Picking up two years after the events of season one, Peaky Blinders season two is once again focused on Tommy Shelby’s (Cillian Murphy) relentless ambition. Having taken clear control of Birmingham’s underworld with a focus on the legitimate site of the betting industry, Tommy has his sights set on London. The London gangs are not going to roll over without a fight though and playing the Italian and Jewish gangs against each other is not as simple as he immediately thinks.
If looking to the future wasn’t challenging enough several ghosts of Tommy’s past have resurfaced from his lost love Grace, to the sinister Major Campbell (Sam Neill), his estranged father and Polly’s (Helen McCrory) son, Michael (Finn Cole).
After the brilliance of season one of Peaky Blinders it’s hard to imagine that season two could match up, but it certainly does. Cillian Murphy takes Tommy Shelby to new heights managing to convey a world of emotion and intent with barely a look, a rare skill since he is a character of few words. It is exciting to see Tommy take on unfamiliar new worlds, including that of the world of race horse ownership and posh bird shagging and conquer them… although not without being forced to face some of his limitations.
While Tommy is once again the central character, watching Arthur’s (Paul Anderson), naivete and desperation for love drive him to brutality is both gripping and disturbing. However the character with the most development is unquestionably, Polly. Understanding more of Polly’s past, her motivations and her potential undoing is fascinating and Helen McCrory is outstanding. She brings darkness, humour, vulnerability and sensuality to a character who has suffered, triumphed and gained rare respect considering how women were viewed at the time.
Both Noah Taylor and Tom Hardy are excellent as the respective heads of the Italian and Jewish gangs that the Shelbys must face and watching how they approach the Birmingham threat and each other is great. And of course I can’t forget Sam Neill who manages to make Campbell more loathsome than ever.
Basically I loved it. It’s as good as the first season, if not a little better.