So what happened?
As the Shelby family gather together with local dignitaries to celebrate the opening of the Grace Shelby Institute for Orphaned Children, after Tommy has given his speech, Father Hughes turns up at the event, rebuking the head of the Blinders gang for not inviting him and then informs him he’ll be taking a room at the orphanage and ‘ministering’ to the children. Moments later, whilst he’s fending off enthralled members of the Womens’ Insititute, Tommy distractedly hands over his son, Charles, to who he believes to be a maid, but is actually someone working for Hughes and The Economic League. In a blind panic when he realises what he’s done, and after hearing reports that a woman was seen putting a young boy into a car, he orders his men to look for his boy and is then encouraged to wait back at the betting office with Polly for a phone call. Once there, it’s not long before the men posted outside tell him that there’s someone waiting outside for him in a car and, sure enough, it’s Hughes who tells him to get in, then explains that The Economic League have little Charlie. In order to secure his safe return, not only is his gang expected to blow up the train ferrying the tanks to the Georgian rebels, killing 6 men in the process and implicating the Soviets by planting semi-burnt documents bearing the names of some of their officers so the government is forced to sever diplomatic ties with Russia, but he’s also forced to hand over the jewels he’s going to steal from the Petrovnas, including the Fabergé egg that one of the members of the The Economic League wants to give to his wife as a gift. And all of this in a extremely small window of time.
Having agreed to the terms of the arrangement, and now almost certain that there’s a leak in the family, Murphy’s character accuses both John and Arthur’s wives of being involved in passing on information, allegations which they both vehemently and angrily deny, instead proposing that newcomer, Michael, could be responsible. Agreeing to continue the conversation when Charles has been safely returned, their brother asks them to get hold of all the things they need to blow up the train and take care of it for him. After they’ve gone, Tommy then turns on Polly and accuses her painter-lover, Ruben Oliver, of working for Hughes, coldly telling her it’s inconceivable that a man like him would be interested in a woman like her without ulterior motives. Taking his comments to heart, the Shelby matriarch spends the night in the office, heart-broken, before taking her frustrations out on the painting she’d spent her Sundays sitting for and slashing it with a knife. Later, when Ruben turns up to find her, she holds a gun to his head and asks him why he didn’t turn up to the opening of the orphanage, going further and repeating her nephew’s insinuations about his disloyalty. After the artist nervously responds that he wasn’t sure if he could live with the criminal side of her lifestyle, but has ultimately decided he can, they both determine they have a future together if he can accept her for who she really is, minus the posh dressed and the airs and graces, to which he happily agrees.
Meanwhile, Tommy has made an appointment to meet Alfie Solomons in yet another one of Birmingham’s empty warehouses; a meeting that starts off civilly when the former asks the latter to identify who would want a Fabergé egg to give to his wife by using his contacts in the antique and jewellery business. It soon descends into chaos and a war of words, however, when Tommy sees that Alfie has left one of the names on the list he’d already compiled through his own sources, thus identifying that individual as the member of The Economic League they need to pursue to get information about Charles’ whereabouts, and the Jewish gangster as their leak. Launching himself at Alfie, Tommy is about to get shot by his cohort when Michael finally steps up to the mark and pulls the trigger, shooting the man who was about to kill his cousin in the head. He then breaks up the fight between the two men and encourages Tommy to calm down, saying murdering him wouldn’t be worth breaking the truce between the London gangs as it’d be bad for business. In response to his former ‘associate’ telling him he ‘crossed the line’ by betraying him and putting his son in harms way, Alfie reminds him of all the young men he’s had butchered and cut down to further the growth of his own empire, shattering any allusions Murphy’s character has of moral superiority and ushering in a newfound understanding between the two ‘frenemies’.
Having gained the information about where Tommy’s son has been held by torturing the man who wanted the Fabergé egg, Michael is sent with two experienced men to where Father Hughes is hiding out with Charles and told to let them go ahead with the hit. He ignores their orders, however, and goes after the man who abused himself, allowing his hesitancy to get the better of him when he aims the pistol as the priest, giving the paedophile the upper hand initially. Eventually he bests him and brutally stabs him, ensuring the little boy’s safety, but the struggle has eaten up precious moments and by the time the other men find him covered in blood and follow his instructions to call Finn and tell John and Arthur not to blow up the train with the 6 doomed men they’d hand-picked to be killed (their contingency plan in case Charlie wasn’t found in time), it’s already done. In the meantime, Tommy and his pals from the Tipton Claykickers hurriedly continue digging the hole from underneath the land he tasked Johnny Dogs and his family to camp out on to the strong room in the house the Petrovnas are living in, managing to blow a hole in the cellar wall and collect the jewels due to him just in time before the tunnel collapses on them.
