TV REVIEW: Peaky Blinders – Season 4

Season 4 of Peaky Blinders begins with the Shelby family and their associates separated by the terrible deal Tommy (Cillian Murphy) made at the end of season 3. Feeling betrayed, they are keen to start their own lives away from Tommy and his relentless ambition. When a threat is made by the Changretta family, they will have no choice but to bury their differences and come together.

Season four pulls no punches. Right from the outset there is a shocking death and seeing the once united Shelby family, disillusioned and no longer trusting each other is really upsetting. Every member of the family is obviously traumatised and Tommy is struggling to hold it together, having failed to deal with anything that happened to him during the war or since.

This season brings new enemies and associates, with varying degrees of success. Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody) is excellent as the smooth New York gang leader. He’s obviously a big De Niro fan and has been hitting the Scorcese hard, but it works. The remaining Changretta gang members are totally disposable.

Tommy also faces opposition from the communists around his factory conditions, which leads him into an interesting flirtation with Communist leader, Jessie Eden (Charlie Murphy) but I am not sure I buy their chemistry.

There’s a new association with a gypsy leader called Aberama Gold (Aiden Gillen) who’s boxer son, Bonnie (Jack Rowan) brings some light relief. Aberama gave me the absolute heeb but a completely unleashed, Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) obviously had a different opinon and their rabbit hunting adventures are quite something.

Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) is also back, so is May Carlton (Charlotte Riley). As always Tommy is unsure if Alfie is friend or foe as his loyalty is forever ready to turn on a dime and the interactions between them continue to be one of the best things about the show.

I had mixed feelings about this season. It is exciting to see the Shelbys come up against a foe that actually seems like a real threat. Tommy is clever but the Changrettas are clever too and they have almost unlimited firepower and no qualms when it comes to killing. The family being at odds with each other is uncomfortable to watch although realistic considering what has happened and I struggled a bit with the sense of gloom this cast over the season. One of the things I loved about the earlier seasons was that it was dark and gritty but also very funny and that family trumped all. There is little light in season four. It was great to see a bit more of what Tommy was like before the war and to learn about Polly’s gypsy past but Tommy has become so hard and cold that he is bordering on unlikeable.

That said, it’s a significant improvement on season three and I am excited to see what they do with season 4 and the launch of Tommy’s political career.  I am also interested to see if the taint of being associated with the family continues to spread. In this season its mostly Arthur’s (Paul Anderson) wife Linda (Kate Philips) who is impacted. I wonder if there will ever be a point where it is all too much and Tommy’s dream of respectability is eternally crushed.

4/5

6 Comments

  1. Season 4 was definitely an improvement! I can’t remember ANYTHING from season 3, aside from the final scene.
    But I loved Tommy’s political career and Mr, Changretta. As an Italian, it was pretty stereotypical!
    I can’t wait for season 5!

    1. I just love Adrien Brody so he was always going to be a winner for me.

  2. I agree that the Mafia types in this series were stereotypical. But I confess to still loving every minute of it. 🙂 The thing about Peaky Blinders, is that even when it is at its weakest, it is still so much better that 95% of what else is available on mainstream TV. Because it started so well, perhaps we have unreasonable expectations that it will always get better?
    I can’t wait for the new series!
    Best wishes, Pete

    1. I think it can be tricky with this kind of show because you can only stay on top as a gangster in one way and that is by being ruthless. It’s always good watching a gang come up being the underdogs but once they’re on top it’s hard not to see them as the bad guys.

  3. I liked the first series immensely. Then made it to the end of the second, slightly bored. That is, I feel that the story was already told and now it was just a violent soap opera with no direction. I find I’m getting quite spoiled! It’s getting easier and easier for me to “leave” a series mid through. I think the best ones on television don’t have multiple seasons. Except for a couple (Last Kingdom), I like the ones that tell the story and stop. For example, The Bodyguard. Smashing!

    1. I have loved this series because I loved Tommy and Polly and the family bond between all of them. But the family bond is breaking down and Tommy has become a bit of a knob and I am losing heart a bit.

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