After what feels like the longest wait in history for a television show to make a post-lockdown comeback, Peaky Blinders and the Shelby clan are finally heading back to our screens with their own brand of violence and razor-edge flat cap mutilation.
To keep fans even further on a knife edge than they already are, the release is being teased as "early 2022," with no official date set at this time. As the new series rolls from the end of the roaring '20s into the politically unstable '30s, our favourite gangsters were suffering the Great Depression as a fallout of the Wall Street Crash of 1929, and the rise of fascism, plus the formation of the Nazi Party. With it being over two years since the end of series five, a memory refresh is in order to remind ourselves of exactly what happened when the last series aired.
Finn Was Shot and Linda Turned Her Back on God
Series five gave us a flashback to 1929 when the Wall Street Crash was kicking off. Michael (Finn Cole), was stationed in the USA to take care of the Shelby Company Limited assets across the water, and he had been instructed by Tommy (Cillian Murphy) to sell all their shares quickly. Michael didn't listen and chose clubs, drugs, and Anya Taylor-Joy (as his scheming love interest Gina) over doing what he was told. A furious Tommy then called Arthur (Paul Anderson) to tell him "we've lost the lot." Tommy, after a further altercation with his son Charlie (Jenson Clarke) over a lame horse having to be shot, is cursing that nobody ever listens to him. He was married to poor Lizzie (Natasha O'Keeffe), who was still playing second fiddle to Grace (Annabelle Wallis), and she knew it. Finn (Harry Kirton) received an inevitable Shelby initiation and took his first bullet while on company business in Chinatown, which was later removed by Aberama Gold (Aiden Gillen).
Linda appeared to turn her back on God and turned to drugs, something she had always been careful to shun. She had delusions of grandeur about Arthur taking over the family business and not just being left to do the shady stuff. Ada (Sophie Rundle) thought that the Shelby's had moved on from their bad name and their terrible past and understandably was in for a shock. Ada was pregnant at the time, and the father was Colonel Ben Younger (Kingsley Ben-Adir), which nobody saw coming. Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) was having a jolly good time in Monte Carlo when she heard about Michael's indiscretions, and she had an insurmountable level of regret that she had to return to Birmingham to find out exactly what had been going on.
Oswald Mosley Made His First Appearance
After Tommy became an MP, he was regularly seen giving rousing speeches in the Houses of Parliament, where he caught the attention of Oswald Mosley, played with enough rage-inducing smarminess and pomposity to put your teeth on edge, by Sam Claflin. Tommy and Mosley had several meetings, where Mosley tried to recruit Tommy for business matters geared toward his dreams of fascist revolution, but he didn't let on to Tommy about his ideals at the beginning. Instead, Mosley acted to enrage the entire Shelby family with his maddening superiority and troublemaking. Tommy decided that Mosley must be stopped and formed a plot with Younger to infiltrate his party and take them down from within.
We Discover The Billy Boys
During episode two, Tommy was perplexed to find an effigy of himself on a cross in his front garden and dashed out to it with a machine gun before realising he'd just run through a shed load of landmines to get to it. The gun acted as a handy bomb disposal device as he blasted them all out of the ground with it. Tommy received a phone call from the IRA telling him they had intercepted Michael about to sell him out to fellow rival razor gang Glasgow-based The Billy Boys, who wanted to take control of the Shelby racetracks. Tommy and Polly went to meet Michael with Polly looking iconic and formidable as she turned stonily to face him, donning a sharp suit and a death stare. Tommy and Polly grilled Michael about the reason the IRA called Tommy to rat out Michael, whose appearance added to a growing sense of paranoia for a Tommy who is clearly getting close to the edge.
In the midst of sipping opioids for breakfast, and power struggles, Tommy was having dreams about black cats. It was clearly a sign that somebody was trying to usurp him, with all evidence pointing to Michael. Adding to Tommy's paranoia, The Billy Boys were hell-bent on getting their message about turf sharing through to Tommy, and lead by Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson) they found out where his current hitman-for-hire, Aberama, was camped out. They marched to his caravan singing a cheery ditty about surrendering or dying (which is a song the actual Protestant fascist gang sang in real life when they stomped about the streets exerting their authority). Aberama was shot in in the arm, and his son Bonnie (Jack Rowan) was hoisted onto a crucifix and shot in the head, as a violent message to Tommy that they wouldn't stop until they got what they wanted.
Aberama Needed Revenge, but Tommy Needed Him to Wait
Aberama was hell-bent on avenging Bonnie's death, and once again, Tommy had a plan. Episode three saw Aberama, assisted by Polly (of all people), making his way to Glasgow anyway. His tribe of gypsies beat up some Billy Boys and poured tar over the face of one of their crew, both as an act of as revenge and of warning. Tommy was livid and continued to say that nobody listens to him. In retaliation, The Billy Boys headed straight to Aberama's camp, but Arthur and Aberama were one step ahead and evacuated the camp, trapping the tents and caravans with grenades. The resulting explosions sent a few Billy Boys flying skywards in a ball of flames, and of course, McCavern remained untouched. In fact, he looked disconcertingly delighted and was over the moon to have further reason to start a war with Tommy. As an aside, Polly spent her 45th birthday helping Aberama do exactly what Tommy didn't want him to and threatening some nuns who had been mistreating orphaned children in their care. Tommy then moved all of the children to one of his Grace Shelby Foundation orphanages, where hopefully they have a much happier life.
