From Paul Anderson

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 3

When Freddie won't leave town, Tommy's got to figure out a way to settle things down. For himself, for Ada, and for the sake of their business.

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Peaky Blinders – Season 3, Episode 5

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 5
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight

* For a review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a review of Episode 6, click here.
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Here we are at the penultimate episode of Series 3, and with two more already confirmed series’ ahead. What a treat!
Starting out with David Bowie’s “Lazarus”, a nice sequence shows us Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) at the doctor. His head bashed in. We’re given a view into his past, also seeing his present, and in between. Still, the drugs are holding him tight. Even worse now with the morphine to keep his head from bursting. What will this bring for everything ahead?
He receives a visit from Michael Gray (Finn Cole). He knows things about Father Hughes (Paddy Considine), bad things from when he was a kid. He offers to even shoot the priest himself, long as Tommy shows him how to shoot. Wonder if this is finally the big way in for Michael.
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Cut to three months down the road. Tommy’s now trying to kick the morphine habit; good on ya, Tommy boy. Not sure how well that’s going to work, but who knows. Anyway, he talks about mad fever dreams on the drugs. Seeing his housemaid naked, reading from Leviticus. Amazing little moment here, the writing had me in a crack up.
Tommy and Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee) have a chat. Boss wants him to do a few things for him. Seems there comes with it 5,000 pounds, so nothing troubles Johnny much in the end. Better than that the other Shelby brothers arrive with someone who calls himself “the Wandering Jew.” Upstairs, Tommy meets with him – Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy). The one and only. He’s come back along to tell Tommy about the funny rumours about him since the head injury, and to speak of business.
Meanwhile, Arthur (Paul Anderson), John (Joe Cole), Johnny, and Michael have their own chats. There’s trouble about for Michael, as his life is in turmoil. Yet none of them are exactly living smooth. What I love most is the chemistry these guys have together. They do seem like a big family, which is ultimately the goal of any ensemble cast; these guys are meant to be family, so their natural feeling chemistry as a group is excellent.
Arthur and Alfie have their reunion. The latter wants to bury the hatchet, all just business. Right? He extends apologies of all sorts. The Shelby brother isn’t exactly happy, though his new path to Jesus Christ urges him not to cause a scene. Quite a good scene filled with tension. Alfie’s not exactly there to make things easy. But Tommy’s got plans for how they’ll deal with the Russians, which is the reason for Alfie being there apparently.


Johnny Dogs: “Arthur, if youre gonna get on like dis with the Apaches theyd fuckinscalp you, by.”
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Headed out getting ready, Duchess and Princess Petrovna require seeing the brothers’ skin. They need to check for tattoos, et cetera, which may identify them as assassins. A hilarious scene, especially when Arthur’s not pleased. John doesn’t seem to mind, as the Russian ladies check every inch of them. Things get quite intense for Arthur in particular. That Princess is definitely one to watch. “Inside every man there is a devil,” she says ominously, looking back to Tommy.
Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) and her son Michael are doing business, Ada (Sophie Rundle) along, too. He heads off to make a call to his lady, we find out he wants to get her an abortion. In the other room, Pol and Ada try to forge a “new kind of politics” in order to make a good life for themselves. “Welcome to the bourgeoisie,” Polly tells Ada with a sly smile. Now Ada is a member of the organization – properties and acquisitions. Also, we discover she and Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig) are getting incredibly close, soon likely to fall in bed together, as she makes clear to Ada. But tonight, “why should all the boys have fun?” asks Polly. The boys are certainly having fun – Arthur’s given up on sobriety, so it appears. They’re all busy drinking, getting laid or trying to, and all sorts of debauchery; there are even two men getting lustily close on the couch nearby under the radar. John gets some information off Stefan (Josef Altin), as Tommy goes with Tatiana to see some of their operation.
Downstairs, Alfie’s there. The Duchess and Duke (Jan Bijvoet) are there, as well. We further find out Solomons spoke Russian – he has beef with them, over her being hunted down by dogs in the snow. Yikes. He turns the other cheek, all in the name of business. But you better know not to fuck with Alfie, he doesn’t play games. He helps Tommy get an eye on how much the Russians have, and they have quite a bit of treasure.

