BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 1
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
Longtime fan since the beginning, I’ve started up on my recaps/reviews for Season 3 of Peaky Blinders! So stick with me, fellow fans of the show. This has been a favourite of mine since its pilot.
The third season opens with a flash of 1922, as Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) kneels ready to take a bullet. Before one of the men holding him at gunpoint shoots the others, letting him go. But with the stipulation that Mr. Churchill will request a meeting with him, at some point. Some day.
Cut to two years later, 1924. In a packed church, Tommy is ready to be married. All the Shelby clan is at the ready. There’s even a black priest, which amazes some onlookers from the more regal side of the church (Grace’s family). Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis) – soon to be Shelby – makes it down the aisle. Afterwards and forever more, the new Shelby family is whisked away to Arrow House in Warwickshire. Life is rambling on. Man and wife. Except there’s always a dark cloud looming over the Shelbys. Hard for anything to go right, so we’ll see how long the happiness lasts. I’ll bet not overly long before something comes up to make things difficult for Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Shelby.
The wedding reception is quite a trip. All the Shelbys are up to their own things, from Arthur (Paul Anderson) trying to make sure Isiah (Jordan Bolger) isn’t getting into the “snow“, while Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) frets over the little things Tommy needs taken care of. A meeting is called for everyone in the kitchen, as Tom lays down the law: no bad behaviour in front of all the uniforms on Grace’s side of the wedding. Wicked little scene that has Cillian Murphy put on a damn good show, proving time and again his worth as an actor.
Tommy and Grace are at odds, though. He’s not impressed with all the red coats out there. More than that she knows he will always be a part of that dangerous world. Meanwhile, the angry behaviour Tommy shows is because he admits to her that it all scares him; worrying for her, the child, all of it. At least he’s honest. “Tell me what it is you‘re afraid of?” Grace questions him. To no answer. Until he jokes it off about being scared of the speech Arthur will be giving afterwards.
Out at the table, Polly and Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) are busy trying to get away from the gaze of unwanted men. Well, at least Lizzie gets away. Anton Kaledin (Richard Brake) winds up weaseling his way in next to Polly. After a few moments, though, Polly warms up and they chat. Kaledin is a Russian there to do some business with Tommy it seems. And she’s not totally receptive, either.
At the same time, nervous Arthur gets his brother out of bed with his wife. Then he starts to drink. A little too much maybe. And Lizzie’s got her own problems, too. Except Arthur and John (Joe Cole) shut her down hard
Back to the table, including the bride and groom finally. Speech! Speech! Arthur gets up to do his thing, but everybody gives him a bit of a hard time. He gives a slightly emotional speech, which doesn’t particularly make Tommy so happy. He quickly interrupts his brother, awkwardness and all. This sends Arthur off, unhappy with himself. Tom and his brother have a chat about some of the inappropriate things during the speech. This starts a proper brother argument. What comes out is the business with the Russians and Tom’s need for his brother: “Fuck speeches. Fuck weddings. You‘re my best man everyday.” Inside, Polly’s serving as the go-between for Tommy and Kaledin. He reveals the code to set things into further motion: Constantine.
Kaledin is spinning a good game between all the members of the Shelby organization. Only Arthur particularly is a little too hard for that. So Anton comes face to face with Tommy. Pretty ballsy indeed for the Russian to make contact with him on his wedding day of all days; very Godfather-esque. Anyways, the business is being bandied about in the dark between the men. And as usual, Tommy stands firm: “This is our city.”
Love the interesting look at the early days of cocaine’s rise in popularity. All those rich, high class types looking for some snow to cut up in the back room. Classic. Things haven’t changed, not too much.
The party keeps on raging, despite all those little things happening behind closed doors. Grace lays it all on the line with Polly, telling her how she now knows everything. This does not make Polly happy – further and further she finds her power slips. Although, she is tough. No telling what she could get up to in order to secure more power.
Tommy promises a degree of safety from his business to his new wife Grace, their child. But is that really a promise the man can keep? Not so sure about that. Because as his wedding goes on there’s business afoot. Apparently, Anton gave the wrong code when asked. Now Tommy is meeting Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen). “No variations,” says Tommy in regards to Churchill’s own instructions. No taking chances. The business gets worked out, but on shaky grounds. Nevertheless, Tommy’s always confident even if Arthur is pissed off. He lays the deal down for his older brother. For now, things go along.
I have to mention the cinematography of Laurie Rose. He is fascinating. Everything here is draped in shadow, which matches the plot, as everything sits below the surface, under cover of darkness. So well done, and a great addition to this third season in terms of its crew.
Arthur is the one who ends up with the gun in his hand. He finds Anton saying there’s a woman to see him. Simultaneously, Tommy tees the band up for a big number, as the party really kicks up a notch. Lots of noise. You see?
With Arthur leading Anton outside the atmosphere is ominous. Right as the oldest Shelby takes action. Outside, Tommy watches on as fights are punched out in a circle, one red coat vs. one of the Shelby organization. And Arthur fights, too. For his life. He and Anton go tooth and nail. A wonderfully edited sequence with so many things going on at once. The intensity rises from one second to the next until the gun goes off with a hard bang.
And while wife Linda (Kate Phillips) believes her husband Arthur’s only trouble is trying not to drink, worrying about his flubbed speech, the man is left with the burden of guilt over a cold blooded murder he only just committed. A horrible, tense situation for Arthur.
A great little finale to the episode with Radiohead’s “You and Whose Army?” playing throughout. The Shelby organization is running smooth, the body of the Russian burned and gone now. Everything’s on the right path, eh? Well, we’ll just see about that. On the verge of a robbery, Tommy has got more confidence than ever. Hubris? Or just a bad ass with everything in its right place?
Stay with me. Can’t wait to watch the next episode. Loving this season off the bat!