BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 2
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 premiere, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and the lads are out to the countryside, headed to the fair after a bit of business with Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee), a Gypsy fellow. He’s there to see about a horse. They do a coin toss, and Tom wins. Then a few boys laugh at Arthur (Paul Anderson), which doesn’t sit well with him. “Their grandad was a King,” Dogs says. Before one of the men calls Tommy’s mother a whore. Thus a few blades in the caps are put to good use. No one’s gonna pull that shit on the Shelbys. They’re good fighters, too. Even without the dirty stuff I’m sure they’d come out on top. Each of has a go, from Tommy to Arthur to John (Joe Cole).
Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) is readying the force to hit the streets. This is a man with purpose, dangerous in his own right. They start shaking down people in every flat looking for Communists. In one, Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg) and Ada (Sophie Rundle) make love. They run on the rooftops to make away before they’re found and who knows what happens to him for his beliefs. But the cops find a prescription belonging to the Shelby girl; sister to “those Peaky Blinders devils.”
Campbell talks with Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory), who’s busy lighting candles in church for dead soldiers. He’s an intimidating man. He puts hands on her, then she lays a kiss on his lips; this intimidates him. He couldn’t possibly handle a strong woman like her. Meanwhile, the Inspector is looking for more than Communists, he wants to find what was misplaced. And he needs to talk to Tommy.
They’re all on high alert with him sniffing about, as Tommy and Polly discuss the guns Campbell is looking to find. These two have a tenuous relationship, not entirely friendly, not exactly antagonistic on either side. Still, Tom’s got his hand on the pulse. Whether any of the others like it is different business. He does things his way.
Big bonfire using pictures of the King. Around the flame, Tommy tells a journalist about it all. How they’re taking down the King in order that he doesn’t see what’s being done to them in their own home, how they’re mistreated and abused and the coppers are taking liberties.
The Inspector receives a phone call from none other than Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman). He’s heard word of the reporter at the bonfire, “the King‘s likeness” being burned. He doesn’t want anybody arrested, no drawing attention to the matter.
Pol starts wondering if Ada’s pregnant. She’s over a month late for her period. So now the aunt decides it’s time to take her niece out to a back alley doctor for an examination. Pol wants her to be rid of it, though Ada doesn’t want to do that. Neither does she want to tell who’s baby it is, or else Tommy and her brothers might be angry.
Speaking of Tom, he runs into Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy) who passes on a message – that the Lee clan are gunning for him, all of them after the altercation in the country. Nasty bit of business. More worries for the leader of the Blinders to take on his shoulders. We also see Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis) purposefully run into him, as he walks the street with his horse. She asks for one night a week when there’ll be singing at the pub. In turn, he offers to take her with him to the races.
Tommy: “It‘s just noise. You‘ll get used to it.”
When big brother finds out about Ada’s man being Freddie, her being pregnant, he is not pleased one bit. Although it shouldn’t matter, not if they’re in love. She does love Freddie, and of course he was a buddy of Tommy’s, a good one, during the war. So it’s all just a conflicted mess, certainly. All he’s worried about is that Ada won’t have a good life with a man constantly running, looking for revolution.
Later, Pol gets mad at her nephew for rigging a race without the blessing of Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles). Their relationship is fast getting worse, too.
Campbell meets in a fancy dining room with Tommy, face to face. They size one another up before getting straight to business. They sit for tea and a chat. The Inspector has that prescription from Mr. Thorne’s flat. He wonders if the Shelbys are in bed with Communists, but Tom assures that the situation is finished, dealt with and done.
Then the Blinder lays out his elaborate plan, telling Campbell how things are going to go from here on in. In return he offers the missing guns, the ones meant for Libya. And if he’s taken into custody, the guns go to the IRA. If things go well, he’ll give over the guns and Campbell looks like top copper. Funny to see the juxtaposition between a guy like Tommy and someone like Campbell, the former being a criminal but having previously fought for his country. He was left with demons, as well. Smoking opium to dull them.
We see the Inspector meet with Grace, telling her that Tommy is now the main focus of the mission entirely: “Beginning, middle, and end.” He asks her to do anything possible to get close to the leader of the Blinders. Figure out anything about the guns.
Someone fetches Tommy, his horse isn’t right. Someone from the Lee clan cursed him. The feet are gone bad, it’ll get worse shortly. Nothing can be done. He’s got to put the poor animal down. Afterwards, he drinks away the pain and talks awhile with Grace. He’s found out a few things about her, that she didn’t work in Dublin. But he assumes a different story than her being with the law.
Freddie turns up for Ada, on order from Tommy. To take her and get out of town. The lad even gets on one knee proposing marriage. A happy family ahead of them instead of something infinitely worse like it seemed before. Except then Freddie says he’s staying, they’re not going anywhere. Getting married right there, Tommy be damned!
At the pub, Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) arrives, men with guns posting up at the doors. He wants to talk with Mr. Shelby. The place clears out so they can meet in private, even Grace is sent away. They talk of the race rigging, suspicious bets. Billy calls them “gypsy scum” and more. Threatening death. Until Tommy mentions the Lee family after him; they’re at war with Kimber, as well. The Blinders are offering help.
Daaaamn. Lots of things happening. Next episode is surely gonna pack a punch, on many fronts. The Shelbys are ready to rock, and Tommy’s fucking steering the ship every step of the way with a keen eye.