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Peaky Blinders - The Loop - Review

10 Sept 2019

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Peaky Blinders entered the second half of the season with a bombastic episode as ever, and it should be clear to anyone by now that everytime that the Shelby family has a party someone is going to die. Grace and John both met their ends in similar fates, and The Loop was another gamechanger of an episode that pulled the trigger on Linda. She’s rarely been seen this season and her return was an expected one, meaning that as a result it’s kind of a disappointment to see it cut short so abruptly after a passionate plea by Arthur to come home.

The death of Linda was the causality that could push Arthur over the edge, without a chance at forgiveness from the woman closest to him. The split between the party and the scenes outside the Shelby Manor were brilliantly filmed, with Polly’s actions leading her to take the life of a second major character following Campbell back in series two, and set to a score from The Leftovers – Max Richter’s “A Blessing” - made sure that the impact was all the more emotional than it would have been otherwise, instantly evoking feelings of dread and despair in the final few minutes of the episode. Things don’t look good for the Shelby brothers – Arthur is on course for a self-destruction that without Linda there can surely be no escape from, and Tommy is thrusting himself headlong into situations that are causing enemies to pile up around him.

Tommy and Ada had a great conversation this episode and it’s refreshing to see Tommy at his most honest, which does not bode well for the future. The series’ goal is to do whatever’s necessary to put him on a death wish, and the more people that he has to confide in the less likely chance that’s going to happen. Especially with the fact that to take into account the series has now celebrated someone’s birthday in as many episodes now, Ruby, Polly and Lizzie, but all the while, Tommy seems haunted the most by Grace, who’s no longer there to celebrate any of them, and he's seemingly unable to let her go. Although it’s series five, Tommy is still very much in the same headspace that he was back in series three.

Tommy mentioning National Socialism in the House of Commons caused a stir among his fellow Labour party members who don’t know that he’s going undercover to expose Mosley and bring an end to fascism, and although it was interesting to see Churchill make a reappearance for the first time in a while, as someone who will no doubt play a role in things to come, it’s hard not to ignore that Tommy has enemies that are increasing by the dozen and now he has the Labour party out to get him as well. With a seven-day deadline to ship every tonne of opium in his possession to Liverpool, he’s already thinking about double crossing the Chinese lead by a man claiming to be Brilliant Chang, played by Andrew Koji, and trying to blackmail Mosley in the process. On top of all this, the Black Cat is still out there, and assuming it’s not Linda, there still may well be more than one threat to his position. Gina is the obvious candidate at the moment now, and it’s going to be interesting for the series to avoid going down that route. And in addition to all of this, Jimmy still wants to get to Tommy and will when the Billy Boys no longer have a mutual partnership with them, declaring that “My Bullets ache to get inside your tinker head.” But for now, he’s welcomed in Birmingham, under a watchful eye of the Peaky Blinders.

The series has seen the family rocked by the financial fallout of the Wall Street Crash and ever since then they’ve been trying to resurrect their losses, the opium strategy is another step in Tommy’s plan that also involves the continuous blackmail of every team in the First Division. This financing paves way to keep up the goodwill among the local population of Birmingham, because without it, Tommy would be in danger of losing his support in parliament. Gold is already sick of Tommy essentially acting as what he believes him too be a God among men, and goes behind his back to take Polly’s hand in marriage. The condition of the marriage approval is that no revenge is carried out until a later date, but Gold, being Gold, is likely to throw a wrench in Tommy’s plan. Remember, Tommy only stays on top if people follow his orders, and we’ve seen multiple times this season what happens when they don’t. Case in point, Finn's brash actions always need keeping in check, as he nearly shot a Chinese businessman in the head. He's almost trying too hard to prove himself, which makes a change from Michael, who walks in with a swagger like he owns the place.

But there is one victory for Tommy in that he is able to get a signature from Mosley, though, one born out of trust, with Mosley reluctant to sign anything on paper. This guarantees payment from McGovern for his help, and ties both McGovern and Mosley together should Tommy decide to exploit it as Blackmail material. Mosley and Lizzie also have history and it’s clear to see Mosley using everything he can to gain advantage, including a potential shared past with Gina, but Lizzie in turn is more than capable of holding her own. She’s capable of going toe-to-toe with Tommy, so why shouldn’t Mosley be any different? Either way, Tommy is only being used as a means to an end by Mosley, who lacks the understanding of what makes the Shelbys work and sees them as a nuisance more than anything else.

The final few minutes of The Loop were Peaky Blinders at its best yet, with the series drenched in symbolism that came with the death of the black swan at the same time as Linda’s death at Polly’s hands, skilfully intercutted with brilliant editing that serves as a reminder as to why attending a Shelby family party is never a good idea. Whatever comes next for the Shelbys you know the matter is not going to be pleasant, and you have to wonder how things will be wrapped up by the end of the season especially as for a change, there is more than one threat that Tommy has to deal with and not all of them will be thwarted the same way. I can see Mosley sticking around for a second season given that we still haven't seen him form his own party yet suggesting a victory is in store for the fascist, but what that means for the Shelbys at this point is unknown. Given a renewal is already in place I fully expect us to be on the receiving end of a cliffhanger, but as long as we learn the identity of the Black Cat this season should end on a satisfying note.