This review contains spoilers.
Another week, another storming episode of Peaky Blinders. The sophomore season hit the ground running, and with tension heightening and old faces making their return, the last two episodes promise to be tense.
You could tell it was coming. In the episodes running up to this, and certainly the last ten minutes, you could see that Grace’s return was imminent. Even before Annabelle Wallis’ fleeting appearance, the spectre of Grace continued to haunt Tommy, his horse named in reference to her betrayal. It was great to see the writers pull the trigger and bring her back with two episodes to go, and give her reappearance a chance to have some narrative breathing space.
Though now it definitely feels like Charlotte Riley’s character May Carleton has been brought in merely to create a tension between a returning Grace and Tommy. There is little reason to be invested in her stock character at this point, besides a layered performance from Riley. She moves from refinement and elegance to anguish and bitter loneliness effortlessly.
It was one of numerous strong performances yet again in the show. You could write a whole article on Cillian Murphy’s performance alone, and the actor continues to be mesmeric throughout. Sam Neill plays the bastardly Campbell with the venomous relish he has from the start, while Paul Anderson continues to go from strength to strength as Arthur. With his increasing reliance on cocaine and penchant for violent outbursts, Arthur only adds to a number of increasing headaches for Tommy.
Chief among those? The new alliance between London’s Jewish and Italian gangs. Yet again Tom Hardy plays only a peripheral role in the episode, but like all of his work he approaches it with such gusto it really is a joy to behold. His scene with Noah Taylor is one of the episode’s highlights and shows that the Shelbys do not have a true appreciation of the situation they are in.
Polly’s estranged son Michael has an increased involvement in the gang’s activities this week, steadily integrating himself into the Shelby family business. Finn Cole provides another assured performance, and Polly’s resistance to allow Michael into the world of the Blinders will surely only create more problems for Tommy in the future. Michael seems very sure of himself already. That confidence could be his downfall.
The actors are allowed to flex their thespian muscles thanks to some strong writing. Sparky dialogue leads to numerous gripping exchanges. That has become a trademark of the show, and great credit must be paid to writer Steven Knight for the consistently strong scripts. Cinematography remains strong throughout as well, with imaginative choices of shots and framing complimenting the action and acting.
The last two weeks of Peaky Blinders have been an absolute treat, and with the show gathering momentum heading into the home straight, it will be intriguing to see where Steven Knight takes his characters heading into the finale. I think the Shelby family may be in for a bumpy ride.
Read Tom’s review of the previous episode, here.
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