Peaky Blinders: Season 4 — a review

It’s no secret that Season 3 of Peaky Blinders was my least favorite season of the series so far.

The plot was convoluted. It involved Father Hughes the pedophilic priest and his Economic League. There were Russians and Dr. Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. A train blows up. There was at least one orgy. A main character dies. And, during the finale, Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) allows the other members of his family to be locked away in prison, facing death by hanging. I wrote a review that was semi-free of spoilers and you can read it here.

I gave it a grade of B+. This is because I love this series, and the season was still watchable, even if it wasn’t as good as the first two. I was counting on Season 4 to bring some redemption.

I’m happy to say that it did. This was a better outing this time, even though it had to recoup from what I’m characterizing as a misstep in Season 3.

As you may recall, Season 3 ended with the arrest of Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson), John Shelby (Joe Cole), Polly Gray (Helen McCrory), and Michael Gray (Finn Cole). Although this fact isn’t explicit in the premiere episode (at least not to me), Thomas Shelby’s family spent six months in prison because of the deal Thomas made at the end of the season. Not just prison, but death row. All of the characters were facing the death penalty, by hanging, and are even being led to the execution chamber as they get the final reprieve arranged by Thomas.

Something like that would have to affect a person. Sure, Thomas saved his family. Let’s give him credit for that. But, he waited until the last minute to spring them, and he still managed to wrangle an OBE out of the deal.

In case you’re a Yank like me, the OBE is an order of chivalry granted by the British monarchy. Unless I’m mistaken, that makes Thomas Shelby an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. So, he hasn’t been knighted, exactly. But, it’s still an exalted honor. The classes of “knight,” “knight commander,” and “commander” are still higher positions.

Thomas becomes a gentleman while the other members of his family become ex-cons.

Every action results in an equal and opposite reaction. In the previous season, the Blinders killed Angel and Vincente Changretta, allowing the family matriarch to escape to America, because she was a nice lady. No good deed goes unpunished. Luca Changretta (Adrian Brody) is a member of the Sicilian mafia, from America, and he’s come to exact retribution from the Peakys for the murder of his family.

It’s been a year since their prison release, and the Shelby family has pretty much gone their separate ways. Arthur continues to try to walk the line, living a normal life with his religious wife Linda (Kate Phillips). Michael begins using cocaine. Polly is on alcohol and pills and seeing visions of spirits. John and his wife are also attempting to live a regular life in the country. Everyone receives letters from Luca Changretta, who shows he means business in the first episode, killing a member of the Shelby family.

This season also sees the introduction of Aberama Gold, a Romany gypsy killer-for-hire. Aberama is portrayed by actor Aidan Gillen, a recognizable face from The Wire and from Game of Thrones. He was Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish in GoT. Aberama is a welcome addition to the character mix. He envisions his son, Bonnie Gold, as a champion boxer and gets the Blinders to help promote him. He also seems to have eyes for Aunt Polly.

The six episodes of the season are all leading up to the showdown between Thomas and Luca, and the wait pays off. There is subterfuge and trickery. You have to remember that Thomas is a strategic master. You can safely assume who emerges victorious in this season’s conflict, if “victorious” is the correct word to use when you also suffer great losses. Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) also makes a brief return appearance, although his story arc seems complete during the final episode.

As the season ends, the story seems about to take another turn. Thomas Shelby campaigns to become a Member of Parliament. Does he win? What do you think?

Firewater’s Let’s-Get-On-with-the-War Report Card: A

A brilliant antihero lead against a formidable foe with a grudge. We’re back, baby!

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