BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 2, Episode 2
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 premiere, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
After Tom Shelby (Cillian Murphy) was beaten and nearly killed by Darby Sabini (Noah Taylor) and his men, he was saved by Major Chester Campbell’s (Sam Neill) lads. But what about Ada (Sophie Rundle)? She was taken by a group of men, god knows what about to happen to her. Whatever does happen, those fellas are in for a rude awakening when the Shelby clan finds them.
Lucky enough she saved by a few of the Peaky Blinders. Not that she’s overly grateful: “My name is NOT Shelby!” She gives one of her saviours a kick in the bollocks before heading off. Bless her heart.
Campbell visits Tommy in the hospital, to talk about the death of Mr. Duggan. Then the leader of the Blinders taunts him a little, simultaneously lamenting about Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis) moving off to New York, apparently married to a banker. He throws in a few taunts regarding the Major’s lack of active military service during the war; a perpetual boulder in the craw of the lawman. These two are in a blood feud at this point. And Campbell holds everything he can over Tommy’s head, bending him to whatever purpose he and his special unit see fit.
Campbell: “You belong to me”
So Tom checks himself out of the hospital, needing to get to London. Immediately. He is a right state, not nearly healed. What I love about him is not only that he’s tough, and stubborn, he still has that Irish spirit of belief; not in God, particularly, but in the myths and lore of the Irish people, in magic and other things. Not that he’s an outright believer, he’s more willing to fall back on his heritage than trying to be a perfectly modern man.
Note: This season we’re given a few tunes by the ever wonderful PJ Harvey. Here, as Tommy travels to London in his brutal shape, “When Under Ether” plays. Love the anachronistic choices in Peaky Blinders. All the Jack White, the Nick Cave, now Ms. Harvey; so fitting. That’s why it all works. If it didn’t fit, it wouldn’t work. Boy, does it ever make for good listening.
“Man-Size” by PJ Harvey plays when we’re first introduced to Jewish baker Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy), a curious character. He and Mr. Shelby literally break bread together, drink a bit of liquor. Although the baker’s a bit rough around the edges they get down to business. They talk about war with the Italians, Sabini’s crew. Alfie tells of the “Biblical” nature of his violence against the Italians. So, can the Blinder sell his idea of a coalition? Sort of a rough start to their relationship yet a start either way.
Meanwhile, Tom still worries for Ada. He doesn’t want her relationship to him, in name or not, to do anything worse than what’s already gone on. He gives her a house to keep her safe, trying to keep in the fold with the family if anything just for peace of mind.
Everyone already knows about Tommy coming to London again, specifically Mr. Sabini, whose own relationship with the police is one of a wretched boss and his subordinates. A hateful man. He’s got the cops on the take, looking out for Shelby should he pop up on the streets.
Aunt Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) wakes up in a rush, heading off quick to the bookie shop. It’s her birthday, actually. Her nephews have remembered and they’ve got her a present. They’ve given her a house of her own, a beautiful place. She’s not overly thrilled. Afterwards she and Tommy talk alone, he’s spoken to Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards). He also has contacts that can find out where her children were adopted, so that she might bring them home to that new house. For all their issues, he wants to make her happy again. Out in the country he visits a woman about one of her adopted children. His real name is Michael Gray (Finn Cole), son of Polly.
At the office, Tom has Lizzie Stark (Natasha O’Keeffe) take down dictation of a letter written for Winston Churchill (Richard McCabe). So the great leader receives this letter, which not only alerts him to the medals awarded to Mr. Shelby, it pushes him to give Shelby Brothers Ltd. certain liberties. For the time being until the nasty business is complete.
Down at the boxing rings Arthur (Paul Anderson) has caved a young man’s head in. People are worried about him. The Flanders blues are doing him dirty. He knows it’s happening. Just can’t stop it. Right now Tom isn’t being too understanding, and he makes it more about the pressure on him than what’s ruining his brother, or how to help.
Tommy: “The war is over. Shut the door on it.”
Campbell’s found out his coppers, some of them, are on the “Peaky Blinders payroll.” He sees the corruption in everyone else, remaining blind to his own. Sure, the Shelbys have put many people on the take, turned them against the law. All the same he’s done exactly that to the Major, whose wind is warped by jealousy of all kinds. He’s become as crooked as any of them, only of a different sort than those taking cash.
Polly gets the files about Anna and Michael Gray – only one is alive; her daughter passed. She was sent to Australia as a convict where she died. At least she has her son still out there, and could possibly come back to her someday. Rather than wait Pol pulls a gun on Tom trying to force him to tell her where he is, but he won’t agree. He wants her to wait until Michael is of age, then he can decide on his own.
Note: Take a count of how many times Tommy gets a gun pointed at his head. Incredible! Lad is calm under pressure, no doubt.
The Garrison Pub is reopening, without Arthur. He doesn’t feel he wants to be a part of it. No matter if Tom wants him to go. He stays at home with one of the boys and snorts a bit of cocaine. Puts him in a proper mood to go out then. Back behind the bar and on wheels.
Next morning, Michael goes to see Polly, a.k.a his mother Elisabeth Gray. A welcome, wonderful surprise. An emotional reunion, if not a touch awkward.
Beautiful episode, as well as one that explores the hero side as opposed to the anti(-hero) in Tommy with the way he cares for his family, despite the darkness in him. Season 2 promises to be even better than the first, which is a tough feat. I know they’ll achieve it, because already the first two episodes leading in are fantastic.