BBC’s Peaky Blinders
6×06: “Lock and Key”
Directed by Anthony Byrne
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of the penultimate episode, click here.
Michael’s finally released from prison in Boston and he’s aiming to take revenge on his cousin Tommy. At home, Lizzie’s heartbroken over Tommy betraying her by sleeping with Diana, and even worse so close after their daughter’s death. Tom passes it off as business but it still doesn’t hurt Lizzie any less. He’s ready to hop off to Canada now. Lizzie says Tommy is, indeed, cursed because he’s unable to understand the limits of others and what they’re willing to take. She’s leaving now. She’s had enough. Afterwards, Tom goes to see his son Charlie and the boy’s learned all the shitty truths about his family. The kid actually wants to go live with Lizzie, even though they’re not blood related. Tom agrees, because he knows he won’t be around long enough to care for his son anyway.
Then there’s the other son, Duke, being shown the ropes by Charlie Strong so he can be “a general someday” in the family. Mostly it’s gun talk. Duke has handled guns before to hunt. Charlie asks the young man why he ran away from the betting shop. Duke replies it wasn’t fair what happened. He also says he’s killed a man before; a man who denied his dying mother a bed in hospital. A proper Shelby already.
At the office, Tommy finds Arthur in a state. The older brother found Tommy’s medical files. He’s angry at his little brother for not saying anything and keeping such a big thing secret. A poignant moment from Tommy: “How long have we been dead for, hey? You and me, how long? At least now I‘ll have a certificate.” In spite of the wreckage Tommy’s caused over the years, he’s also the glue that holds the Shelby family together, especially when it comes to Arthur. Tommy tells his brother that once all his business and finances are settled, he plans to kill himself. Arthur’s more concerned about Tommy not even telling Lizzie about the diagnosis. Tommy just goes on about “building houses for ordinary working people,” and his trip to Canada to collect five million pounds for the family. Worse is the fact he only sees himself as money. He believes that’s all others see in him, that nobody actually cares about him. Arthur wrestles with Tommy a moment but it doesn’t fix anything. Tom urges nobody must know what’s going on until he’s gone. Arthur just hugs his brother, not ready to let go yet.
Tommy, Finn, and Arthur sit at the pub joined by Billy Grade. They receive word Duke’s feeling better about being part of the family business; though there’s something more behind those words, too, something unspoken in plain English. After that, Tom tells everyone about his trip to Canada to collect money from the South Boston Irish. He says Michael will be his “guarantee of safety.” He’s also charging the lads with clearing out his house and all its important things, including the bodies buried around the grounds. Billy makes sure to dig around for a bit of info nervously before Tommy heads out. In Boston, Michael and Gina are plotting the murders of both Tommy and Arthur.
Diana wants a shag in the House of Commons but Tommy’s keeping his mind on business, not to mention he refuses “to fuck on Tory benches.” He tells her he has a list of “all land–owning families facing foreclosure” that was stolen from her records, among other things. Then Oswald shows up with an invitation to his and Diana’s wedding in Berlin, featuring “the presence of the Führer himself,” Adolf Hitler. Tom can’t attend, he’ll be off in Canada, though something tells me he’d find any reason not to go. He then gets threatened: if he looks at Diana after she’s married to Mosley, he’ll be killed. What a ridiculous little man, Oswald.
In Canada, on Miquelon Island, Michael and a mysterious bag most certainly full of explosives await the arrival of Tommy Shelby. While Tom is off on his plane ride to Canada, his Peaky Blinders are at his big old “house bound for hell” waiting for Finn and Billy to arrive. Duke starts firing off Tommy gun rounds for a laugh. Then they take Billy for torture. Duke says if Finn won’t do it then Arthur says Finn can leave the family. Finn tries to turn the gun on Duke and Isiah but things go very badly. First, Billy dies with a bullet to the head, then Finn’s kicked out of the Shelby family.
At the distillery, Arthur drinks alone with no idea Cpt. Swing and one of her IRA men are right outside with a gunman in the back of their truck. Swing and the men head inside but can’t find Arthur anywhere. Because Arthur and Charlie Strong have the drop on them. The pair take Cpt. Swing and her men into the streets. When the captain protests about being murdered in the street like dogs, Arthur tells Swing: “I don‘t shoot dogs, I shoot fucking fascists.” They’re interrupted by a rifleman firing from up high somewhere in the distance. Arthur and Charlie take cover among the foggy streets where Charlie shoots one of Swing’s men.
