Now into its fourth season, Peaky Blinders returns for an action packed, dramatic six episodes that surpass the standard set by the show up to this point. With a story drawing on past events from the previous seasons, the Peaky Blinders find themselves up against their toughest challenge yet, the Italian mafia.
The story begins where we left off last year. Following Tommy’s betrayal of the family, the scattered remnants of the Peaky Blinders all find themselves in jail, awaiting their fate. After a particularly dramatic first episode, the fractured family reluctantly agree to team up once more as a new enemy enters the game. Mafia hitman Luca Changretta. Thirsty for blood and settling a personal vendetta that stretches back to the early seasons of the show, the Peaky Blinders and Luca’s gang square off, leading to casualties on both sides.
While Tommy’s war rages on, a social issue is brought to the table that interestingly doesn’t feature too heavily until late on in the season. Political activist and communist Jessie Eden confronts Tommy around worker’s rights, demanding he grant equal pay to men and women. After a particularly frosty meeting between the two, things escalate and become serious as the workers threaten to strike and throw Shelby Ltd. into jeopardy.
Part of the reason Peaky Blinders works as well as it does comes from its unwavering attention to detail and aesthetically, this crime thriller is exquisitely shot. From the clever use of colour to the intriguing use of the song’s main theme, twisted into different genres throughout the 6 episodes, Peaky Blinders excels. The show has always had an eclectic soundtrack but the fourth season goes one step further, delivering a myriad of different genres and songs that work seamlessly with the action on-screen.
All of this great work would account for nothing if the acting didn’t match the aesthetic and story but Peaky Blinders outdoes itself here too. With deeper characterisation and a more thorough examination of our three lead characters, the fourth season shows off the depth of acting on display. From Cillian Murphy’s conflicted portrayal of Tommy to Paul Anderson’s masterful execution of Arthur, a man walking a tightrope of sanity, there’s a real maturity and range shown here unrivalled in other crime thrillers of its nature.
Another character with a compelling character arc this year is Helen McCrory’s portrayal of Aunt Polly. After staring death in the face, her character comes up against a whole range of different mental and physical obstacles to overcome this year. From trying to keep Michael safe from Changretta’s gang to overcoming her own anxiety and shock after almost dying, her character goes through quite the transformation over the course of six episodes.
It’ll be really interesting to see where Peaky Blinders goes from here. With the overarching plot involving Changretta all but resolved, many questions hang over the fate of our characters going forward. The open ending is an interesting choice too, one that looks set to take the show in a whole new direction going into its fifth season. If Peaky Blinders can keep up the masterful execution it’s achieved here, we’re in for a real treat.