The Return of the Peaky Blinders

What worked

Tommy Shelby, Parliament of One – It goes without saying but it really must be said: Tommy Shelby is the best part of this show. Now, that doesn’t meant that the other characters aren’t expertly crafted and well-acted, because they are. But Tommy as the head of the gang holds it all together. As always, his adversaries come from all sides, with Oswald Mosley at the forefront, but his own demons bring up the rear. While I’m usually a sucker for gangs and violence, my favourite thing about Tommy this season was his hallucinations.

In particularly stressful times, he hallucinates his dead wife, who at various points of the season implores him to end his life and come home to her. As someone who was devastated by her death (anyone in my family will confirm that I did not watch the show for a year after it happened), I found it interesting that the writers chose to bring her back now. Grace, for Tommy, has always been an emblem of the sort of legitimacy that he has been striving for since season one. With her upbringing, she represented class and status. Now that Tommy has some as an MP, it’s his dead wife that’s pulling him away from it.

And if that isn’t enough, just go look at Cillian Murphy.

The Prodigal Son – I’ll be honest, I’ve always been a tad doubtful of Michael Gray. Yes, he’s Polly’s son. Yes, he got involved with the Peaky Blinders practically as soon as his feet hit the ground when he stepped off the train. And yes, he did indeed murder a priest in true Peaky Blinders fashion for wronging him. But there’s always been some part of me that just thought of him as the boy from the country that wanted to run with the big kids.

This season changed that as Michael decided that, instead of simply taking the tongue-lashing that he got when he told Tommy how many shares he lost, he set about trying to claw his way into a new position. He brought new opportunities to the business and told Tommy, Arthur, and Polly that his way was best for the company. And when Tommy told him in no uncertain terms that he better fall in line, he made it clear that he wouldn’t be backing down. At all. What I loved about this was that it made sense. Michael, logically, is Tommy’s heir. Arthur is too old, Polly wants out, and Finn isn’t smart enough. Only Michael has Tommy’s combination of confidence, intelligence, and ambition to head the gang – despite his mother’s wish that they get as far away from it as possible. And even though Michael has retreated for the time being, I look forward to seeing what he does in season 6.

The Return of Alfie Solomons – from the moment Jewish gangster Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) swaggered onscreen with his coat and Cockney accent, I knew that no matter what he did, I would love him. And love him I did. Throughout betraying Tommy to their various adversaries when they were supposed to be allies, getting his son kidnapped, and even their fateful final meeting when Alfie asked Tommy to kill him before his cancer did (and then shot him when he didn’t do it fast enough), he’s been one of my favourite characters. Partly because he has always walked the line between ally and enemy, and partly because Hardy plays him so damn well.

This season, we find that Alfie recovered from his cancer – albeit with difficulty, and he has been left with permanent scars and ailments to prove it. Retired from the business, he helps Tommy with the assassination attempt on Mosley, and even though he only has screen time in the season finale, it’s one of the more memorable scenes of the season and one of my favourites.

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