Yes, there are spoilers.
A friend recently described Tommy Shelby as the “James Bond of Small Heath.” This episode reinforces her take. The opening of this episode had Luca and his family following Tommy as he became increasingly aware; then he gets out of his car and takes up two planted machine guns. That leads to a gun fight with Tommy, a one-man army who also takes a moment to be nice to the residents, including an older woman, of the housing complex in which the fight is taking place. And while James Bond movies are always action packed, complete with seductive women and colorful villains, there’s just not much there in terms of story. There are great suits and deadly guns and fast cars, and lots of action. We get new Bonds and new women and new villains, but it’s just another chase. Action only matters when there’s investment in characters — and Peaky Blinders is missing that because it’s relying on a viewer devotion to characters who have ceased to develop. After all, no matter how much James Bond suffers, we know he’s going to live. That’s what’s happening in Peaky Blinders.
The opening shootout lasted just short of 15 minutes — and while beautifully shot, the end result was completely predictable. Tommy lives having killed three Changrettas. Luca lives. Let’s wait for Episode 6.
Turns out, Polly was in on the plan the whole time — SURPRISE! (Said no one ever.)
Here’s the problem: We’ve seen this before.
Tommy looks wistfully at Grace’s picture; then Lizzie tells him he’s going to be a parent. Tommy is shaken. And you know what? We’ve seen this before — back at the end of Series 2 when Grace did the same thing at the races. He suggests an abortion; Lizzie says no. Just like Ada did in Series 1. Then he offers to buy her a house. Lizzie wants love (like she has forever), but Tommy offers her things. And yet she remains ever hopeful.
When Polly tries to save Michael’s life by sending him off with their Romany family, she tells him to take his medicine — just like she told Arthur to take his medicine during Series 2.
Alfie Solomons meets Luca Changretta in his rum cellar just like he did Sabini in Series 2. (No Italian flag this time though.) He mentions “oppressed people,” just like he did in Series 3. And he speaks Italian as fluently as he did Russian! And he offers to sell out Tommy Shelby for a price. (For the record, I still miss Ollie.)
Ada gets hauled in and strip searched by the police before they show her an old photo of Freddie Thorne, who gets his own Grace treatment. “Here stands you,” the Ben Younger says, “a woman with her foot in both camps.” And then we get another story to follow! Tommy was pulling the strings — I think. The plot is a bit of a hash. There’s too much going on and not enough explanation. Ada does get the best line: “Tommy Shelby is gonna stop the revolution with his cock.” Turns out, it’s another story involving Churchill, the king, and the communists. And there’s another plot! Tommy will be paid to provide military vehicles in return!
I think the General Strike is coming — it gets lost in the other story lines. Tommy drinks gin with Jessie Eden, just like he did with May in Series 2 — complete with a toast “to the revolution.” But she’s come to talk business — just like May did in Series 2. And we talk about horse racing, “the runners and the riders.” They reminisce about the war, just like he did with May. And she’s researched Tommy, just like May did! Tommy charms her — how, we don’t know. Maybe it’s the gin (that Jessie said she doesn’t like but keeps drinking); maybe it’s the music (that Jessie asked Curly not to bother with, but that just happens to be Grace’s music from Series 1).
But wait! There’s more! There’s boxing with Johnny Dogs taking the bets just like he did on Tommy’s wedding night.
And as we prepare for Bonnie Gold’s big fight (with echoes of Rocky), Alfie Solomons is framed in the doorway, and it’s all “Red Right Hand.” Last week we wondered if Polly had sold Tommy out. Now we wonder if Alfie has done the deed — like we have every series.
I did like one change. In Series 2, Polly protects Michael by allowing herself to be raped by Inspector Campbell. In this episode, at least she holds a knife to Aberama Gold’s throat when telling him he will keep her son safe.
Last weekend I binged on The Crown, which I liked a lot. But what struck me was that it was so nice to watch a show with a plan, with carefully focused episodes, with interesting characters. It was so organized. Peaky Blinders is just hash.
I’m looking forward to the beach scenes next week, but there’s way too much plot to tie up. Maybe Goldfinger will show up.
Publication Date: 12 December 2017
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