BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 2, Episode 1
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
Last we saw Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), she was on the end of Chester Campbell’s (Sam Neill) gun. Only she fired first from inside her purse, putting him on his back. Then she boarded the train and didn’t look back.
Cut to two years later in Birmingham. A couple prams are wheeled up in front of the Garrison Pub, left by two women dressed in widow’s attire. Bombs go off and blow the front out of the place. Elsewhere, the funeral of Freddie Thorne, who succumbed to illness. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) says a few words over the casket as it’s put in the ground, with Ada (Sophie Rundle), John (Joe Cole), the rest of the family looking on. Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) and Tom want Ada to stick around rather than leaving, because business is picking up and it’ll be “dangerous to be a Shelby” for a while. Although now she’s Mrs. Thorne, technically.
There’s never a dull moment in the lives of the Shelby clan. Off they go to find the pub burned to a crisp. Pol leans down in the ashes to find confetti. Hmm, a clue. But what could that mean? You bet the family is going to find out, one way or a-bloody-nother.
Tom goes for a drink at the Black Lion. After that he’s led off someplace by a boy looking for that “Peaky Blinder devil.” He meets Irene O’Donnell (Simone Kirby) and Donal (Rory Keenan). They blew up the pub. They’re dangerous folk and clearly in for the cause. Threats are thrown at Tom, but he fires back knowing much personal information about Irene. Seems they need him. However, they’ve got a leg up, and he’s not the slightest bit happy about being their bitch. ‘Cause really, that’s the deal. You know he won’t let that last long. We’ve seen Tommy down, he’s never really out.
Later, Tom’s copper on the take mentions an old friend is coming back to town, now head of a special department of some kind: Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), that nasty old piece of work. He’s gone from justice to criminal himself, taking no prisoners along the way. A bad man, if ever there were.
Arthur (Paul Anderson) is busy boxing the shit out of people. He’s still not right. Channelling his anger into a BARELY more manageable place by boxing. John is still critical of his brother the boss, and Pol tries keeping a lid on it. But there’s absolutely a divide, as always. All over a bit of business.
In regards to London and the expansion plan Tommy speaks of, he mentions that the Jews and the Italians have been at war. The Jews need allies, specifically Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy). I wonder if this will play into his meeting with O’Donnell somehow.
Lizzie Stark (Natasha O’Keeffe) is back, too. She and Tommy meet now and then for a shag, he leaves a few quid on the dresser for her. “I wish just once you wouldn‘t pay me,” she tells him. Problem being I think he’s only doing it to forget, not even to get off. He wants not to remember Grace.
We see Pol go to a seance with a medium leading the group. So who’s she there to try and reach? The parish took her children, lately she feels as if her daughter’s possibly dead. There’s a lot of pain in her past. She’s always seemed haunted, though now it becomes clearer. Also clear is the dark weight of the Shelby family name.
That night Tommy sneaks up on a blacksmith named Eamonn Duggan (Rory Gallagher), shooting him in the head. This is most certainly one of those O’Connell, IRA-related events. Like Tom’s back in the war again. He and the lads are off to bury Duggan’s body, then to London for a lark!
Next day, Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) tells Polly about how the medium was a bunch of bullshit, a scam. This prompts the aunt to put a knife at her throat, threatening her not to tell a soul why she was there. Can the new wife actually keep a secret?
When the Blinders holiday in London, they’re supposedly overstepping boundaries. And when people take offence to their being there, the lads start cutting motherfuckers, headbutting, punching, generally kicking the shite out of anyone who’ll step up. Proper show. Tom gives a little speech to the “downtrodden” and the like, sending out a call, a message.
Major Campbell goes to see Winston Churchill (Richard McCabe), the fabled leader painting naked women, a bit jowlier than last we saw him. He hears of Chester’s latest plans, of course involving Mr. Shelby. He wants to use the Blinder to their purposes, then be done with him.
Tommy offers Lizzie a job as a typist for the Shelby Brothers Ltd. He also needs someone willing to turn a blind eye to certain things. So strange to see him caring about her after what he did in Season 1. I guess that points clearly to the fact he wasn’t just visiting her as a customer then, either. He had feelings, of some kind.
When he gets back home Pol is pissed with him for being “at war with Sabini.” She’s speaking of a man named Darby Sabini (Noah Taylor). Tom is attacked in the street, and meanwhile Ada is attacked by a gang of men, taken away somewhere. The leader of the Blinders has a gold filling pulled from his face, but before they can kill him, gunfire erupts. Campbell’s saved him. Oh, my.
What a spectacular opening to this second season. Things are about to get nasty, nasty, nasty. And wild as hell.