BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 5, Episode 6: “Mr. Jones”
Directed by Anthony Byrne
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, “The Shock” – click here
* Season 6 to come!
Tommy Shelby is sitting down for a drink with Winston Churchill, who’s figured out Mr. Shelby isn’t in league “with a fascist“— the wretched Oswald Mosley— but is actually spying on him. They talk of “Greek literature” and other things. “Conviction introduces emotion, which is the enemy of oratory” likely refers to Cicero. Churchill gives an analogy re: weeding the garden to show Tom exactly what sort of villain Mosley could become. They also lament being the sort of men who have troubles sleeping.
Poor Billy Grade continues wriggling under the thumb of the unstable Arthur. And Arthur’s busy trying to drag everybody down with him. He even has words for Finn, whom he believes is talking out of turn about the family. He threatens Billy’s life in the process, then tells Finn it’s time for a “family meeting.”
Back at the pub, Michael, Gina, Polly, and the lot of them are waiting. Tommy soon arrives, welcoming Aberama into the fold. He starts with mentioning the death of Col. Younger at the hands of “dark forces.” He wishes the best for Ada and her child. After that, Michael speaks to the family about their new opium deal. He wants to restructure the Shelby Company and expand into America. Gina’s part of it, too.
Tommy contains himself while his cousin speaks, as Michael speaks of Tom and Arthur’s “weary shoulders.” Clearly the cousin wants to take over, just as Tommy expected. He’s gone so far as to come up with a dead man’s name, Mr. Jones, which would protect Tom’s reputation. Holy shite! He brought a proposal and Tom tosses it right in the fire. Michael tells Tom the truth: the Americans don’t want to deal with an “old–fashioned” gang. He believes it’s a natural evolution. Mr. Shelby says fuck all that. Pol gives her son a crack in the mouth for his hubris, along with a death stare for Gina. The married couple have decided on another option. Will they actually try to have Tommy killed?
Outside, Barney’s gone wild. Tom calms his army buddy down, sending him off with Jeremiah for a bit. Then he goes back inside to continue the family meeting without Michael and Gina. He explains Barney’s “criminal profile” will help them avoid fallout after he snipes Mosley. Sadly, Tom is using Barney as a sacrifice. Although his buddy won’t particularly be punished any further than he has been, it’s nonetheless cruel. Everyone involved with this job will receive thousands of pounds. Aberama’s not as impressed as Johnny Dogs or the rest. He’s perhaps the only level head in the room.
Once the meeting’s done, Tommy and Arthur have their bartender Mickey Gibbs come in to talk about what happened to Col. Younger, as well as the Titanic Boys. Things get tense when it’s clear the brothers have information already. Tommy can’t wait any longer— he blows Mickey’s brains out. He and his brother are both in an awful place. Arthur wants to leave it all behind, as Michael suggested.
Tom can’t let any of it go: it’s all he has, all he knows.
Soundtrack note: “Wish” by Anna Calvi plays here
A BIG OLE SURPRISE: Alfie Solomons is alive!
He’s been hiding out, pretending he’s been dead. He looks a lot worse than when we saw him last. Tommy goes to visit him, where the former gangster spends time reading holy books and contemplating whether he’s in Hell. Alfie pulls his gun to do the rest of their talking. They get chatting about fascism, killing Mosley, and more. Tom’s sure he’ll kill the man and “the message.” He’ll need a helping hand from Solomons.
“I saw you in a field with a big black horse
and you said goodbye
That night, Polly and Tom sit down to speak about the inevitable coming war between him and Michael. He tells her he’ll kill Michael, and he’ll do the same to Aberama if the man should take his cousin’s side. He implies he’d kill her if need be, though things are changing between aunt and nephew anyway. Pol hands in her resignation from the company. Everything keeps weighing on Tom, whose hand almost instinctively goes to his gun as he ponders suicide.
Soundtrack note: “Ballad of a Thin Man” by Richard Hawley plays here
Tommy finally asks Charlie Strong for the truth about how his mother died. Charlie says “she just stepped into the canal.” She talked about how gypsies were the ones who made the nails for Jesus Christ’s cross, cursing them forever. Charlie says Tom’s grandfather killed himself, too. Depression runs in the Shelby family.
Barney proves to the lads he’s more than ready to take the shot to kill Mosley.
Thus the Bingley Hall event gets underway. Mosley arrives to give his big speech to adoring fascists. Perfect moment for “I’m Scum” by Idles to play! The Blinders are more than prepared, along with help from Alfie and the Jewish community, among others. Across town, Finn lets slip to Billy his brothers are “shooting a fascist tonight.” Jesus! And what does Billy do as soon as the Shelby brother leaves? Pick up a phone.
Tom runs into Jessie Eden, getting her out of a jam with the cops as she protests. He takes her inside and tells her a bit about his plan, warning her to get away. He doesn’t want her to be collateral damage. Oswald has Jimmy McCavern and his Billy Boys looking out for him, assuring the Peaky lads are on their side. He salutes with a fascist heil and utters the words “Perish Judah“— a bit ahead of its time in the series timeline, appearing later in the Nordic League and the Right Club, among other organisations.
Soundtrack note: “Never Fight a Man with a Perm” by Idles plays here
Literally, the stage is set.
Oswald begins his speech, leaning into populism by claiming he and his people only deal in fact, similar to contemporary ramblings of right-wing politicians across the world. He gets into his anger about the Jews and other madness based in xenophobia. Tommy checks his pocket watch, giving Barney the sign.
A shot rings out, but not from Barney’s rifle— the sniper gets a bullet to the temple. But from whom? At the same time, Aberama’s led into a trap and stabbed to death. Arthur’s nearly taken out before he manages to fight back. The Blinders have been thwarted brutally. Is this Michael’s doing? Is it the Billy Boys?
Utter chaos erupts. Tom’s left confused, meeting up with Arthur, Johnny Dogs, and Jessie. He sends Johnny with Jessie, talking things over with Arthur. They’ve got no idea Finn accidentally spilled the family beans to Billy back at the pub. It’s sending Tom over the edge, and even his older brother’s frightened. In the aftermath, Tom goes for a long walk by himself. His sense of control is slipping fast. He meets the vision of his dead wife out there on the moors, and puts a gun to his head.
Will he pull the trigger?
An incredibly interesting way to finish off this season! We always knew Mosley would survive, given that he wasn’t assassinated in real life. But how Steven Knight weaved this year’s plots together at the end is fascinating. Tommy’s become a beacon of how good intentions can always turn sour. Already champing at the bit for Season 6. Guess it’ll be a bit of a wait again. Always worth it, though.