Tommy gets to know May Carleton a bit better. Meanwhile, things with Campbell and the IRA get very complicated and dangerous for Mr. Shelby.
Will James Delaney make it onto the open ocean, & to America? Or will the Crown & the East India Company be his ultimate downfall?
When the duel at dawn between Thorne & James ends in an unexpected turn, Delaney soon finds himself in a worse position than before.
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.
James 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.
Oh, 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 can‘t 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.
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 don‘t call him anything but nigger.” He also says this is “my society” and challenges James to a duel, at dawn. To the death. Whoa.
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!
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 4, click here.
With James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) having been stabbed, and having stabbed back, at the end of Episode 2, what’s left of the man as last we saw he was lying, bloody and dying in an alley?
As far as the attacker goes, the man with the silver tooth, he lies dead on the shore where young thieves pick him clean. They also notice his heart is gone. Eaten by sea creatures, or gone by some other means?
Well James, he’s being worked on by Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly), who stitches him back together again. Luckily the doctor had someone follow him after he left the office previously. He also warns James a bit about his “peacock” swagger around London. James wants word sent to Thomas Jefferson and the US, but Dumbarton’s not particularly forthcoming in his intentions to help any of that. He’s actually trying to get Nootka Sound from Delaney, although that’s not entirely easy, either. James has his own ideas on gaining a “monopoly … for all the tea in China.” This is something Dr. Dumbarton actually understands.
In other news, Prince Regent George IV (Mark Gatiss) gets caught up on all the Nootka Sound business by his man Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins). On the horizon might be war, who knows. Coop tells the Prince Regent of James Delaney, as an “adventurer of very poor repute.” Ought to be interesting to see how George IV and Delaney come together in some way. Could make for some fun writing.
Back at the Delaney house, Brace (David Hayman) continues with helping his old friend James with all his madness. They patch him up a bit before the man of the house feels compelled to run off again on another adventure. He’s essentially waiting now for more people to come kill him. “So, we are besieged,” Brace laments, as if to say: here we go again. Another Delaney, same bullshit.
More Atticus (Stephen Graham)! Bless his heart. He and James are doing a bit of business, though Brace believes the man to be a snake. We’ll see. He’s brought James guns, they discuss what Atticus thought was a partnership; could this drive a wedge between them? For the time being James has wounds that need tending to, but his tough guy stubbornness won’t allow him rest. They’re headed off, he and Atticus. They’ve gone to see Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson). To make a will, supposedly. Then one of the lawyer’s men goes to the East India Company to see Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) about Delaney. Seems he’s left all his possessions and holdings to “the sovereign nation of the United States of America.” And Sir Strange is all but frothing at the mouth over what’s next: they can’t kill him, they must keep him alive. A strange turn of events, though all due to the cunning of James K. Delaney; he’s playing the lesser of a few evils being in danger only from the Americans at this point.
There’s still all the spookiness of whatever James experienced while in Africa, whatever he did while there and so on. In the dungeon-like basement of the Delaney house, James finds Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood). She cut out James’ would-be killer’s silver tooth out to bring him. She wants to be taught “about magic.” He knows that anywhere he goes, especially at home, is no safe place for anyone, especially a young person such as herself. There’s a Gothic feeling about Taboo, which makes every step further into the world of James Delaney eerie, like a ghost story. He wanders through the decrepit home of his father, memories of Africa and witchcraft of some kind in his head. And he ventures further into the house, finding secrets, unearthing messages out of his own past. It’s stunning as a Gothic slice of London, just before the Victorian Era.
Now James tries unravelling the story of the bird, branded on his back. Found in the base of a chimney in his house. All leading back to the trail of his mother, the supposed mad, savage woman.
Sir Strange receives visit from Solomon Coop, on behalf of the King. They speak of Delaney, whose will is no surprise to Coop; they have plenty of spies. “Then you know we have a problem that cannot be solved with a musket or a knife,” says Strange. Well, Coop and the Crown have already received an offer from Delaney about a monopoly. None of this is making Strange a happy man, at all. Coop and the Crown are playing the game, taking land and money where they can. And Coop’s also got an idea about why James seeks revenge against the East India Company so relentless.
Widow of Horace Delaney, Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) is sought out by Coop at her latest show. More shady deals, no doubt. Meanwhile, James is off in a dark, seedy part of London where, in drag, he finds Godfrey (Edward Hogg) – one of Strange’s men at the EIC. Ah, a bit of blackmail using the secrets James finds. Everyone has their spies. What’s more is that James doesn’t try to hurt Godfrey, he only wants information. They’ve known each other many years, and Godfrey’s been in love with him most of that time. “I‘ll protect you,” James tells him tenderly. Wow. A moment of beauty amongst the darkness I never expected.
Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) is written another letter by James. He talks of his plans, of the “greater good” he is seeking. She writes back about the “depth of our sin” in knowing what they did together, whatever physical love they shared, was wrong. The montage of moments cut over the writing and recitation of letters between the half-siblings is EXTRAORDINARY! Excellent score on top makes this one of the best scenes so far in these three episodes. The narration by both Chaplin and Hardy is fascinating, too.
Zilpha: “Please, I‘m your sister – let all else lie.”
At the Delaney house Lorna’s turned up to tell James she has a lawyer now, that the house is half belonging to her. Seems like Coop has been up to nasty business. Doesn’t particularly worry James. Until she goes on, about owning half of Nootka Sound, as well. So either James gives up his half of the house, or she owns half of that land. He appears fine with working on things with Lorna. He also feels she’s in danger.
James runs into brother-in-law Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall), who wants a bit of a chat. He’s interested in the ship Delaney recently bought. Wants to insure the thing for him. But James is already insured, and has no need for the patronising tone of Thorne, or any of the other nonsense he comes in with to boot. “Since you came back our fucking has become almost murderous,” Thorne taunts him. This, as rotten as it is, sticks a dagger in James’ gut.
Later, he goes to meet with Zilpha herself. In a church. And they embrace, lustily for a moment. “Now, I never want to see you again,” she claims. I doubt she’s seen the last of James. At home things are about as equally as awkward with Thorne checking the laundry to see if Zilpha’s menstruating. Weird. She’s really stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thorne is a pig. Even if James is her half-brother, he doesn’t talk to her the way Thorne does, with such a misogynistic disdain.
At Lorna’s next show, James lurks to make sure nobody is threatening her, or trying to turn her to their cause any further. There’s always a plot afoot. When Lorna leaves a woman stops so she can share her carriage. The woman says she’s an “admirer from the darkness” and tries laying lips on her. She’s taking Lorna somewhere nasty, a paying suitor. Only Lorna isn’t a woman with whom to trifle, as well as the fact James is following with a gun. They make off into the night together.
James tells Lorna she must head to Paris, to stay there until all the business with Nootka Sound is finished. At home, he plans for more people to come for Lorna: “And they will come.”
A bruiser of an episode! Really loved this one. Lots of good things happening, lots of darkly interesting things. Excited to see more, and to see what further deception lies in wait for James K. Delaney and Lorna Bow.
James Keziah Delaney returns from a mysterious life at sea, one that took him into Africa, as his father passes in London and a small war erupts over what's left in his wake.
After Grace's death, Tommy must figure out how to move on, with his personal life, and with business.
BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 4
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight
* For a review of Episode 3, click here.
* For a review of Episode 5, click here.
The lads are out hunting. They gun down a fine buck, the whole clan out and about, from Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) to Arthur (Paul Anderson) and all the rest. Love this opener, as it’s strangely ominous. And these dudes know how to ride a god damn horse.
Good Friday’s come round. Tommy gets a letter that their father is dead. A woman he was with while he died wrote them, saying he asked their forgiveness. Finn (Harry Kirton) and John (Joe Cole) are too young to really remember him. They hunt, in part, to do some honour to him. Piece of shit he was and all. Otherwise, Tom talks business about the upcoming robbery.
Meanwhile, Aunt Pol (Helen McCrory) is in the confessional. Is there one big enough to contain all her sins? Doubt it. Anyway, she chats with the reluctant father. She reveals little bits. About the murder of a policeman, Inspector Campbell. What she tells him is that she feels no regret for it. That his murder was just. And I somewhat agree with Polly.
At the Shelby organization, the women are doing a good bit of the work. Not just Polly, but Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) and others, as well. Turns out, she’s sleeping with Tommy, now and then. When he feels like it. “It‘s hard to sleep bent over a desk, isn‘t it?” she laments.
At the same time, Michael Gray (Finn Cole) is slipping further into the business of his family. Tommy’s giving everybody the low down with the Lanchester Factory blueprints to boot. They’ve got big plans ahead, if only the robbery goes as planned. Set them all up for life and then some. One last job. Not everyone’s so eager, such as family friend Charlie Strong (Ned Dennehy), though everybody’s in all the same.
Now Linda (Kate Phillips) is over trying to help at the organization. Only thing is she’s too proper and prim for any of the illegal stuff. She’s fine with doing little bits and pieces around the place. Then there’s lots of talk about female empowerment, strikes on Good Friday by disenfranchised women, which sends Polly off. She and the women march downtown, visually similar to earlier when we saw Tommy and the lads ride their horses. LOVE the stylish camera work and techniques they use throughout the series, as well as again having to mention the anachronistic music. Often this might hinder a period piece. Here, it enhances the fun.
