RECAP & REVIEW: Peaky Blinders -Series 3, Episode 4

So what happened?

After the Shelby boys hunt and kill a stag in the grounds of Tommy’s mansion on Good Friday, as they sit around an open fire in the woods preparing to cook their kill, he informs them he’s received word that their absent, ill-thought-of father has died in Boston. Before they honour and then forget him by eating the fruits of their hunt, the one thing their Dad actually taught them to do, they discuss their planned robbery of the Georgians and come to the conclusion that they’re keeping their wealth in a strong room in the grand home where they’re living, later deciding to bring in a thief who speaks Russian, who’ll be given one of the pubs they took from the Italians if he works as servant in the house and passes on intel to them. After cutting  in Curly and Charlie when they hesitantly agree to take part in the heist, the gang settle on how much they’re each going to take from the resulting profits and Tommy tells them that he’s going to honour Grace’s plea to him that the business should become legit after this one last job sets them all up for life.

Shelbys ep 4
The Shelby boys returning from their hunt.

Re-entering his country home, Murphy’s character is greeted by Princess Tatiana who’s made herself comfortable in his office and is intent on finding out how he knows Father Hughes is a Soviet Spy. As the questions turn to blatant flirting and the Georgian royal tells him to execute the priest if he wishes, John interrupts the meeting and is tasked with putting a nail in her car wheel, so that both his brother and his guest can’t back out of her staying the night. It’s this decision to move his relationship with Tatiana forward to a physical level that unwittingly leads Tommy to a dark night of the soul where he finds himself chasing her around the house after she steals his gun and pleading with her to put it down when she decides to play Russian Roulette with herself, luckily pulling the trigger over an empty barrel. Afterwards she goads him over the fact his newfound privilege and financial stability is something that both scares him and is an advantage he doesn’t know how utilise properly, somehow getting to the core of his neuroses and discerning that not only does he enjoy taking lives, but that it’s absolute freedom that petrifies him and compels him to follow rules he doesn’t have to. Apparently she’s the only one who’s ever truly understood him.

Elsewhere, Polly is steaming drunk and going to confession to bear her soul to the priest about murdering Campbell. Not that she regrets it, mind. She just needs to get it off her chest, as well the fact her family is planning to off another man of the cloth, an unburdening too far that has disastrous consequences later on for Tommy. Managing to make her way back to the betting office, the Shelby matriarch walks in on Esme and Lizzie complaining about having to work on a holiday and the lack of a separate toilet. Too drunk to open the safe herself, Lizzie opens it for her and embarrassedly reveals that she’s been sleeping with Tommy now and again since his wife was shot. As the women continue to berate their male counterparts for making them hold the fort when they’re doing as they please, Linda comes by bringing sustenance and informing them that female workers in Birmingham are coming out on strike and plan to congregate at the Bull Ring. Fed up, they shut up shop and head down there, joining in with the vocal protests and Polly attracts huge crowds around her as she drunkenly calls for an outright revolution; something which bemuses Tommy greatly as he rebukes her for bringing attention to herself during their current scheming with/against the Georgian royals, whilst fielding criticism from her about getting too close to the Princess when he’s still grieving for Grace. Arthur’s wife also has yet another hand in making his life difficult when she invites him for tea in husband’s absence and deftly runs rings around him by insisting their share of the pot from the robbery is upped to a ‘fairer’ £41,000, so that they can start a new life in California as store owners and missionaries. If her brother-in-law doesn’t agree, Linda tells Tommy that she’ll encourage his older sibling to pull out of he job, so he reluctantly relents.

Tommy ep 4
Tommy (Cillian Murphy) wondering where the Princess is after they spent the night together.

With the task of assassinating Father Hughes still in hand, the head of the Shelby gang tracks him down to a village fete and waits for him use the bathroom to make his move. Following him into the toilets, his plans fall apart as the result of Polly’s earlier confession (the priest let Hughes know what she’d told him), and just as he’s about to shoot Considine’s character, he’s jumped and horrifically beaten by two of the man’s henchman, his head pressed against the tiled wall until we hear a loud crack. After being loaded into an ambulance and taken to dark, deserted building, both Hughes and Jarvis leer over his drugged, broken body and reprimand him for betraying them, giving him a piece of paper with the details of where he’s going attend a meal with them, the Grand Duchess, her husband and niece and informing him he’s going use the occasion to apologise for the information he ‘mistakenly’ gave them about their co-conspirator. Afterwards, they dump him on the road back at home where he sacks all his male staff, requests members of the gang be brought down to the protect his son and makes a call to Ada asking her to arrange a meeting with a member of the Soviet Embassy. Imbibing enough drugs to make it possible for him to attend his ‘dinner date’ at the Ritz, Father Hughes has already laid the groundwork for Tommy’s apology, forcing the gangster to make a humiliating, personalised act of contrition as the royals look on in horror at his dire state. Making a sharp exit soon after, the horrifically injured Blinder manages to make it to his sister’s home where he explains to the Soviet ambassador that the Establishment are intending to use the robbery of the tanks and the handing over of them to Georgian rebels to provoke an act of aggression on British soil, thus making it necessary for the current Labour government to sever all ties with Russia. As he stumbles down the stairs after the meeting, he admits to Ada that he knows his family is to be sacrificed, then asks her to call an ambulance as he suspects he has a fractured skull, internal bleeding and maybe even a haemorrhage. As she swiftly heads for the phone, Tommy mutters platitudes to his recently deceased father.