Unfortunately Arthur’s bleeding from the original rifle shot and leaves a trail to track him. Then a machine gun starts firing from above, too. So Arthur and Charlie use a bit of the old mustard gas from wartime to create even more of a screen in the streets. This prompts the other man to go out shooting, and Jeremiah mows him down with his own machine gun. After that, Arthur has Cpt. Swing where he wants her, putting a bullet in her chest for Aunt Polly.
The bomb bag’s prepared for Tommy at the pub while the plane touches down. Michael puts the bag in place himself, then he waits inside for his cousin. Tom soon arrives and has a drink. Michael and his people want to be taken to where the opium’s stored, the perfect pretence to get Tommy in a car. Tommy sees there’s a marking on the car door and gets in anyway while Michael goes back into the pub for his supposedly forgotten smokes. And moments later, the bomb explodes as Michael waits at the bar, telling Polly beyond the grave: “Mom, it‘s done.”
But Tommy isn’t dead. The car behind him exploded. Tom gets out with his gun on Michael and calls Johnny Dogs from the shadows, who switched the bomb to the other car beforehand. Johnny says goodbye to Michael, leaving the cousins alone together. Tommy wants a chat with Michael. The younger cousin blames Tom for all the bad things in the Shelby family: “We can‘t escape you.” Tommy proceeds to shoot Michael in the face.
When all’s said and done, Tommy goes into the pub for a smoke and a drink. He’s joined by Alfie Solomons who’s happy to now own “half of Boston.” Alfie pontificates about Michael’s ascension to Heaven. Tom speaks of the irony that people are trying to kill him all the time yet he’s already dying anyway, but not from a bullet or a bomb. Speaking of explosions, Tommy does what Lizzie flippantly suggested and he literally demolishes his mansion, blowing it sky high. On the land they’ll build homes for those who need them.
Tommy then joins his family and friends nearby in the woods at a fancy table, surrounded by caravans. They all drink champagne while Tommy toasts: “To family; sometimes the shelter from the storm, sometimes it is the storm itself.” He’s saying goodbye to everybody without actually saying it, telling everybody he’s going away for a while. He urges Ada to run for office. He charges his son Charlie with looking after Lizzie. He whispers something to Duke, too. Then Linda reads a note from the absent Arthur, almost a suicide note. Ada’s now figuring out there’s more to this than her brother going on a trip someplace.
A month later, Tommy’s on his own in the hills with a caravan and a horse. He’s passed out drunk when a crow wakes him. He flips a coin and it lands on heads. Is it time to die? In the caravan, Tom has a shrine to the dead, from Grace, to John, to Polly. He lays down all his things at the shrine, then lights a smoke. One last puff.
And with that, Tommy puts a bullet with his name on it in his gun. He points the gun at his head, repeating that old phrase: “In the bleak midwinter…” Suddenly he hears Ruby call out to him. He runs to her and they hug in the field. Ruby says her father’s not actually sick. She tells him to light his campfire again, that he must understand he has to keep living.
So Tommy goes about lighting the fire and sees a notice of Mosley’s wedding, where he also sees the doctor who diagnosed him. Was it all a ruse by Diana and Oswald, to make Tommy believe he was dying? Oh, shit. That’s why the doctor receives a visit at his lavish estate from Mr. Shelby. Tommy decides not to execute the doc, only firing off a warning shot before he leaves. He goes back to the hills where his caravan’s been lit on fire. Just as well; it’s no longer a funeral caravan. Tommy wants to live.
Great use of Lisa O’Neill’s “All the Tired Horses.”
A beautiful, poignant, and powerful ending to the series.
Don’t worry. We still have a film to watch, someday.
Until then, Thomas Shelby…
The revelation Tommy isn’t dying was perfect, because, as he said in his own words, “the only person who could ever kill Tommy Shelby is Tommy Shelby himself.” The battle has ALWAYS been inside Tommy, from the start. He’s been struggling against his PTSD from the war and all that it turned him into when he came home. Peaky Blinders was never meant to finish with someone else killing Tommy. If Tom was going to die, it had to be by his hand. Otherwise, he must live. And live he does. (At least until that film.)