Peaky Blinders – Season 4, Episode 1: “The Noose”

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 4, Episode 1: “The Noose”
Directed by David Caffrey
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, click here.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Heathens” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.00.17 PMLast we left the Shelby clan it was rough. Tommy (Cillian Murphy) tells his family they’re about to be arrested. And sure enough, Arthur (Paul Anderson), Michael (Finn Cole), John (Joe Cole), even Polly (Helen McCrory) are all hauled off to the clink.
The lads are not exactly easy to keep under control. Pol’s a bit more tame because she’s near gone mad. But each of them are now brought to be hung, a noose for each. Elsewhere, in the higher offices of the United Kingdom, is evidence that Tommy knows about Churchill’s involvement in all the earlier mess, reaching to the King himself. The assurance is that Tommy will burn everything he has relating to the Crown should the charges be dropped.
Right before the Shelbys and the Grays are hanged by the neck, the proceedings are stopped. On top of all that? Tommy Shelby wants an OBE. He’s always gotta get paid, one way or another, right?
Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.01.34 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.02.55 PMCut to a year later in 1925, right before Christmas.
Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) keeps Tommy up on the family goings on, though he already knows, anyway. He’s always busy, trying to raise young Charlie in the rare moments between doing business. He hasn’t seen his family in ages, not his brothers children. He’s isolated, just him and his boy, and he’s not even being a real father. In the meantime, he’s always drinking, always having sex with working women; probably not taking such great care of himself, either.
Although Tommy does see Michael, who continues working with the business, of course. They’ve got union troubles, a woman named Jessie Eden (Charlie Murphy) stirring things up as of late. Otherwise, Tom’s concerned with Michael and his drug use, lots of cocaine. He also wonders about Pol, she’s not great; she “saw spirits” before almost dying, her mental health is deteriorating. But Tommy says “the spirits she sees are real.” At least they have to be, to help her in the long run. She really is going off the deep end, though. Talking to herself, alone in that house and having conversations with dead people, drinking, downing pills.
The rift amongst the Shelbys is quite wide. Ada (Sophie Rundle) reaches out to John and Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), the latter of whom is not entirely willing to reach back. Then there’s Arthur, he’s doing his best to pull himself together, wife Linda (Kate Phillips) remaining at his side after everything that’s gone on with the family.
Finally, Tommy meets with Ms. Eden about the “disparity in pay based on sex.” She’s no slouch. She knows all about the real Mr. Shelby, not the one with the OBE. Calling him out on his business practises. His idea is to raise the female pay, but he’ll cut the male pay, and tell everyone who decided that. Lots of family first nonsense from a man who doesn’t even talk to most of his own. Hypocrite much, Tom?
Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.26.49 PMAn early Christmas gift arrives for Tommy, looking similar to letters with cards we’ve seen delivered to the other Shelby homes. It’s from a man named Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody), son of the man killed by the Shelby family. The card comes with a Black Hand. La Cosa Nostra? Old school Sicilian “mafia shit“? Oh, man. This is scary. Now John and Arthur are checking the post, as well. Finding their little holiday letters.
In Liverpool, Mr. Chagretta arrives from America. Getting closer all the time.
At the house, Tommy’s paranoid. He hears a vehicle on their way up the drive, preparing himself with a weapon. Only to see it’s Ada being dropped off to see him. Not much of a holiday reunion as it is preparation for a possible coming war, or at the very least a series of assassination attempts. Tom believes it’s necessary to go back to Birmingham, where they’re surrounded by soldiers for the Peaky Blinders. Christ, what a way to come back together. First, they’ve all got to have a family meeting. Sad to see a bunch of people who only ever had each other so divided, far apart yet near all the same. A real tragedy, even if they’re technically a ‘criminal’ family, as if they had much other choice.
Anyone who wants to live to see another Christmas needs to come where its safe. These bastards will kill kids, as well.”
Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.34.50 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.39.22 PMAt home, Tommy’s curious about the new chef, a very specific man; an Italian, actually. He’s starting to wonder if this man, and his assistant, are actually there under false pretences. Such as, I don’t know, maybe, kill Tommy Shelby? Poison him? Who knows. At least Tom is aware, even if it turns out as just his paranoia running wild. He lets his suspicion grow, going down to the kitchen himself to introduce himself to the staff. He’s keeping a close eye on them, just in case. He goes to see the chef himself who’s busy butchering a bit of meat. AND BOY, THINGS ARE TENSE! He presses the chef, getting no real answers. Until bringing up Sabini. All the chef knows is that he was told to bring the sous-chef Antonio (Andreas Muñoz) with him.
Mr. Shelby puts a meathook into Antonio’s neck, and interrogates him about the Black Hand. He gets nothing else, so he shoots the sous-chef in the head. He instructs the chef to head back and tell those in America who sent them that things have changed. What a way to kick off Christmas.
Yet over at John’s place things are much worse, when he and Michael are gunned down by a bunch of Italians hiding in a cart full of hay on the road. Will they survive? Or will they die and add a huge fuel to the fire? Wow.
Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.53.10 PMScreen Shot 2017-11-15 at 11.55.17 PMPerfect premiere for Season 4. Lord! Can never get enough of Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, or any of the rest of them. Gimme more.
“Heathens” is next week. They’ve started naming the episodes this season, at least that’s what it looks like on various other sites. Either way, I’m too excited for this season.

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Peaky Blinders – Season 2, Episode 5

