Peaky Blinders review – Episode Five – BBC Two

cillian-murphy-sam-neill-peaky-blindersI’ll start by addressing the sub plot to episode five, because it was very frustrating in its hackneyed and derivative approach. Arthur and Tommy’s father appeared this episode, having never been mentioned before, and presumably (considering he’s not in next week’s cast list) disappearing forever once the episode was over. His storyline was incredibly unoriginal; an absent and disreputable father returned into a son’s life, only for him to con the son in some way. Of the top of my head, I can name five shows that have done this storyline: Dexter, American Dad, New Girl and Lost, as well as a movie which did something similar, though I won’t name it and give away the twist ending.

Peaky Blinder’s creator Stephen Knight is a successful screenwriter for TV and film; he must, surely, watch a lot of TV. How can he not be aware of such a cliché? Why purposefully use a very detailed storyline that has been done so many times before? It just baffles me. Did nobody at any point during the show’s production point the cliched writing out? If the final episode had Tommy wake up and realise that the whole show was just a dream would the BBC be okay with that too? Would Stephen Knight?

Anyway, the rest of the episode was better. Tommy was visited by a top IRA man, angry at the death of his colleague and demanding he be handed the stolen guns. In the background, Grace spied on the conversation using her long range tactical ears and totally discreet sideways glances.

Tommy, showing his now well-established ability to play all sides against each other, brought Inspector Campbell into the situation, offering to give him the IRA man. A showdown ensued, during which the police stayed outside while Tommy and Grace fought with and eventually killed the republicans.

Why did the police stay outside though? What if Tommy had been killed? Campbell would never find out where the guns were kept. Why didn’t they just go in and arrest the IRA guys? Plot holes like this are really sloppy, and a show which is clearly aiming to be a quality, intellectual drama, can’t afford to have too many of them or it risks dropping down to the level of programmes like By Any Means, and nobody wants to be down there.

The bar fight over, Grace met with Campbell, and revealed that she no longer feels the need to avenge her father, or in anyway work with the police any more. How fucking convenient, because now Grace can switch sides, having given up everything she previously believed in, and the whole reason she came to the UK, because she has fallen in love with a guy she barely knows.

It’s just not believable. It also makes Grace a pretty poor female character, beholden entirely to a man she loves, who provides all her motivation. Which is a little awkward, considering the show has tried making points about the role of women in a patriarchal society, and yet at the same time has a very 2D and stereotypical female character.

Peaky Blinders BBCGrace gave Campbell the location of the guns before leaving, having worked out that they were buried in the empty grave of Danny, the soldier Tommy pretended to kill in episode one. With the guns recovered, and Grace no longer a police officer, Campbell decided to propose to her.

How obliviously stupid would Campbell need to be to propose to someone he’s had no romantic relationship with at all? It’s an absurd development. Why not just have Campbell ask Grace out or something: ‘Lets get a drink sometime Grace?’ Or profess his love to her, and be rejected? The proposal thing was just implausible.

Grace didn’t accept the proposal, and fled back to Tommy, with the scorned lover Campbell on the war path. He decided to call off the search though, seemingly deciding to let Grace go free, and she and Tommy had some sexy times which I’m not sure I’m that engaged with. I don’t really see much of a burning passion between the two, and I don’t care much about the relationship, especially as we know it’s going to blow up as soon as Tommy finds out that Grace is a spy.

Speaking of which, the fact that Tommy has yet to realise Grace’s true activities is really disappointing. Tommy has been portrayed throughout the show as a very clever man. The cleverest man in the show in fact; very perceptive and able to outwit everyone else. He knows that someone tipped off the police about Freddie’s location last episode. He knows that there is a very small group of people who knew where Freddie was. He knows that Grace is one of these people. He knows that Grace is a persistent liar, who showed up out of nowhere at the same time as Campbell. And yet he – this incredibly clever man – is unable to see that Grace is a spy?

The only excuse I can think of for this is that Tommy is blinded by love, but that would be a really lazy and stupid excuse. Tommy is smart. It’s his key character trait. He should know who Grace is by now.

The episode ended with Arthur trying to kill himself after finding out that his father was trying to con him (gasp!). Tommy brought his brother’s spirits back up by revealing that Campbell had dropped his investigation and that he, Arthur, and their other brother were joint and equal shareholders in a new business venture. Everything is coming up peaky blinders.

Except that Campbell still has some scores to settle and there’s still a rival gang to worry about, with next week’s finale seeing Tommy face off against Billy Kimber. The final episode will hopefully have some tighter writing and less clichés and plot holes, sending the series out on a high.

Random notes:

  • I’m not sure we saw enough of Arthur’s depression to justify his suicide attempt; there was a tiny little bit about war demons or something, and a little into his feelings of impotence, but I think there needed to be more.
  • Not sure I liked the Steadicam shot at the end, swinging around the peaky blinders’ operation. Probably just a personal thing though.
  • The actor playing Arthur Senior had a bit of a dodgy accent. I’ve not commented on the accents on this show – despite them being criticised elsewhere – because I’m not too good at picking up on them, and because I find that when a reviewer criticises an accent, inevitably someone from that region will post in the comments saying the accent is actually dead on. I mean, how many people outside of Birmingham actually know what a Birmingham accent sounds like, beyond the stereotype? With Arthur Senior though, you could hear some Scottish slipping through the Irish performance, and a Wikipedia search confirmed that the actor is indeed from Scotland.

Peaky Blinders Reviews: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four,  …………………… ……..Episode Six

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