Yes, there are spoilers.
For those of us on #TeamTommy&Grace, Series 3.4 sorely tested our faith.
There was no evidence that Grace is alive (I still think she is), and there was the distressing scene involving Tommy and Tatiana following Lizzie’s confession that she and Tommy have occasional sex on the desk. Yes, he’s grieving, but it’s impossible not to wonder if Grace is, in fact, dead given that Tommy is sleeping with other women.
I’d like to spend a few paragraphing parsing the scenes where Tatiana stays over at Tommy’s estate after he acknowledges that she is “part of the deal” and instructs John to puncture the tire on her car. I think there’s more there than meets the eye, and while it does nothing to establish whether Grace is still on this earth, it does provide some rationale for Tommy’s decisions.
When Tommy decides to take Tatiana up on her offer to be seduced, he’s obviously “working.” (Remember: Knight has said repeatedly Peaky Blinders is about “good people doing bad things for a good reason.” This would certainly seem a “good reason.” At least that’s what Tommy tells himself. We won’t know the endgame until the final episode of Series 3.) If he’s really a widower, if he wants Tatiana to trust him, sex seems the most obvious way to do it. His comment to John about deflating the tire “so that neither of us can change our minds” would suggest he’s not entirely sure but decides to go with it after making the decision.
Initially, he does not take Tatiana to the room he shared with Grace, something the viewer knows because the windows behind the bed are missing, and then Tatiana points it out. After that, she begins playing her games, and the chase around the house ensues.
This scene is important for two reasons. First, it draws attention to her mental instability. Second, and more important, Tatiana spells out issues of class and power that Tommy struggles with. That conversation is the point of this scene: He still doesn’t fully appreciate the power he wields. Tatiana points that out to him, saying, “Right now you hide inside it [your house] like a little boy who’s broken in through the window.” Repeatedly, Tommy is shown having difficult giving servants orders — he hasn’t been taught how to do this, and the contrast with Tatiana is significant. Steven Knight has said that he wants to explore in Peaky Blinders whether it’s possible to leave behind a social class. Tatiana reminds everyone that it takes more than money.
The scene is carefully filmed in front of Grace’s portrait as she looks down on the conversation. Although she is not present, her presence is clear.
Then Tatiana finds the room Tommy shared with Grace. The viewer knows it because of the windows. “I found her perfume,” Tatiana says, as she kneels on Tommy and Grace’s bed, “Put some on.”
Then she moves close to Tommy, kisses him, and says, “From now on, you must do everything you want to do.” She gives him an opportunity to choose. He closes his eyes and returns her kiss. The decision has been made.
At one level, it’s easy to see Tommy enjoying a night with a beautiful woman, even as he tells himself he’s only “working.” But Tatiana plays a deeper game. She wants to take control of Grace’s space — her bedroom and Tommy’s body. (This comes after her implication in the previous episode that Tommy perhaps didn’t love Grace.) That is, she cannot get Tommy to want her for herself, so she appropriates Grace insofar as she can. Tommy smells the perfume and gives into the fiction she has created. It’s possible to make a case that for him, this is a moment of pretending Grace is present. But, ultimately, he is taking Tatiana’s advice: He is doing what he wants to do.
It’s also significant that we do not see his intimacy with Tatiana. The viewer has been allowed to watch him have sex with Lizzie and May and Grace but not Tatiana. That is, I would argue, not because Tatiana gets any kind of privilege but because this relationship is different. It is utterly lacking the intimacy present in Tommy’s other relationships. It isn’t real. And because it isn’t, the viewer isn’t allowed to see it.
Publication Date: 27 May 2016
© APeakyBlindersFanGirl and A Peaky Blinders FanGirl Archive/Blog, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to APeakyBlindersFanGirl and A Peaky Blinders FanGirl Archive/Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.