Taboo – Episode 1: “Shovels and Keys”

FX’s Taboo
Episode 1: “Shovels and Keys”
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-11-33-44-amWe begin on the open ocean. From a ship in the water comes a boat. In it is a mysterious, hooded figure. They hit land and the figure digs something from out of the ground. He reveals himself as James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy). He pushes on to a city nearby where he goes to see a dead man; interesting that he takes the coins from the man’s eyes.
Forgive me, father. For I have indeed sinned,” James tells the corpse. Is this his own father? Or someone else close? I’d bet that’s old Mr. Delaney himself, though time will well.
Between these first scenes, the eerie music of the theme and its montage of bodies floating in the water, Taboo is off to a beautifully sinister start and I already need more.
screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-11-34-24-amLondon, 1814. The streets are alive with the sound of capitalism, and people are all doing various things to stay alive, stay fed. In the midst of the city a funeral procession goes on. Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) ad Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall) sit for the funeral of her father. At that very moment in walks James.  “There walks a dead man,” someone says, as Zilpha is mortified to see her brother. Another interesting note: James plunks the two coins from his father’s eyes into the collection at church. But there’s a dreadful air surrounding the man, everyone seems to fear him. Next to the grave James seems to be doing some semi-voodoo-type stuff, saying prayers in another language, wiping a red streak of ochre (or something similar) down from his eye like a tear. So much intrigue in such a short time.
Sneaking about while everyone drinks in the pub, James comes upon his father’s lawyer, Robert Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson). Everyone believed James dead, except for his father, which everybody thought was a product of the madness inherent in whatever illness he suffered through until death. Thoyt tells James of his father’s last holding in America, although says the asset is worthless. Oh, is it now? Well, the male Delaney heir doesn’t buy into all that.
Thoyt: “If America were a pig facing England, it is right at the pigs ass.”
Dark things are brewing. Thorne doesn’t seem thrilled with James’ presence, nor with the prospect of his doing business in the wake of his father’s passing. Also, there’s a strange connection between James and his sister Zilpha; possibly an incestuous tone to their prior relationship. Hard to tell, but strongly suggested. Furthermore, James is a changed man since being in Africa, where all thought him lost. He sees everyone around him almost as a group of vile creatures.


In another, more upper class part of London, Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) rejoices over old man Delaney’s death. He’s not exactly surprised to hear about the son turning up again. He’s already had Mr. Wilton (Leo Bill) try digging up dirt on James. His mother was mad. At 11, he was made a cadet for the East India Company; a “company boy” Strange says, wide-eyed. He reached the rank of Colonel, even. Then in 1800, he fought a lot, set fires, and a ton of other craziness. Said he knew where there was treasure in Africa. In 1802, he left for Africa on his own. He was on a slave ship at one point which sank; could be where we saw him in that first scene.
But now he’s back with business to conduct. This makes Strange and others nervous. They tried dealing with Zilpha, however, James’ return makes that pointless. Will they do something underhanded? Highly likely. Especially considering… the rumours, about James Keziah Delaney.
At his old family home James finds the caretaker, Brace (David Hayman); one of the very few happy to see him. They were, and still are, close. “In all this dirty city, there is no one I can trust, apart from you,” James tells his friend. We find out more of his father, too. That he was bad near the end. He’d crouch at the fire and speak in a strange language to James. I also want to know more of his mother. I wonder if she was from Africa, or somewhere else, because it seems there’s something further to her character than just simply being the mother; she has secrets, I believe. And James, he’s seen darkness, as well.


James starts going through his father’s things. In an old office of his family he finds Helga (Franka Potente) running a brothel out of the space. She offers half of her daily take to stay, and James isn’t interested. Back at the Geary household things aren’t so smooth, either. Thorne wishes his wife Zilpha would be firmer in hand with her brother. “Delaney is nothing more than a nigger now,” he says. I feel we’re going to see a bit of liberation on Zilpha’s part. Whether that’s a good thing is left to be seen. Because there’s a weird vibe between her and James to boot.
The rumours about James in Africa involve evil, witchcraft, all sorts of nasty stuff. There’s also a boy, I assume James’ brother, who was taken in by a family. And we see that there are other reasons Delaney feels the cold shoulder of people in London, not just due to whatever he did while in Africa.
Moreover, James is trying to figure out what happened to his father in the end. All the while fighting off the madness in his own head: “I have no fear to give you,” he rants to himself, walking through the morgue and speaking to corpses. Ghosts, all around him. Particularly an African man, chains around his wrists, bloody from the neck down; he approaches James, who soon repels him. Then back with his physician friend Dr. Powell (Michael Shaeffer), he discovers his father was poisoned.
James: “I know things about the dead
Poor Zilpha’s caught in such a hard, awful place. Her half-brother, returned from his macabre adventures, is making things difficult, as well as her husband Thorne pressing her into making the decisions he requires, lording over her like a maniac. There’s a determination in Zilpha, though. She won’t be pushed over, not entirely, even if it is the early 19th century.


