As a ‘gesture’, Mrs Ross, the mother of the boy Arthur killed during a sporting accident, goes to see Tommy and invites his older brother to a party to commemorate what would have been her son’s 21st birthday, and to thank them for helping her out after his death. Sensing that the invitation for the following day isn’t all that it seems, Tommy meets with his men and puts together a plan that would see them intercept the mobsters who would kill an unarmed and unprotected Arthur by keeping an eye on their movements through various vantage points throughout the city, and aiming rifles at anybody suspicious. The eldest Shelby brother then arrives at the grieving mother’s home, and after being inspected for weapons, is allowed to sit down and have a cup of tea. Mrs Ross quizzes Arthur about his faith and that of his wife, and it soon becomes clear that she’s stalling for time, during which her daughter runs outside and waves a white flag at a car that Tommy and Johnny Dogs were monitoring. To their surprise though, the vehicle backs away, and after firing at those inside, they come to the realisation that the arrangements surrounding Arthur’s visit to see Mrs Ross were a decoy to distract them from an attack on Michael at the hospital. When he’s made aware of what’s going on, Arthur pulls a concealed gun and places it under his host’s chin. It’s only her appeals to his faith and a reminder him that she has children to care for that secures her a reprieve. As he walks out of the door, the man she despises informs her that she has one hour to leave her home, or he’ll return and tar and feather her. Later, Arthur gives his youngest brother the flat so he can bring back friends and women, and conveniently keep an eye on the Communists in the area. It’s then that Finn admits he wouldn’t have been able to pull the trigger of the gun he was aiming at three men he believed to be Changretta’s men earlier. Reassuring him, Arthur tells him that he’s not the one who pulls the trigger anyway, God does, and that all he has to do is ‘flick a switch’.
Sure enough, Luca Changretta and his men have used the chaos surrounding the faux attempt on Arthur’s life to reach Michael without being monitored. A nurse pulls a gun on the young man, but he manages to deal with her, however, soon enough the mobster kills the guard protecting Polly’s son and comes face to face with him, pulling out a pistol, placing it between Michael’s eyes and pulling the trigger. Fortunately for Mr Gray, the barrel is empty, and as Luca walks away, he tells his confused, would be victim that he expects his Mother to deliver her end of the bargain: Tommy. A short while afterwards, Tommy arrives with his entourage to see if Luca had got to his cousin. Michael lies though, and informs him that he and the rest of the gang managed to scare Changretta off before he could attack him. Arriving back at the betting office, Tommy calls Charlie Strong and orders him to instruct the Golds to ambush the Italians on they’re way back to where they’re staying. Consequently, Changretta is stopped on his way back by an upturned cart on a bridge. A Policeman stops his car and tells him he’s going to have to wait, but frustration with the situation spurs him and one of his men to get out of the vehicle and move the cart themselves. Aberama and Bonnie then take the opportunity to slit the throat of their driver, and fire shots at the Italians, as well as hitting the Policeman in the arm so that the resulting investigations will force the mobsters underground. Luca manages to escape, but not without two of his men becoming casualties, something which Tommy pays Aberama for a short while later, whilst informing the father and son that, unlike them, he won’t let his adversary get away when their paths cross soon.
Back at the hospital, Michael furiously confronts Polly about the deal she has with Changretta, and what it might entail. After his mother informs him that they’ll be the only ones leaving for Australia, the young man figures out that she’s offered up his cousin in return for his safety. He’s not happy with her underhand tactics, but her reminding him he’d already be dead if she hadn’t agreed to do so renders him mute. Elsewhere, Charlie ferries Tommy’s ex lover and current horse trainer into their Small Heath stronghold apparently so she can conduct their equine business regarding a horse called, Dangerous, face-to-face. In reality, she soon admits that she came to see if losing Grace and John would have changed him at all, but apparently not. Midway through their meeting at the Shelby Ltd offices, Lizzie deliberately interrupts and snarks at the other woman out of seeming jealous. In response, May writes a blank cheque for the Grace Shelby Foundation and makes a point of telling Tommy’s secretary/intermittent lover that she can pop to the bank with it. When they’re alone again, the Head of the Peaky Blinders gang divulges that he knows the train drivers are due to go on strike, which means May will have trouble leaving the city and returning home. Because of this he’s already taken the liberty of booking her a suite at the Midland Hotel where he sometimes stays. After some back and forth between the two, she eventually agrees to meet him at 4 ‘o’ clock so he can pour her some gin.
Annoyed at her behaviour towards Lady Carleton, Tommy rebukes Lizzie. The resentment regarding this spills over, and Polly later finds her drunk in the office and writing in £10,000 as an amount on May’s blank cheque. The reasoning behind the Shelby matriarch’s visit to their headquarters stems from her fielding a call from from Luca from a phone box, in which he makes it clear that they can get to her son at any time should she not deliver Tommy. Polly’s so shaken by the threat that she immediately seeks to find out when her nephew has an opening in his diary, requesting access to it in return for reading Lizzie’s tea leaves. After marking a black star by his free Friday, and insisting that the secretary keep the day clear, Polly tells her to replace whiskey with stout and to go and see the doctor about the baby she’s carrying. Meanwhile, Tommy heads to the boxing gym and asks Bonnie Gold’s trainer if he’s ready to fight. After agreeing to sign his boxing license, the man tells him he’s never seen anyone so ready. The young lad informs Tommy that he’s determined to be a champion, and infers that he doesn’t want to emulate his father’s nomadic lifestyle. It’s then that his promoter reveals he’s going to fight another boxer called, ‘Goliath’. Back at the factory, Devlin informs his boss that the workers haven’t made it in today because strikers blocked the Coventry Road, making the men get off the buses and threatened their families. When Tommy asks why the Police didn’t get involved, his employee tells him they were too busy dealing with incidents that his boss had a direct/indirect hand in. Devlin then suggests that they might both be considered class traitors should the revolution come about, to which Tommy replies that he’s, “Just an extreme example of what a working man can achieve.”