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Ruben has finished the painting of Polly. It is astonishing. She looks upon it admiring the work he’s done, how beautiful he made her look (and she’s a gorgeous lady), and the effort it took to put her form to canvas. For his part, he believes it’s his best yet. Always a charmer. Either way, she’s flattered and wants a relationship with him: “Therell be more Sundays,” he tells her. Finally, they consummate their love. Except she’s reminded slightly by her rape at the hands of Campbell. Luckily he is a good man and he apologizes, he’s tender with her. A beautiful love scene, as opposed to so many in shows that are crude and just all for aesthetic pleasure.
Too busy falling down the bottle, Arthur is heading off with a prostitute. At the same time, Tommy sits back with a drink, listening to Tatiana’s bullshit. Later he breaks down a bit in her arms. Is he getting too close to her for his own good? No telling, but we’re close to finding out. A freaky sequence where he imagines being with his dead wife once more.
Tommy’s got some old army buddies with him now, along with Johnny Dogs, Arthur, and the rest of the mad bastards helping the Peaky Blinders. They’ve got the plan ready, maps, blueprints, the whole lot. Boss Shelby lays everything out for them and things are about to get underway.


Snooping around, Polly finds a wedding ring in Michael’s desk. Or so she thought. Inside is actually a literal bullet with Hughes’ name on it. Then Tommy catches his aunt with it right in her hands. Of course she worries for her son. Only she doesn’t know why Michael wants to do the job. She susses it out, though nobody says anything out loud. So now Pol knows why Tommy gave the job to Michael. “By order of the Peaky Blinders” and so on. She doesn’t want that for him. Threatening to bring them all down if her son pulls the trigger. Whoa.
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Great episode right before the finale. Cannot wait to see what they have in store for us in Episode 6. Lots to which we can look forward. Plus, they’ve already confirmed two more seasons. Glory be to the Peaky Blinders!

Peaky Blinders – Season 3, Episode 4

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 4
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight

* For a review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a review of Episode 5, click here.
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The lads are out hunting. They gun down a fine buck, the whole clan out and about, from Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) to Arthur (Paul Anderson) and all the rest. Love this opener, as it’s strangely ominous. And these dudes know how to ride a god damn horse.
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Good Friday’s come round. Tommy gets a letter that their father is dead. A woman he was with while he died wrote them, saying he asked their forgiveness. Finn (Harry Kirton) and John (Joe Cole) are too young to really remember him. They hunt, in part, to do some honour to him. Piece of shit he was and all. Otherwise, Tom talks business about the upcoming robbery.
Meanwhile, Aunt Pol (Helen McCrory) is in the confessional. Is there one big enough to contain all her sins? Doubt it. Anyway, she chats with the reluctant father. She reveals little bits. About the murder of a policeman, Inspector Campbell. What she tells him is that she feels no regret for it. That his murder was just. And I somewhat agree with Polly.
At the Shelby organization, the women are doing a good bit of the work. Not just Polly, but Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) and others, as well. Turns out, she’s sleeping with Tommy, now and then. When he feels like it. “Its hard to sleep bent over a desk, isnt it?” she laments.
At the same time, Michael Gray (Finn Cole) is slipping further into the business of his family. Tommy’s giving everybody the low down with the Lanchester Factory blueprints to boot. They’ve got big plans ahead, if only the robbery goes as planned. Set them all up for life and then some. One last job. Not everyone’s so eager, such as family friend Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy), though everybody’s in all the same.


Now Linda (Kate Phillips) is over trying to help at the organization. Only thing is she’s too proper and prim for any of the illegal stuff. She’s fine with doing little bits and pieces around the place. Then there’s lots of talk about female empowerment, strikes on Good Friday by disenfranchised women, which sends Polly off. She and the women march downtown, visually similar to earlier when we saw Tommy and the lads ride their horses. LOVE the stylish camera work and techniques they use throughout the series, as well as again having to mention the anachronistic music. Often this might hinder a period piece. Here, it enhances the fun.
Over at his office, Tommy meets Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen) to talk more business. He mentions being hurt to kill a stag. Yet would feel nothing to “put a bullet in the priests face.” May be more than business on the table, apparently Tatiana comes as part of their deal. Then John rushes in quick to tell his older brother about the women gone on strike. Also, John has trouble with his wife Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) who can’t keep off the cocaine while she’s pregnant. But everybody is trying their best to turn things around, in all sorts of ways.
Tommy and Tatiana end up in bed together. Of course. They get closer, chatting about their weakness, desire. More importantly, they speak of possibilities. Well, she’s a bit wild. Taking his gun and running off through the halls of his nice big house. She leads him on a little chase. Then opts for a bit of Russian Roulette, y’know, a game she used to play. This freaks him out: “And I dont want your mad fucking Russians brains all over me fuckinwalls.” What a way to follow up some old fashion lovemaking. Tatiana tries to run the house, showing Tommy what it is to be royalty, to have money and be a big shot. Except that’s not who he is, really. And still there is a part of him that likes the dark madness in her. Above all else, she encourages him to do what he wants. Not to be afraid of freedom any longer.
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The Shelby brothers get together once more. More maps and plans to help them during the robbery. They’re looking for a Russian speaker, possibly finding one in a young man that’s looking to get himself a bit of cash. Lizzie and the rest of the women have formed a union. Polly’s in a bit of a hangover state, so part of her hubris is alcohol. But there’s no backing down. They have terms. Before that, Tommy discovers Arthur’s been telling his wife lots. About the robbery – not the factory, but their other one. The robbery that’s been planned undercover from the women and everyone else. So that’s not going to be good. He knows Linda finds out everything. Moreover, Tommy later talks to Linda. She knows far more than is good for health. The extent to which Arthur lets his wife in on things worries the brother in charge. What’s more is that Arthur wouldn’t be happy to find out these talks are happening behind his back, he may see that as something emasculating. Regardless, Linda wants to get away to America instead of sticking around Birmingham.
Simultaneously, Father Hughes (Paddy Considine) is finding out there may be danger coming his way. And that’s certain to set off a counteracted action on his side.
Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig) is still painting Polly, in all her glory. He is quite seductive and charming in his own way. Although, she does not fall for it. She is one of the strongest women on television.