James brings money to Ibbotson (Christopher Fairbank), who took care of the other Delaney boy while the father went mad and James went about his business elsewhere. So, is that his brother, or could it be his son?  Hmm. There’s a gorgeously textured number of layers already in this story, and I feel that this first episode is putting them out in front of us with grace. This should stretch out nicely over the series’ 8 episodes.
Up at the East India Company, James goes to talk with Sir Strange and his brethren. An uneasy meeting, for sure. They all treat him as if he were a mythic figure out of a book. “Do not pretend,” James tells them plainly. They want to talk about Nootka Sound, where old man Delaney’s last property bought from the Natives lies; a point of contention between “His Majestys government and the cursed United States.” What’s fun is that James knows much more than any of these stuffy old bastards ever imagined possible. He has quite a grasp on all that’s happening in terms of geopolitical plans and strategies coming down the pipes. He realises Nootka Sound (a sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island) will become extremely valuable, both to the British and certainly to the Americans. So the bribe comes out. And that doesn’t interest James any more than the rest of it. Sir Strange gets angry, and the look on the faces of the others spells quite the story, as James rises calmly to leave. Now they’re left with only other options. None of which will come to pass without lots of blood.


At home, James receives a letter from Zilpha. She wants the “secrets of the past buried” and now we see she and James are on two different ends of the spectrum.
What exactly will he do from here?
I, for one, am damn excited to watch more.
screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-12-31-13-pmWhat a great opening episode. Honestly, I expected a lot, and for me this one delivered. Great involvement of artists, from Tom Hardy (and his father Edward ‘Chips’ Hardy), to Steven Knight, to Jonathan Pryce, and of course director Kristoffer Nyholm on this first episode.
So much to come. Join me, as we take a ride with James Keziah Delaney into the dark, gritty spaces of London, and beyond!

Peaky Blinders – Season 3 Finale

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 6
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight

* For a review of Episode 5, click here.
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Here it is, the Season 3 finale!
We start as an institute for poor children in Grace’s name is being opened by Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Everyone’s there, Aunt Pol (Helen McCrory) introducing him, Arthur (Paul Anderson) and John (Joe Cole), the lot of them. Tommy gives a nice speech about taking care of the children, proper. Looking after them. Naughty Arthur even makes sure to throw in: “By order of the Peaky Blinders.” Saucy.
But what would Grace think of all that Tommy’s about to do? The big job and all. Well, up shows Father Hughes (Paddy Considine) and dashes all the nice thoughts. He has an office there at the institute. Claiming a place there. Poised to do untold more damage. The look on Michael’s (Finn Cole) face speaks volumes when he sees the priest pass by.
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Lots of other things happening other than a reception for the institute. Peaky Blinders never rest, no sir. Of course Tom does his best businessman face, popping about with his boy, and doing all he can to appear legitimate, squeaky clean. That image doesn’t suit him all that well. Then all of a sudden his boy Charlie goes missing. A nurse took out apparently. Christ almighty. This is the ultimate nightmare to end all nightmares. Arthur tries to calm his brother, he sets things in motion. The word’s out now. Whoever took that boy is going to die. Hard. Who was it, you wonder? Father Hughes? This is a sinister turn of events, as the man himself arrives to confirm it. “All children are dear to me,” Hughes explains creepily. Afterwards, there’s a further deal struck. He has to blow up the train on his own now. All in the name of staying clear of Soviet Union influence, y’know. Communism. Rabble rabble. On top of that all the jewels and such they stole, Hughes and his crew want it. Every last bit. Or else.
Only problem is this makes Tommy paranoid. He wonders who’s grassed up. He points a finger at each and every last one of them. The whole family’s tense now. Bridges may start burning if he’s not careful. Nevertheless, he puts John and Arthur on a job, preparing for the deadly train bombing to come. Tommy’s too busy accusing Polly, insulting her, which is out of line; calling into question Ruben Oliver’s (Alexander Siddig) interest in her and why a high class fella like him would take a shine to a woman like her.


