The Shelby family returned to our screens as the latest ominous enemy is out with the intention to eliminate the entire family, who are forced to re-kindle with their roots in the smoke and mud of Small Heath.
*** Spoilers from previous seasons ahead ***
For Tommy Shelby, the dream was to move up from where he started. He calls himself a ‘businessman’ now, but someone should have reminded him that where you grow up will always be ingrained in you. “You smell of smoke and coal and horses. You are back where you belong, Tommy” says the eccentric Camden based gangster, Alfie Solomons at one point.
The return to Small Heath is specifically conspicuous and has done the show a world of good after fortune and fame for the characters swung the show in season 3 in a disappointingly predictable direction. We’ve been told a rag to riches story up until now, and with money available in abundance nothing the Shelby family want seems out of reach. But this season really does ring bells of the cliché ‘there’s nothing like home’. The show continues to exude an air of the working-class dream, where those who dream shall get anywhere they want which can be easier to relate to when compared to the aristocrat snobby universe of lords and ladies in Downton Abbey. If anything, Peaky Blinders is an antidote to such shows of British class-based clichés.
Glorious images make the narrow, sludge entrenched streets of Small Heath look half-decent, the fabulous edits combined with some truly remarkable scenes really allow the quality of the drama to shine through. Steven Knight, the creator and writer, once again, didn’t disappoint as there are even more classic Blinder’s daily activities including chugging back whiskey, unpredictable moments from Arthur Shelby, who’s beginning to look more and more like Barry from the Chuckle Brothers, and twists and turns that draw you into the murky world of Tommy Shelby’s risky lifestyle.
The money chasers land in trouble with an old enemy who is seeking a vendetta against the entire Shelby cohort to avenge for a murder that leaves the head goon tasting the bitter feeling of regret, only for a teeny tiny moment, before returning to the confident swagger of his usual self, because Tommy Shelby always has a plan.
Tommy’s life is like a chess game and he has finally met an opposition of his stature. His world tumbles down from the comfort brought by money in his brand-new mansion, as he returns to his days as a boy and small-time gambling rookie, in Small Heath. It just felt right to see the entire Shelby family retreat to their hometown amongst the ordinary working-class people, providing a stark reminder of where they have come from. It’s where they go when they are vulnerable and rightly so, there are moves on the chess board that lead to painful losses, but also mini victories, leaving you guessing as to who will be crowned the winner and claim checkmate.
One of the best things about this season is the development of the women’s roles within the gang, who go toe to toe with the lads, producing some empowering one-liners. Aunt Pol’s had her fair share of woes but after we see her escape the jaws of death and men alike (we all cheered when she shot and killed Inspector Campbell right?), she’s arisen a new woman, not afraid to put everything on the line, after all as she says, “why should the boys have all the fun?”. The Peaky Blinders are cult heroes that are now beginning to seep into popular culture as the working-class dream personified and that where the show has produced something quite special.
By order of the Peaky Blinders, the Brummy gangsters will return in 2019 after the BBC confirmed a fifth season of the show. All episodes of season 4 are available to stream on Netflix.
Cast: Cillian Murphy, Helen McCory, Paul Anderson, Joe Cole, Sophie Rundle, Finn Cole, Harry Kirton, Aimee-Ffion Edwards, Natasha O’Keeffe, Kate Phillips, Tom Hardy, Aidan Gillen, Jack Rowan, Adrien Brody, Charlotte Riley and Charlie Murphy.