BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 3
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
Every time I hear that Nick Cave tune it gets me in the mood proper for this show to start! Great use of that very familiar tune, particularly relating to Mr. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) whose hands are definitely red. He drops in to see Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), she wants to make sure she looks good for the races. But he says it isn’t him she ought to be dressing for when they go.
Tommy: “Oh, I don‘t pay for suits. My suits are on the house, or the house burns down.”
In the Garrison Pub, Tommy talks with some people about the factory nearby. Lots of Irish work there, talking of a robbery; involving a “serious amount of guns.” The men say they want to buy them, for the IRA. One even sings some of “The Boys of the Old Brigade” in an intense, quiet moment (the song is a folk tune written by Paddy McGuigan; an anachronism, as McGuigan wasn’t even born until 20 years after the timeline of this series, but one that fits quite well.
Meanwhile, Ada (Sophie Rundle) is running off to get married to Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg). I can only imagine how Tommy will react. Part of me says he’ll be fine with it, except for the problems it may cause concerning Inspector Cambell (Sam Neill) and his Communist hunt. Speaking of the copper, he’s putting all his apples in the Grace cart, not overly impressed with any of his men and their work. There’s plenty of resentment, too. Towards Campbell, for not having fought over in France. That’s one part about Shelby he hates, that makes him feel inadequate. This will cause more grief as time passes.
And Grace, she’s out doing a bit of reconnaissance. She follows a man through the back alleys in the street. He catches her, though. Tries manhandling her and wants to take her in for questioning by the IRA. Then she puts a bullet in him and she’s got a body on her hands. From a window somewhere close, someone else is keeping an eye on her, as well. When she goes back to her flat she’s in a frenzy, the guilt of murdering that man heavy on her heart already.
It’s a slippery fuckin’ slope from here.
Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) tells Tommy about Ada and Freddie getting married. This isn’t what he was hoping to hear, but Pol says she’ll “deal with it.” Except he tells her then the deal he made, to get Freddie to leave town. She’s not impressed with the fact he’s doing his own thing behind the family’s back. All the same he IS the leader, and not only in his mind; everyone looks to him.
When the well-meaning aunt goes to Ada and Freddie, he isn’t exactly willing to up and leave. Regardless, if he doesn’t go he’ll be facing the barrel of a gun; someday, somewhere.
Freddie: “You tellin‘ me I can‘t handle Tommy Shelby?”
Pol: “You can‘t. I‘m having trouble these days, and I‘m twice the man you are.”
Campbell’s found out about Grace killing a man, an IRA lad. She stays the course, not wanting to give up. She considers it all part of the mission. Above anything else, the Inspector is concerned for her. Although something else is behind his eyes.
Out at the Asian market, Tommy lets Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) know that the Lee clan are planning big things for the races. The big boss man doesn’t much care for Mr. Shelby. It’s clear he does take a fancy for Ms. Burgess, and now we know for whom she’s dressing. A-ha!
What about Freddie, anyways? He’s out priming the revolution, pushing the factory workers for a more socialist union of workers, fighting together in order to make things better for the working class.
Tommy chats with John (Joe Cole), apparently Arthur (Paul Anderson) has got the “Flanders blues” again. What it is, truly, is what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. And of course the Shelbys, they try solving that with bottles of whiskey. Moreover, Arthur feels left out of the family business, the family life, all of it. He feels disconnected from them all, detached from his brothers and sisters. He doesn’t like that Tommy didn’t tell him about the stolen guns from the BSA [Birmingham Small Arms Company].
Nevertheless, Tommy reels his older brother in close. He’s going to buy up the Garrison for Arthur to run: “Just pour it instead of drinkin‘ it.” Ah, something to make the old lad feel better! A real part of the gang, a moneymaker and launderer for the actual family business. Not a bad racket, hey. Only Tommy’s got other things to worry about, such as Campbell not happy about Freddie rallying the factory workers towards a strike.
Out by the river, Freddie puts a gun to his old buddy Tom’s skull. He gives back the money, the tickets to leave on a boat elsewhere. They wind up with guns pointed at each other. Reminiscing and lamenting on their friendship. This won’t end well, either way.
And poor Tom, he’s still having nightmares of their time in France, tunnelling in the ground and having to fight other men in such close, dirty quarters, so violent and primal. No wonder he’s smoking opium.
Up turns Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward-Cook) from London to give his boss a bit of news, about the IRA believing the Peaky Blinders shot their man in Birmingham. They didn’t “but lies travel faster than the truth.” They’ve got to set a meeting and clear the air. Soon. For the time being, Danny and Tommy bond over their shared terror from the war, that still follows them.
Everyone, including Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy), are gearing up for the races, the getaway afterwards, so on. Then Tommy and Grace are off for the day, as the rest of the Peaky Blinders take care of business. They’re planning to take it hard to the Lee clan for their skimming off the bookies. All a plan to change Kimber’s mind about the Blinders.
Tommy’s brought Grace along to help with the operation, still unknowing of her true identity working for the law. But they schmooze and hang around with the upper crust, though he’s much more a fan of the pub. On the sly, Arthur and John and the others give the Lees their beatings, cutting pieces of ear with their razored caps, asserting authority.
Arthur: “I commandeer this stolen money by order of the Peaky Blinders!”
When the money’s pooled together, Tommy goes straight to Mr. Kimber with the loot and lays it on the table, dumping out coins and all. He makes clear the lads Billy employs are on the take, only makes sense to put the Blinders on the payroll and give them 5% of the take, plus a few extras if things go well. The boss seems reluctant but willing to go ahead, long as he gets a dance with Grace. Tommy even wants her to go home with the man. She’s stuck between a rock and a hard place; both Campbell and Shelby are asking her to make sacrifices of a very personal nature.
Afterwards, Tommy busts in to save Grace from a rape, saying she has the clap. Not exactly honourable in the way I’d hoped. Still, it’s better than nothing. There may be feelings for her brewing, somewhere deep in that broken heart.
Love this episode, as it starts opening up new stories. I love Tommy’s character because there’s an anti-hero element to him, a guy you don’t wholly love but one you can’t exactly hate, either. It’s great stuff, perfectly written by Steven Knight. Excited for Episode 4.