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 2, Episode 5
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, click here.
Pic 1Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) receives Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) and a few lads down at the bakery. They sit around a table, the baker talks of the persecution of the Jewish people and the “evil fucking Egyptians.” They’ve got a Passover goat for sacrifice. They’ve named him after Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). All hell breaks loose. Billy Kitchen is shot in the head. Arthur nearly choked to death as a few men hold him back. He’s knocked out and given to the coppers.
At the same time, Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) watches as Polly (Helen McCrory) and Michael Gray (Finn Cole) have the house raided during dinner; the lawman presses himself against Aunt Pol up against the car, telling her that “as of tonight Tommy Shelby is done.” Darby Sabini (Noah Taylor) and his boys are out terrorising all of their own sort. All around everything is getting darker, scarier. Not sure who scares me most.
One thing I know, when Tom finds out he will not be happy. He’s busy over with May Carleton (Charlotte Riley) talking about the horse and such, the morning after their passionate night together. Little does he know of what’s gone on concerning the family. So much betrayal.
Pic 1ALater, Tommy meets with Campbell. The copper’s been fucking him over constantly, so it isn’t really a surprise to see him uncaring about it all. The Blinders’ leader finds himself in a tough spot. Lots of charges looming overhead, for everyone from Arthur on trumped up charges to Michael on crimes he’s admitted. Campbell’s a jealous man who’s at the edge of his own sanity and morality. He has power over “life and death” of the Shelby family. An ugly place this relationship has arrived.
Then, to make it all the more difficult, Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis) calls to speak with Tommy, right in the midst of his many problems. She’d like to meet with him. Well, after he’s taken care of all the shit raining down on their house.
John (Joe Cole) fills Tom in on the impound of the vans, the lifted whiskey, all their export issues, so on. Aunt Pol is gone mental over her son in lockup. There’s no certain plan going forward, though the leader decides they’ll take Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee) up on his offer to provide men for protection and fighting and the lot. At the same time, their aunt won’t have it. She wants to get away from the family. I imagine that’s just rage talking. If she never left before, she won’t now. The family’s falling apart worse than ever.
Polly: “Its men that have done the damage
She goes up to see her son, but she only finds Major Campbell being a brute. He says he’ll release Michael within the next day. If she does something for him. Then he advances physically on her, and she refuses. Momentarily. When she tries appeasing him, he forces himself further onto her viciously, raping her. She doesn’t tell anybody. Although Ada (Sophie Rundle) finds her at home, bathing, looking as if she’s been trampled. Michael is released the next day… at what price? People are talking about his mother as if she willingly gave herself to the Major, which he himself believes. Fucking tragic, awful stuff.
Pic 2Tommy is down in the barn shovelling shit. To remind himself “where hed be” if it weren’t for who he was, his name, the gang, everything. Trying to keep himself honest. Then later on he meets with Grace, after so much time. He seems bitter, and she does, too. She tells of her husband, that she’s happy. And he tries acting like it doesn’t burn him up inside she’s married. They go out to a party together, where Charlie Chaplin is kicking around; apparently he’s a gypsy from Birmingham like the Blinders.
The jealousy games keep going, as Mr. Shelby calls Campbell to gloat about being with Grace. Sending the copper into a fit of rage. What’s he going to do? Christ. Worries me.
Tommy: “We all have our secrets, Grace.”
Over at the clink, John goes to see his oldest brother. Arthur’s dealing with literal rats, Cockneys, and Sabini’s men crawling around the place. The brothers joke a bit. However, the oldest Shelby is starting to lament about his wasted life: “I used to draw horses.” A bit too late at this point. Nevertheless, Tom won’t let him rot in there.
Pic 3Major Campbell is over at the Shelby offices poking around. He’s plotting something sinister, you can just feel it. He almost wants to BE Tommy Shelby, in a strange way. There’s a streak of jealousy running through him on a lot of fronts. He and Tommy meet once more for a chat. The Major asks about Polly, sly and nasty. He further stresses the importance of the assassination with which he and IRA have tasked the leader of the Blinders. Tom’s making sure he gets to do the kill when and where he can assure he’ll make it out of the damned thing alive.
Screen Shot 2017-06-14 at 10.39.22 PMWhat a lead up to the Season 2 finale! There’s so much trouble about to pop, and I can only hope there are certain resolutions we’ll see. Either way, the last episode of this season is bound to be cracking.

Peaky Blinders – Season 2, Episode 3

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 2, Episode 3
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
Pic 1PJ Harvey’s version of “Red Right Hand” plays at the beginning of this episode, and it’s even more haunting than Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) is catching his men up to speed about the specialities of the IRA, such as using the garrote; a murder we witness in the opening scene outside a children’s shadow puppet show. This illustrates how close innocence and violence are at all times here, a very on-the-nose representation as death is juxtaposed with a playful show for kids.
Tommy (Cillian Murphy), Arthur (Paul Anderson), John (Joe Cole), they’re looking for lads for the organisation. They need fellas of all kinds, including those whom they can “stand up” – the Shelbys help their friends in the high places to reach quotas, sending people to jail, and someone with no record is perfect because they’ll only do a very short amount of time.
Finally we see Michael Gray (Finn Cole) with his long lost mother Polly (Helen McCrory). They bond over a drop of tea, each with “a million questions” for the other. So much time gone. You can see the light returning to her, though. It’s clear she loves him. And that he wants to be able to love her, too. Not long and he’s introduced to the Shelby brothers, his cousins. To the surprise of Arthur and John, who only remember the lad as a little baby. An awkward reunion to start, but a reunion all the same!
Pic 1AA man named Billy Kitchen (Paul Bullion) that Tom knows from serving in the army comes to see him. He’s got to pass a physical, however, he took a bullet recently. So he gets a week before taking it. Already has the job, as he and Tommy are obviously close enough to go on good faith. Plus, he’s a fine boy to send out recruiting.
Tommy takes Michael down to the Garrison. He’s trying to get a read on the young man. Michael turns 18 soon, then he will decide whether to leave his adopted home. The leader of the Blinders wants his newfound cousin to go back. He tells of the Shelby family business, its dangers. Regardless, Michael is sick of the tiny village where he lives. He wants more out of life.
Over in Camden Town, Billy’s rounded up all sorts to go see Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) for work. They’re bakers now, officially. So if the coppers come round, they’ve got proper identification. One man gets cheeky. Alfie pops the fella next to him, then makes clear: don’t fucking joke around. Muffin Man Solomons lays down the law, putting rules out so there’s no further confusion.
Pic 2Arthur’s dipping deeper into the cocaine, a regular, heavy user. Not the type of guy you relish running into on a regular day, let alone one where he’s snorting hard. Makes a man feel like Superman. Doesn’t mix well with his temper and fists. The mother of the young man he beat to death shows up, pointing a gun at him in the Garrison. She calls him “an animal” and he doesn’t disagree.
She can’t bring herself to kill, so they sit and drink, and talk. He offers money knowing it’s a far cry from raising the dead. Mostly we see how people start resenting the Blinders rather than glorifying their criminality, as it’s really starting to have deadly effects.
Arthur: “If youre gonna use it, point that thing at my head. Thats where the trouble is.”
Tommy is still toying with Campbell. The Major is finding himself becoming more like the man he so badly wants to defeat. It’s brewing to something worse, every episode. Tom says that where he’s staying, the landlord used to be the madam of a whorehouse. Is someone playing a nasty trick on the copper?
Darby Sabini (Noah Taylor) has his own copper on the take, Georgie Sewell (Sam Hazeldine), gathering information on Mr. Shelby and waiting for the proper time to strike him down. The Italian is an impatient man, I gather. He’s a nasty fucking bloke.
Later that evening Campbell tells the landlord at his place to strip, offering money. She does gladly, even if his tact is less than gentlemanly. He only wanted to know that it was true. To know if his men have been playing jokes on him. Moreover, his righteous indignation is never more apparent than it is now; it’ll only get worse.
Pic 3One of the Blinders’ recruits spending the night in jail gets attacked in his cell. His throat is cut, as a display of authority from Sabini. An innocent casualty in their war. This will happen to any more of the Blinders who are sent inside.
In addition, Tommy himself is threatened. So they’ve got to take action, not the time to appear weak. At the same time, Michael sneaks himself into the family business meeting. He wants to be a part of the gang, to help with the latest plan to fuck Sabini over at the races.
While Polly is reluctant, the lads want to take Michael along with them. Except Tommy, who doesn’t want to bring another young man into a life of crime, death, violence, repeat. Still, mom and her son come together more, and she lets him go on with the brothers. More like a picnic than usual with Pol sending sandwiches and tea.
Polly: “This is a respectable fucking neighbourhood
The Blinders head to see some horses. One in particular, which Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy) points out. Tom starts bidding on the animal, across the way a woman watches him. On goes the auction, as Tommy insists on getting the horse, no matter how high the price. Afterwards, he meets the woman bidding against him: May Carleton (Charlotte Riley). She trains horses, and it seems she’s interested in the one he bought. Or him.
Sabini’s man nearly kills Tom, before Arthur knocks the pistol from his hands. Nearly beating him to death in the process. Michael gets a front row seat to the business of his cousins, the risks, so on. Even offers to drive for them once it’s finished. He’s thirsty to be one of the bad boys, as well.
Pic 4A solid chapter in Season 2, building on some of the show’s central themes such as the loss of innocence, the way war changes people, how others in turn react to the change in them, so on. Lots of great stuff, including more of the battle brewing between Alfie Solomons, along with Tommy, and Mr. Sabini. Excited to see what happens next.