Afterwards, Tommy rushes back to his country home, where his son has been taken by the family and embraces him. He then sets off with the jewels he stole to a deserted road to meet Princess Tatiana, who it turns out was in on his plan to commit the robbery from her Aunt and Uncle, a ploy jointly hatched by her because the pieces in their strong room mostly belonged to her Mother anyway. After having a valuer authenticate the pieces, the Russian royal hands over the cash, demands £5000 payment for the sex they had and then informs him she’s heading to Vienna to meet a man who’s waiting for her there, but that he can look her up if he ever finds himself there. Unimpressed with the offer after she’s disrespected Grace’s memory, he informs her he plans to spend his portion of the money on buying and training a new racehorse and then turns on his heel to leave, only to be stopped in his tracks by a gunshot. When he snaps back around, he realises Tatiana has shot dead the valuer to cover her tracks, and she tells him that both of them are as cursed as the jewels she’s taking with her because of the terrible experiences they’ve been through.
Back at home, the family and everybody else involved in their recent dealings are called to a meeting by Tommy. With them all listening, he admits he overstretched himself in his dealings with the Russians, before handing over the money each of them are due from the proceeds of the heist, giving Arthur extra for insinuating Linda was the one leaking information to The Economic League. He then sets about telling them that the upper political and social classes who’ll always look down on them because of where they’ve come from, no matter how far they climb up the food chain, are even worse than they are and that there’s no difference between what they do and a soldier taking the King’s shilling to murder their enemies on the battlefield. Going on, he reveals that in order to bring down the people who’ve wronged them, he’s made a deal with those who are even higher up then they are, and that each of them are to be arrested for the crimes they committed and will be expected to testify against those from Hughes’ circle of allies. Before his family can truly comprehend what he’s saying, the Police are forcing themselves into the house to take them away, leaving Tommy utterly alone in his big mansion.
Danielle’s Fezzy Score:
After having a mixed reaction to the previous episodes in this series, I’m pleased to say I really enjoyed this finale. It was of course the usual twisty, larger than life, beautifully shot madness, but I’m more than a little relieved that most of the dramatic beats hit the right note: especially Michael’s complete loss of innocence after his first kills, and the exorcism of his childhood demons when he brutally killed his abuser, Father Hughes. The look of shocked, cold satisfaction that he’d done the very thing his cousin hadn’t succeeded in doing previously was chilling, but his trajectory seems absolutely right for his character. His Mother was always fighting a losing battle with him, like Canute commanding the waves to fall back at his request. The damage had already been done before he came back into her life, and the heartless way he left his girlfriend to go through her abortion alone further underlined his coming of age from arrogant, yet still naive boy to menacing adult. Alongside this, Polly’s reconciliation with Ruben and their pact to start a new, more normal life that’s truer to who she really is (the culmination of my favourite character arc this series), is all the more heartbreaking. They’re simply moving in different, diametrically opposed directions in terms of their emotional needs. In relation to our protagonist’s emotional needs, I’m also pleased that Lizzie got a shout-out as the one that stopped Tommy’s heart from breaking when he was wallowing in grief after Grace’s death. I still think she can do a thousand times better than being his go-to woman when he’s in between wives/girlfriends, but at least he admitted she was more than just a port in a particularly choppy storm.
Moving on to the big twist in this episode, I don’t believe that Tommy shopping his family to the Police is as clear cut as it may seem at first glance. On a surface level, there is some truth to what he said about The Economic League being very powerful and that it’s likely they’ll come after them again unless they find a way to go above their heads and nip that threat in the bud. Using the law against them by testifying in court about their crimes is a way to do just that. I also keep going back to what Tatiana said to him about them both being cursed. In the back of his mind, it’s fairly obvious that he still feels at least partially responsible for Grace’s death. In reality, he should. It’s his gang’s reach exceeding its grasp that lead to the cycle of events which brought about her demise, so it’s because of that I feel like some part of him, at least subconsciously, is pushing away his family to keep them safe. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a betrayal there. There clearly was and Alfie Solomon’s words to him about there being no such thing as a line to cross for people like them has definitely struck a chord in conjunction with the Princess’ comment about him never betraying his family like she did hers. A lot of Tommy Shelby’s power stems from him being an unpredictable chess player and he knows it. Hence him making moves that not even the people closest to him can predict.
As to how things will move forward after this apparent changing of the guard, for all of John, Arthur’s and now Michael’s violent tendencies, it’s the women in the family who should worry Tommy the most now that he’s alone and vulnerable. Polly particularly. When she told her nephew that she’d bring his empire down if her son killed Hughes, I suspect she meant it. That her boy did indeed do the deed, unleashing his inner psychopath in the process, coupled with the fact Tommy has had both of them arrested, is further incitement for her to follow through with her plans to seek revenge. Out of everyone who he’s apparently wronged in this finale, his aunt is the one with the brains and the steely determination to take him down, and that look she gave him just before she was taken away by the Police spoke volumes. Tommy should watch his back. We may well see Polly’s vision for the future of Shelby Ltd after all, and it looks like Lizzy, Esme, Ada and Linda will probably back her up. Couple that with the fact we were teased with the possibility of May Carleton returning when Tommy mentioned training a new horse, and it looks like the ladies will dominate in Series 4. BRING. IT. ON.
So what did you think to the finale? Let us know in the comments…