Demons From The Past
After last week’s stunning and breathtakingly beautiful episode, Peaky Blinders returns with another cold open, and an episode that sets everything up nicely for the conflict to come. Once again the episode delivers some really slick cinematography, with the tone flitting between unhinged and tense through large periods of the hour. It’s really impressive too and the nods toward past events and recurring past characters, helps give a feeling of consistency.
We begin with Tommy visiting an orphanage. Walking with purpose, he confronts the sisters and sits before them, threatening the nuns and telling them he’s not afraid of their prayers or crosses. The Peaky Blinders are above God himself it seems and, forcing her to wear the shattered remains of her spectacles he just broke, the Blinders discuss beaten and hanged children on their grounds. Taking matters into their own hands, they decide to take the kids away, leaving the nuns with no choice but to give them up, for fear of being killed.
Following Polly’s birthday celebrations, Tommy meets with Mosley in his office, bringing Michael and Arthur with him and giving them strict instructions over where to stand and how to behave. As Mosley arrives and stares them both down, he cunningly disarms their cool demeanor, figuring out their weaknesses before driving a political bombshell straight into Tommy’s heart.
As Arthur seethes in anger, pacing around the room, Tommy looks upon the letter Mosely leaves him, fretting over the invitation he has to become the deputy leader for a new political party. While Ada convinces Gina to go with her to avoid persecution, Polly brings Aberama home to pay his respects to his son, promising that big things will come later. As Polly drives off, Aberama puts a plan into motion to go after the Billy Boys after gathering the troops; retaliation for killing his son.
Tommy heads back to see Isaiah and enlists his help in the upcoming conflict with Mosley before cursing the heavens as he realizes Polly helped Aberama break free, prompting him to send Johnny on a mission to find the Fury family, intent on bringing Aberama home.
With Tommy making a name for himself politically, activist Jessie Eden reappears and reluctantly has a drink with the Blinders leader. Toasting to revolution, she asks him to speak at her upcoming rally but declines her request, telling her it’s not part of the agenda. After asking if he’s okay, Tommy scares her off as the memories of Grace continue to haunt him. Heading home, Lizzie tries to comfort him before the wheels are set into motion for the next plan of action.
With Tommy falling off the deep-end, he tells Arthur what he knows about Linda’s whereabouts, spilling the details about the alleged man she’s been seeing. Arthur promises to speak to him man to man and head up North to discuss business afterward. As Tommy pleads with him to see reason, Arthur drops the phone and prepares to do things his way, while Tommy is forced to admit to Lizzie he was on the phone to his brother.
Doing things the only way he knows how, Arthur finds the man Linda’s been seeing and repeatedly beats him with a chair leg before sitting infront of him until he asks the man just where Linda is. As their silhouettes dance and move infront of the brightly lit window behind them, a piano-driven ballad orchestrates the action as Arthur tries to convince himself that he’s a good man. Realizing what he’s done, he drops his Blinders cap in disgust and drowns his sorrows in alcohol, before holding up his end of the bargain and heading up to Scotland to find Aberama.
Up in the rain-soaked, soggy marshland of Glasgow, the Billy Boys appear on the road, where Aberama confronts them. As he stares them down, the smug grins fade in favour of something far more sinister, as Aberama reveals a knife and slices the leader of this small group’s face up, repeatedly kicking him in the face. As the rest of the Billy Boys are beaten senseless, he tells him to send a message back to the leader, spilling hot oil over his face and body, watching as he screams in pain.
Tommy and Mosley then meet on a hunting exhibition, agreeing terms to the upcoming plan and working together. With his position as an informant officially sanctioned, Tommy continues to weave his web of deceit to capture Mosley who may or may not be aware of Tommy’s ulterior motives.
As the Billy Boys close in on Aberama’s position, the ominous sound of jovial bagpipes outside leads Arthur and Aberama to make a quick getaway. As the men arrive at the camp, they find it deserted but for a grenade hanging in the window of a caravan. As it blows and erupts the camp into flames, the leader of the group smiles as he realizes they’ve now instigated a war; the flames dancing in his eyes as he looks upon the carnage with glee.
While the episode itself lacks the same dramatic edge last week’s had in abundance, in many ways the symbology and scene composition here is a step up from what we’ve seen before. The interesting chessboard, as Tommy places the King on the exact spot of Check-mate surrounded by enemy pieces, is a great symbolic reference to this season as a whole and his mental state. It’s such a cleverly implemented scene and at first glance, it seems completely inconsequential until you examine it a little deeper.
Peaky Blinders has always reveled in this way of painting a portrait and despite the story itself following the same trajectory of previous seasons (horrifying antagonist gets the better of Tommy and the Blinders until a cunning twist at the end turns the tide of battle), for the most part this season has cleverly disguised some of this thanks to Tommy’s mental state.
With the promise of the Billy Boys and Peaky Blinders engaging in all out war in the future, the final 3 episodes look set to kick this conflict off in a very dramatic way.