The Road to Hell
Episode 5 of Peaky blinders Season 6 begins with Tommy arriving n Chinatown. After selling opium to his brother, the owner is in big trouble. In fact, Tommy arrives with a bomb, counting down from 4 minutes.
With 5 pounds of opium in the cellar, Tommy forces the couple to stop selling. If they disobey him, things are going to go badly. And just to show how serious he is, Tommy drops the bag in the water outside, which explodes, sending a wave up onto the shop windows.
Comparing this to the grenade incident with Alfie Solomons in season 2, you can really feel how unhinged Tommy has become and that much is especially apparent here.
Anyway, Tommy gathers the family together and presents the newest member of the family, Erasmus. Or Duke, as we’ve come to know him. I say know, there’s been 2 or 3 scenes involving him. Anyway, this episode we do learn a bit more about him, including what his dreams are as Tommy preps him for the next generation.
A returning Linda isn’t ready to forgive Arthur right now. She does, however, admit that God may be ready to forgive him, which is slightly different. In order to speed this along, Tommy offers a cheque to her church for £10,000 in exchange for looking after Arthur and “helping him on the road to redemption.” She agrees, but vehemently refuses to sleep with him.
Down at Liverpool docks, Tommy returns to see Mr Stagg following what happened with Arthur. He’s still due a beating but for now, he’s to oversee a shipment of Thompson machine guns from Boston. He suggests switching over the supply lines to Liverpool too, making Mr Stagg a rich man. For now, Tommy hands over an engraved bullet with his name on it.
That night, Lizzie and Tommy sleep with one another. The thing is, the event is unengaging; unloved. Tommy has a book of regrets and Lizzie’s name is at the very top. He’s never let her in, not really, and as Tommy mentions how he regrets putting her through all of this, Lizzie calls him out for “checking boxes” and not telling him everything.
Of course, the big thing here is that Tommy has always had a plan – but he hasn’t told her he’s going to die. “It’s like the clock’s stopped ticking and I’m waiting for the bomb to explode,” She says, which is a poetically metaphorical way of framing the bomb from the beginning of the episode too.
Back at Shelby HQ, a referee for a big match with Birmingham is not swayed by Arthur. So he forces Billy to kill him. Billy is shell-shocked though, despite being the mole in the ranks. After the deed though, he hugs his knees in the bathroom. Until Jack Nelson suddenly shows up.
He grabs the guy from the crotch and forces him into submission. Given he’s the informant working behind enemy lines, Jack looks set to castrate him unless he play ball (no pun intended!) Pleading with the dangerous American, Billy succumbs. Jack Nelson has plans for Tommy, with his associates in line to strike. Billy’s job however, is to serve them Arthur.
Meanwhile, Tommy speaks plainly to Duke about his plans for his sons. He wants one in the light and the other in the dark. It’s clear Duke is being set up for the dark, potentially to take over the family business after him but we shall see.
For now, Tommy meets with Jack Nelson again, who nonchalantly points out that the currency here is blood not money. Oswald and Diana arrive too, intending to say “one last farewell.”
The thing is, Tommy earlier slept with Diana on a barge and in front of everyone, she calls out Lizzie for “being a lucky woman to have each day what she’s sampled once.” Hearing this, Lizzie up and leaves, but this seems to be the play from those at the table on purpose. A “necessary bit of housekeeping.” As Oswald claims. Lizzie doesn’t belong at the table of course, but Tommy realizes in that moment that he’s just like them, “there could be no sadder ending, eh?”
Elsewhere, Michael dreams of Polly and, more specifically, her promise of blood being spilled and a war coming for the family. One among them will die and as Michael awakens, one of Nelson’s associates show to help get him out. But only if he kills Tommy Shelby. Michael agrees to the terms.
The Episode Review
That’s a really haunting rendition of Red Right Hand and perhaps fitting given its significance when it comes to this rather subdued but gripping episode. I do think the show hasn’t hit as hard as those earlier seasons but there’s enough here to sink your teeth into nonetheless.
The Shelby family has slowly been coming apart at the seams for a while and after losing John and Polly, the whole family appear to be waiting for Tommy to make his move. Characters like Finn have gone completely unaccounted for this year while everything actually looks to be building up toward an inconclusive ending in preparation for the coming feature film that’s due to drop in the near future.
There’s definitely some good work done here though, especially with Jack Nelson who shows how vicious and dangerous he is through that intense scene in the bathhouse. It’s moments like that that stick out in this show, but they’ve been few and far between in this rather mixed final season.
War is coming though and it looks like the final episode is going to be an explosive one. Roll on next week!