Review: Season 4 of Peaky Blinders

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Review: Season 4 of Peaky Blinders

By John Ruberry

Sea­son four of the post First World War-​set British gang­ster drama Peaky Blind­ers returned to Net­flix ten days ago. It aired last month on the BBC.

Read my review of the first three sea­sons here.

For the unini­ti­ated, the show is about, yes, the Peaky Blind­ers; who are named for the razor blades sewn into their flat caps which they use to attack their foes, that is when they are not shoot­ing them. They are a Gypsy orga­nized crime fam­ily headed by Tommy Shelby (Cil­lian Mur­phy). In 1919 Shelby Fam­ily Lim­ited is a noth­ing more than a book­mak­ing oper­a­tion based in the grimy Small Heath neigh­bor­hood of Birm­ing­ham. When sea­son four begins at Christ­mas in 1925 the Peaky Blind­ers oper­a­tion has expanded into Lon­don and it has exten­sive legit­i­mate busi­ness holdings.

Hyman Roth told Michael Cor­leone in The God­fa­ther Part Two, “We’re big­ger than U.S. Steel.” Tommy has no such line Peaky Blind­ers, but it would be cred­i­ble if he did.

The next para­graph is wor­thy of a spoiler alert if you haven’t watched the first three sea­sons.

Sea­son three was a mixed bag for me as the Russ­ian caper that dom­i­nated it was a road to storyline-​nowhere. That sea­son ended with a bang as Tommy rats out the rest of the Shelby fam­ily – and sea­son four picks up from there. And that’s not the only sea­son three hang­over. New York mafioso Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody) is seek­ing vengeance for the mur­der by the Peaky Blind­ers of his father and brother. Brody’s per­for­mance ranks among his best work. As Changretta, there are traces of Robert De Niro as Vito Cor­leone accented with the psy­choses of Joe Pescsi in Good­fel­las.

The 1920s weren’t roar­ing in Great Britain – the econ­omy strug­gled and com­mu­nism gained a foothold within the polit­i­cal sphere. An attrac­tive young com­mu­nist woman. Jessie Eden (Char­lie Mur­phy), is stir­ring up trou­ble in the Shelby fac­to­ries. Hmm, I won­der where that is head­ing? Tommy clearly hasn’t for­got­ten his gam­bling busi­ness roots – he hedges his bets in the strug­gle by also schem­ing with the 1st Baron Stam­ford­ham, the king’s pri­vate secretary.

To fight Changretta Tommy hires another Gypsy, Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen), whose rep­u­ta­tion for evil even unset­tles the other Peaky Blind­ers. Yes, Gillen is Lit­tlefin­ger from Game of Thrones. Gold and Tommy hatch a box­ing match caper involv­ing Jew­ish mob­ster Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy).

There is much blood­shed much betrayal. But Tommy per­se­veres and like a snake slith­er­ing up a flag­pole, he keeps climb­ing despite the odds against him in class-​obsessed Great Britain.

Will Tommy fall? If he does, we’ll have to wait until at least until sea­son five to find out.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

By John Ruberry

Season four of the post First World War-set British gangster drama Peaky Blinders returned to Netflix ten days ago. It aired last month on the BBC.

Read my review of the first three seasons here.

For the uninitiated, the show is about, yes, the Peaky Blinders; who are named for the razor blades sewn into their flat caps which they use to attack their foes, that is when they are not shooting them. They are a Gypsy organized crime family headed by Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). In 1919 Shelby Family Limited is a nothing more than a bookmaking operation based in the grimy Small Heath neighborhood of Birmingham. When season four begins at Christmas in 1925 the Peaky Blinders operation has expanded into London and it has extensive legitimate business holdings.

Hyman Roth told Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part Two, “We’re bigger than U.S. Steel.” Tommy has no such line Peaky Blinders, but it would be credible if he did.

The next paragraph is worthy of a spoiler alert if you haven’t watched the first three seasons.

Season three was a mixed bag for me as the Russian caper that dominated it was a road to storyline-nowhere. That season ended with a bang as Tommy rats out the rest of the Shelby family–and season four picks up from there. And that’s not the only season three hangover. New York mafioso Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody) is seeking vengeance for the murder by the Peaky Blinders of his father and brother. Brody’s performance ranks among his best work. As Changretta, there are traces of Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone accented with the psychoses of Joe Pescsi in Goodfellas.

The 1920s weren’t roaring in Great Britain–the economy struggled and communism gained a foothold within the political sphere. An attractive young communist woman. Jessie Eden (Charlie Murphy), is stirring up trouble in the Shelby factories. Hmm, I wonder where that is heading? Tommy clearly hasn’t forgotten his gambling business roots–he hedges his bets in the struggle by also scheming with the 1st Baron Stamfordham, the king’s private secretary.

To fight Changretta Tommy hires another Gypsy, Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen), whose reputation for evil even unsettles the other Peaky Blinders. Yes, Gillen is Littlefinger from Game of Thrones.  Gold and Tommy hatch a boxing match caper involving Jewish mobster Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy).

There is much bloodshed much betrayal. But Tommy perseveres and like a snake slithering up a flagpole, he keeps climbing despite the odds against him in class-obsessed Great Britain.

Will Tommy fall? If he does, we’ll have to wait until at least until season five to find out.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.