In the meantime, Linda decided she wanted to divorce Arthur and sought solace in a Quaker meeting hall, where she was encouraged to find God again. Finding out that Linda has been talking to a man at the meetings, albeit innocently, didn't stop Arthur from putting a stop to it, and he left the poor man alive but without a face. Arthur and Finn were tasked with making some quick money for the Shelby company following their heavy losses and decided football match fixing is the way to go. They then recruited ex-professional footballer turned pub singer Billy Grade (Emmett J. Scanlan) to help them with this, and poor Billy became increasingly terrified of the unstable Arthur throughout the series. The amazingly named Brilliant Chang (Andrew Koji) brought even more opportunity for moneymaking, as he offered the Peaky's the chance to help him import and export opium, to which they agreed.
Lizzie's Birthday Party Was Eventful
Episode four took us to a party at Tommy's place for Lizzie's birthday. Linda gatecrashed in an attempt at retribution for Arthur's horrific act of leaving her Quaker friend faceless and pulled a gun on him but was intercepted by Polly, who shot first and took Linda down. In the second bullet to the arm of the series, Linda wasn't dead and had the bullet pulled from her arm, ironically by Polly, who was responsible for it being there in the first place. Arthur watched her drift in and out of consciousness all night, thinking she'd wake up and miraculously want to stay married to him, but that wasn't the case.
Mosley was also in attendance at the party, and it became clear that he once had relations with Lizzie when she was a nightclub hostess, much to Tommy's chagrin and Polly's amusement. After a beautiful ballet performance took place, Mosley insulted everything about the party and gave a long speech to rally attendees to his fascist cause. He spent the night at Tommy's and left the next day full of more sanctimonious disdain for the Shelbys than he arrived with. Aberama's ill-disguised feelings for Polly also came to a head at last, and Tommy offered her up as some sort of prize, on the condition that he would put his Billy Boys revenge plans on hold. Aberama did as he was told and ended up proposing to Polly at the party, and she agreed.
Mosley's Plan Was Revealed
Mosley finally reveals his real plans to Tommy that he wants him to hand over his northern racetracks to The Billy Boys (he's always denied knowing them, but he does in fact know them). They are to provide security to the northern strand of his fascist party, and the Peaky Blinders will provide it for the Midlands strand. Tommy, filled with morphine, morphine-induced visions of Grace, and declining mental health, decides that assassination of Mosley is the only way to go. Meanwhile, Arthur attends to the first shipment of Brilliant Chang's opium, only to find he's been beaten up by the Titanic Boys, who then open fire on the Peaky Blinders. Nobody knew which day and time they were going to be there, and Arthur is enraged (standard) and perplexed. Later, a sleuthing Tommy works out that it was actually their faithful barman that was listening to their plans through the hatch into their private room at The Garrison and had given them up. Arthur is actually quite devastated when Tommy gives him a bullet to the face for his treachery.
We Witnessed the Demise of Colonel Ben Younger
Ada's relationship with Younger wasn't given much screen time throughout the series, and fans of the show were rarely sure about what was the going on with them. The relationship is rarely seen from Younger's side, because after he visited Tommy for the latest communist/fascist update during episode five, his car exploded just as he was about to drive away. When told of Younger's demise, Ada admitted that she was yet to tell him she was pregnant, but also that she didn't love him and never intended to marry him. Ada was left desolate by the sheer unjustness of it all and alone for the second time with a fatherless child. Tommy had no time to dissect her emotions about the situation because he had assassination plans to put into place. He began by breaking a former comrade of his, a talented sniper, out of an asylum to carry out the deed. Mosley was also planning a huge fascist rally, and sniper Barney (Cosmo Jarvis) was to be planted somewhere hidden by Tommy. The Billy Boys provided the security at the event, and Aberama was promised that he could exert revenge on McCavern at the same time, assassinating two birds with one stone.
Michael Made His Claim to Be Head of Shelby Company Limited
At a family meeting during episode six, Michael did nothing to bring himself back into favour and instead announced that he should be the head of Shelby Company Limited and take it to America. He delivered a lengthy monologue outlining why he'd be the better choice than anyone else and even delivered a folder of business plans to Tommy that would make Lord Sugar proud. Tommy responded by throwing them straight into the fire, and with Michael's speech over with and business concluded, Tommy can get on with fascist assassination plans. He found his helping hands in the form of Alfie Solomons, who survived his bullet to the face and ended up living out his gangster retirement in Margate. Alfie agreed to send a number of Jewish men to rile up the fascists at Mosley's rally and provided a distraction while all the murdering took place. Except . . . there was another rat in the midst. Somebody gave up Tommy, and his plan was foiled. The sniper became the sniped, and Aberama was stabbed to death. Mosley and McCavern lived on, leaving Tommy broken and desperate, with the final scene showing him putting a gun to his head.
At the end of series five, we were left with a lot of unanswered questions. Who did betray Tommy? Will The Billy Boys usurp the Peaky Blinders? How many incarnations of Red Right Hand will series six hold? So there's no doubt that series six will hold plenty of drama. The trailer highlights the return of Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards), who left in a cloud of anger when John died. The brilliant Stephen Graham also appears to plays a part in the new series, and we can't wait to find out more about his role. The trailer also sees Tommy telling Alfie Solomons "I think you've just written your final act, Alfie", hinting that we might finally say goodbye to the charismatic gangster whose death has eluded Tommy for so long.
Stay tuned for more updates about the new series hitting our screens in February.