Polly’s prophetic message that one of them will die hangs heavy over Tommy as he returns home at the start of episode 2 of Peaky Blinders Season 6. Ruby seems to be doing better now, having recovered from her fever, as Tommy even rechecks to make sure she’s 100% – which she is.
Lizzie is losing her patience with Tommy, who promises that this is one last business deal that needs to be done. Once that’s finished then they can go back to playing happy families. The thing is, Tommy has retired before and that didn’t turn out too well. This time, Lizzie likens herself to a list and doesn’t have the same enthusiasm she once did for Tommy’s promises.
That night, Tommy ends up having a seizure in the bathroom, with fragments on the past bleeding back through. With cuts and scrapes all over him, Ada races in and patches him up. She urges him to see a doctor but Tommy refuses. At least until he stops Mosley and his current business.
Part of that comes from a rousing speech for the Labour Party, given he’s still their representative. He gives a rousing speech, using both compassion and passion, promising they won’t be silenced and bringing their concerns back to Westminster with him.
It works a treat too, and with the people cheering, he reminds them all that the key here is silence – at least until Bull Ring Market where they intend to protest together and “bring down this broken government.”
Laura McKee shows up to see the tail-end of this speech while a surprisingly neutered Arthur stands by her side. At least until after the meeting as he’s found with a syringe in his arm.
Anyway, McKee and Tommy’s meeting gets underway but on Tommy’s terms – which include going to his bar and drinking water again.
Tommy presents a letter from the US President, catching McKee completely off-guard , as he reveals the truth of Jack’s mission. The reality is, he’s heading over on a recon mission to see proof of fascism in full swing.
Tommy sees that as an opportunity for him and McKee to work together, pointing out that politics is like a circle; go far enough left and far enough right and you’re bound to meet somewhere in the middle. Tommy is going to play puppet master from the middle, making sure he gets Nelson to meet Oswald and play both their ideologies against one another. He also offers McKee a seat at the table if she agrees to work with him – which she does.
Ada is caught in the middle of this and it’s hard not to feel sorry for her. Between mourning the loss of Polly, she has to juggle Tommy’s unhinged nature and constant scheming along with Arthur falling off the deep end and doing opium. Eventually she makes her choice and decides not to follow Tommy into this coming war.
Tommy shrugs it off and visits Alfie, who’s even more unhinged than before. He’s withdrawn into himself and taken to opera, given it reminds him of the Italian soldiers whom he plunged bayonets into in the past.
Tommy reveals that Alfie’s uncle, Charlie, has passed away at the hands of Jack and his gang. He was shot in the Cotton Club. Alfie needs a final act for his opera, and Tommy may just be singing to the right tune. And that tune is to the sum of five tonnes of opium that he can smuggle out, helping to rise the Solomon’s back into power in Boston.
Tommy shows up at Mosley’s rally but there’s a problem. Arthur shows up at the front door, ranting and raving, completely out of it. Mosley invited him along and encouraged him to wear a black shirt too. Tommy sorts him out though, taking him aside to talk.
The black shirt is a clever ploy from Mosley given that’s the name of the fascist paramilitary groups in Italy. Tommy realizes this and hurriedly has him changed into a white shirt to avoid hostility.
Linda has been the only one to tame Arthur across this show and Tommy knows this. He’s actually spoken to her already and gets her to write correspondence to him, believing in forgiveness. In order for Arthur to communicate with her properly, Tommy demands his brother get clean. If he can do that for 2 weeks, then he’ll be allowed to talk to Linda again.
After a tense meet with Mosley and Diane, Tommy visits Nelson at a church, where they discuss their aspirations and what they’ve accomplished in business. Nelson cuts straight to the chase and reveals he wants to meet the fascists.
Tommy agrees to give him a full report on Churchill’s strategies (given he’s closely aligned to the British MP) in exchange for South Boston and his opium.
Tommy drives a hard bargain and although Jack threatens him, you can tell there’s also an air of respect there too. Tommy takes this same never-say-die attitude into parliament, playing his part well by promising new reform in housing.
After the session, word reaches Tommy that Ruby is sick again. She’s seeing “the grey man” who promises that he’s coming for Tommy too.
When Tommy heads into his office, someone tries to attack him but Tommy turns knife on this soot-covered assailant and plunges it deep into his chest. Only… he doesn’t, This was all a vision and as he regains consciousness, Lizzie rings and urges Tommy to come home pointing out that Ruby is sick and nothing seems to be working.
With all other options exhausted, Tommy rings Esme Shelby Lee, John’s widow from seasons back, to help try and save Ruby’s life before it’s too late.
The Episode Review
Peaky Blinders returns with another good episode, this time showing just how far all of our characters have fallen off the bandwagon. Alfie is completely unhinged now – more so than before – and has become a recluse after facing death.
Arthur has also turned to alcohol after his indirect brush with death, through Polly, while the grim reaper is currently knocking at Tommy’s door, through the guise of this “grey man” and making good on Polly’s promise that someone will die. Will it be Ruby?
The interesting moral compass involving circles, puppet masters and general political ideologies is such a fascinating concept and with Tommy presumed to be in the middle of it all, Peaky Blinders has a way of racketing up the tension while at the same time keeping things interesting with our protagonist playing both sides of the same conflict.
This duality of ideas and themes is ultimately why Blinders – more often than not – plays a blinder of a story. Although there’s been a large hiatus between seasons, if you’ve reached this point and find yourself confused by the story, do yourself a favour and re-watch season 5 (which is admittedly what this reviewer did before jumping into season 6!) It’ll really help understand this conflict that’s been brewing for a while.
Things don’t look good for the Shelby family right now, with everything left hanging precariously on a knife-edge. Who will come out on top? We’ll have to wait and see.