Tommy’s meeting, once again, with Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy). The Wandering Jew himself turns up with a list of people concerning the Fabergé eggs, so that hopefully Shelby can figure things out. Then Tom gets upset. There’s a name he knows that’s left off the list. Ahh, interesting! He questions Alfie, his allegiance, so on. Whether he’s pulling strings and in with some of Tommy’s own enemies. He was in on most of it. Greasy.
When things go sideways Michael comes from nowhere to make things even. Instead of Alfie dying, he gives a savage monologue. He calls into question Tommy and his own idea of a “fucking line” over which he’s crossed. This brief appearance in Season 3 over the past couple episodes is fan-fucking-tastic. Hardy is beyond talented, enormously so. As far as Tommy and Alfie go, things are settled. “Well fucking said,” Tom tells him. And at least the one thing Alfie didn’t know about was the taking of Charlie.
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Alfie: “I want him to acknowledge that he who fights by the sword he fuckindies by it, Tommy.”
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Over with John and Arthur, Michael is proving to be every bit Shelby as any of them. They’ve got an address where apparently Charlie is being kept. Things are set, though they don’t want Michael pulling the trigger ultimately. Yeah, like that’ll happen.
The unnerving Father Hughes has the boy, and watching them together is just unbelievably terrifying. In the meantime, Arthur and the boys are getting things suited for the train bombing. Not everyone’s happy about the six men who will die; Arthur and John hand picked them. That’s rough, they take the brunt for what has to be done. At the same time, Tommy and his military pals are tunnelling through the earth, fast. So many things happening at once, all intense. Everyone straining under the brutal pressures.
Tommy gets through fine into the Russian’s little armoury/jewel stash. All the while Michael gets a beating from Hughes before he’s able to pull the trigger. John and Arthur wait for the train, as it starts to head out. Michael hulks out and slices up the dirty priest, cutting his throat. Then as Finn Shelby runs with news for Arthur seemingly to stop the blast, it goes up in flames. And at home, Polly sees her son now has the thousand yard stare like his cousins who came home from war, damaged and tortured. Seems like Birmingham is no better than the fields of war.


Arthur: “Who wants to be in heaven when you can send men to fuckinhell?”


Tommy offloads the diamonds and jewels with Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen), getting all that settled up. She is one hell of a piece of work. For a minute you almost worry for his safety. Then you just realize she’s a sly, dangerous business associate, and off he goes again to bigger, better things.
Back at his place, Tommy has the Shelby Organization all come in for a sit down. Everybody, from the wives to the family associates, the lot. He admits making a mistake getting involved with the Russians. He forks over money to Arthur and Linda, John and Esme, in a way of asking forgiveness. All’s well that ends in payment for the Shelbys, eh boy. The entire room gets money, though Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) refuses her share. When Polly questions him, Tom reveals he cares nought about money. Not any more. He realizes there’s no change in his future. Because the politicians, the priests, the higher class, they’re worse than the Blinders, than any normal criminal: “You have to get what you want your own way,” Tommy proclaims. He gives up his praise for all those around him. Also, he’s straight up honest with them all, about every last inch of their business.
Pol steps up, though. She wants a better, more hopeful way for them all, as do the women. For his part, Arthur’s heading off for America with his wife. He’s saying goodbye to the family. Except that Tommy reveals there are charges headed for John and Arthur both, as well as Polly and Michael. They are all going down for the crimes. Tommy’s made a drastic deal with people “more powerful” than their enemies, so he claims. Wow. Just wow. Never saw this coming, at all. This is going to change the Shelby family dynamic for certain. How can we still feel as if Tommy’s a good man after this hypocritical move? We’ll what the next season brings.
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This has been a solid, intriguing season. Lots of things happening, especially now in this final episode. Just a wildly entertaining chapter. Can’t wait for the next season. Two more already confirmed, so that’s exciting. Head back and look at my other reviews, as I go back through the entire show, episode by episode.

