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Peaky Blinders - Black Shirt - Review

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Peaky Blinders headed closer and closer towards the end in an exciting episode that brought Tommy closer and closer into the lion’s den. Steven Knight is clearly in set-up mode arranging the pieces together on a chess board – and having Tommy join up with the fascists and Oswald Mosely is a calculated power-play to bring him down from the inside. It’s a sprawling epic now that has left Small Heath long behind – and like its lead character, is more ambitious than ever. We’ve moved the world of small time gangsters behind and are going full House of Cards, now.

The stylish cinematography continues to be eye-catching, it’s art and really unlike any other show on air. The atmosphere is incredible across the board and it’s kept up that momentum – we get to interact with Alfie Solomons once more and Tom Hardy – although you kind of know what Alfie’s deal will be each time he shows up, the formula that allows for a Tommy/Alfie interaction is always a delight and never wears thin, with Tommy putting Alfie in a revenge mission that may have dramatic consequences beyond Alfie’s love of opera.

Ruby’s condition is getting worse and we know that her days are likely numbered – it’ll be a miracle if she pulls through the final season. The question remains about the identity of the grey man – voices from the chimney are piercing Ruby’s head and her relapse only serves up to drive the tension. Who is the grey-eyed man? Is it Michael? Mosley? Tommy Shelby himself? Steven Graham hasn’t shown up yet, two episodes in – so it could be him, and there’s plenty of options. Peaky Blinders has employed a terrific narrative device in the past to keep audiences guessing about the identity of the man who Tommy can’t defeat – and now a guessing game is thrown in here again. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Tommy’s stint as a politician and an MP for Birmingham South sees him introduce a housing bill that Churchill approves of – the only man who knows that his time spent with the fascists is that of a double agent will surely have a greater role to play this season. His speech to the Labour party members is undercut by the fact that he presents IRA Captain Swing with a statement about left and right extremists being two sides of the same coin – and it’s great to see Ada being there to give deadpan reactions to Swing, real name Laura McKee, saying yes to Tommy’s offer – because everybody does. He knows her all to well.

The plan is for Tommy to meet Jack Nelson – American east-coast kingpin to arrange access to Mosley and his ilk. Swing gives the support of Dublin, and Nelson would let them ship Opium to Boston. It’s a mammoth house of cards that could collapse if the slightest thing were to go wrong – Ada knows this, but Tommy’s as confident as ever. He’s even able to give Arthur the kickstart that he needs to get out of his funk – and a ready and recharged Arthur could give the unpredictable spark of chaotic energy that this season hasn’t really had so far – everything has gone seemingly according to plan for once. That can’t last.

It's fantastic to see Amber Anderson as Diana Mitford and she makes an instantly glamours entrance, casting the spotlight on her. She’s a Lady Macbeth, a Wendy Byrde, a Claire Underwood type figure from the off – the spotlight is well and truly on Anderson and she owns every second of it. The confrontation between her and Lizzie is brief but powerful, and Sam Claflin strikes a terrifyingly calculative figure as ever. I wonder how much Peaky is going to go into alternate history territory or stick to true events here – there’s the chance that the show could go full Quentin Tarantino if it wants to – the show has always been a bit hammy, as is evidenced every time Tom Hardy shows up – but what makes it work so well is that unlike trying to be anything else the show content to completely revel in it, and I don’t mind that one bit, as long as it continues its excellent form.

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