Peaky Blinders – Season 2, Episode 1

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 2, Episode 1
Directed by Colm McCarthy
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
Pic 1Last we saw Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), she was on the end of Chester Campbell’s (Sam Neill) gun. Only she fired first from inside her purse, putting him on his back. Then she boarded the train and didn’t look back.
Cut to two years later in  Birmingham. A couple prams are wheeled up in front of the Garrison Pub, left by two women dressed in widow’s attire. Bombs go off and blow the front out of the place. Elsewhere, the funeral of Freddie Thorne, who succumbed to illness. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) says a few words over the casket as it’s put in the ground, with Ada (Sophie Rundle), John (Joe Cole), the rest of the family looking on. Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) and Tom want Ada to stick around rather than leaving, because business is picking up and it’ll be “dangerous to be a Shelby” for a while. Although now she’s Mrs. Thorne, technically.
There’s never a dull moment in the lives of the Shelby clan. Off they go to find the pub burned to a crisp. Pol leans down in the ashes to find confetti. Hmm, a clue. But what could that mean? You bet the family is going to find out, one way or a-bloody-nother.
Pic 1ATom goes for a drink at the Black Lion. After that he’s led off someplace by a boy looking for that “Peaky Blinder devil.” He meets Irene O’Donnell (Simone Kirby) and Donal (Rory Keenan). They blew up the pub. They’re dangerous folk and clearly in for the cause. Threats are thrown at Tom, but he fires back knowing much personal information about Irene. Seems they need him. However, they’ve got a leg up, and he’s not the slightest bit happy about being their bitch. ‘Cause really, that’s the deal. You know he won’t let that last long. We’ve seen Tommy down, he’s never really out.
Later, Tom’s copper on the take mentions an old friend is coming back to town, now head of a special department of some kind: Major Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), that nasty old piece of work. He’s gone from justice to criminal himself, taking no prisoners along the way. A bad man, if ever there were.
Arthur (Paul Anderson) is busy boxing the shit out of people. He’s still not right. Channelling his anger into a BARELY more manageable place by boxing. John is still critical of his brother the boss, and Pol tries keeping a lid on it. But there’s absolutely a divide, as always. All over a bit of business.
Pic 2In regards to London and the expansion plan Tommy speaks of, he mentions that the Jews and the Italians have been at war. The Jews need allies, specifically Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy). I wonder if this will play into his meeting with O’Donnell somehow.
Lizzie Stark (Natasha O’Keeffe) is back, too. She and Tommy meet now and then for a shag, he leaves a few quid on the dresser for her. “I wish just once you wouldnt pay me,” she tells him. Problem being I think he’s only doing it to forget, not even to get off. He wants not to remember Grace.
We see Pol go to a seance with a medium leading the group. So who’s she there to try and reach? The parish took her children, lately she feels as if her daughter’s possibly dead. There’s a lot of pain in her past. She’s always seemed haunted, though now it becomes clearer. Also clear is the dark weight of the Shelby family name.
That night Tommy sneaks up on a blacksmith named Eamonn Duggan (Rory Gallagher), shooting him in the head. This is most certainly one of those O’Connell, IRA-related events. Like Tom’s back in the war again. He and the lads are off to bury Duggan’s body, then to London for a lark!
Next day, Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) tells Polly about how the medium was a bunch of bullshit, a scam. This prompts the aunt to put a knife at her throat, threatening her not to tell a soul why she was there. Can the new wife actually keep a secret?
Pic 3When the Blinders holiday in London, they’re supposedly overstepping boundaries. And when people take offence to their being there, the lads start cutting motherfuckers, headbutting, punching, generally kicking the shite out of anyone who’ll step up. Proper show. Tom gives a little speech to the “downtrodden” and the like, sending out a call, a message.
Major Campbell goes to see Winston Churchill (Richard McCabe), the fabled leader painting naked women, a bit jowlier than last we saw him. He hears of Chester’s latest plans, of course involving Mr. Shelby. He wants to use the Blinder to their purposes, then be done with him.
Tommy offers Lizzie a job as a typist for the Shelby Brothers Ltd. He also needs someone willing to turn a blind eye to certain things. So strange to see him caring about her after what he did in Season 1. I guess that points clearly to the fact he wasn’t just visiting her as a customer then, either. He had feelings, of some kind.
When he gets back home Pol is pissed with him for being “at war with Sabini.” She’s speaking of a man named Darby Sabini (Noah Taylor). Tom is attacked in the street, and meanwhile Ada is attacked by a gang of men, taken away somewhere. The leader of the Blinders has a gold filling pulled from his face, but before they can kill him, gunfire erupts. Campbell’s saved him. Oh, my.
Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 12.56.22 AMWhat a spectacular opening to this second season. Things are about to get nasty, nasty, nasty. And wild as hell.