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 1

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 1
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Written by Steven Knight

* For a review of Episode 2, click here.
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When? Just after the First World War and the horror of the trenches.
Where? Birmingham, a’right.
Leader of the Peaky Blinders, a gang named for wearing razor blades in the bib of their peaked caps, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) visits Birmingham’s lower quarters. He finds a girl that “tells fortunes” and proceeds to have a spell put on his horse. He tells everybody in the nearby vicinity when the horse is racing. And to keep hushed up about what they’ve seen and heard. One immediate thing I’ve always loved is that we get Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand” as the theme song of the series. Great addition.
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There’s more than just Tom in the Shelby gang. Little Finn is smoking cigarettes, Arthur (Paul Anderson) is apparently pissed off. Then there’s John (Joe Cole). And every last one of them, well except for Finn at his young age, is putting in work. The oldest is Arthur, and he is the pissiest, too. Both in attitude and his alcoholism. Arthur ain’t happy about Tommy being down with the Chinese casting spells. More than that he feels overstepped by his younger brother. Though Tom puts it blunt: “I think. So that you dont have to.”
Meanwhile, Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) is on his way towards the Blinders. He’s got files all them all. At the same time, there’s some Communist-type activity happening amongst the workers in Birmingham. Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg) is riling people up to strike. Imagine there’ll be some conflict along the way between the Blinders and the Communists. Right smack dab in the middle is Campbell, as well. Lots of good angles for the story to play towards. Also, it turns out Tommy and Freddie know one another from serving during World War I in the army. Fighting in the dirty trench warfare over on those fields far away from homein France. However, they’re at separate ends of the spectrum. Tommy doesn’t entertain Mr. Thorne much. But we learn from the latter about a “robbery of national significance“, which came down with word from Winston Churchill that also included a list; apparently both Tommy and Freddie are on it. Hmm.
At the same time there’s another soldier back home, Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward-Cook). He’s obviously got PTSD, Shell Shock as they called it. He doesn’t remember freaking out, yet Tom helps him out. Lots of chatter from Thorne. He’s a mouthy one, that.


Now we meet Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory). She pulls a gun on nephew John. Turns out she’s the one keeping a lid on the Shelby boys. At least John, anyway. Love that she’s this tough woman amongst a family of men. Speaking of family, the lads and their associates are having a meeting. Seems there’s a big city wide clean up. Tommy – without telling Arthur – found out from their bought officers that Inspector Campbell has made a name for himself busting up the IRA in Belfast. Now he’s headed to Birmingham, recruiting tough Irish fighters to help him beat the streets. The Blinders aren’t exactly worried, though John in his youth looks a little anxious. Still, Polly is tough, as is Tommy. For his part, Arthur’s not pleased with his younger brother. It’s as if Tom is slowly undermining him.
Through Campbell’s eyes we see Birmingham as a dirty cesspool. The streets at night are filled with the yells of the drunk, vomit, madness. A real mess that he’s looking to fix.
In a church, Tommy tells Polly about the recent robbery she knows nought about. Him and a couple of the good ole boys found a bit of heavy artillery – “all bound for Libya,” he tells her. Rather than leaving it all or tossing it, Tom stashed it away. And now there’s an Inspector out of Belfast headed to their turf. Coincidence? Doubt it.
Have to mention, I love that this is a period piece yet there’s contemporary music included. Makes for a unique feel that I find exciting. It doesn’t feel out of place, but exactly perfect somehow.


Seems that Ada Shelby (Sophie Rundle) is involved romantically with Freddie Thorne. Not something Tommy, or any of the brothers for that matter would enjoy hearing. So they meet in secret, even make love in secret wherever they can. This will absolutely cause chaos somewhere down the line. Just a matter of time.
At the local bar a woman turns up to find work as a barmaid. Her name is Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), a proper Irish lass. The owner doesn’t think she’s cut out for a rough spot like that: “Youre too pretty,” he tells her. Although she convinces him by emptying out the spittoons while singing some song from back in the Old Country.
Inspector Campbell sees only the grim in Birmingham. He hates the prostitution, the abuse, the crowded conditions, thieves, beggars, a “stinking pile” of a city. He’s ready to take the Peaky Blinders on. Sam Neill is a bad ass and this opening speech is solid. The writing is great, too. Campbell further takes on the corrupt cops, so on. No fucking quarter. He’s brought in a load of “God fearing” men to swear in for knocking heads and such.
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Arthur is the first to end up meeting with Campbell. He’s taken by some men, beaten bloody. Then asked questions to which he has no answers. Because Tommy’s been doing his own thing without keeping older brother in the loop, everything’s a tad lopsided. “The only thing that interests me is the truth,” says Campbell. Arthur just can’t give up the goods. ‘Cause he doesn’t know a thing.
Now we get to witness Ms. Burgess working at the bar. She winds up coming across Tommy who makes a fairly rude comment. But the owner warns of getting too close to a Shelby, specifically that one. Later on, she calms all the fighting Irish hearts in the bar by singing a nice song, another one from back home that all the lads join in singing, too. Until Tommy Shelby arrives, then the place goes quiet. This might be the beginning of something. Simultaneously, Ada and Freddie are shacking up under everyone’s noses. Something is clearly broken in Tommy, as he can’t seem to gain back the emotion he once likely had, not after the war. While others are moving on and living life.
At the next family meeting, Arthur is getting fixed up. He brings back all the news from Campbell, about Churchill, the robbery. Things didn’t go as planned for Tommy. Worst of all Arthur wants to work with them. He’s got no clue what’s going on.
Furthermore, we come to find Tommy’s taken to smoking opium. That may stand for the lack of libido or feelings he’s had, accompanied by PTSD, the memories of war. He has flashbacks that are terrifying, even to the audience. Imagine being Tom Shelby. Even the opium can’t cut it all out fully. Christ.


