Peaky Blinders series 1 finale review

Review Tom French 17 Oct 2013 - 22:00

Peaky Blinders delivers a slick, strong finale to its first series, which has been an absolute triumph...

This review contains spoilers.

Due to the anticipation that surrounds them, drama finales have the potential to be very divisive. In this instance I am fully convinced that the vast majority of people will think that the Peaky Blinders finale is a brilliant way to cap off what has been a great series for the BBC.

It is rare that an ending seems to hit every right note and leave you feeling satisfied with the resolution for each character. Writer Steven Knight has achieved that here. It was a slick, well-structured finale that demonstrated the strong pacing and complicated plotting that has made the entire series a real pleasure to watch. 

As with the whole series, the ending is driven entirely by character and their motivations. The bittersweet ending stays true to the characters built over the course of the series. On top of that, everything was pulled off with a great sense of panache and style.

The best way to begin this review is to look at the ending. The final few minutes were superbly executed. The drama was gripping to the final moment, as Campbell catches up with Grace at the train station, pointing his gun at her, with Tommy back at home reflecting on his feelings for her. The ending sequence was beautifully shot, and acted with real conviction. 

Sam Neill is at his best in the finale, embittered and twisted by Grace's rejection of him. While Tommy's story came close to being a story of redemption through his love for Grace, Campbell's story is the antithesis of that - a true fall from grace. (Excuse the pun) Arriving in Birmingham as a supposedly moral, Bible-quoting police officer, he ends the series as a murderous client of prostitutes. It has been a swift but believable character shift. If series two is commissioned, then surely a conflict between Campbell and Tommy is going to be the main focus. 

Tommy Shelby has been an endlessly compelling and complex protagonist. As the story has unfurled, the extent to which the war damaged him was revealed. His character evolved from a caricature gangster to a fully formed anti-hero. This could only have been handled so well with a capable actor. 

Cillian Murphy has been superb throughout, and is the stand-out performer in a very strong cast. Annabelle Wallis invested Grace with a mix of guile and delicacy, while Helen McCrory is majestic as Aunt Polly. Like Tommy, she is a very damaged character maintaining a stiff upper lip, and she is all the more interesting for it.

I can finally put aside my grumbling about the pregnancy storyline, as Ada and Freddy prove integral to the resolution of the Shelby and Kimber conflict. Ada finally shows the Shelby backbone as she takes a stand between the two factions. I wish her character had shown this much spark throughout, but the moment was incredibly satisfying.

The finale had plenty of visual style too. There was imagery reminiscent of Westerns, with the long, narrow street outside the Garrison acting as the battleground for the two warring factions. There was also a sprinkling of Tarantino too, with a definite nod to Reservoir Dogs thrown in for good measure. The music added to this style, bringing atmosphere without being overbearing. 

The BBC must be congratulated on commissioning Peaky Blinders. Both dramatically and stylistically, the series is an absolute triumph. It may not be absolutely perfect, but it has been an engrossing and entertaining journey. According to writer Steven Knight, a second series is definitely on the cards. It can not come soon enough.

Read Tom's review of the previous episode, here.

Peaky Blinders is available to order on DVD from the BBC Shop here, and Blu-ray here

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I have to say I was worried, come the final moments of the finale to Peaky Blinders - I was beginning to feel as if I were about to be short changed.
I wasn't!!
Just what, in actual fact, the perfect kind of worthwhile climax:
Leaving the series open - and you're feeling relieved for it being so.
Brilliant ending, brilliant cast, brilliant drama.......hopefully more of some time in the future.
The perfect kind of ending!!

Come on BBC, get a second series on the go. Deserves a better slot too. Thursday nights seems like a bit of a graveyard, easy for this series to go totally unnoticed.

Really enjoyed this. Its a nice change from all the American cop shows or yoof girl-vampire-boy love triangle claptrap.

Poor Danny! After all that trouble faking his death earlier in the series as well! They needn't have bothered!

I felt it demonised the Unionist community and the Ulster Volunteers. The same Ulster Volunteers that fought on the trenches with those members of the Peaky Blinders.

Absolutely loved it, the music was fantastic and I am actually in love with Thomas Shelby !! Can't wait for the second series !!!!

Perfect.