Peaky Blinders – Season 1 Finale

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 6
Directed by Tom Harper
Written by Steve Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
* For a recap & review of the Season 2 premiere, click here.
Pic 1Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) goes to the Chinese market, to the tailors and Mr. Zhang (Lobo Chan). He’s there to see about some working girls, he knows his officers often frequent the place. Y’know, for a “certain purpose.”
In other news, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is readying Arthur (Paul Anderson), John (Joe Cole), and the rest of the lads for a big, big day. At home, Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) prays for her nephews, each for different reasons.
Tommy: “After today therell be no need for prayers
So over at the Chinese market, Campbell is looking for a bit of sexual healing, to mend his frustrations, maybe even get his mind off Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), if even for the moment. A young Chinese woman tends to him, removing his boots and his tie and treating him well.
And what about Grace? She’s facing nastiness from other officers. Plus, Campbell is holding what she did for Tommy, and with him, over her head. He’s angry, wounded. Now he’s hurting girls down at Zhang’s place, which gets brought to the attention of Mr. Shelby. Uh oh, a compromising position for the copper. The venom between these two is pulpy.
Campbell: “Before the day is over, your heart will be broken. Just the same as mine.”
Pic 1AWe find out more about Pol, when Ada (Sophie Rundle) talks with her. Turns out her children were taken from her, which is one of the reasons she’s so close to the nephews and niece. She speaks well of Tommy, that he does what he does to protect them. Moreover, she tells Ada about the plans for Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg); and they’re not bad. He’s going free. BY ORDER OF THE PEAKY FOOKIN’ BLINDERS!
Campbell later meets with Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman) about the operation to locate the guns. Everyone’s happy. The Inspector also chooses not to say anything about Grace’s transgressions, talking her up. Then the conversations turns to the Peaky Blinders. This is more of the nasty Mr. Campbell planning something rough for the Shelby clan and their gang.
The big day’s come – Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) is getting the oust. They’ve got dirty work to do before the legitimate racetrack stuff gets underway. One of the best parts is that John and Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) are married, so the Lee clan is alongside for the ride. That’s a grand help. Afterwards, Ada comes back to her family with baby in tow – they named him Karl after “Karl Marx” himself. So perfect for a Communist’s child. Having Ada back in the fold is good for the family, especially Tommy; a boost of confidence and trust in him.
While the lads hit the bar, Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward-Cook) picks Freddie up on the road. He’s also the one holding on to that last missing gun from the BSA stockpile.
Pic 2The love story between Grace and Tommy’s getting deeper, more troubling, more intense. He wants to change for her, he wants to be a legitimate man and not be bound to the criminal life. The racetrack, the betting, it could change everything. Right before Grace can reveal her true self, Tommy is made aware of Kimber chaps heading over to see them. Might be a war, someone’s betrayed their clan.
And who’s done it? Grace. Again. Pol goes down to talk with the barmaid. Then younger woman reveals her status as a woman of the law. However, there’s no fight as it seemed was poised to happen. The aunt knows Grace saved Tommy’s life recently, that she’s a tough woman, and that she’s fallen for her nephew.
One of the underlying themes of Peaky Blinders is that war changes people, drastically, and for the worse every time. This is the crux of the character of Thomas Shelby, he is a good man at heart but he’s been warped like an old branch on a tree, weathering a brutal storm in France only to return home where nobody wants him now that he’s broken.
Now the Blinders and their allies wait for the attack to come, knowing they’re outnumbered. On the other side, Campbell’s willing to let “the beasts devour each other.” All in the name of jealousy, in the end.
Youre bad men, but youre our bad men.”
Thus, the battle commences. Tom and the lads are locked and loaded and ready to fight. They’ve even got ole Freddie with a nice machine gun to blow them to bits. Except for the fact Ada wheels her child out in front of them all. She calls up the memories of France, wearing black as if already a widow. A woman’s power there in front of each of those men. BAD ASS ADA SHELBY! Yet Kimber takes his shots anyways, putting one right in Tommy’s chest. Followed by a return shot right through Billy’s forehead. The fucking end of that. Sad to see Danny die, too.
Pic 3After making it out of France, poor Danny’s gone. Killed back home by goddamn gangsters. The lads toast to his memory: “May we all die twice.” Everyone has a drink, remembering his honour and his strength, those who fought with him in the war then fought with him once again in the streets of England.
Life goes on, relatively the same. Just a bit more sad, a little more drunk. Although Campbell isn’t thrilled to hear about Freddie being sprung from his prison transport, knowing it was the Blinders who did it.
Tommy goes to see Grace later. Theirs is a difficult relationship, one mired in criminality versus law. She wants him to be done with business, then find her in New York. She’s got plans for them. I just don’t see that sitting too well with the family, certainly not Polly. Nor do I think Tom can leave this life behind. Or resign himself to the idea of being with a copper. We’ll have to see where the road takes him.
When Grace goes for the train, she winds up on the end of Inspector Campbell’s gun. Will she make it away?
Pic 4Season 1 has been INCREDIBLE! Impeccable writing, the acting is out of this world. Production design is some of the best you’ll see in any period television series. Can’t wait to review Season 2.

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 4

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 4
Directed by Tom Harper
Written by Steven Knight & Steven Russell

