TV Review: Peaky Blinders Series 5

Series 5 of Peaky Blinders plots a particularly dark path for Tommy Shelby but leaves a little too much up in the air – spoilers abound

“It was a consequence of good intentions”

Getting Elliot Cowan into the new series of Peaky Blinders made my heart sing, getting him to play a closeted gay journalist was just gilding the lily, so naturally he didn’t make it past the end of the first episodes. Such are the ways that this show breaks your heart.

As the race through the years carries on apace, we’re now in the time of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the rise of fascism with the arrival of Oswald Mosley, and these two points are the main drivers of this fifth series. The recalibration of the family business to cover their losses, and Tommy’s burgeoning political career serving his increasingly varied ambition.

And as we moved through opium smuggling, football match fixing, assassination attempts and rapidly decompensating mental health, it was a rollercoaster of a season that largely pleased. Tommy and Arthur both coming apart at the seams, while Michael plots and Finn plotzes set up a fascinating generational divide. The addition of Mosley (a venomous Sam Claflin) was an interesting choice, particularly as a real-life figure can’t necessarily carry with him the same dramatic surprises.

I was a little disappointed to see the ‘not-dead!’ trope pop up yet again as fun as it was to see Tom Hardy revisit. And I loved seeing Kate Dickie pop up as a ne’er-do-well Mother Superior, though Charlene McKenna and Elliot Levey’s cameo were both a little perplexing as their characters didn’t pop up again despite seeming like they would. And this sense of dropped story lines is one that permeates through as you realise how much is being left unexplored.

Polly and Aberama’s relationship gets short shrift, Ada feels underserved and the Chinese druglords felt like a strand that could have had more to it. We didn’t see enough of Michael’s new wife Gina too, though I suspect that may come in the next series – would it kill them to commission an extra couple of episodes to really let the full breadth of this world to breathe in its fullness. All in all, definitely looking forward to Series 6.

Photos: Robert Viglasky

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