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Wednesday, 25 September 2019

REVIEW: Peaky Blinders finale - THE GREEN SHOOTS OF ANOTHER WAR"

Tommy has been on his own personal mission to overthrow fascism throughout series five but in a grand finale that chucks the rulebook onto the fire, conventions are also vanquished. He does not emerge victoriously, more enemies surround him than ever before and, worse still for most viewers, there is no conclusion to the story by the time the credits roll. It had previously been stated by Steven Knight that series six will continue the story but most people won't know this information and will undoubtedly feel perplexed, cheated even. The fact that this was different is a positive thing. The impending doom for next time is stronger, the threat more real. We knew Tommy would defeat Lucas Changretta last time out, now he's defeating himself. It's a bold move and one that pays off in sixty-five minutes of television that should go down in razor gang based TV folklore. Hardly a crowded field admittedly.


'Mr Jones' is more in keeping with where the first two episodes seemed to be heading. It is by no means perfect but the end just about justifies the means. While the third, fourth and fifth episodes were rivetting they lacked a certain edge. Virtually every minute here though is engrossing as the tension slowly builds. From Tommy's first face to face meeting with Winston Churchill (who looks suspiciously like Neil Maskell with Play-Doh as make up) to a tense four-stage meeting in the Garrison which was literally extraordinary.

Michael and Gina issue their plans to take over the company only to be on the receiving end of Tommy's glacial stare. These are the moments Peaky Blinders shines most. The tension is palpable and made worse by a rogue Barney making a rude interruption. Then the plan is revealed to a disbelieving audience. The tiredness and strain etched on Tommy's face is clear to see. All the awards should go to Cillian Murphy who has inhabited Tommy for ten post-war years and gets better with age. The serrated edges of his character have grown even sharper than his cheekbones. This is akin to watching an immersive play. You're right there in the room with him. Just be glad you're not or he'll shoot you in the face like he did with poor Mickey the barman. A grass for sure but certainly not the dreaded black cat.


What follows is a moment fans have been waiting two years. When Tommy mumbles "I have to go to Margate" we all knew instantly, didn't we? Sure enough, a few seconds later the dulcet tones of Alfie Solomons call out and in mere minutes he makes his presence felt. "How soon did you know that I was not dead?" he asks. "You wrote me a letter, Alfie" Tommy sighs. He's daan saaf to ask a favour of his old friend/nemesis which is odd because Alfie has continuously stabbed Tommy in the front which is why he got shot in the bleedin' face. Was it prescient that their shoot-out was off-kilter? He cant be back from the dead it wasn't confirmed he had departed. Was his return just for the fans or integral to the plot? The truth is we won't know until 2021.

As for Mosley, he's been a bit quiet up until now but that peace is shattered at his rally by a double dose of Idles. In a perverse television mash-up, Love Island gets mentioned at a fascist convention but things are set to get more mad as everything goes so spectacularly tits up it's best described with Ron Burgundy's "well, that escalated quickly" meme. As Alfie's boys start rioting, Barney is shot dead, Aberama is knived 284 times and Arthur is nearly killed. Again. The scope and ambition is remarkable. The direction, music and performances unite to create visual and aural poetry.

Alas, the disappointments show through right at the end as unresolved arcs slap us in the face. Most should be continued in the next run but for a second time, the war with the Billy Boys is reduced to nothing. They offer no threat here and when things kick off Jimmy McCavern just watches on. The biggest bugbear throughout the run has been the apparitions of Grace showing up left right and centre, willing him to suicide. We get it, we don't need reminding. Don't overkill the dead. We're left with Alfie's dream coming true. Tommy in a field with a horse nearby and a gun to his head, Grace being the metaphorical trigger. Was it real? A dream? A drug-induced fantasy? Guess what? We won't find out until 2021.

Peaky Blinders mark five has challenged itself to evolve and has done so with great success for the most part. If the plan is to take the Shelbys up to the second world war then it seems the seven series timeline is well behind schedule as we've only just been to 1929. Fuel your own film rumours if you wish. Whatever happens, now is the time to keep faith in Steven Knight and Tommy Shelby.

A LITTLE PEAK:

- Polly has lost Aberama on the eve of their wedding. Her vengeance on Tommy will be lethal.

- "I got shot in the face by some c**t" Alfie always has a way with words.

- Billy Grade's sketchiness has a different perspective now.

- On that note: Finn! You had one job!

- Did Alfie betray Tommy again? Is he responsible for the killings at the rally? Common sense would say no as you'd think he'd want Mosley dead too.

- Arthur's time always feels up. Will he get out alive and leave the gang?

- A big shout out for the editing of music in tonight's show including when the maid turns the radio on and Idles kick in and the juxtaposition of 'Land Of Hope And Glory" over the montage of everyone with opposing views. How very 2019

Contributed by Michael Lee

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