I review the third part of BBC Two’s latest historical epic mini-series, Peaky Blinders, starring Cillian Murphy.
We’re three episodes into Peaky Blinders now, and If it continues its stellar form for the last three episodes of the mini-series, then we may see ourselves with one of the best TV series of the year. So far, the only best new show that’s come close to it is Orphan Black, and when you consider that I’ve watched several other new 2013 programs this year from Da Vinci’s Demons to By Any Means, that’s an impressive feat, and Peaky Blinders certainly manages to with this episode at least, cement itself in as being one of the strongest contenders for this award.
This is a show that just continues to get better and better. Whilst Episode 1 was excellent introduction, Episode 2 found itself to excel at character driven sequences. Episode 3 is a mix of the character driven and the more intense storylines focusing on Cillian Murphy’s Tommy Shelby continue to improve the Peaky Blinders’ position in Birmingham, but he’s doing it at the cost of the fact that he now has to have a large amount of enemies – and I’m sure that in the near future, everything will come crumbling down just as quickly as it’s being built. However, it’s fun to watch this episode which seems to improve on the few weaknesses of the last – there’s the Ada/Freddie story was made more interesting with higher stakes, and Winston Churchill wasn’t shoe-horned into this episode to tell the viewer that this is set in the past.
Before we continue, I mentioned in the second paragraph that the Peaky Blinders have a large amount of enemies, and by large amount, there’s quite a considerable number. We have Communists, IRA, the Lee Brothers and Sam Neill’s Inspector Campbell-led Police, along with even Billy Kimber – all gunning for Tommy. It’ll be very interesting to see how this develops over the course of the remaining three episodes, what power-plays are made, and who makes a move to counter Tommy first.
Cillian Murphy puts on another stellar performance this week, which is crucial as the equally stellar writing demands an even greater deal. He’s easily the highlight of the show, and whilst Sam Neill’s Inspector Campbell is a good nemesis for Murphy’s Shelby, I can’t help but wonder if somebody like Gary Oldman would have been cast as Campbell instead, somebody with equal calibre as Murphy. (And then it could trick us into thinking that we’re watching a Christopher Nolan drama, because we all know how he likes to reuse actors – Murphy for example has appeared in The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception). The rest of the cast also shined in yesterday’s episode, with Annabelle Wallis’ superb Grace getting her moment in the limelight, and really impressing, especially as like Murphy, the script demands an awful lot of her this week.
Another highlight in this episode was a scene between Danny, who’s back from his first appearance in Episode 1, and Tommy – both fellow soldiers in World War One, discuss how the after-effects of the war haunt Tommy each night. This show really delivers when it comes to moments like this, for example – the confrontation between Tommy and Inspector Campbell in Episode 2 was equally superb. This episode boasted another highlight as well, mainly the scene where Tommy delivers a pitch to big-shot Billy Kimber, being impressive. If it has any more set-piece moments like these, come the end of this mini-series, Peaky Blinders is certainly going to make life hard for me to decide which one will be my highlight of the series.
If you’ve missed the first three episodes you really should go back and watch this. It’s excellent, and now it’s starting to become apparent that the only flaw may be the weak accents displayed by the cast.
Note: Just for the heads up, reviews of Agents of SHIELD Episode 1 and Orphan Black Episode 3 will be delayed as I will not be able to watch them until tomorrow night, so you can expect reviews of both episodes on Sunday.