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
Pic 1Freddie (Iddo Goldberg) and Ada (Sophie Rundle) are quite in love. Her belly getting bigger by the day. He’s still running news of the revolution around, and Jeremiah Jesus (Benjamin Zephaniah) watches him for ole brother-in-law Tom Shelby (Cillian Murphy).
There’s lots else afoot, as well. Bookies are taking bets as usual, Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) shows up with news for her nephew. And when they head out for a meeting, doors locked behind them, a crowd of men from the Lee clan pop out from under cover of a wagon, let into the place by a boy they’ve sent in.
Oh, lord. About to get right nasty, this will. They storm the bookies with guns drawn. This won’t sit well when the Shelbys find out.
Tom goes to meet with his brothers Arthur (Paul Anderson), specifically John (Joe Cole), who says he needs to find a mother for his children. Now he’s getting married! Only they all find it laughable he’s planning on marrying Lizzie Starke (Natasha O’Keeffe). She’s a prostitute, so they all look down on her, except John. He loves her proper.
Pic 1AThey’re all called away because of what the Lee clan’s done. Luckily, no one died. Problem is they think there’s been “booby traps” set, a hand grenade left rigged to blow. It’s a nasty little taunt from when they were in France, what they’d do to the enemy as a joke, leaving wire cutters as part of the cruel gag. Tom believes it was only set for him. Now little Finn Shelby almost dies because he’s pretending to be his uncle outside, the car’s been wired. Uncle Tom tosses the explosive before it can kill him.
Tommy: “Thats why you should never pretend to be me
Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee) walks Mr. Shelby into Lee territory, holding a white flag on a stick to keep him safe. When he speaks with Zilpha Lee (Therese Bradley), he offers a switch – take the debt off Billy Kimber’s (Charlie Creed-Miles) head instead. Quite the shaky alliance, though they’re related down the line on Tommy’s mother’s side somewhere. So that’s good faith enough for them to entertain a deal.
Ada’s not into the whole “cause” of Freddie and his boys. She thinks he’s being ripped off when he’s taking all the risk involved. She believes his lost in dreams of a revolution. Meanwhile, they’ve got a family to start thinking about, a baby they’ll need to feed. Then she asks to whom he’s loyal: her, or his revolution.
Later on Tom meets with Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill), to give him an address for an anonymous tip. It belongs to Stanly Chapman (John-Paul Hurley). Man’s got “snow in his boots” for the copper to shovel, in bed with the Russians. Mainly it comes down to whether Campbell will leave Freddie and Ada out of it. He gives his word, and I guess that’s good enough. Free reign to do business for a few Bolsheviks. The lawman warns he’ll be dismissed if the guns don’t turn up soon. Then what happens to their deal? Well if he gets caught, it’s a grim finish for all the Shelbys. Fucking GRIM. Lots of threats in this exchange. Tom’s up against a force he might not quite understand, or at the very least he’s underestimated.
Campbell: “If I were to be fired and it were your fault, I would do things that would shame the devil. My fury is a thing to behold.”
Pic 2That Inspector’s already going back on his word. He’s a snake in the grass, willing to do ANYTHING to get what he wants. He’s going after Freddie and Ada with no indication of stopping until he’s scooped them up.
Pol goes to tell Freddie what’s been going on, and he’s not exactly happy. Although Ada’s already been in on the whole thing, anyways. He won’t accept it. Because he knows that the cops won’t keep their word, which we already see to be true. The Communists don’t know one another’s addresses, meaning Chapman won’t be able to tell Campbell a thing. And it was all for nought. Except for the fact Freddie isn’t in a good state of mind anymore.
Over in a dungeon, Campbell’s man has whipped Chapman to death. We’re seeing more of how the Inspector is a truly terrifying man. His will is horrific, he doesn’t stop no matter what’s in front of him. This makes me worry about Grace (Annabelle Wallis).
Tommy announces to everybody they’ve officially got their own “racetrack pitch” for the first time. A legitimate betting license. It’s all uphill from here. Or that’s what they’d hope. In other news, Tommy wants Grace to be part of the business, because she has class. Yet he knows she lies, that she isn’t Catholic, nor is she a barmaid from Ireland.
So who IS she in his mind? And how far will it go before it becomes trouble for him?
Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 11.46.12 PMOn the street, Tom finds Lizzie for a chat. It’s clear that they’ve been together before. She didn’t tell John, which isn’t too great. However, Tom hopes she’s changed and that they can leave the past behind them. He gives her some cash, to aid in forgetting. And for one last shag. Oh, for fuck sakes. C’mon now, lad! Bad form. Or is it a test? Yes, indeed. He wanted to see if she loved his brother truly. Yikes.
Afterwards he goes to tell John about Lizzie, that he propositioned and she agreed. The younger brother’s not chuffed to hear. Also, Tom finds Grace and gives her a contract for the bookkeeping job. She’s becoming a bigger part of the operation. Little does he know she’s feeding all the info back to Campbell.
The next day Tommy throws an impromptu wedding for John. But not to Lizzie, to one of the Lee girls who needs marrying. Solves a ton of problems. If John doesn’t agree a “mighty war” could erupt. They lay responsibility at his doorstep, after Tommy’s betrothed him to the girl without knowing. The girl is Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), a beautiful young lady. The couple is married in front of a crowd, their hands are cut open and their blood is bonded.
Later, a celebration! During the dance and the drinks Ada’s water winds up breaking. They head back home for the birth. Pol helps with the delivery, though it’s a rough one no doubt. The lads go to the pub to get hammered, and Tom gives word that Freddie’s safe to come round for the baby. All goes well, Ada is now a mum. And dad gets to have a look at his newborn son.
But coppers arrive to haul Freddie away. Has Tommy done the deed? I’d lay bets on the fact it was Grace. Uh oh.
Pic 4An intense and unexpected episode. I love the cultures and traditions of the Irish people we see, the Gypsy clans, all those types of things. Very fun bit of history mixed into Peaky Blinders. Dig it!

Peaky Blinders – Season 1, Episode 3

BBC’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 3
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
Pic 1Every time I hear that Nick Cave tune it gets me in the mood proper for this show to start! Great use of that very familiar tune, particularly relating to Mr. Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) whose hands are definitely red. He drops in to see Grace Burgess (Annabelle Wallis), she wants to make sure she looks good for the races. But he says it isn’t him she ought to be dressing for when they go.
Tommy: “Oh, I dont pay for suits. My suits are on the house, or the house burns down.”
In the Garrison Pub, Tommy talks with some people about the factory nearby. Lots of Irish work there, talking of a robbery; involving a “serious amount of guns.” The men say they want to buy them, for the IRA. One even sings some of “The Boys of the Old Brigade” in an intense, quiet moment (the song is a folk tune written by Paddy McGuigan;  an anachronism, as McGuigan wasn’t even born until 20 years after the timeline of this series, but one that fits quite well.
Meanwhile, Ada (Sophie Rundle) is running off to get married to Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg). I can only imagine how Tommy will react. Part of me says he’ll be fine with it, except for the problems it may cause concerning Inspector Cambell (Sam Neill) and his Communist hunt. Speaking of the copper, he’s putting all his apples in the Grace cart, not overly impressed with any of his men and their work. There’s plenty of resentment, too. Towards Campbell, for not having fought over in France. That’s one part about Shelby he hates, that makes him feel inadequate. This will cause more grief as time passes.
Pic 1AAnd Grace, she’s out doing a bit of reconnaissance. She follows a man through the back alleys in the street. He catches her, though. Tries manhandling her and wants to take her in for questioning by the IRA. Then she puts a bullet in him and she’s got a body on her hands. From a window somewhere close, someone else is keeping an eye on her, as well. When she goes back to her flat she’s in a frenzy, the guilt of murdering that man heavy on her heart already.
It’s a slippery fuckin’ slope from here.
Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) tells Tommy about Ada and Freddie getting married. This isn’t what he was hoping to hear, but Pol says she’ll “deal with it.” Except he tells her then the deal he made, to get Freddie to leave town. She’s not impressed with the fact he’s doing his own thing behind the family’s back. All the same he IS the leader, and not only in his mind; everyone looks to him.
When the well-meaning aunt goes to Ada and Freddie, he isn’t exactly willing to up and leave. Regardless, if he doesn’t go he’ll be facing the barrel of a gun; someday, somewhere.
Freddie: “You tellinme I cant handle Tommy Shelby?”
Pol: “You cant. Im having trouble these days, and Im twice the man you are.”
Campbell’s found out about Grace killing a man, an IRA lad. She stays the course, not wanting to give up. She considers it all part of the mission. Above anything else, the Inspector is concerned for her. Although something else is behind his eyes.
Out at the Asian market, Tommy lets Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles) know that the Lee clan are planning big things for the races. The big boss man doesn’t much care for Mr. Shelby. It’s clear he does take a fancy for Ms. Burgess, and now we know for whom she’s dressing. A-ha!
Pic 2What about Freddie, anyways? He’s out priming the revolution, pushing the factory workers for a more socialist union of workers, fighting together in order to make things better for the working class.
Tommy chats with John (Joe Cole), apparently Arthur (Paul Anderson) has got the “Flanders blues” again. What it is, truly, is what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder. And of course the Shelbys, they try solving that with bottles of whiskey. Moreover, Arthur feels left out of the family business, the family life, all of it. He feels disconnected from them all, detached from his brothers and sisters. He doesn’t like that Tommy didn’t tell him about the stolen guns from the BSA [Birmingham Small Arms Company].
Nevertheless, Tommy reels his older brother in close. He’s going to buy up the Garrison for Arthur to run: “Just pour it instead of drinkinit.” Ah, something to make the old lad feel better! A real part of the gang, a moneymaker and launderer for the actual family business. Not a bad racket, hey. Only Tommy’s got other things to worry about, such as Campbell not happy about Freddie rallying the factory workers towards a strike.
Out by the river, Freddie puts a gun to his old buddy Tom’s skull. He gives back the money, the tickets to leave on a boat elsewhere. They wind up with guns pointed at each other. Reminiscing and lamenting on their friendship. This won’t end well, either way.
And poor Tom, he’s still having nightmares of their time in France, tunnelling in the ground and having to fight other men in such close, dirty quarters, so violent and primal. No wonder he’s smoking opium.
Up turns Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward-Cook) from London to give his boss a bit of news, about the IRA believing the Peaky Blinders shot their man in Birmingham. They didn’t “but lies travel faster than the truth.” They’ve got to set a meeting and clear the air. Soon. For the time being, Danny and Tommy bond over their shared terror from the war, that still follows them.
Pic 3Everyone, including Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy), are gearing up for the races, the getaway afterwards, so on. Then Tommy and Grace are off for the day, as the rest of the Peaky Blinders take care of business. They’re planning to take it hard to the Lee clan for their skimming off the bookies. All a plan to change Kimber’s mind about the Blinders.
Tommy’s brought Grace along to help with the operation, still unknowing of her true identity working for the law. But they schmooze and hang around with the upper crust, though he’s much more a fan of the pub. On the sly, Arthur and John and the others give the Lees their beatings, cutting pieces of ear with their razored caps, asserting authority.
Arthur: “I commandeer this stolen money by order of the Peaky Blinders!”
When the money’s pooled together, Tommy goes straight to Mr. Kimber with the loot and lays it on the table, dumping out coins and all. He makes clear the lads Billy employs are on the take, only makes sense to put the Blinders on the payroll and give them 5% of the take, plus a few extras if things go well. The boss seems reluctant but willing to go ahead, long as he gets a dance with Grace. Tommy even wants her to go home with the man. She’s stuck between a rock and a hard place; both Campbell and Shelby are asking her to make sacrifices of a very personal nature.
Afterwards, Tommy busts in to save Grace from a rape, saying she has the clap. Not exactly honourable in the way I’d hoped. Still, it’s better than nothing. There may be feelings for her brewing, somewhere deep in that broken heart.
Pic 5Love this episode, as it starts opening up new stories. I love Tommy’s character because there’s an anti-hero element to him, a guy you don’t wholly love but one you can’t exactly hate, either. It’s great stuff, perfectly written by Steven Knight. Excited for Episode 4.

