Peaky Blinders season 3 episode 4 review: Tommy Shelby breaks the fourth wall while on death’s door

Cillian Murphy truly excelled himself tonight

Christopher Hooton
Thursday 26 May 2016 17:06
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Cillian Murphy gave his best performance to date in Peaky Blinders this week, and arguably one of the best of his career - the embodiment of drug-addled fear, agony and menace.

The episode’s first half belied its crushing latter, injecting some rare lightness into proceedings as Polly went on a bender, the boys went hunting and the woman of the Shelby clan went on strike.

There was only a brief blip of mania amongst this, as Duchess Tatiana toyed with Tommy in his own home. The scene played out beautifully, with Tommy’s reaction to her self-confessed madness oscillating between fury and desire. The duchess looked destined to only be a minor character but established herself as more worthy of Tommy’s (and our) consideration in this episode, a complex individual played enchantingly by newcomer Gaite Jansen who may be more of a kindred spirit to Tommy than deceased wife Grace (who, lovely though she was, never felt like the right fit for him).

The episode’s violent turn came when Paddy Considine’s deeply sinister priest Father John Hughes got the upper hand in his conspiratorial chess game with Tommy, having the Shelby leader’s jaw crushed and drugging him.

The final few minutes saw Tommy lurching between business engagements sweaty, unstable and barely able to stay conscious following the attack - scrambling to get his family safe and running on cocaine and tea alone.

In an incredibly dramatic finish, Tommy instructed his sister Ada to warn the hospital that he would probably be unconscious by the time he made it there, suffering from “a fractured skull, concussion, internal bleeding and haemorrhaging”.

Apparently accepting his own death (which, don’t worry, I’m sure won’t quite come - yet) he even broke the fourth wall a little, staring down the lens of the camera and addressing not the viewer but, ominously, his much-maligned dead father.

The 'robbery then retirement' plan always sounded too good to be true, and this beatdown is classic episode 4 of 6 stuff, setting up for Tommy to exact revenge once he’s convalesced in episode 5 and 6.

Consistently brilliantly written and shot television.

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