Polly: “I think when men want sex they become hilarious, like a dog when you pick up a lead and he knows hes going for a walk.”
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Tommy’s off readying to get the deed done on Father Hughes. He slyly follows the priest until getting ambushed in a toilet by a couple men. They beat Tommy badly before loading him into an ambulance. He’s carted off somewhere dark and mysterious where Father Hughes stands over him with MP Jarvis (Alex Macqueen). They want to know why Tommy tried killing the priest. Mostly he just goes in and out of consciousness, managing a “fuck you” in between. Hughes talks about passing information over to the Soviet Union, as well as expecting an apology in front of the Russians. Big threats, too. Directed towards Tom’s son. “We have people in your life,” warns Hughes.
Wow. So with all the reach of the Blinders, this priest seems to have even more. His grasp is tough and vicious. Back at the house, Tommy sacks most of the people in his employ. Can’t trust a soul any more. Worse, he has quite a concussion by the looks of it. Not doing well at all. He shows up to the Russian dinner half concussed, half blown on the cocaine. At the table with the Grand Duke and Duchess (Jan Bijvoet/Dina Korzun), he does his best to apologize with Hughes ranting on about punishment.
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Saying a prayer in repentance, Tommy winces through. But everyone in attendance knows there’s something wrong. Tom rushes off to another meeting. Only he can’t manage to keep it together much longer. The concussion finally takes its toll on him. He collapses, telling Ada (Sophine Rundle) to get him to a hospital, that he has internal bleeding, a fractured skull. Then he fades away.
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What an excellent episode that progresses plot and character. Not only that, Tommy Shelby is proven once again to not be a completely invincible, untouchable gangster, as awesome as he is there’s no need for him to be completely God-like. So I love that this is a new move towards a more vulnerable Tommy, and Shelby organization as a whole. Excited for the next episode. Stay tuned with me, fellow lads and ladies!

Peaky Blinders – Season 3, Episode 1

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 1
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
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Longtime fan since the beginning, I’ve started up on my recaps/reviews for Season 3 of Peaky Blinders! So stick with me, fellow fans of the show. This has been a favourite of mine since its pilot.
The third season opens with a flash of 1922, as Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) kneels ready to take a bullet. Before one of the men holding him at gunpoint shoots the others, letting him go. But with the stipulation that Mr. Churchill will request a meeting with him, at some point. Some day.
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Cut to two years later, 1924. In a packed church, Tommy is ready to be married. All the Shelby clan is at the ready. There’s even a black priest, which amazes some onlookers from the more regal side of the church (Grace’s family). Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis) – soon to be Shelby – makes it down the aisle. Afterwards and forever more, the new Shelby family is whisked away to Arrow House in Warwickshire. Life is rambling on. Man and wife. Except there’s always a dark cloud looming over the Shelbys. Hard for anything to go right, so we’ll see how long the happiness lasts. I’ll bet not overly long before something comes up to make things difficult for Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Shelby.
The wedding reception is quite a trip. All the Shelbys are up to their own things, from Arthur (Paul Anderson) trying to make sure Isiah (Jordan Bolger) isn’t getting into the “snow“, while Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) frets over the little things Tommy needs taken care of. A meeting is called for everyone in the kitchen, as Tom lays down the law: no bad behaviour in front of all the uniforms on Grace’s side of the wedding. Wicked little scene that has Cillian Murphy put on a damn good show, proving time and again his worth as an actor.
Tommy and Grace are at odds, though. He’s not impressed with all the red coats out there. More than that she knows he will always be a part of that dangerous world. Meanwhile, the angry behaviour Tommy shows is because he admits to her that it all scares him; worrying for her, the child, all of it. At least he’s honest. “Tell me what it is youre afraid of?” Grace questions him. To no answer. Until he jokes it off about being scared of the speech Arthur will be giving afterwards.