Taboo – Episode 7

FX’s Taboo
Episode 7
Directed by Anders Engström
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 6, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 8, click here.
screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-51-25-pmHow will James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) atone for his sins after murdering young Winter by the shore in a drunken, mad state? Surely he did it. Or maybe not. I’m not sure he can redeem himself to begin with, really. Although such is the grotesque landscape of character in Taboo.
Helga (Franka Potente) and Atticus (Stephen Graham) and others stand by while Winter’s laid to rest, readied in a boat. At the same time, Brace (David Hayman) receives a visit from Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander); he’s come with little Robert (Louis Ashbourne Serkis), the possible son or brother of Mr.Delaney. Well, Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) receives him just fine. I’m interested to see where her character winds up in these last couple episodes.
Still James is in need of a ship. He’s consumed. As he struggles to find one, Helga, Atticus, everyone wonders whether he’s killed the girl. And he sees her, there by the fire at home while he drinks. Ghosts all around him.
Then suddenly James receives George Chichester (Lucian Msamati) at his home. He’s there to talk about The Influence. He believes James was onboard when the ship sank. More of the harsh truth comes to light. He was a slave, then became a slaver. Then “much worse things than stealing diamonds,” which Chichester already knows. What George wants is James, last remaining survivor of the wreck, to name Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) as the organiser of the slave ship. Headed to Antigua. If so, full pardon for what Delaney’s done. Yet you just know there’s something else always up the mysterious bastard’s sleeve.
James: “What kind of rational man believes in justice?”
screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-11-54-24-pmOn the street, Helga takes a shot at James nearly popping his skull. She doesn’t manage to get the job done, only screaming “MURDERER” at him over and over. Then there’s poor Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), caught between life and her half-brother/lover, having just murdered her wickedly abusive husband. Between that and the loss of James’ ship neither of them are doing well.
Something about Brace comes to light. He purchased a large quantity of arsenic. For the rats, supposedly. Perhaps to kill Horace. “It was a kindness,” he confesses to James. He says that the state the old man was in, mentally, everyone trying to get at Nootka Sound and his money. So he tried to ease the pain. It doesn’t seem as if the son wants Brace to leave. Surely he doesn’t hold it against the old chap, having his own reasons to hate his father.
At the East India Company, Sir Strange receives a visit from Helga. She brings word of the gunpowder, its gifting by Delaney to an American citizen. Another of the prostitutes is brought along to corroborate. Now Strange wishes to use this as a charge of high treason against James. Looks like things aren’t going to go too nicely for Helga and her girl, either. Accessories to the crime. All this sends Godfrey (Edward Hogg) running to see his secret friend, to try and give him warning.
Strange: “We have him. We fucking have him.”
In the woods James breathes in smoke from a fire he makes, spreading a chalky yellow powder on it. He sees visions of his mother. His father. Himself. Godfrey finds him to let him know what’s happened, though he says he already knows. Then the two head off together.


Over with Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins), Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson) and the lot, Sir Strange brings word of the treason charge. The law is consulted. Nootka Sound is being brought to the King. All a way of sucking up to the Crown, as Strange does nasty things in the dark and under the guise of the “loyal and honourable” EIC. For all the tea in China. Literally.
James takes Godfrey to see Chichester. They have a chat together about him giving account of what he’s heard about the sinking of The Influence, a.k.a The Cornwallis. However, it isn’t easy for Godfrey to accept. His good friend Delaney convinces him they’ll sail for The New World long before his having to testify. Is this truth? Or is he spinning fiction to get what he wants?
Quickly the house of pleasure clears out while James prepares for the incoming soldiers. He sits and plays cards instead of running anywhere. Elsewhere, Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) is alerted to the treason charge of his associate. And the soldiers, they don’t take it easy on Delaney. They taunt and beat him brutally in a dungeon before leaving him in the dark.
Lorna tracks down a young boy on the street who knew Winter. He says: “I want her to forgive me.” Turns out the EIC killed Winter. At home she finds Brace gone mental, wishing he’d killed James alongside his father.
For what’s coming is even worse.
In that dungeon James is prepared for a gruesome bout of torture. To get information. Simultaneously, Cholmondeley and others burn papers, evidence leading back to the source, the laboratory. All of it. Delaney says he’ll give up the information, so long as he gets a meeting with Sir Strange. This is met with immediate, vicious torture, as a Mr. Arrow begins cutting, waterboarding, whatever he can to draw out the truth.