The Verdict?

Danielle’s Fezzy Score: rsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fezrsz_fuzzy_fez

With this episode, the show once again gave us a masterclass in taut, visually stunning, edge of the seat drama. The thing that Peaky Blinders always seems to do exceptionally well is to offer up a haunting image or theme that just won’t leave viewers alone until the next instalment. Here there were many, including the ritualistic sacrifice of the stag that mirrored the future threat to the Shelby family, and the truly awful cracking sound as Hughes’ thugs pressed Tommy’s head against the tiled wall, a noise which has been ringing in my ears ever since I first heard  it. It feels like I’m being tedious saying it week in, week out, but it’s hard to imagine anybody else carrying the considerable burden of the show’s protagonist with the same grace and ease as Murphy does, especially as things close in on the character from all sides, including members of his own family such as Polly who unwittingly gave the advantage to that utter b*stard, Hughes. The beating was bad enough, but the way he humiliated Tommy in front of the Grand Duchess and her family was plain sadistic, underlining why the man does indeed need to die. I’m convinced now he’s playing both the Russians and the Georgians against each other to clear the path for Churchill and the Tories to seize power from the Labour government, something which bears some resemblance to real events and makes sense in light of The Economic League wishing to provoke an attack from the Soviets, who benefited from ties with Ramsay MacDonald’s governing party. While last series culminated in Churchill being Tommy’s saviour, it looks like this year he’s making the gangster his sacrificial lamb.

Shelby ladies ep 4
Linda (Kate Phillips), Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) and Polly (Helen McCrory) marching to the Bull Ring.

Elsewhere, both Linda and Tatiana finally got my attention. The former surprised me as she ran rings around Tommy and negotiated a higher settlement for Arthur for his involvement in the robbery, calmly standing her ground as they discussed it. Then there was her manipulation of the women at the betting office so they’d go out on strike, which I believe has led some to speculate that she’s a spy. I can be swayed either way, and I definitely believe there’s more to her than meets the eye, particularly because she seems so keen to leave for America after the heist (hell, is she even pregnant?), but I can’t help but feel grateful to her for being the catalyst behind that awesome slow-mo shot of the Shelby women linking arms and marching down to the Bull Ring. The Princess, on the other hand, is far less calm and calculated. In fact she’s downright bonkers. Her lack of respect for Tommy’s deceased wife, his staff and him in general, betrays the circumstances of her privileged background, but she did hit a raw nerve with him when she said he’s completely ill at ease in dealing with the advantages of his new lifestyle. It’s been a running theme with the family this season, with them preferring to congregate where the staff do, rather than inhabit the spaces they’ve ‘earned’ for themselves, most likely out of a sense of guilt over how they’ve gotten there and simply because they don’t feel like they belong in the constricting environment they’ve found themselves in. Just to underline that the Shelby boys looked a thousand times more comfortable hunting and cooking meat out in the woods than they did anywhere else in this episode, Esme was the only one to clearly verbalise that she misses the freedom of travelling to the gilded cage of wealth and property. Nevertheless, after the midnight chase around the house and the Russian Roulette incident, does Princess Tatiana understand Tommy in a way that nobody else really has?  I’m not so sure. Still waters run very, very deep with that man.

I only really had a couple of issues. Firstly, Lizzie definitely deserves better than to be the woman Tommy turns to when he wants a quick fumble to console himself, especially after the whole incident with her stepping out with Angel and the civil war it lead to between the Shelbys and the Changrettas. Hopefully she can find a place in the World for herself if the business does go legit. I’m not holding my breath, although I am wondering if the fact she knows the digits to open the safe will be significant going forward.  Secondly, the fact the storyline between Polly and Ruben is moving at a snail’s pace is becoming a bit annoying. Yes, the painter soliciting the ‘you can’t have me’ pose from her was a nice compliment to Tatiana’s pep talk with Tommy, but McCrory and Siddig aren’t getting anywhere near as much screen time together as I’d like. I wouldn’t be surprised though if it’s because Steven Knight wants to pull the rug from under us at some point, and have Oliver be of prime importance as this series comes to it’s climax. Also, did anybody else suspect that Tommy’s housekeeper, Mary, the one person he didn’t seem to fire in his household, might be working for either the Russians, the Georgians or The Economic League? There are bound to be surprises in the coming weeks.

 

So what did you think to the episode? Let us know in the comments…

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