Peaky Blinders, the final episode explained

Apr 6, 2022 | Film & TV

Warning – spoilers ahead for the whole of season six of Peaky Blinders!

Who saw that twist coming then? The whole of season six has been tonally different from every other season of Peaky Blinders, Steven Knight has teased us with a slow burn tragedy of Shakespearian proportions. Where now for Peaky Blinders?

It felt as if we were watching the slow unravelling of not only the Peaky’s empire, but the very people that held all of the madness together. Tommy has come close to blowing his own brains out on more than one occasion, and season six seemed to be drawing him closer to that doom. Then there is Arthur, since the very beginning Tommy could always push Arthurs’ demons back into the dark corners where they belonged, but this season they were running rampant. Arthur staggered through the periphery of a few episodes drugged up to the eyeballs, his ridiculous flop of hair seeming to signal the final curtain on the blinders way of life. Tommy was bogged down with his high stakes game of bluff, double-bluff and double crossing with the Boston mob and his own cousin, Michael Gray. Plus he had his own terminal diagnosis from the tuberculoma lodged in his brain.

Knight has thrown his fictional characters up against the grim spectre of fascism in the UK in the 1930’s. A bold move that took them away from being big fish in the small pond of Birmingham to stand on the world stage between ideologies that would poison the world for a century

The subtext of this brilliant drama has been that it is fundamentally about damaged men, brutalised by their experiences in WWI, none of them firing on all cylinders. Brief moments of humanity and compassion stand out like oasis in a desert for them, but none are destined to find lasting peace. For me, this story of broken men has overshadowed the gangster bad boy antics that has propelled the series to such popularity. Steven Knight has never shied away from depicting the lasting damage they are burdened with. Indeed, season six felt as if it was literally deconstructing everything that they had built to this point, the tide of world politics about to wash their petty victories and gains away for good.

Could Michael Gray have been a contender?

The Shelby family men who were too young to go to war just didn’t have what made Tommy and the others what they were; the feeling that they were already dead, they had endured such horror and so much had been stripped away from them that literally nothing would scare them. This contrast fuelled the series long drama between Tommy and Michael, brought to boiling point by the divination/premonition of his mother Polly that there would be a war between them. That war had been simmering since the very first time Michael was brought into the family. Michaels trajectory from Black Country boy to Mob Boss always felt a bit off, cockiness hiding the fact that he was always just a bit out of his depth. Michael clearly felt that he was smarter and more entitled than Tommy, an opinion shored up by his mother and wife. In the end that was his undoing, driven by hubris and greed he felt himself not only better than Tommy, but destined to beat him. Poor Michael, he fatally underestimated Tommy’s ruthlessness.

michael gray

Michael was always hamstrung by his own sense of importance, and arrogance that left him blind to what was really going on. Tommy knows that everyone is trying to either use, abuse or kill him, he never stepped into a situation without the odds in his favour. Hr expected Michael to be planning to kill him so he had eyes on the whole situation with Johnny Dogs as his trusted observer. Tommy had already set up Alfie Solomons to take over the drug business once the Chicago Irish mob had been literally disintegrated.

Ah, the great Alfie Solomons, Tommy Shelby’s only true equal in the whole saga.

Alfie Solomons resurrection

Tom Hardy steals every scene he’s in, the brooding menace that he imbues every stare and sentence with is pure gold. To be fair he has had some cracking dialogue to chew through, with line like “Tommy, when a pikey walks in with a hair like that you better ask yourself ‘have I made a mistake?'” He has had a ball.

The greed of the people in power

Steven Knight has next to zero respect for the rich and powerful, and this series has mirrored what’s going on in the UK to a tee. The aristocracy and political classes are greedy narcissists, entitled wankers and sleazy politicians, and it is refreshing to have a drama that doesn’t shy away from those facts. England is still tied to a morally bankrupt class system, you can get away with virtually anything as long as you deliver your manifesto in a posh accent, witness Moseley’s cut glass pronunciation broadcasting hate and prejudice. At least we know where we stand with Tommy Shelby.

Then the twist

And Then Tommy has a vision, at the very end of his tether, about to finally pull that trigger he has a vision of his dead daughter. We’ve seen him be a very superstitious man, acutely aware and respectful of a supernatural world just beyond the real. Finally he has a direct experience of this, and of course it is a tip off that he has been played.

This is his get away, his clean slate, and the episode closes with Tommy on his horse watching the caravan with every trace of who he was go up in flames. He turns and rides off, just like the hero in the Western that Peaky Blinders has always been

Where next?

A movie is planned, Knight aways stated that he wanted it to end as the air raid sirens wailed in WWII. Maybe Tommy will have one last hurrah. No doubt Steven has a plan up his sleeve. Now if only Quentin Tarantino could direct…

 

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