The worst happens when Danny Whizz-Bang is being told to go home. By a Frenchman. Who pulls a blade. This ends up with the poor man getting stabbed, as the memories of Frenchmen with bayonets rain down on Danny. Likely, Tom or someone else is going to have to put Dan down. Because he will only suffer a worse fate if they toss him in the bin; those mental hospitals back then were beyond snake pits, they were death sentences, a lifetime of brutal madness.
Campbell is busy meeting Mr. Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman). They catch up on things. The Inspector tells him all about what he suspects thus far, as well as the way forward. Appears Campbell is a tough, hard man. Still, he gets a media warning about the papers from Churchill: “If there are bodies to be buried, dig holes. And dig them deep.” Awesome appearance of Mr. Churchill, giving us a side of him that too many rosy-eyed people would dare not entertain.
Not everyone is impressed with the way Tommy’s handling things for the Blinders. An old family friend, Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy), warns against being too bold. It may just begin something terrible.


Charlie: “Is it another war youre looking for, Tommy?”
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We understand now that Ms. Burgess and Mr. Campbell are both working on the same side. She’s a copper. Tommy Shelby intrigues her, and Campbell worries she might let her judgement be clouded. We also come to discover Grace’s father was murdered by the IRA. A personal connection to wanting crime, particularly that of the Irish persuasion, eradicated from their stomping grounds. Little tougher than it sounds.
The man Danny killed was an Italian, not a Frenchman. He has connections. In order to save themselves from a war, Tommy has to “dispatch” Danny on his own. As the Italians watch. “I died over there anyway, Tommy. I left my fuckinbrains in the mud,” Danny weeps. Such a tragic thing. To see men torn apart by war like that. Saddest part? Hasn’t changed a whole lot since. Still not enough help for veterans. At least Danny is with his buddy Tommy near the end. Though he has to toss the body in a boat, get it out of the city, so as not to alert the new coppers in the city.
Except Danny ain’t dead. Charlie’s driving the boat, filling him in on things. Now he’s headed to London for a job.
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Excited to recap and review the next episode. Stay with me. This is one of my favourite series’ ever. My second time watching these now, so things are popping out I’d not noticed the first go. Love the cinematography, the grittiness of the plot and story, the characters. Love everything about it.

Peaky Blinders – Season 3, Episode 3

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

* For a review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a review of Episode 4, click here.
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After the vicious events of last episode’s finale, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is most certainly ready for vengeance. His wife is dead now. Grace is gone. Or is he deciding on something else instead of revenge?
Everybody’s worried about him, as he’s been leaving all day on horseback and doing his own thing alone. Things are touchy, of course. No one wants to push him any further over the edge than he seems to be headed. Polly (Helen McCrory) clearly cares, but he wants none of it. Arthur and John (Paul Anderson/Joe Cole) are a bit pissed they weren’t all called in.
However, brothers is brothers. It all gets along. Well the Italians are getting locked down and the score’s ready to be settled. Tommy’s taken to writing up lists for everybody, so like Polly and Michael Gray (Finn Cole), the brothers likewise get their slip. John’s not happy that Michael was brought in before him. This eventually prompts Tommy to yell at his younger brother. He’s most concerned with “legitimate business” now after the death of his wife.


