in the Italian Police in Rome. He is appointed as the investigator after Freddie’s body is found by the police. His skills as a detective are second to none, which explains the reputation that he has. Because of his eccentric nature, Ravini is often feared by other lawmen in Rome. He’s a perfectionist when it comes to solving crimes, preferring to do everything by himself as he doesn’t trust other officers. More so, it seems as if solving crimes is like art for him. 

How Does Ravini Meet Tom/Dickie? 

Arriving at the scene of Freddie’s murder, Ravini almost immediately figures out the places Freddie visited the evening he died. He finds Dickie’s address written down on a note by Freddie in his hotel room. Thereafter, he meets Tom, impersonating Dickie Greenleaf. From the moment Ravini and Tom cross paths, Ravini declares himself a formidable character, one whom Tom only narrowly escapes. It’s quite obvious that, since the very first moment, he suspects Tom/Dickie but doesn’t have enough evidence. Ravini is a righteous lawman who knows how the law works, and for that, he prefers giving everyone the benefit of doubt. Ravini even suspects Marge Sherwood, Dickie’s former girlfriend, after he comes to believe that she lied to him. 


Ravini visits Tom/Dickie a second time after the police find the submerged, bloodstained boat on which Tom murdered Dickie. Ravini speculates that it is probably the missing Tom Ripley’s blood and that Tom might be dead. He even assumes that Tom has been killed by Dickie himself. 

How Does Tom Outsmart Ravini? 

Ravini does his job quite diligently and takes into account the most insignificant details that might help his case. Even though he got his speculations wrong, Ravini would’ve captured Dickie/Tom and solved the entire case if the latter hadn’t disappeared. But again, like everyone else, Ravini ends up buying into Tom’s facade, despite being only one step away from uncovering this elaborate web of lies. After he reads a newspaper article about him being declared as missing, Tom starts to see it as a way to save his skin. Tom, assuming his original identity, reports to the police that he is safe and now lives in Venice. The news of Tom’s whereabouts reaches Ravini, who immediately departs for Venice to meet him. 


In the meantime, Tom prepares for his meeting with the detective at his apartment. Additionally, he wears a wig and a fake beard, and carefully adjusts the lighting at his apartment to conceal his face to prevent being identified as Dickie. It seems that Tom, embracing his inner sociopath, deliberately takes the risk of being caught by meeting Ravini. It’s as if Tom wants to taunt Ravini, an established detective, to his face to satisfy his own sadistic sense of humor. As expected by the mastermind, Ravini doesn’t recognise Tom, even for a bit, and buys into the facade. If only Ravini knew that Tom and Dickie were the same person, he would’ve been humiliated, as his own reputation would’ve been challenged by something so obvious. At this point itself, Pietro Ravini’s genius had been defeated by Tom Ripley. 

It’s only in the end that Ravini finds out that the Dickie he met was not the real Dickie Greenleaf when he sees a picture of Dickie in the book mailed to him by Marge. With this revelation, he is quite shocked, and he should be, for it just might be the first time when he could solve a case. Ravini would’ve pursued Tom Ripley this time and would’ve definitely caught the culprit, had Tom not already left for the UK with a false identity he created for himself. 


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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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