On the links, Sir Strange whacks a golf ball, and Chichester arrives for a casual confrontation. This puts a scare into the old company man. Of course he thinks it all hinges on Delaney, but doesn’t know who Chichester has Godfrey in his pocket. Later, Strange and his friends discover Godfrey is a “Molly” and that he is the mole.
Prince Regent George IV (Mark Gatiss) sits waiting for good news on the torture of Delaney. Next, a mask is put on him, and an Asian doctor pours a liquid down his throat that “alters perception.” Taking James back to a time before, in the forest. Back through terrifying images and memories. Still, nothing comes. They cannot break him. He will only speak to Sir Strange.
So what will the Crown do next? Prince Regent tells Coop to give Delaney what he wants. Out of nowhere, when Strange goes to meet him in the dungeon, James seems to have it all in the palm of his hand.
James: “I have a use for you


Coming up on the last episode, Taboo throws a nice curve into the story. Let’s see where Delaney and the others end up. I can only imagine his plans for Sir Strange, what that’ll mean for him and everyone involved. And how will George IV ultimately come into play, if at all, in the finale?

Taboo – Episode 6

FX’s Taboo
Episode 6
Directed by Anders Engström
Written by Steven Knight

* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 7, click here.
screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-10-50-53-pmJames Delaney (Tom Hardy) is continually plagued by visions. “Youre as mad as your da,” Brace (David Hayman) tells him. They’ve a vast difference in opinion on James’ mother. She apparently tried holding baby James under the water of a river, so says the trust Delaney caretaker. If true, this is seemingly the reason Horace put his wife in an asylum. Is it all true? Or does the truth lie somewhere in the middle of what James has dug up and what he thought he knew?
While there’s a lot of plot going on, much of what we see is James experiencing an existential crisis. He’s got to deal with what he’s become, one way or another. For better, for worse, he can’t erase any of his own sin, nor can he blame it on his father or his mother. That’s what feels interesting to me. Whatever darkness lies in his past, he’s done bad things, that much is clear. There’s no real redeeming him, only to an extent. How far the extent, we’ll see.
Over at the little factory, Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander). He’s got a crew of men ready to do his bidding. They must “stir continuously” in order to mix the powder, both efficiently and safely. Young Robert (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is amongst the men whom are chosen to do the stirring. A precarious operation, to say the least.
screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-10-54-17-pmThere’s lots of intriguing aspects to George Chichester (Lucian Msamati), as well. He makes the white men around him uncomfortable. Two reasons: 1) he’s smarter than them and smarter than they believe him to be; and 2) he brings to mind the uncomfortable truths of the travesties of the white man. Great character, great writing, great performance. He knows the real name of the Influence, why “in four days the ship ran aground” and everything associated. Hmm. Trouble.
Spooky James is down in the river, hearing things. Having terrifying visions. You know, the usual. And to anyone around him he’s a mythic creature. Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) and Brace have to kind of hover nearby, trying not to let him go mad completely.
Certainly once Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) gets the entire report about the ship formerly known as the Influence, and what Chichester knows, including a bit about Sir Strange’s brother, who happens to own a sugar plantation. Ah, now things are getting properly treacherous. Because the look in Sir Strange’s eyes as he describes everyone as chess pieces is creepy.
When Lorna goes to see Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) about where James may be, she’s greeted by husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall). The nasty man accosts Lorna a bit, verbally abusing her. After a moment Zilpha turns up, her face bruised and cut. No information is given up, although nobody really knows where James has been. Will Lorna try and help Zilpha? I hope so.
And speaking of James, he’s over meeting with Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) – the powder will be ready tomorrow at midnight.


They begin the slow transport of their gunpowder across the city. At one point, young Robert helps them when they’re stopped by guards, posing as a cholera-ridden corpse in a coffin. Upon delivery, Dumbarton is happy with the deal and offers what he can to James. Meanwhile, Ibbotson (Christopher Fairbank) looks more and more concerned, sneaking about. What is he planning/thinking?
James: “You tell me one thing that isnt a matter of time
In the night, Zilpha crawls on top of her husband. Then she sinks a long, thin blade up in under his ribs right into the heart. Afterwards, she goes directly to James. He’s not entirely thrilled, even if he wants her in his life. He agrees to help her take care of the body. Dumbarton has Thorne marked for immediate burial, and that is that, my friends.
At the East India Company, Sir Strange brings good news. Ibbotson made a confession to a priest. And the priest, for 25 pounds, gave over the goods on the factory to the company. Wow. James said he’d blame it on Dumbarton if this were to happen. Godfrey (Edward Hogg) brings the news to Delaney, but no telling what the man will do next. Biggest problem is what to do with their powder. James already took care of the betrayal, handing Cholmondeley a bloody organ – a tongue? Either way, it belongs to Ibbotson; his corpse is left in the confessional booth, too. Nasty stuff from a wonderful heathen like James Keziah Delaney. Moreover, they move the powder via boat instead of doing it under unstable conditions on the road. Smart. Only a moment is the EIC thwarted, though. They’ll keep coming.
screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-11-20-15-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-11-at-11-25-46-pm


With Thorne dead and gone, buried quick, will James and Zilpha get close again? What does the future hold for their relationship? It doesn’t take long at all for them to fall into bed, passionate, intense. Only he starts to have those awful visions, nearly choking Zilpha at one point. Half-sibling incest is actually the least of James’ problems, and that’s saying something. He’s a maniac, sitting near the barrels of gunpowder and flicking a flint in the darkness. There’s a definite path of self destruction he’s on and has been on for a while, one which only gets worse. And now the EIC has a message for him: “Its war.” Their first move? Blow up the ship James owns. Shit, that is a bold move.
James heads to see Atticus (Stephen Graham), needing a ship and wondering how to keep himself safe from further betrayal. Tough times to navigate. So Atticus helps him tie up loose ends, killing the man meant to be guarding the ship. This prompts another horrific display of violence from Delaney.
Later still, James goes to Helga’s (Franka Potente) place. Drinking. Hoping for an easy solution to his ship problem and finding no answers. He stumbles drunk into the streets, raving to himself in the night. Winter finds him wading in the harbour: “Im not fit to be near you now,” he warns. He has another drink, then spirals into unconsciousness. Waking the next morning face in the mud.
Worst of all, he discovers that he’s killed Winter. Not fit is right. James can’t seem to gain any traction, only falling deeper into his own despair and evil, no matter how hard he tries to escape himself.