Over at his office, Tommy meets Princess Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen) to talk more business. He mentions being hurt to kill a stag. Yet would feel nothing to “put a bullet in the priest‘s face.” May be more than business on the table, apparently Tatiana comes as part of their deal. Then John rushes in quick to tell his older brother about the women gone on strike. Also, John has trouble with his wife Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) who can’t keep off the cocaine while she’s pregnant. But everybody is trying their best to turn things around, in all sorts of ways.
Tommy and Tatiana end up in bed together. Of course. They get closer, chatting about their weakness, desire. More importantly, they speak of possibilities. Well, she’s a bit wild. Taking his gun and running off through the halls of his nice big house. She leads him on a little chase. Then opts for a bit of Russian Roulette, y’know, a game she used to play. This freaks him out: “And I don‘t want your mad fucking Russians brains all over me fuckin‘ walls.” What a way to follow up some old fashion lovemaking. Tatiana tries to run the house, showing Tommy what it is to be royalty, to have money and be a big shot. Except that’s not who he is, really. And still there is a part of him that likes the dark madness in her. Above all else, she encourages him to do what he wants. Not to be afraid of freedom any longer.
The Shelby brothers get together once more. More maps and plans to help them during the robbery. They’re looking for a Russian speaker, possibly finding one in a young man that’s looking to get himself a bit of cash. Lizzie and the rest of the women have formed a union. Polly’s in a bit of a hangover state, so part of her hubris is alcohol. But there’s no backing down. They have terms. Before that, Tommy discovers Arthur’s been telling his wife lots. About the robbery – not the factory, but their other one. The robbery that’s been planned undercover from the women and everyone else. So that’s not going to be good. He knows Linda finds out everything. Moreover, Tommy later talks to Linda. She knows far more than is good for health. The extent to which Arthur lets his wife in on things worries the brother in charge. What’s more is that Arthur wouldn’t be happy to find out these talks are happening behind his back, he may see that as something emasculating. Regardless, Linda wants to get away to America instead of sticking around Birmingham.
Simultaneously, Father Hughes (Paddy Considine) is finding out there may be danger coming his way. And that’s certain to set off a counteracted action on his side.
Ruben Oliver (Alexander Siddig) is still painting Polly, in all her glory. He is quite seductive and charming in his own way. Although, she does not fall for it. She is one of the strongest women on television.
Polly: “I think when men want sex they become hilarious, like a dog when you pick up a lead and he knows he‘s going for a walk.”
Tommy’s off readying to get the deed done on Father Hughes. He slyly follows the priest until getting ambushed in a toilet by a couple men. They beat Tommy badly before loading him into an ambulance. He’s carted off somewhere dark and mysterious where Father Hughes stands over him with MP Jarvis (Alex Macqueen). They want to know why Tommy tried killing the priest. Mostly he just goes in and out of consciousness, managing a “fuck you” in between. Hughes talks about passing information over to the Soviet Union, as well as expecting an apology in front of the Russians. Big threats, too. Directed towards Tom’s son. “We have people in your life,” warns Hughes.
Wow. So with all the reach of the Blinders, this priest seems to have even more. His grasp is tough and vicious. Back at the house, Tommy sacks most of the people in his employ. Can’t trust a soul any more. Worse, he has quite a concussion by the looks of it. Not doing well at all. He shows up to the Russian dinner half concussed, half blown on the cocaine. At the table with the Grand Duke and Duchess (Jan Bijvoet/Dina Korzun), he does his best to apologize with Hughes ranting on about punishment.
Saying a prayer in repentance, Tommy winces through. But everyone in attendance knows there’s something wrong. Tom rushes off to another meeting. Only he can’t manage to keep it together much longer. The concussion finally takes its toll on him. He collapses, telling Ada (Sophine Rundle) to get him to a hospital, that he has internal bleeding, a fractured skull. Then he fades away.
What an excellent episode that progresses plot and character. Not only that, Tommy Shelby is proven once again to not be a completely invincible, untouchable gangster, as awesome as he is there’s no need for him to be completely God-like. So I love that this is a new move towards a more vulnerable Tommy, and Shelby organization as a whole. Excited for the next episode. Stay tuned with me, fellow lads and ladies!
BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 1, Episode 1
Directed by Otto Bathurst
Written by Steven Knight
* For a recap & review of Episode 2, click here.
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.
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 don‘t 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: “You‘re 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.
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 you‘re looking for, Tommy?”
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 fuckin‘ brains 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.
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.
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.
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: “I‘m not much good, Charlie. You‘re 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. I‘m a Blinder, I‘ll take your fuckin‘ eyes first.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.