Peaky Blinders is not a great show. On average, I’d say it’s a good show. It has its moments where it flirts with maybe not greatness, but being very good, but there are also some not-so-good parts of the show. So I think that when all is said and done and the dust settles, declaring Peaky Blinders a good show feels right.
As the show heads into its final season, it’s become somewhat predictable, but no less entertaining. Each season follows something of a similar cycle, complete with the introduction of new enemies and strategies to deal with said enemies, a few double-crosses, a handful of tense family meetings, and by the time the season is over a neat and tidy resolution. Well, except for the fifth season, which ended in an amped-up rush tumbling into foggy murkiness. Although even the final act of the season five finale wasn’t all that surprising, especially if you knew anything about British history. It was no less compelling though.
And that seems to be the magic of Peaky Blinders, that even in their perceived weaker moments, the visual aesthetic, ambiance, performances, and soundtrack can lift it up and save the day.
I recently got back into the show after abandoning the narrowboat in the midst of season three. The repetition was wearing on me then and that coupled with being a new parent, didn’t sit well with my growing lack of patience and precious free time I had to actually watch something. Plus I couldn’t really understand a word they were saying. So I bailed and for the most part, felt fine with my decision.
But then I was compelled to return to Birmingham, this time with the captions on and pretty low expectations. Both helped and I made my way through seasons three through five pretty quickly, something that is admittedly pretty easy to do as they are only six episodes each. Could each season be at least ten episodes? Definitely. Peaky Blinders does love to yadda yadda themselves some plot, content to let Tommy explain things that happened when the time is right. Plus, why waste time showing something happening, something that may be crucial to one of Tommy’s beloved strategies when you could show Tommy walking in slow motion through the streets of Birmingham for the fifth time in an episode, am I right?
Speaking of those slow-motion shots, that’s just one of a few things that are easily the best part of the show.
The Slow-Motion Walking Shots
They’re so good even if half the time you get the feeling that they’re only happening because they look cool. And for some reason, there are parts of Birmingham where fire is somehow shooting sideways out of buildings and you put some Shelbys striding menacingly in front of a fireball or two and you’re golden. Not even the introduction of automobiles can get in the way of there being some kind of need for the Shelbys to do some walking. My favorite is when they’re basically just walking across the street but it still happens in intense slow-motion with hammering rock music playing.
When Arthur Says “By Order Of The Peaky Blinders”
It sounds like the words are coming from the deepest parts of his belly, gathering strength and anger as they make their way to his mouth, and by the time they get there, they are the embodiment of doom, growled with the ferocity of a coked-up grizzly bear with PTSD from World War I.
When The Rock Music Abruptly Stops
From the beginning, Peaky Blinders has been in love with a certain kind of rock music. Early on, it was bands like Royal Blood or The Arctic Monkeys and while they’ve branched out since the show has a type: big guitars, thumping drums, a chorus fit for anthems that fill all corners of even the most dilapidated arenas. There was a point in the show’s fifth season, where Tommy is standing on a bridge and “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath plays and I was so happy for the show.
You know “War Pigs” had been their white whale since it started. And finally, they got it. Good for them.
The Joy Of Weird & Hard To Understand Tom Hardy
Tom Hardy’s character, Alfie Solomons, was a fun addition to the show, but fuck all, what the hell was he saying. If there’s an argument to be made for why watching Peaky Blinders with the captions on is helpful, it’s a scene Hardy is in. Once you get those captions, you really get to marvel at the now customary Hardy absurdity and gleeful mumblecore that is Alfie.
Bullets With Names On Them
When The Peaky Blinders pledge to kill someone, they don’t just put that person’s name down on a sticky note. No. They scratch it into a bullet and then save that bullet. But wouldn’t it be kind of logistically problematic? What happens if you get the chance to shoot the person whose name is on the bullet but the bullet is in your other jacket? Do you wait? Do you quickly scrawl the name on another bullet? I feel like that as cool as I would find this, I’d also be stressed out by it. I’m very process-driven, mate.
Briefly Retired Arthur’s Look At The Beginning Of Season Four
Arthur is a fascinating character on Peaky Blinders. He could be incredibly one-note but my man has levels to him and at the beginning of season four, a year after nearly being hung, he has set out for a quiet life and literally let his hair down. You knew it wouldn’t last but I liked catching a glimpse of what retired Arthur looks like, an Arthur who is able to escape his gangster, Peaky-life. It might never happen again, so at least we’ll have the memories
When The Shelbys Talk Gypsy
The further along the series has gone, the further removed we’ve gotten from remembering the Shelbys gypsy background. But just when you had almost completely forgotten about where they came from, they have a scene where two members of the family yell at each other in Gypsy. I do love that part of the show, how it highlights the weirdness that lurks in the foothills of rural England.
Johnny Dogs For Life
Just look at this guy:
That’s a guy you want in your corner. Johnny Dogs is a ride-or-die. Love Johnny Dogs.
Adrian Brody’s Movie Mafia Guy Impersonation
In season four, the new antagonist for Tommy is Luca Changretta, the son of a local mob leader Arthur killed in season three. Luca, played by Adrien Brody, comes to Birmingham for revenge, to enact a vendetta as he so frequently says. And that, like everything else he says during the season is said in a way I would best describe as mob movie karaoke. Brody’s Luca is equal parts Vito Corleone, Robert DeNiro, and Paul Sorvino. It’s cute.
Curly doesn’t do or say a lot but he doesn’t have to. I ride with Curly. Curly is my dude.