Afterwards Tommy finds May, shows her his distillery that he set up with Alfie Solomons’ help and asks her what she thinks of the gin. She tells him it’s too sweet and he explains he intends to sell it to the Americans, who are currently enduring Prohibition, and he’d rather do it directly as his supply lines have been unreliable in the past. His former lover tells him he’s unlike any other man she’s ever met, and they kiss, but May quickly pulls away. Annoyed when he realises she wants to change the bad in him, Tommy rails against her wish to do so and ends up escorting her back to the canal boat she came in, so that she can travel to the nearest, functional railway station and return home. Meanwhile, Ada goes to see Jessie Eden speak at a local Communist Party meeting, and approaches her afterwards to ask if she’ll come for a drink to discuss the new terms that Tommy wants to put on the table regarding the striking workers. After objecting that they won’t be allowed into a pub unaccompanied by a man, Ada states it shouldn’t be a problem, and soon enough the bartender holds his tongue when he realises Tommy Shelby’s sister is in his establishment. When they sit down, Ada reveals that her brother is prepared to offer equal pay for men and women across his factories, in return for Jessie sitting down to dinner with him at a scrap metal yard to discuss the revolution and socialism. The union leader highlights her disgust at Tommy’s violent reputation, and asks the other woman if she’s sorry she jumped ship too early with regards to her previous political sympathies. Ada is rattled, but leaves the ball in Jessie’s court, informing her Tommy’s offer will be rescinded if she doesn’t turn up for dinner.
In the interim, Alfie Solomons arrives in Small Heath with one of his men, and the aptly named, Goliath, tooting his car horn until Tommy meets with him in the street, and then promises to introduce them to ‘David’. They head to the distillery and Alfie tries to psych his ‘old friend’ by telling him he’s back where he belongs, and that he can’t wash his gypsy identity away, no more than he can shed his Jewish faith. He also divulges that the Italians are using Sabini for vehicles, and that eleven of the mafia men altogether are in England. Tommy then quizzes Alfie about whose side he’s on, and the gang leader honestly responds that he doesn’t believe his Birmingham counterpart will be alive for much longer, so it doesn’t really matter. Immediately Tommy shoots back that the American mobsters will have no intention of going back home after they kill because they’ll see the country as easy pickings. That means that he and Sabini will be murdered in quick succession should they manage to off the Head of the Peaky Blinders. When Aberama and Bonnie arrive, the father and the London gangster butt heads over their differing identities, and Alfie eventually asks if he’ll offer his son to fight. Bonnie confidently tells Tommy to name the day for the fight.
At the end of the episode, Tommy goes to see Michael in his hospital bed so he can sign some paperwork, and comments that Polly wants him to go alone to Grace’s foundation to award some prizes. His cousin is cagey throughout the encounter, but doesn’t directly mention the deal his mother has struck with Changretta. As Tommy leaves the hospital in his car, it becomes clear that the heavily armed Italians are following him, and Polly looks on from the roadside.
It’s almost hard to know what to make of such a densely packed episode. One that was perhaps too densely packed. As ever, the performances were universally great, but none of the narrative threads were afforded the time to sit in the moment that they necessarily needed. I was particularly disappointed with May’s real return after that brief glimpse of her a couple of episodes ago. It might not be a popular opinion, but I always enjoyed the chemistry between her and Tommy more than I did between him and Grace. Here she became the litmus test for his growing unease with the upper classes, and a means of him realising that he’s finding himself increasingly drawn to the Communist cause and, of course, Jessie. Really, it was a disappointing reprisal for Charlotte Riley and I’m not really sure I’d want her to return if once again her sole purpose is to feed her ex-lover’s identity crisis. Similarly, I’m not sure what to make of Lizzie’s baby development. Naturally, we can assume that the baby is Tommy’s, in which case, you’ve got to assume the child will bind her to ‘the man she loves’ and force Cillian Murphy’s character to step up and marry her. The trouble is, whilst Lizzie probably would be good for him, the same can’t necessarily said for him with regards to her, especially as he often still treats her like a prostitute. Even so, I am curious as to whether or not Jessie will turn up for dinner with a protagonist, and if sparks will fly between them.
There were a number of highlights. Chief amongst them was Tom Hardy’s return as the flaky, verbose gangster, Alfie Solomons. It’s always a joy to see him going toe-to-toe with Tommy, and I’m intrigued to know if he’s going to heed his ‘friend’s’ warning about the Italians wanting to take over if he were to be killed. Things could get very complicated there. I also love the tension that’s being stoked by Changretta forcing Polly to give up her nephew for fear of him really pulling the trigger on Michael next time. The animosity between Tommy and his aunt has been brewing for a few series now, and it’s about time it came to a real head. Having said that, I’m not sure things are going to go to plan for Luca and his men in their attempt to kill Tommy. I’m almost certain that Michael’s caginess has tipped off his cousin that something isn’t quite right, and I’m really interested to know what those ‘Transfer of Responsibilities’ forms that he signed were too. Is it possible that young Master Gray has betrayed his biological mother? Personally, I can see it. Either way, this outing might not have been quite up to the standards of earlier installments this series, but it’s certainly left us with lots to think about.
Danielle’s Fezzy Score:
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