The Peaky Blinders are the proverbial cockroach still alive after nuclear holocaust. The rat that can squeeze through the tiniest hole. Tonight, they narrowly escaped their most existentially perilous situation yet.
The season 4 finale opened with excitement and nerves building over the impending boxing match, with Lizzie telling the Shelby matriarchs about her being pregnant with Tommy's baby, a fun scene filled with laughter that showed just how much the characters have accepted their descent into criminality, Linda doing lines off the bathroom sink and Ada enjoying a (somewhat) glamorous life - communist ideals thrown to one side.
As precocious gypsy boxer Bonny began toying with Goliath in the ring, the Peaky Blinders were looking shifty in the audience, their eyes darting around, anticipating ambush. The last episode seemed to promise a big set-piece here but it never really came to pass, two lone attackers quite efficiently, even perfunctorily disposing of Arthur before being rounded up and killed by the gaggle of gang members still standing.
After this scene swiftly moved on to Arthur's funeral and then the gang strategising the next move, I was feeling a little disappointed. Why did the boxing ring altercation feel so flat and devoid of intrigue? Why was the death of one of the show's biggest characters moved past with barely a tear shed?
Fortunately, these questions would be answered as, with the Shelbys seemingly on the ropes, Changretta came to Birmingham to claim their empire. He demanded fealty, but Tommy had other plans, revealing that Arthur's death had been faked in order to bring Luca to the table and that he had cut a deal with one of Luca's rivals, a little-known mafioso by the name of Al Capone, thus switching the loyalty of Luca's avaricious henchmen. This was a tantalising name to throw in the mix, and it will be interesting to see whether it crops up again and/or we see Capone in person in the fifth (and probably final) season.
Changretta underestimated the Peaky Blinders, then, although he did have a point about the gang's size. Arthur may be back, but still, having the pubescent and meek Finn as the third highest ranking man in the gang makes them look a bit silly. This has irked me a little for a while now - we're supposed to believe the Peaky Blinders are this small, yes, but dominant force that can take on international outfits but we never see more than about eight of them in one room. I don't need more leaders, but a congregation of all the armed people loyal to them wouldn't hurt at some point, plot believability-wise.
After being bloodied by Tommy, Changretta was dealt a bullet by Arthur, and for the first time in a long time the Shelbys could finally rest easy. It was even suggested that Tommy go on holiday, though the golfing life was not for him, his attempts to unwind being plagued by war flashbacks/paranoia and guilt over his many sins.
"|t's just myself talking to myself about myself," Tom said of his condition, lost in his past with no plans for global business domination to distract him. It was a slickly executed breakdown set movingly to Radiohead's 'Pyramid Song', but didn't really lead to any epiphanies (though maybe that was the point).
Heading back to the bookies where he belongs, Tommy revealed he "had an idea", prompting an "oh fuck" from Polly. Apparently determined to ruin every romance he ever had, he lied to union leader Jessie about supporting her cause, earning himself a shag but certainly untold grief further down the line. Promising to be a mole in the cause for the government, he earned a brazen reward, being put on the ballot paper and winning an election to parliament as a representative for Labour. That's right, it's Thomas Shelby MP now.
This was a very clear-cut ending that leaves a ton of opportunities for what could be the final season (the show was envisioned as consisting of five). Will the next threat come from the multiple American crime families the Shelbys are now tangled up in? The crown? The army? One thing's for sure, this has been an exhilarating fourth season. Better than the third, it was seen some phenomenal acting, consistently strong and delicate writing and impeccable production design. The best drama on British TV, though that isn't always saying a lot.
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