 


Out at the table, Polly and Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) are busy trying to get away from the gaze of unwanted men. Well, at least Lizzie gets away. Anton Kaledin (Richard Brake) winds up weaseling his way in next to Polly. After a few moments, though, Polly warms up and they chat. Kaledin is a Russian there to do some business with Tommy it seems. And she’s not totally receptive, either.
At the same time, nervous Arthur gets his brother out of bed with his wife. Then he starts to drink. A little too much maybe. And Lizzie’s got her own problems, too. Except Arthur and John (Joe Cole) shut her down hard
Back to the table, including the bride and groom finally. Speech! Speech! Arthur gets up to do his thing, but everybody gives him a bit of a hard time. He gives a slightly emotional speech, which doesn’t particularly make Tommy so happy. He quickly interrupts his brother, awkwardness and all. This sends Arthur off, unhappy with himself. Tom and his brother have a chat about some of the inappropriate things during the speech. This starts a proper brother argument. What comes out is the business with the Russians and Tom’s need for his brother: “Fuck speeches. Fuck weddings. Youre my best man everyday.” Inside, Polly’s serving as the go-between for Tommy and Kaledin. He reveals the code to set things into further motion: Constantine.

 

 

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Kaledin is spinning a good game between all the members of the Shelby organization. Only Arthur particularly is a little too hard for that. So Anton comes face to face with Tommy. Pretty ballsy indeed for the Russian to make contact with him on his wedding day of all days; very Godfather-esque. Anyways, the business is being bandied about in the dark between the men. And as usual, Tommy stands firm: “This is our city.”
Love the interesting look at the early days of cocaine’s rise in popularity. All those rich, high class types looking for some snow to cut up in the back room. Classic. Things haven’t changed, not too much.
The party keeps on raging, despite all those little things happening behind closed doors. Grace lays it all on the line with Polly, telling her how she now knows everything. This does not make Polly happy – further and further she finds her power slips. Although, she is tough. No telling what she could get up to in order to secure more power.
Tommy promises a degree of safety from his business to his new wife Grace, their child. But is that really a promise the man can keep? Not so sure about that. Because as his wedding goes on there’s business afoot. Apparently, Anton gave the wrong code when asked. Now Tommy is meeting Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen). “No variations,” says Tommy in regards to Churchill’s own instructions. No taking chances. The business gets worked out, but on shaky grounds. Nevertheless, Tommy’s always confident even if Arthur is pissed off. He lays the deal down for his older brother. For now, things go along.
I have to mention the cinematography of Laurie Rose. He is fascinating. Everything here is draped in shadow, which matches the plot, as everything sits below the surface, under cover of darkness. So well done, and a great addition to this third season in terms of its crew.

 


Arthur is the one who ends up with the gun in his hand. He finds Anton saying there’s a woman to see him. Simultaneously, Tommy tees the band up for a big number, as the party really kicks up a notch. Lots of noise. You see?
With Arthur leading Anton outside the atmosphere is ominous. Right as the oldest Shelby takes action. Outside, Tommy watches on as fights are punched out in a circle, one red coat vs. one of the Shelby organization. And Arthur fights, too. For his life. He and Anton go tooth and nail. A wonderfully edited sequence with so many things going on at once. The intensity rises from one second to the next until the gun goes off with a hard bang.
And while wife Linda (Kate Phillips) believes her husband Arthur’s only trouble is trying not to drink, worrying about his flubbed speech, the man is left with the burden of guilt over a cold blooded murder he only just committed. A horrible, tense situation for Arthur.

 


A great little finale to the episode with Radiohead’s “You and Whose Army?” playing throughout. The Shelby organization is running smooth, the body of the Russian burned and gone now. Everything’s on the right path, eh? Well, we’ll just see about that. On the verge of a robbery, Tommy has got more confidence than ever. Hubris? Or just a bad ass with everything in its right place?
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Stay with me. Can’t wait to watch the next episode. Loving this season off the bat!