A little later Arthur gets up in Michael’s face after egging him on. Although nothing comes of it. They eventually sit back down for a few more drinks. For her part, Polly wants them all to start acting more appropriate to people with a big house, money, et cetera. And to unite with Tommy.
Only Tommy’s off with his little boy and Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee) headed for Wales. To see a woman, he says. Back in 3 days he tells them via note. A journey is needed. On a little stop, Tommy tells his child about his mother, what happened, and how things will be ahead of them. Though, he expresses: “Im not much good, Charlie. Youre gonna find that out soon enough.”


Teaching Michael how to shoot turns out wild for John and Arthur, as he puts the gun to both of them being led on by their taunts. Seems like there’s going to be actual fallout between these three. After all, Arthur continually pushes at Michael for being a ‘boss’ even though the latter doesn’t have any ambition to jump over them. Yet the insecurities of the oldest Shelby are abound. Either way, they try and teach Michael about their “side of the business” until Polly breaks it up. Michael makes clear he ain’t no little boy. GREAT SONG included here as “Burn the Witch” by Queens of the Stone Age plays and the Shelby brothers fire away on their guns. Nice little scene. Maybe Michael’s going to start getting his hands dirty and into the shit. We’ll see how it plays.
Down at the factory, the Shelby brothers meet with Connor Nutley (Ralph Ineson). They hand him a list of people involved with the Communist Party. He’s got six weeks to “sack them” or else, y’know… but Connor isn’t so easily convinced. The man is clearly just a working bloke and the Shelby clan are forcing his hand.
At the same time, Polly’s getting painted by Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig). She plays coy, but does have interest in him. I get the idea Polly is used to things going poorly, or downright awful. She’s seen hardship galore. So that’s perhaps a reason why she stands back at a distance. Here, she breaks down a bit in front of Ruben. He seems a sweet man. A bit eccentric, not weird just a painter type. For a moment she believes he’s into the fact she’s a “gangster” but he is more so into her, as subject, and a hopeful lover.


Tommy’s out on the marshlands and meeting a gypsy woman named Bethany Boswell (Frances Tomelty). He brings her the sapphire that’s supposedly cursed, the one his wife wore while getting shot. He believes in the curse, it seems. Although, Ms. Boswell doesn’t appear to get any bad vibes off the piece. Mainly, he hopes the curse is real so that is absolves him of guilt in his wife’s death. “All I have is you,” he tells the gypsy. No religion, none of that. She believes it’s cursed, saying it nearly burns her flesh. Then he heads out: “All religion is a foolish answer to a foolish question,” he explains to Dogs.
Vicente Changretta (Kenneth Colley) is headed to get on a ship in the midst of a massive crowd. His look increasingly nervous. Soon, he sees a suspicious man heading for him. He flags down a polcie officer and feels safe escorted onto the boat. Little does he know, the law is bought and paid by Shelby money. It’s all worse because Changretta’s wife taught the Shelby boys, she pushes them to let him go, reminding them of their youth under her tutelage: “I gave you sweets and cakes!” she cries. They disobey Tommy by letting his wife go, though. There may be hell to pay for this decision. Now, Mrs. Changretta is off to America on her own. You can see it definitely bothers John, so underneath the rough exterior of a gangster still lies the heart of a boy.
Some nice Nick Cave in this sequence with “Tupelo” jamming. The Shelby clan is busy in this episode, man. They don’t stop with the aggression. Certainly after the death of Grace, this is expected. Tommy is there now to do what he will with Changretta. The gig is up. Only Arthur steps in to finish Changretta off quick, as John also reveals they didn’t kill his wife. They don’t want to be that sort of gangster. Like a distinction can be made.


Tommy (to Changretta): “I forget who I am. Im a Blinder, Ill take your fuckin eyes first.”
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So Tom goes home with his boy and he tries getting back to business. He and Lizzie have a chat about her place in the Shelby Company. All sorts of legal stuff, selling perfumes and all that proper stuff; in Boston no less. Maybe things aren’t so bad for her after all.
In a jail cell, Tommy meets a gentleman who has information he needs. Wants. Badly. About Section D, or whatever they want to be called. The man warns the people he’s after are “dangerous“, but Tommy isn’t deterred. The Blinders are pretty fucking dangerous.
Arthur’s back on the booze. Although I doubt his wife is aware. She’s more happy about the baby they’re going to have. Wow! Papa Arthur. That sounds like a god damn mess all around. He seems happy as hell, but I’m not so sure he’s cut out for the family life like a normal chap. Or could it be the thing which turns him around? Maybe he’s not as ruthless any more after having spared Mrs. Changretta. There’s possibly a turnaround.
Anyway, Arthur reveals the big news to everybody. The boys are all impressed. Tommy is a bit heavy hearted to see his brother happy with a family, yet he obviously loves his brother. “Proud of ya,” he tells Arthur before heading off to a meeting.


