This review contains spoilers.
In the world of Peaky Blinders, it is increasingly likely that any close association with the Blinders gang will put you in jeopardy. And as the stakes and problems continue to rise for the Shelby family, so does the quality of the series.
The arrival of the Digbeth Kid in the opening scenes highlighted more than anything in the series the danger the Shelbys can bring upon you. Arriving on screen as a naïve lad looking to impress, he leaves as quickly as he arrived, his throat slashed in a dank prison cell during a graphic scene. The violence has taken a step up in this second series of Peaky Blinders, yet nothing has been more graphic than that. For a character we have just met, it is a tragic end, and a surprisingly moving one. Tommy’s forays in to London continue to reap terrible consequences.
The other violent moment of the episode comes during a botched assassination attempt on Tommy. Arthur springs to his brother’s rescue, and beats his would-be murderer to a bloody pulp. It mirrors the death of a young lad at Arthur’s hands in the previous episode and serves to highlight how much of a loose cannon Arthur has become amid his trauma. The character has become the embodiment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the way the series has handled the issue feels honest. At times brutally so. Paul Anderson deserves great credit for his portrayal of Arthur.
The burgeoning relationship between Polly and her estranged son Michael creates much of the episode’s drama. The awkward, tentative exchanges are played out well, and deliver a nice change of pace and intensity. Helen McCrory handles her part well, but the true surprise is from Finn Cole, making his acting debut as her son Michael. Cole tackles the role with an assuredness and confidence of a more experienced actor, and that puts him in good stead for future roles. His part is particularly well written, as his ambition and desire to escape his mundane village life gradually becomes clear. Coming into the episode apathetic about the reunion, this writer is now keen to see how it develops.
As you would expect, the acting is strong across the board. Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill and McCrory put in strong shifts as regular viewers will have come to expect. Tom Hardy’s Alfie Solomons takes something of a back seat in the episode, but the actor threatens to steal the show with a typically intense, albeit brief performance. Using such a high quality cast really does lift the show, making it something very special.
My one acting grumble would be with Noah Taylor, playing Shelby nemesis Sabini. His performance is certainly committed, but he chews the scenery just a little too much during his brief appearance. I enjoyed Taylor’s work on Game Of Thrones, and he conveys Sabini’s psychotic rage well enough. He could certainly tone it down a little though.
Production values and the soundtrack also continue to be as high as ever, with the series a delight on both the eyes and the ears.
So on the whole, Peaky Blinders continues its high standards once again. This episode leaves plenty of tantalising story threads open, and it will be intriguing to see how they play out.
Read Tom’s review of the previous episode, here.
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