The Return of the Peaky Blinders

What didn’t

Pacing – It took me a while to work this one out, but by the time the fourth episode rolled around, I realised I wasn’t worried about anything. As in, I couldn’t see where the big confrontation was going to come from, and I wasn’t anticipating anything major. I was just watching for the next thing to happen. And that’s because as good as the story was this season, the pacing meant I didn’t know where the danger was coming from.

Michael and his new wife came back from New York and had tension with Tommy in the first few episodes, yet there isn’t a confrontation about it until the last episode, and it doesn’t get resolved. It doesn’t become clear exactly how much of a threat Mosley was until right before they decided to assassinate him, and suddenly everything kicked into high gear. Additionally, Mosley’s screentime was actually very limited, so I didn’t feel a lot of tension until the end. While the plot itself was enjoyable, this season would have benefited from stronger pacing that spread the story out throughout the season rather than leaving everything to crunch time.

Too many cooksPeaky Blinders has some of the most complex and best-rendered characters on television, and in past seasons they’ve all been served beautifully (except for Grace, about whom I have promised myself I won’t speak, because that’s another article). This season, however, the show suffered from telling a story that not everyone could fit into, or otherwise leaving them out of it, so many were underused.

Because the main villain of the season was a politician, many of the characters could only tangentially get involved, since politics is the only realm in which Tommy walks alone. Arthur and Polly, for example, do little else other than deal with their romantic entanglements. Polly, at least, attempts to knock some sense into her son, but her main motivation is, yet again, trying to get out of the business. Ada learns that she is carrying Ben Younger’s baby – and then learns that Ben has been killed in a car explosion. Michael and Gina Gray (Anya Taylor-Joy) at least cause some trouble, but again, they’re mostly offscreen until it’s time to get them in front of Tommy for the confrontation. Finn barely does anything apart from accidentally reveal that Tommy wanted to kill Oswald, and intriguing character Brilliant Chang (Andrew Koji) is barely a blip on the radar. Next season, the show and its characters might be better-served by a story that lets everyone get involved at all levels.

Where in the World is Oswald Mosley? – I have to admit, I was excited at the prospect of a villain that was a politician, because it seemed to indicate that Tommy had achieved some part of his goal of becoming a respectable member of society. And I was even more intrigued to find out Oswald Mosley (who is a real person) was a member and later leader of the British Union of Fascists. And since fascists are never usually all that fond of gang members, I thought that this was a villain that everyone would get to sink their teeth into, one way or another.

But as I already mentioned, the story was constructed in such a way that the others could only get involved tangentially, and up until the final few episodes, they weren’t really acting like he was a danger to them. And the biggest problem of all was that he was barely around. Peaky Blinders is a show that’s teeming with characters and the villains, more often than not, come from all directions, so even if you didn’t have one villain in an episode, you had another. In season 1, for example, if you didn’t see Billy Kimber, you could count on seeing Chester Campbell. This season, there’s at least one episode where he isn’t mentioned at all, we don’t find out what he wants until after halfway through the season, and the plan to assassinate him isn’t announced until the episode in which it happens.

This is belied, at least, by the fact that they fail in their attempt to kill him, so he’ll probably come back next season to get his revenge – hopefully, with a few more fangs.

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