At a swanky dinner, Tommy meets Father Hughes (Paddy Considine), Grand Duke and Duchess Petrovna (Jan Bijvoet/Dina Korzun), the whole lot. They chat together, Tommy answering questions about his family, so forth. The shady priest leads everyone in a nice grace. But Tom wants to get down to business. He lays out the update on their mission, all the stuff with the Communist Party and the plan for the robbery. Big event. Tom has it all under control and answers any question they lob at him. Something about Hughes strikes me as odd. He keeps interrupting all over the place, which doesn’t really please Tommy. Nevertheless, Tom slips a note to the Grand Duchess without anyone else getting to see what it says, pretending it’s a price for fuel and vehicles. Then he insults Hughes before leaving them all to their dinner.


The Duchess sends her daughter Tatiana (Gaite Jansen) out to talk with Tommy. He tells her about Hughes passing information over that’s going back to the Soviet embassy. He offers to kill him. Tatiana mouths off a bit about his wife, to which Tommy responds saying Grace is always with him. A strong moment, great writing.
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Loved this fucking episode. What a whopper, and unexpected. Really subverted what I thought was going to go typically like other mob-styled shows. Never underestimate the power of Steven Knight as a writer. Great chapter, looking forward to next week’s episode now so bad.

Peaky Blinders – Season 3, Episode 2

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 2
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight

* For a review of Episode 1, click here.
* For a review of Episode 3, click here.
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After a whopper of a premiere, Season 3 keeps on ramblin’. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is out taking meetings. He’s talking with Connor Nutley (Ralph Ineson) about a little business. He needs some keys, evidently to some storage. But you know it’s more than for a place to store a few things. Either way, it appears Nutley is reluctant to take money from a Shelby, Tommy specifically. He takes it, though.
And a little later, he ends up speaking to Father John Hughes (Paddy Considine), as the two sit and have a smoke. They talk of choosing sides, so on. And without a whole lot of effort, Considine makes Father Hughes and his talk of “little creatures” into an eerie sort of chap. I’m a fan of his for a long time now, but this is immediately an effective performance. Interested to see where this relationship goes from here. Hughes is a crooked priest with irons in the criminal fire, so there’s no doubt a further end to having a great actor like Considine playing the part. The tension between Hughes and Tommy is excellent, too.
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Now I’m blown away. Because an excellent actor I didn’t realize was part of this season shows up – Jan Bijvoet, as Grand Duke Leon Petrovna. This character is also quickly intriguing. Seems things aren’t as lively in terms of social engagements and business asthe Duke had hoped. He’ll be an interesting addition to the cast, as well.
Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) and brother John (Joe Cole) are sitting for a meeting of their own. However, not everybody’s too happy living under the rule of Shelbys like Arthur and John. As much as Tommy can get psycho when needed, Arthur and John are most certainly a little less subtle, and perhaps a little less respectful, than their brother. Vicente Changretta (Kenneth Colley) ends up literally spitting at them, making clear they’ve gone too far this time. Nice tense scene that’s sure to bring about a little trouble.
I’m always interested in what Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) is up to. Because as greasy as she can be like any of them, Polly doesn’t get enough credit. They often walk all over here. But then again, none of them are saints, so what does it matter? Regardless, she doesn’t back down, and always gets her two cents in. Despite getting ignored or flat out mistreated, Polly manages a degree of strength in her male Shelby dominated world. Except right now all she manages to do is rile up her son John over Lizzie and her messed up situation.


