BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 6
Directed by Tom Harper
Written by Steve Knight
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, click here.
Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) goes to the Chinese market, to the tailors and Mr. Zhang (Lobo Chan). He’s there to see about some working girls, he knows his officers often frequent the place. Y’know, for a “certain purpose.”
In other news, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is readying Arthur (Paul Anderson), John (Joe Cole), and the rest of the lads for a big, big day. At home, Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) prays for her nephews, each for different reasons.
Tommy: “After today there‘ll be no need for prayers”
So over at the Chinese market, Campbell is looking for a bit of sexual healing, to mend his frustrations, maybe even get his mind off Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), if even for the moment. A young Chinese woman tends to him, removing his boots and his tie and treating him well.
And what about Grace? She’s facing nastiness from other officers. Plus, Campbell is holding what she did for Tommy, and with him, over her head. He’s angry, wounded. Now he’s hurting girls down at Zhang’s place, which gets brought to the attention of Mr. Shelby. Uh oh, a compromising position for the copper. The venom between these two is pulpy.
Campbell: “Before the day is over, your heart will be broken. Just the same as mine.”
We find out more about Pol, when Ada (Sophie Rundle) talks with her. Turns out her children were taken from her, which is one of the reasons she’s so close to the nephews and niece. She speaks well of Tommy, that he does what he does to protect them. Moreover, she tells Ada about the plans for Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg); and they’re not bad. He’s going free. BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY FOOKIN’ BLINDERS!
Campbell later meets with Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman) about the operation to locate the guns. Everyone’s happy. The Inspector also chooses not to say anything about Grace’s transgressions, talking her up. Then the conversations turns to the Peaky Blinders. This is more of the nasty Mr. Campbell planning something rough for the Shelby clan and their gang.
The big day’s come – Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) is getting the oust. They’ve got dirty work to do before the legitimate racetrack stuff gets underway. One of the best parts is that John and Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) are married, so the Lee clan is alongside for the ride. That’s a grand help. Afterwards, Ada comes back to her family with baby in tow – they named him Karl after “Karl Marx” himself. So perfect for a Communist’s child. Having Ada back in the fold is good for the family, especially Tommy; a boost of confidence and trust in him.
While the lads hit the bar, Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward-Cook) picks Freddie up on the road. He’s also the one holding on to that last missing gun from the BSA stockpile.
The love story between Grace and Tommy’s getting deeper, more troubling, more intense. He wants to change for her, he wants to be a legitimate man and not be bound to the criminal life. The racetrack, the betting, it could change everything. Right before Grace can reveal her true self, Tommy is made aware of Kimber chaps heading over to see them. Might be a war, someone’s betrayed their clan.
And who’s done it? Grace. Again. Pol goes down to talk with the barmaid. Then younger woman reveals her status as a woman of the law. However, there’s no fight as it seemed was poised to happen. The aunt knows Grace saved Tommy’s life recently, that she’s a tough woman, and that she’s fallen for her nephew.
One of the underlying themes of Peaky Blinders is that war changes people, drastically, and for the worse every time. This is the crux of the character of Thomas Shelby, he is a good man at heart but he’s been warped like an old branch on a tree, weathering a brutal storm in France only to return home where nobody wants him now that he’s broken.
Now the Blinders and their allies wait for the attack to come, knowing they’re outnumbered. On the other side, Campbell’s willing to let “the beasts devour each other.” All in the name of jealousy, in the end.
“You‘re bad men, but you‘re our bad men.”
Thus, the battle commences. Tom and the lads are locked and loaded and ready to fight. They’ve even got ole Freddie with a nice machine gun to blow them to bits. Except for the fact Ada wheels her child out in front of them all. She calls up the memories of France, wearing black as if already a widow. A woman’s power there in front of each of those men. BAD ASS ADA SHELBY! Yet Kimber takes his shots anyways, putting one right in Tommy’s chest. Followed by a return shot right through Billy’s forehead. The fucking end of that. Sad to see Danny die, too.
After making it out of France, poor Danny’s gone. Killed back home by goddamn gangsters. The lads toast to his memory: “May we all die twice.” Everyone has a drink, remembering his honour and his strength, those who fought with him in the war then fought with him once again in the streets of England.
Life goes on, relatively the same. Just a bit more sad, a little more drunk. Although Campbell isn’t thrilled to hear about Freddie being sprung from his prison transport, knowing it was the Blinders who did it.
Tommy goes to see Grace later. Theirs is a difficult relationship, one mired in criminality versus law. She wants him to be done with business, then find her in New York. She’s got plans for them. I just don’t see that sitting too well with the family, certainly not Polly. Nor do I think Tom can leave this life behind. Or resign himself to the idea of being with a copper. We’ll have to see where the road takes him.
When Grace goes for the train, she winds up on the end of Inspector Campbell’s gun. Will she make it away?
Season 1 has been INCREDIBLE! Impeccable writing, the acting is out of this world. Production design is some of the best you’ll see in any period television series. Can’t wait to review Season 2.