Despite this season’s relative lack of narrative complexity in comparison with the precedent set by previous seasons, Peaky Blinders continues to stand out.
Picking up several years after we last saw the Shelbys, the latest season of Peaky Blinders remains as stylish and slick as ever. The clan negotiate their way through financial and political turmoil in the aftermath of the Wall Street Crash in 1929 in the form of new foes Oswald Mosley and Jimmy McCavern, while also contending with internal fractures and inner demons.
Core characters Tommy and Arthur particularly continue to struggle: Tommy sees visions of his dead wife calling him to join her, while Arthur becomes increasingly unstable as his marriage falls apart. Their already strained relationship with Michael is further tested as he has lost a great deal of the company’s money when Wall Street crashed.
This friction puts Polly in an increasingly difficult position as she must contend with Michael’s new pregnant wife on top of this, her love interest Aberama Gold’s quest for revenge additionally conflicting with Tommy’s grand scheme. Ada is also revealed to be pregnant, but this sub-plot is somewhat on the back burner for now. As always, the acting is sublime, with the standouts being Cillian Murphy and Paul Anderson as Tommy and Arthur respectively. Newcomer Sam Caflin perfectly plays the evil fascist Oswald Mosley, and there is (slight spoiler alert) the return of an old favourite in the season finale.
Peaky Blinders has always been highly acclaimed for its strong sense of style, and season five is no exception. Of course the obligatory slow-motion Shelby-strut towards the camera is in full force, and despite it’s perhaps cheesy nature it never ceases to be satisfying. The third episode has the season’s most haunting shot: the silhouette of Arthur on his knees proclaiming that despite his good intentions, his “hands belong to the devil”. It’s moments like these, combined with the use of rock music more modern that the period setting, that continue to make Peaky Blinders one of the most visually appealing and unique shows out there.
Comparative to earlier seasons, the narrative seems relatively simple, especially considering that the previous season involved a full on war with Mafia mobster Luca Changretta and betrayals a-plenty. It’s very true that the slow moving political mind games taking centre stage make for a much more subdued showing this time around.
However, this slower tempo isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Whilst the season does end with a shocking bang, it increasingly feels like the calm before the storm for seasons yet to come. That brings us to the standout season finale, the final scenes building tension exquisitely through Tommy’s 10 second countdown; every second passing with you knowing that something’s coming, and the closer we get to zero the more we suspect that events won’t go according to plan. A fairly major character is brutally killed off, reminding us of how high the stakes are, and we’re left with the itching question of who was behind what transpired.
What the season lacks through the tempo it certainly makes up for in the finale. Yes, it’s incredibly infuriating as a viewer to be left on such a cliffhanger, but you can’t help but feel that the final two legs of the Shelby saga are going to be one hell of a ride.
Image Credit: BBC Television