Meanwhile, Tommy is making sure he’s on the special list at a swanky hotel. He’s dining and chatting with the Grand Duke Petrovna, who for his part is a bit of a disgusting man eating and drinking and talking in unison. Petrovna makes a bit of a dirty remark about Russian women v. English women, one which doesn’t appear to strike Tommy as very funny. But they get on talking. The conversation has its… ups and downs, including the Grand Duke crushing a glass in his hand, so obviously stressed yet completely composed at once. Another really impressive scene, both in writing and in the execution of the actors. Of course we find out more about what happened in the first episode of the season, re: the killing of the supposed Russian. Now, there’s further business ahead for the Russians and Shelbys. Serious business at that.
And John, he’s busy kicking the shit out of people. That’s one thing that constantly drives the fear of the Shelbys is that they’re very up close and personal fighters. Yes, they use weapons, guns sometimes. But they’re mostly brawlers. This is part of why many fear them. They don’t have to resort to guns in the night, or at least not all the time. These are blokes that’ll take you on, head to head.
When the Shelby brothers come together, along with Aunt Pol, there’s problems over John’s actions. He listened to nobody, and now there’s hell to pay. All the same, Tommy will have nothing but solidarity. It’s his way, or the fucking highway.


The Grand Duke sees his Grand Duchess Izabella (Dina Korzun). This reveals the fact they’ve likely got sinister intentions within their dealing with the Shelbys. She says it’s possible he may have to kill Tommy, with his own hand. Something the Duke is apparently ready for, one way or another. But is he? Without the possibility of death, any show’s characters become stagnant. So while Tommy is strong, all powerful with a wide reach, there is always a possible murder lurking around the corner, an assassination close behind or being brewed in the dark corners of Birmingham, maybe even further than that. Yet what I know for sure is there’s a nice showdown coming for the Petrovna and Tommy.
At the same time, Tommy is giving his wife Grace (Annabelle Wallis) the sapphire Petrovna gifted him for the murder of the Russian (spy) from last episode. And he’s got so much to worry about now with a wife, the child, it’s more to be used against him. Aside from that there’s Arthur trying to fight his demons, aided by his overbearing wife Linda (Kate Phillips). It’s only a matter of time before something in the Shelby clan breaks, snapping like a twig. Violently, I would imagine.
More Radiohead in this episode with “I Might Be Wrong”, a personal favourite of mine out of their catalogue. We see Arthur out on “business” as he tells his wife. But really it’s shit kicking time. So put on your shit kickers. Although, give it to Arthur: he goes home like he said he would. Even if his brother isn’t happy.


Tommy gets scooped up by the coppers. Then up shows creepy Father Hughes with an equally unsettling dog to see Mr. Shelby in his cell. The priest brings news about having Scotland Yard in their pocket. Veiled and open threats at once. Except Tommy is a hard bastard. A fighter to the bone. The two stand toe to toe, might as well be butting heads. Still, there’s a scary element to Father Hughes: “We can reach anyone. Anywhere.” And this puts a proper spook into Tommy, who rushes home to find a further threat. Proving that Hughes and his people really can get to anybody. A highly unsettling moment. Both in its own right, as well as for the fact Tommy is such a powerful man and someone can still go above and beyond his grasp.
As things go on of which she has no idea, Polly is ready to be painted soon by Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig). These two are fast becoming a little romantic. Wonder how far that will go, or what more trouble that might get Aunt Pol into with her boys. Because you know there’s only so far happiness goes for her. Mostly it’s a bleak and dreary ride through life for her among the Shelby clan. “A woman of substance and class,” she repeats to herself in the mirror before a party, the words Oliver had said about her earlier.
And at the party, Tommy’s not pleased to see Father Hughes, along with MP Patrick Jarvis (Alex Macqueen). In the dark behind closed doors, the three meet, and Tommy smokes his way through another tense encounter. They discuss an upcoming job, a bit of business. And Tommy really has no time for anybody else’s shit. The MP and the priest have their own ideas about how things will go. Even with the force of their power against him, Tommy will not lie down and take it for anyone.


Tommy: “You know gentlemen there is hell, and there is another place below hell. I will remember everything, and forgive nothing.”
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Tommy doesn’t want to bring Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen) through for a factory tour while the place is being watched. Also, Princess Tatiana is a bit of a bitch. She even goes so far as to play on the whole gypsy angle, saying the sapphire from the Grand Duke has been cursed by one. So Tommy rushes to his wife, asking her to take the thing off.
But it’s too late. A man barges in through the crowd and takes a shot at the happy couple, hitting Grace right in the chest above her heart. As Tommy holds his bleeding wife, the other Shelbys beat the shooter, likely to death.


What a finish! Christ. I am sweating. Looking forward to the next episode, which will undoubtedly bring a ton of exciting developments. Much trouble on the way between the Irish and the Russians. Plus, plenty more amazing cinematography, acting, and lots of fun music. Stay tuned with me.

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 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!