BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 4, Episode 3: “Blackbird”
Directed by David Caffrey
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Heathens” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dangerous” – click here
With the workers out on strike, the Shelbys have lots of room to get business done, and they also bring in scab workers to get things done in the meantime. While Tommy (Cillian Murphy) and Arthur (Paul Anderson) are bringing men in things get rowdy, but not too much for them to handle.
At the hospital, Michael (Finn Cole) is recovering, and he gets a visit from mom; not Polly (Helen McCrory), Rosemary (Wanda Opalinska) his adopted mother. It’s a bit awkward at first, though she clearly cares for him, always did. They sit together a moment to talk, she says he can go home with her. His adopted father’s passed away, which is hard for him to hear. Now, Michael’s torn between two mothers: one with whom he could have a simple, less dangerous life, and one who brings nothing but difficulty, pain, crime. And sadly, the latter of those choices, obviously Pol, has no way out herself, she’s stuck in this life. She might actually enjoy it, too.
Speaking of Pol, she’s been two years “without a fuck.” She’s gonna change that. Particularly with “someone insuitable.” Why not? Poor woman was traumatised by that rotten copper a couple years prior, probably turned her off men almost permanently. Pol and Ada (Sophie Rundle) aren’t totally seeing eye to eye, the younger of two meant to keep an eye on her aunt because of the mental troubles she had post-prison.
Tommy, Michael, Pol, Ada, and Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) all get together at the hospital to talk business. Meant to be there, Arthur gets a visit from Linda (Kate Phillips) at work, she wants to “relieve his stress” with a good romp at the office. Can’t help but always wonder what his wife is up to, she’s usually got something else in mind. At the hospital, Tommy goes over a bunch of papers with the family, they’re bringing Pol back into the fold, officially. They’ve also got to talk about the Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody) situation. They have a picture of Luca now, so they’ll put his picture around, offering rewards for any info about him. Tommy makes it clear: “Tradition will just fuck us up.” they can’t be stuck on Arthur being the one to kill the Mafia man. Therefore, Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen) will get a picture of Luca, as well.
Down at the factory, there’s trouble. Men are in tossing paint over everything, so Arthur goes down with a mallet and his bare fists to teach the lads a lesson. “Fuck your fucking revolution,” he screams at them as they run off. Just after that a couple men come in from outside, shooting at Arthur. He slips away and gets himself to a hiding place. He knocks one man out, then guns the other down. Escaped WWI just to be constantly at war back home.
Changretta’s not having much luck so far. His men aren’t doing so hot, they’re dressing like “big city hoodlums” in little Birmingham, they complain about the food, like Spotted Dick. They’re not impressed with the British and Irish cuisine. So the boss orders that they “dress like them” and “eat like them” and get the job fucking done. One thing’s certain: Luca is a scary goddamn man. They’ve got a small lead, involving a mother of a man killed by the Peaky Blinders, she intends on helping the Sicilians.
When word gets around to Arthur about Gold being involved, he’s pissed. Especially after killing and disposing of two Italian gangsters just a short while ago. The two brothers are always at odds, in some way. But they put their heads together – someone with keys to the factory let all those men in, so who was it, huh? Hmm, I’m sure the lads have got ideas. Arthur’s busy with other anger, too. He isn’t pleased that his wife played a part in keeping him out of that meeting, seduced not for a bit of fun, but rather so Linda and Pol could help keep him alive, knowing he’d do anything to kill Luca. I don’t think anything’s going to stop him.
Tommy has a man named Niall Devlin (Graeme Hawley) in for interrogation, determining whether it was “fear of the Italians” or hatred of the Peaky Blinders that drove him to unlocking the factory door out back. He was skipping off to Glasgow in the night, which the Shelbys deem suspicious. Niall is adamant it’s all about the union troubles, the violence, everything. He brings up the Communists, Italians at one of the meetings, explaining that perhaps someone in the party got involved with the Mafia. Regardless, Mr. Devlin is stuck in service to the Blinders.
At her home, Jessie Eden (Charlie Murphy) receives an unofficial, slightly unprofessional visit from Mr. Thomas Shelby. He wants to present an “improved offer.” He asks her about the photograph, the Changretta family. He knows she’s affiliated with the Communist Party, and thinks perhaps she might’ve seen one of the Italians. Helps that Tommy’s has a Special Constable Warrant Card; the reach of his OBE is always fairly evident. Turns out that Jessie knows a bit about him, from before the war. He was in love with an Italian girl, the relationship not approved of by their families. She got sick with consumption, he spent his days by her side. Then she died, he went to WWI, and came back forever changed. Although he knows plenty about Jessie, her former sweetheart’s suicide after Passchendaele.
So, can these two work together? Or is it all too painful to confront for Tommy, being around this woman who knows his past so well? Is Ms. Eden’s presence there about more than the union, is she a bigger part of all this? What does she know?
In the meantime, Arthur’s fired the bullet meant for Luca, his wife convinced him to let it go. Even if it was a struggle for him. This should at least put Tommy at ease, for a few moments, anyway. Until the next issue arises. He also has big plans, to donate more to charity, to build houses for destitute children; also, he’s putting Lizzie in charge. Why? “Because I promised someone I‘d change the world,” he explains.
When Pol goes out later for a drink by herself, who does she wind up sitting at the bar with there? None other than Luca, whom she recognises. She asks for Finn and Arthur not to be killed, as well as Michael. But what’s the trade? She’s willing to let Tommy die. Holy fucking shit.
Lord, Peaky Blinders only seems to get better in quality as the episodes pass. Season 4 is already running on high octane. So many great performances, from Helen McCrory to Paul Anderson, to, of course, the central performance of Cillian Murphy.
“Dangerous” comes to us next week.