BBC’s Peaky Blinders
6×01: “Black Day”
Directed by Anthony Byrne
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the Season 5 finale, click here.
* For a recap & review of 6×02, click here.
Last we saw Tommy he was left contemplating the man he “can‘t defeat.” But it isn’t Oswald Mosley. If there’s anyone Tommy can’t defeat it’s himself, his incessant need to always have someone or something to fight; it’s the PTSD in him, what’s left of the war he was sent to fight for the upper class. “You‘re not even a soldier anymore,” says Lizzie, shaming him for now trying to kill himself. Luckily there were no bullets in the gun; Arthur took those out in anticipation. Lizzie leaves Tommy with enough bullets to do the job, but something tells me Tommy’s not done yet. Brilliant image of Tommy split down the middle in mud, one half of his face dark, the other light—the two sides of Tommy Shelby.
Later, Tommy gets a call from his Irish contact. Apparently the assassination on Mosley was prevented by the IRA; they want to keep Mosley alive, for reasons they won’t tell Tommy. They’ve also took it upon themselves to bring home Tommy’s dead, including Aberama Gold and poor Aunt Polly (RIP Helen McCrory; a legend). The IRA wants Tommy under their thumb. A brutal power move. How will Thomas respond to such violence?
Meanwhile, Michael blames Tommy for all this and he’s sworn revenge against his cousin. Not quite fair, is it? Although it’s not quite wrong, right? Tommy’s often reckless actions led them all to this point, yet Michael’s not without blame at this point, either.
Jump ahead four years time to 1933. On Miquelon Island—Newfoundland French Territory at the time—Tommy’s attending to a piece of business. A moustached Michael’s not far behind him, about to reach shore. Tommy’s inland at a pub where he has a meeting room booked. We’re at a time when Prohibition is coming to an end, effectively putting most bootleggers out of business, so a lot of folks are angry, not to mention drunk. One man at the pub takes offence to Tommy ordering a glass of water, but Tommy says he’s abstaining from alcohol over the past four years. The man tries forcing a glass of whiskey onto Tommy. That’s when everything breaks down and Mr. Shelby has to assert himself violently to make his point.
A while later, Michael comes to meet with Tommy. They haven’t spoken in four years. Michael wanted immediate revenge, whereas Tommy’s been waiting for the right time, especially considering the IRA is a “powerful enemy.” Now a new business interest might bring the cousins back together once again. The end of Prohibition brings new opportunities: keep the Prohibition trade routes running, just with different illegal cargo, such as drugs. The unique placement of Miquelon Island, outside the jurisdiction of both Canada and the U.S., gives them a great starting point. One great addition to the way Peaky Blinders examines toxic masculinity is the way Tommy’s treated by everyone at the meeting when he won’t take a drink. He tells them alcohol is just what drives the loud, angry thoughts in your head, and they laugh, calling it “a poem.” They demand another poem, so Tom gives them a bit of “A Poison Tree” by William Blake. After that, he lets Michael and the rest of them know there’s a rat amongst the Boston outfit, too. Before he leaves he tells Michael’s associate to “beware” a man with a “bleeding heart tattoo.” What a lad.
At home, Arthur’s a fucking mess, totally out of it on heroin. All Ada can do is try to pick up the pieces since Polly died. Aunt Polly was the only one legitimately holding the family together. Ada has to not only look after Arthur at home she has to go out to find him in opium dens and who knows where else. She decides to write a warning on Arthur’s chest, to let people know not to serve him opium anymore. On Miquelon Island, Tommy’s also alerting the police in St. John’s that Michael will have drugs on him.
Oh, my. Saucy, saucy.
Great use of Joy Division’s “Disorder” as Gina heads into Norfolk Prison in Boston, where Michael’s been locked up after Tommy’s sneaky call. Safe to say Michael’s wife isn’t happy. He acts like he has things under control when his wife knows that’s far from the truth. She doesn’t like Michael getting back into business with Tommy. He says there’s a “clean up” happening to root out everyone untrustworthy before they continue with business. But Gina still doesn’t know why Michael’s even dealing with Tommy when there are more options. He has unfinished business with his cousin, that’s why.
Then there’s also the fact that Gina’s uncle, Jack Nelson, is a big time gangster in Boston and a huge player in the overall organised crime world. Tommy goes to see Gina while in Boston, seeking a conversation with Uncle Jack. Gina has a message from her uncle: “No deal.” She boasts about Jack’s dealings taking him into the upper echelons of American society, as if Tommy hasn’t been bumping shoulders with the top of British society. After she’s done talking she hears straight from Tommy’s mouth that he’s the one who got Michael locked up. Tommy did it on purpose to jam Uncle Jack up with a troublesome little political dilemma. Now he’s giving Jack an ultimatum: help with his opium business, or he’ll take it to the Jews in East Boston via Alfie Solomons which just might trigger a war.
Great scene when Lizzie talks to Tommy over the phone and tells him about their daughter Ruby having a fever dream, repeating the words “tickna mora o‘beng.” Lizzie also says Ruby saw a man “with green eyes.” These words send Tommy into a fit as he says he’s coming home immediately. He tells Lizzie to tell Johnny Dogs and his wives about the Romani words Ruby was muttering. He says not to let Ruby near any horses or near the river. There’s something terrifying Tommy right now, connected to his Romani heritage. Could the green-eyed man be a premonition about Mosley? Or is it someone/something else?
Tommy goes to Norfolk Prison and visits Michael. He knows all about Jack Nelson, his comings and goings. Michael thinks Tommy’s going to get himself killed over threatening to sell to the East Boston Jews. He’s also sure Jack will get him out of prison. Yet people in high places in the US government have suggested to Jack that springing Michael from prison wouldn’t be prudent right now. And Jack generally doesn’t seem to care too much about where Michael’s going to end up.