What a gem this show is. Also want to say thanks Tom for these wonderful recaps as it seems you're as taken with the show as I am and you give it the reviews it deserves. Hope to see you back for Series 2!

Only taped the programme for the wife as she loves period dramas. Was hooked after the the first horse scene. Don't care about the ending as long as there is a second series. My opinion. Absolutely blinding !

I can't help but feel Campbell would have turned the gun on himself at the end, possibly recognising he was beat and had lost his way.

Brilliant series, have loved every moment of it and thursday evenings won't be the same without it! Also thought the musical score was terrific whatever the critics say.
Congrats to the bbc for giving us such a wonderful series, will look forward to series 2.

It can come too soon if it forces the writer to do a rush job.

Reckon he might have done after he killed Grace. That would leave Tommy with no place to direct his rage except inwards. He starts wearing a hemp sack over his head and riding around the dark backstreets on his horse blasting people with opium smoke from his pipe.

Cant wait for more Paykey Bloynders yea..

'He ends the series as a murderous client of prostitutes...I'm not sure I agree with this conclusion ..Yes, he goes to the brothel, but I see this as a human need for him. We don't know his back story....we know he says to Tommy 'Men like us have to pay for our pleasures' and Tommy replies 'I have family' Campbell strikes a rather isolated figure, who is enigmatic. He too, is vulnerable...perhaps lonely...has he ever been married? ~ his wooing of

Grace would suggest otherwise. We don't know the horrors he may have faced in his life, certainly dealing with the underbelly of society would have coloured his view . Has he become hard, rigid, unforgiving because of his job? He spouts the evangelical fire and damnation in his rousing speech to the police. Is he guilty of murder or in allowing murder to take place 'on the streets' through inaction, ~a course which would have been open to him ~one might say 'let the scum kill each other' Sam Neill gets right inside the skin of Campbell...he cleverly makes us despise his interrogation methods which are chilling to the core, and at the same time because of his isolation, his awkwardness and sensitivity towards Grace, we see chinks of humanity within him,,,we become empathic towards his situation at the brothel. Is Campbell perhaps 'more sinned against than sinning?' Does he see himself as a failure?, Was his heart 'touched' by Grace.

There are many outstanding performances ~Arthur Shelby displays a brutal fragility, his horrors of war, his lack of coping mechanisms other than the bottle and his failure with women and finally his suicide attempt which inevitably ended in failure..I did n't know whether to laugh or cry..buy I wanted him to live.
Arthur Shelby Snr Tommy Flanagan puts in an excellent turn ~ a perfectly horrible man out for only himself, his beating of his own son to a pulp did little to make you warm to his odourous character.
Cillian Murphy ~an exceptional performance, understated, sensitive and chilling, his post-war nightmares reliving the gore of war and the internal drive to survive, to live life.
Sam Neiil gives an absolutely top notch performance ~ the quiet stillness erupting into fire. Sam Neill's delivery both verbal and tactile has been incredible and beautifully executed ~the arch nemesis. He is CI Campbell ~ you fully believe in his character,
Finally, the visual impact was just STUNNING ~ The Good , The Bad & The Ugly were just around the corner ~the music was hauntingly appropriate and reminescent of Ennio Morricone's theme tune whistling through the cobbled streets of the Industrial North.

I can't believe they're going to make a second series of this total and utter crap. I've never heard such a thorough mish-mash of dialects and accents in my whole life. The Shelby sister can't make up her mind where she is from. In the first episode she had a strong Liverpool accent which hovered between Scouse & posh, then we got Yorkshire, then we got a bit of Brummie, although I never heard anyone call it a "babbie" once. The music is awful, if it was supposed to be atmospheric they failed spectacularly. The whole series is rubbish!
I suppose the dialogue has to be laundered so the American audience can understand it. Why? when they don't make the dialogue in their programmes for us to understand the dialects between the East Coast, Deep South, Mid West and Californian Coast.

I love the use of music and sound in this show. Some shows work better without music, but the tracks in Peaky Blinders just adds to the awesomeness of the show.

There was one point, which didn't seem believable in the finale. Thorn coming onto the street with the machine gun in his hands. Now, all these guys were soldiers. Placing a machine gun someone behind a window would offer them immense advantage. Instead, Thorn risks attracting every single shot and just stands with everyone.

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