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Monday, 16 September 2019

REVIEW: Peaky Blinders - A Consequence of Good Intentions



It turns out Polly's aim with a bullet is as pinpoint as her sass and rumours of Linda's death have been greatly exaggerated. There's a strange hate directed at Linda in the fandom and many will be up in wound free arms. Strange, because all of Arthur's toxic actions are overlooked mainly because he's a man, but that's a debate for another time. Meanwhile, Doctor Tommy is quick on the scene to apply his own medical style. A stunned Arthur, who by now is begging for the kindness of death is thankful. "I saved his life, he hugs him" Pol bemoans with a knowing look almost to camera. In the end, Linda says her goodbyes on her own terms and it looks like this really is the last we'll see of her.

So what of Oswald Mosley who, to prove the point, is more popular than Linda? He takes it upon himself to grand stand on Tommy's platform. His diatribe is full of slogans such as "change is coming" and "false news". It also went on way too long so there's another comparison to today's political escapades. There's also an odd moment where he eyes up the swan (honestly, it did happen) that jars because his impassioned speech continues but his lips stop moving. It's obviously meant but somehow looks like a mistake in the edit. Either way, Mosley looks to have the upper hand. "Drink less" he orders Tommy as he walks out of the room but this is a spur for him to down a few in one go. That's their relationship to a Tee (well, a whiskey).

What most sets Peaky Blinders apart from other shows is the music but setting two sex scenes to a song from Radiohead's 'Ok Computer' is a brave move even by its own standards. The claustrophobic sounds of anguished guitars and distressed vocals as Oswald watches himself in the mirror and Tommy lays Lizzie down as an act of power play are about as sexy as dipping your genitals into a beehive. But then, hopefully that's the point.



Ben Younger gets his reluctant hands on the evidence of a criminal network as supplied by Tommy. The claim earlier to his wife that he's only doing it to get favourable terms on defence contracts is pretty transparent. Lizzie and Ada see the heart beating underneath. "Don't listen to my sister's opinion of me. They are always hopeful, therefore always wrong" he tells Younger, a man who will never get older due to the small matter of a bomb going off in his car. In an instant two lives are gone and so too might be all the evidence. Tommy running into the street to save the children amid the debris is an affecting moment made more heartbreaking as Tommy follows the hearse of the young boy killed at a grand funeral he clearly paid for. The scene is set to Joy Division's 'Atmosphere'. Hardly an original choice, it might even have been a respectful nod to the Ian Curtis funeral from the film '24 Hour Party People', but flipping hell it was powerful.

In another inspired Steven Knight twist we suddenly find ourselves in a mental asylum with Tommy to meet an old friend. The whole set up as he's getting searched and walking to the cell is deliberately designed to build up the hope with every footstep that Allie Solomons is behind the door. It's actually Barney Thomson who we've never met before but he fought the war with Tommy ten years previous. It serves as a reminder where Thomas and his brother could end up. What starts as an attempted mercy killing ends up in potential assination. A plan is hatched to free Barney from his padded cell resulting in a gleeful "IT'S FUCKING WEDNESDAY!



For an episode which had a bomb explosion, awful sex, Arthur going physco with a gun and a prison escape the pacing still feels on the laboured side. That's not to say it was bad, far from it, it just feels like a new era for the show and shows must always evolve. For any new slight flaws there will always be new positives and the mix of dialogue heavy scenes and action sequences must be a difficult balancing act.

As things stand we now have the plan in place. The Billy Boys and Oswald Mosley are in Tommy's sights and the war we were promised looks to be back on again. To quote the Black Sabbath tune at episode five's denouement: "Evil minds that plot destruction /
Sorcerers of death's construction". Indeed Ozzy, indeed.



A LITTLE PEAK:

- Artistic license has always applied to Peaky Blinders, historically speaking. Mosley lived until 1980. Will the sniper miss?

- Arthur's gun toting lunacy at the London docks felt a bit forced and fan servicey.

- "He's in the mood for a quarrel". Perhaps the most obvious thing said about Arthur ever.

- "Don't scare me by saying you see things in my face" Tommy can't hide from Lizzie even if he wants to.

- Michael and Gina have gone very quiet which is disconcerting.

- Alfie gets a mention when Tommy refers to him in the present tense. Is he really alive? Is Alfie part of a back up plan?

- Has Tommy been his own black cat all along and does that mean he's trying to not walk in front of himself?

"I don't think it's really flour" Nothing gets past Curly

Contributed by Michael Lee 

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