Still catching a breath from the explosive ending to the second season, Peaky Blinders returns for a third crack at the criminal underworld. With a darker tone and far more ambitious story, at times the plot feels in danger of spiraling out of control but manages to keep things together until the explosive finale. Dabbling in Russian affairs, Tommy finds himself in way over his head for much of the season and instead of leading on the front foot, much of the 6 episodes see him reeling and playing catch up to a devious group of individuals that are hellbent on outfoxing him at every turn. In many ways this sets the tone for much of the season with sprinkling of mild humour thrown in early on to try and offset the darker tone.
The story begins with Thomas Shelby’s marriage. Last year left question marks around which woman he was going to choose but we’re left with no doubts very early on. He’s married Grace and they look set to live happily ever after with their son Charlie. That is, until Tommy becomes mixed up with the dangerous Russians and despicable Irish priest Father John Hughes. From here, Tommy and the Shelby family struggle to keep their grip on proceedings, overwhelmed by the new, dangerous world they’ve become entangled in. The Russians are unlike any threat the family have faced before and each of the main family members face unimaginable losses along the way.
While last year dabbled with the supporting cast members a lot more, this third season spends much more time fleshing out these characters’ subplots. Now married and sworn to the Bible, Arthur constantly finds himself battling his commitment to the family with his familial ties. Polly struggles to find her purpose and role in life, becoming involved with a painter with echoes of romance in the air. Michael finds out about Father John Hughes and vows to put an end to his wicked ways while John starts to establish himself more as a main player in the family. All of these storylines intertwine with the main plot that sees Tommy at breaking point for much of the season. Even struggling with a severe head injury and flirting with death during one of the more intense episodes.
All of this culminates in an explosive finale that rivals that seen last year. If there’s one thing Peaky Blinders manages to pull off incredibly well, it’s these finales. The third season is no exception. With the stakes higher than they’ve ever been before, the episodes sees a race against time mixed with a smattering of impressive shots and editing, ending with the door wide open for the fourth season to follow.
Peaky Blinders’ third season is a much more thought provoking season than before, with a deeper arc than we’re used to seeing from the Birmingham street gang. In over their head, the Shelby’s end up in a fight for their life and the finale is likely to leave many salivating, waiting for the fourth season to arrive. The characters are as well written as they’ve ever been, acted perfectly by the cast with Arthur and Polly showing a lot more depth in their range than ever before. While the second season did feel a tad tighter in the writing department compared to the third, Peaky Blinders continues to impress with its 1920s crime epic.
Verdict - 8/10