Peaky Blinders: Episode #1.5

Peaky Blinders is a love story.

In this fifth installment of the premiere season, Tommy and Grace (finally!) get together. And while the circumstances surrounding it are dramatic and somewhat survival-based, it's clearly what both have wanted for some time now. Of course this complicates things, greatly. Grace is, in essence, an undercover cop and Tommy is a reasonably well-known criminal outlier. It's not an accident that Tommy seizes this opportunity with Grace on the heels of two of the more extraordinary life-affecting circumstances to have been offered to the Peaky Blinders narrative.

For one, Tommy and his family are visited upon in this episode by their scoundrel father. Arthur Shelby Sr. (played with wily charm by Son of Anarchy's Tommy Flanagan) drops by just long enough to trigger everyone before he leaves in a cloud of duplicity, presumably once again. Story-wise, the character is not written exactly how you'd imagine their father to be. It's actually 2000 times sadder and more woeful than we could have predicted. And the individual effect Arthur Sr.'s personality has on each of his family members plays for some complicated heavy dynamics. For Tommy and Art Jr., their regard for their father speaks so much louder than the most interesting and detailed exposition might have. They are diametrically opposed, Art Jr. turns into a small boy again, with hope beyond hope for his dad to make good on what had to have been a cascade of promises never realized. Tommy's view of his dad is much more jaded, born out of a self-preservation from years of seeing that his dad was not a substantive figure worth investing in, since Arthur Sr. is a man more willing to trade with tricks and not anything a moral compass might guide. Both men are in essence deeply impacted by their dad and his return ruffles Tommy in significant ways, it might have been the push he needed towards Grace, something he expresses as critical to his safety.

His dad's destabilizing presence certainly bolsters Tommy's motivation to plan and execute a very risky but ultimately rewarding beyond expectation rouse with the IRA. Where Art Jr. collapses under the weight of his dad's lack of character, Tommy fights with everything he has to go exactly against his dad's shortcomings. The IRA situation has been building up tension throughout the season but it's in this episode that Tommy takes the most action to face it head on. He even accounted for the cops to double cross him. And what do you know, they actually did. But the conclusion (albeit most likely temporary) unfolded several key points. Tommy dispatched of the faction of the IRA breathing down his neck. He gave the cops the idea that he'd be willing to work with them in the future. And it further bonded him to Grace since the dramatic circumstances of the killings called forth parts of each of them, to be viewed forever now, through the other's eyes as well as their own.

The night Tommy and Grace spend together following the scene at the bar is quite sweet. It's chaste, careful and delicate. But neither is either one breakable when they're together, so there's a strength in the way they touch each other. I've found you, and you found me. We'll help each other.

Gangster's Paradise

* Black Star Day

* Campbell's marriage 'proposal' to Grace is just, I don't even know. I like that there's a weird and quasi-dramatic triangle there but my lord, there is no competition. (Cillian Murphy, you guys.)

* It was a nice (if that's the word) twist to have Campbell surrender the search for Tommy when he realizes that he's upstairs in Grace's apartment. His retreat was much more telling and effective than forcing that fight.

* I really was worried there for a moment during Arthur Jr.'s suicide attempt.

Quotes

Tommy: "My initials on your backside? That's quite an image."

Campbell: "Is it him between us? Is it him?" (Oh, honey.)

Tommy: "People look different at home."
Grace: "In what way?"
Tommy: "Offguard."

Three out of fours barmaids that don't count.

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