‘Peaky Blinders’ Series 1 finale review

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Alexander the Great always sought new worlds to conquer, and Tommy’s no different. Billy Kimber and his gang of Bugsy Malone rent-a-gangsters are at once the obstacle and the new frontier of horse racing. One more irresistible world to conquer. Tommy and his returned comrades from the trenches have one last battle to wage: Black Star Day.

While it’s the men doing the fighting, Peaky Blinders‘ finale shows that it’s the women who hold the real power. Grace betrays Tommy, Ada Shelby stands in the No Man’s Land between two gangs and prevents a massacre with a mother’s sense, and a resplendent Helen McCrory as Aunt Polly reminds us all, twice no less, that she is the Queen Bee of the Shelby Clan – once in a heart-breaking speech to Ada, and then with an icy takedown of Grace. ‘It’s me who runs the business of the heart in this family’ she tells the doe-eyed spy, and you know she’s not bluffing.

But hearts are being broken left right and centre. Grace has already shattered the lump of iron in Inspector Campbell’s chest, and now she manages to wound herself and Tommy by revealing herself as a spy.


The result is a love triangle that doesn’t quite have the impact that the story feels like it should have. It’s a grumpy cat, a stalk of wheat, and a length of lead pipe having a disagreement (you can decide who’s who), and it feels as though it’s there only to provide dramatic contrast to Tommy’s victory; a lesson that you can win in business or love but not both at the same time.

Indeed, there’s something insubstantial about Episode 6. It’s all talk. Impressive talk – and you can’t fault writer Stephen Knight or the actors bringing his words to life – but there’s very little substance beyond the rhetoric. The bad guys beat the badder guys, and all with startlingly little sacrifice. Not that we need to see blood and bullets, but you come away feeling it’s all just been a bit too easy for Tommy.

Perhaps that’s why the final minute is so powerful though, as Grace is confronted by grumpy cat Campbell’s pistol. It’s a reminder that there’s no such thing as an easy victory in Peaky Blinders. There’s always a price to pay, whether it’s loss of love, life, or Lewis guns.

So, has Grace paid the ultimate price? Campbell did promise to break Tommy Shelby’s heart. But Grace herself is pretty quick with a pistol. Appropriately for a show built on gambling the odds are 50/50. The coin is still up in the air, spinning. Heads, she’s dead. Tails, Campbell fails. Place your bets…

Aired at 9pm on Thursday 17 October 2013 on BBC Two.

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