BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 5, Episode 4: “The Loop”
Directed by Anthony Byrne
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Strategy” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Shock” – click here
Soundtrack note: “Papi Pacify” by Anna Calvi opens the episode
Tommy Shelby stands waiting for Jimmy McCavern. He stands stone still while McCavern’s boat draws near and his enemy holds a pistol as if to shoot him— “My bullets ache to get inside your tinker head,” Jimmy says. He and Tommy talk of postponing their war, after an exchange of landmines and hand grenades. They’ll make a truce, for now, to benefit from mutual business. McCavern is welcome to what he wants in Birmingham. He’s watched at every turn should he decide to jeopardise the truce.
Arthur continues to force ex-footballer-turned-musician Billy Grade to do his bidding, getting info necessary for the Shelby Company to run numbers rackets in their favour. The family’s also got to keep up their obligations, such as protecting vulnerable people in the neighbourhoods. This must continue, particularly for Tom to keep up his Robin Hood appearance. Mrs. Connors drops by about her abusive husband, whose behaviour doesn’t typically bother her except he’s killed her goldfinches.
“Sometimes I wonder,
is this Heaven?
Doesn’t smell like Heaven.”
A Chinese gentleman comes to meet with Arthur and Tom. He claims to be Brilliant Chang (Andrew Koji), whom most believe is dead— the real Chang sort of disappeared in the late ’20s, nothing much, if at all, is known of his final years. Simultaneously, Finn’s caught off guard while snorting blow and ready to fuck a Chinese sex worker, when the woman takes him hostage by gun. They’re all connected by phone. Eventually Finn’s let go and comes charging in, stopped by his brothers before he shoots the Chinese drug dealer. Chang’s got “the purest opium” in Europe. It recently arrived, worth a fortune. He’s offering a bit to Tom out of good will.
In a time post-Wall Street crash in America, business relationships are changing.
Soundtrack note: An unreleased song by Jehnny Beth plays while Polly pulls up
Tom, Arthur, and Aunt Polly meet about the opium deal. There are four ships that need to get out of London and safely to San Francisco, which necessitates them hiding out in Birmingham and passing through to hopefully remain invisible to the coppers. This would then lead to more shipping, connecting Afghanistan, Shanghai, and the rest of the world seeking deliciously addictive opium to traffick.
Tommy hopes they’ll recoup nearly all they lost because of Michael’s financial fuck up in the U.S. Plus, he’ll reinstate his cousin’s position within the company— this convinces Pol, if she can convince her son. Arthur doesn’t like dealing with the Chinese. But it’s two votes against one. Arthur has worse to deal with, anyway. He cut up his wife’s Quaker badly, disfiguring him.
Aberama goes to see Tommy, unhappy to hear McCavern’s meant to stay alive. He’s getting sick of Shelby controlling “the turning of the Earth” as if God himself. He has the entire murder already setup. Yet Tom needs things to stay this way until business is finished. On top of that, Aberama wants to take Pol’s hand in marriage. Tom won’t allow this unless Mr. Gold agrees not to take his revenge before things are settled. Abe will have to jump through Shelby hoops. “Love must defeat revenge” at the moment, including a private performance of Swan Lake courtesy of the Shelbys. How sweet.
Soundtrack note: “The Last Hangman” by Hotel Lux plays here
In the House of Commons, Tom’s uttering the words “national socialism” at an incredibly scary time in history. He’s watched closely by Oswald Mosley, and even Winston Churchill himself. Of course, it’s all to lure Mosley into his brotherly political arms. After the current session, he and Oswald have a contentious conversation about Lizzie’s past sex work. The fascist makes wild comments about her, suggesting he once fucked her. Mr. Shelby knows things about Mosley, too— like his weird sex life. Their relationship’s bound to be an ugly one straight through to the end.
Worse, Tommy continues seeing Grace, as well as feeling all that PTSD cracking his head wide open. He goes straight to Ada’s place, dropping intelligence off to Col. Ben Younger. Mostly he’s there to find solace in his sister. Suicide is never far from him. Ada wonders if he’s “still taking laudanum.” She wants him to see a doctor. His opium habit’s definitely not helping, made worse by Chang’s shipments being around.
Ballet has come to the Shelby home.
We see clearly that Gina’s a driving force behind Michael, pushing him towards taking over the family eventually, even if that means inevitably dangerous things. Polly— “Queen amongst the Romanis“— is busy offering all manner of entertainment to Oswald, who’s come to have himself a nasty time with “a tribe of gypsies.”
Tommy has a minute with Oswald alone, looking for a signature to guarantee payment from McGovern— Mosley’s northern contact. The fascist doesn’t want any connections on paper. He’s wary of Tom’s intent, yet signs out of trust. He mentions Friedrich Nietzsche‘s conception of the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, relating it to the way he sees Mr. Shelby. When they head out with the others, Oswald makes an asshole out of himself trying to embarrass Lizzie. She just dishes it right back in his face.
During the ballet performance, Aberama sneaks off with Polly and asks her to marry him. Oswald keeps an eerie eye on Gina, while Arthur’s slouched having a nap. A car’s seen arriving at the house. Linda’s dropped by. Arthur apologises to her for the “animal inside me.” She’s rightfully angry at him for disfiguring a man who’d never even touched her. She pulls a pistol to kill him.
But Polly pulls hers first, shooting Linda dead, right as the Swan dies onstage.
One of the best episodes of this season. A wild one! Thought for sure Arthur was going to see his end. Pol’s a tough bird, and she fights fiercely for her family, always. Above all else, it’ll be very interesting to watch how Tom and Oswald’s relationship plays out.
“The Shock” is next time.