What an episode! Perhaps my favourite since the first two, though I dig them all. Can’t wait to see what happens next in the decline of James Delaney.

Taboo – Episode 4

FX’s Taboo
Episode 4
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Written by Steven Knight & Emily Ballou

* For a recap & review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 5, click here.
screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-9-50-31-pmJames Delaney (Tom Hardy) can’t shake the memories of where he’s been, they’re with him all the time. All the while life does go on. Suddenly men from the Crown are looking for Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley), so James tells her to “hold out” and he’ll sort everything proper. In the meantime, she’s cast down to some nasty old dungeon with a filthy man putting her in shackles. Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins) arrives to play his part, the rotten bastard. He threatens her physically and sexually in no uncertain terms, despicable to say the least. He urges her to sign it all over to the Crown, or else she’ll be convicted for attempted murder. And who knows what else would happen to her before she ever got into a court.
However, in the face of it all Lorna will not relent. She believes in James. This obviously angers Mr. Coop and as he further threatens her, she’s set free in the nick of time. Brace (David Hayman) is there to pick her up, too.
screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-9-52-33-pmOh, and you know that Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) has his knickers in a twist. At the same time, James is off getting what information he can from the crossdressing Godfrey (Ed Hogg). He gives over what he knows of the latest East India Company movements. Apparently there’s a “blacklist” and Delaney is definitely on it. “They cant kill you, but they will crucify your name, and crucify those around you.”
We’re introduced to an interesting character now, a wild chemist played by Tom Hollander named Mr. Cholmondeley. He gives a demonstration for a crowd, of which Delaney is a part. Later while Cholmondeley is having sex with a fan of his, James turns up awkwardly. But all’s well when gold is literally put on the table. Seems the chemist has a process he’s very interested in.
At home, James walks in nonchalant. “All part of the plan,” his trusty caretaker Brace remarks, a bit pissed. And it’s true, though. No matter the knocks he takes Delaney looks as if he’s got it all figured out, at every turn. How long will that last? He’s juggling so many things, not least of which is the taboo love he has for his half-sister Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin). In an eerie sequence she experiences a sexual moment in her bed, as in his own home James does some strange ritual, as if both connected in a spiritual sense across space and time. Weird, yet cool scene. Truly conflicting moment. Then Thorne (Jefferson Hall) shows up, drunk, soaked to the bone. Wanting her, even as he detects she was just thinking of someone else. The whole thing is twisted, though it’s almost most twisted how Thorne wants to have sex with her knowing she’s thinking of James. It’s just… a ball of awfulness.
In other news, James has Cholmondeley aiding with some pigeon and cow shit chemistry. Throw in a dash of human piss on the ash of some fire. Then, in a year – gunpowder! Well, Delaney doesn’t have a year. If they can get some saltpeter, or potassium nitrate, then that cuts the time to a month. So now there’s a new journey ahead. James must go either to Burma, or an East India Company warehouse. Hmm. You know which one he’ll pick.


Great tension in a lot of Taboo‘s scenes. One of which in this episode leads up to a fight James finds himself in when attacked by a massive man on a lonely street. He knocks James totally unconscious with an old school wooden flapjack. Or does he? Delaney uses the last bit of force inside him to stab his attacker with a sneaky knife. The brutality in him comes out at certain times in such unexpected ways: “I told your friends, Nootka Sound is not for sale,” he tells the man as he butchers him with two wood-lifting picks. Followed by a perfectly shot moment where James uses his blade on the man, again. Haunting stuff.
And that’s one of the best Gothic aspects of the entire series. There’s this magical realism at play, but it’s dark. James walks around his ancient house without making a sound, to the surprise and near heart attack of poor ol’ Brace. He conducts strange rituals in the dark by himself. He goes into a near trance when defending himself, descending into tribal violence in those same moments. Truly a mythic quality about Mr. Delaney.
Now James gets an invitation from the Americans. Right now he goes to see Helga (Franka Potente), setting up a few girls for later in the evening. Then he goes to see his well of underworld information, Atticus (Stephen Graham). Thus getting more plans set in motion. That night, James heads over to the East India Company Docks, where he briefly meets Cholmondeley and receives a package. Then it’s back home to fetch Lorna and they’re off to spend their night dancing. All gets pretty awkward when James spots Zilpha, who runs off. And in the midst of all those people he nearly has what might now be known as a near PTSD attack. He finds Zilpha in the garden. They speak, Zilpha worries people know about them. He, of course, references his ghostly visitations in the night. Then Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) arrives, breaking it all up. He has things to say about their “first resort” – the man Delaney gutted in the street. The Americans want to guarantee safe passage for him, to let James flee with his half-sister, to find anonymity elsewhere. Neither side of the deal for James, despite his own leverage, is turning out to be too spectacular.
The prostitutes James paid for work their magic, providing distraction at the East India Company Docks. All the while Atticus and his motley crew infiltrate the place, killing who they must, and Helga even puts one of the men in a precarious situation herself. Everyone doing their part. At the party things rage, Thorne gets hammered. James looks worried and constantly checking the clock. Luckily Atticus and Co get the job done, blowing a whole through a door in the warehouse. They get what they need, as the soldiers are momentarily stuck in their quarters, and make off into the night. Meanwhile, Lorna’s starting to sniff out the relationship between Zilpha, who doesn’t do much to make things easy on herself.

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At the party, James is hauled into a crowd by Countess Musgrove (Marina Hands). His PTSD-like symptoms return. A magician does a trick, during which he’s meant to step into a closet contraption with the Countess. They’re put inside together, and the contraption spins them around so they’re hidden. It’s all a ruse, so that the Countess and James can speak in private. He makes clear that he can be a good deal of trouble, as if he hasn’t already. The Countess doesn’t particularly settle anything, and James is left unsure. The way he looks at everyone around him, seeing the decadence of their lifestyles and the depravity into which they all fall with a bit of drink and music, it’s astonishing. The way it’s shot makes things perfectly intense.
Then Thorne goes mental, drunk off his ass. Until James takes him outside and Thorne proclaims to Zilpha: “You dont call him anything but nigger.” He also says this is “my society” and challenges James to a duel, at dawn. To the death. Whoa.
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I never expected the James-Thorne situation to come to a head this quick, nor to this level of madness. Will he accept the duel proposed? Or will his love for Zilpha reach further and allow him to turn it away? Can his reputation stand turning down such a duel? So many questions.
Next episode ought to be intense. We’re halfway through, looking forward to seeing how the plots and the overall arc of James play out by the time the mini-series is finished. Hardy is great, Chaplin is fascinating. They’re all doing fine acting, and the cinematography, production design, all these things are on par, too. Amazing work all around!