BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 2, Episode 4
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) visits the freshly dug grave of the young man whose throat was cut for the Blinders in prison. Naturally, he’s met with an angry mother. He pays what cash he has, then leaves; bloody temple and all. Then another clandestine meeting with Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), who’s invited a couple people: Irene O’Donnell (Simone Kirby) and Donal (Rory Keenan). All in the same bed of Irish greens. Tommy taunts about their mixing the “personal with the political” and the IRA frowns upon such things. This is one hell of a shaky alliance. Christ almighty! This is what happens when… common interests arise. Or I guess here it’s common dislikes, common problems.
So, Tom needs to kill someone. For the Crown, and for the cause. People not wanting to get their hands dirty. He refuses to do the job. Alone together, the leader of the Blinders tells Campbell that there are darker things at play here, specifically with those two. And what happens next could get extremely volatile.
Irene: “Did you ask why in France?”
Arthur (Paul Anderson) and some of the lads are in Camden Town. Gearing up for a row. They storm into a club, beating the shit out of any man who steps near. Bashing the place to pieces. The oldest Shelby’s making a statement and sending a message. He stabs the manager in the face with a broken bottle, announcing he’s taking over.
A man finds a body under a pile of coal at the mine. Is that Mr. Duggan?
At the office, Tommy gets a visit from Michael about a bookkeeping job. He wants to be part of the family, the business, he hopes to help in making them legitimate. Best of all, he offers loyalty and pride. Yet the boss is reluctant as always to take him in.
May Carleton (Charlotte Riley) turns up to see Tommy, at the bookies. Only Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) is around, she’s not exactly welcoming. Although they do chat a bit before John (Joe Cole) and Tom arrive. The horse trainer gets to know the place, a feel for the bookie business and the operation in general. Then they go see the new horse, where Curly (Ian Peck) sweetly looks after it.
This woman is very curious about the Shelby man. They go down to the Garrison, where May has a bit of a culture shock over booze and talk of sex. She denies any attraction, which he says it perfect; less complicated. But I feel they’re both lying.
Michael is officially of age! They have a party to celebrate, also letting him in on the business finally after Pol and Tommy chat. So there’s plenty to be celebrating, indeed. They toast and have fun together like a big, happy family. Next day’s back to the grind like usual. They’ve got an export business ready to thrive, starting by setting off for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Taking advantage of Prohibition in Canada. Whiskey for the Canadians; these lads are right on.
In other news, Tommy isn’t pleased with Arthur and how he’s running the business. The books aren’t adding well at the end of the month. His issues with drink and cocaine are making him fuck up. “It‘s under control,” though. That’s what he tells his brother.
Tom goes to see Ada (Sophie Rundle). She’s got a man around named James (Josh O’Connor), renting out a room; a gay writer. The brother explains to his sister that he’s setup a trust fund for her boy, his nephew Karl. Not particularly surprising, as he likes taking care of his family. This is sort of an acknowledgement of mortality.
Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) meets with Darby Sabini (Noah Taylor), they discuss their mutual acquaintance. If one thing is clear, the baker does not stand for any antisemitic bullshit. Seems the Italian likes to make jokes about the Jews. They’re definitely not buddies, these two. Nor does Sabini like the Shelby clan, whom he refers to as savages. The Jew and the Italian have been friends and enemies for a long, long time. So there’s a lot to navigate between these two and the Blinders.
Alfie: “The great big fuck off elephant in the room…”
Tommy goes to May’s home, where they have a drink and talk some more. It gets late and he’ll be staying there for the night. Furthermore, he makes clear his intentions to bed her later.
It’s payday. Isaiah (Jordan Bolger) wants to get served properly, so he takes Michael with him for a drink. While they’re out someone gets in a racist twist, calling Isaiah “darkie” and worse. This starts a rowdy fist fight with the Blinder boys doing a good deal of damage. The name Shelby alone causes a ruckus. Worse happens once John and Arthur get a whiff of it all, too.
Tom meets Campbell once again. Three weeks and the mission must be complete. He also tells the Major if he dies suspiciously, then someone will kill him. But that’s why he’s preparing, acknowledging that mortality instead of riding a wave of lucky breaks in the face of death. He knows it could, and will eventually, come for him. That’s why he tries calling Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), hanging up when a man answers the phone. OH, MY.
Fucking love this episode. There’s a lot to pack in sometimes, but it’s great because the writing fleshes out the characters every episode, and explores so much in each one. Can’t wait to see more of what happens between the IRA, Campbell, and Tommy; a bad standoff that can only end in nastiness for possibly all sides.