“In the bleak midwinter…”
Family has always been the glue that binds the Shelbys together. Through all the dodgy dealings, murders and intense frowning, they stick like a stupid person’s tongue on a frozen surface. Series four commences with an unfamiliar feel. After last year’s shocking climax, they are all behind bars and set for the noose. All that is, bar Tommy (Cillian Murphy); a man alone in his ivory tower. From there he manages to orchestrate their escape at the time it’s most needed. Their necks literally saved. Oh, and Thomas gets an OBE for his troubles. It’s a perfectly executed (forgive the pun) opening that’s both dark and surprisingly funny.
Fast forward a year and they are a family at stubborn loggerheads. Michael (Finn Cole) is snorting the business up his nose, John (Joe Cole) is shacked up with an increasingly unhinged Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), while Arthur (Paul Anderson) is living the simple life and talking to chickens. Meanwhile, Polly(Helen McCrory) has gone dark side and paces the house in a drug and drink induced fit of depression. Tommy is spending most of his time either drinking or having sexy times with ladies of the night. As ever, he’s clearly got the best deal.
There’s an interesting side story developing around the disparity of pay between men and women and in trade unionist Jessie Eden (Charlie Murphy), Tommy looks set for a battle of wills and might just meet his match. Historically, Jessie led women out on unprecedented strikes and this is an arc that promises much. The crux of episode one though lies in reuniting the Shelbys and setting up the enemies of series four.
“I am emotional. I just don’t know what f**king emotion it is”
Ada (Sophie Rundle) has been in Boston, presumably visiting a bar where everybody knows her name but returns home for Christmas and calls in on her disbanded clan one by one. The truth is she should have stayed with Norm and Cliff because a series of letters reveal they have been “black handed” by the Sicilian Mafia. More specifically, a man called Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody)who is seeking revenge. Proving that no matter how hard they try to escape their past it will haunt them to their dying days, which could be at any time given how this series is shaping up.
Believing in the motto ‘strength in numbers’, Tommy orders the clan to a crisis meeting but a fantastically gruesome showdown in the kitchen shows that his defences have already been breached. A sous chef with sinister intentions is soon served up with more blood than a raw steak.
“We’re going back Johnny… back to Small Heath”
The meeting is now a full on call to arms and as Tommy tries to contact everyone to speed up a reunion, the mafia are already serving revenge in the form of bullets. If only they had smart phones back then. It’s a shocking conclusion that proves nothing should be taken for granted.
It’s an indication that series four might take the prisoners but now they’re out, none of them are safe. In coming back home, Peaky Blinders might in turn be going back to basics. While the quality of the cinematography astounds more than ever, the acting is an extra level of mesmerising and the soundtrack as cool as ever, having the Blinders fight the world together as a dysfunctional force could make for the most compelling series to date. 10/10
Peaky Blinders Continues Wednesday at 9.00pm on BBC Two.