The Shelby family's time on TV has come to a close with a final season that was as action-packed as it was emotionally heavy.
After almost a decade of gracing Britain's televisions, Steven Knight's Peaky Blinders has waved goodbye to broadcast TV. The series that started in 2013 concluded its sixth season last night, with a final, extended episode that ties up many of the show's interwoven narrative arcs, and also provides a timeless and fitting ending for Cillian Murphy's Thomas Shelby - at least as a TV character that is. While I'll refrain from spoilers over the course of this review, it should be made clear first and foremost that Peaky Blinders isn't over yet. There is set to be a movie coming in the near future, a movie that aims to truly conclude this gangster drama, and with this being the case Season 6, while truly excellent across the board, doesn't burn bridges in the same way that we've seen other great TV series end.
But what exactly does Season 6 aim to do? Well it's a season of tying up loose ends more than anything. What is going to happen to the Shelbys in this new era where they find themselves on the world stage? How will the growing rise of fascism affect the world and Shelby Company Limited? How does the rift between Tommy and Michael Gray end up being approached? And likewise, how does the show appropriately send off the wonderful late Helen McCrory's Polly Gray? Pretty much every question we could want answered finds a solution in one way or another, but at the same time several new issues and problems for Tommy pop up, many of which challenge the gang's boss emotionally and physically in ways he never could've imagined beforehand.
Just because the theme is to wrap up the many extended storylines, that doesn't mean this season isn't crammed with entertaining action and drama. The start of the season is more similar to the later seasons, and sees Tommy and Co. navigating politics and an increasingly civilised world. Tommy is looking to create a legitimate and "good" legacy, one where he genuinely helps people - something that is hard to see as less than a last ditch effort to balance out all the bad deeds he has committed in the past. But then, as the season progresses we begin to see the early Peaky Blinders crawl out of the woodworks again, as Tommy, Arthur, and the rest of the gang get their hands dirty. The gang and criminal action that first catapulted this series to greatness becomes a major point once again, and needless to say, blood flows and bodies fall.
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While the narrative is top-tier, and perhaps the best we've ever seen from the show, so are the performances from the cast. Murphy is iconic, timeless and exceptional as the increasingly distant and apathetic Tommy. Paul Anderson shows two sides of the coin that is Arthur Shelby, by portraying both an opium addicted Arthur but also the ruthless, fearless, and aggressive character that we first got introduced to years ago. Then to round out the Shelby family, we have Sophie Rundle (Ada Shelby) taking centre stage as the lead actress, and playing a character that has found a new role in the family: to be the rooted, firm, intelligent figure to offset the savage nature of her brothers, a role previously occupied by Aunt Polly. And the rest of the cast also do brilliant jobs bringing to life their characters, be it Natasha O'Keeffe's Lizzie who takes a far bigger role, Finn Cole's Michael who fully embraces the antagonist position, or several of the returning stars (be it Tom Hardy, Anya Taylor-Joy, or Sam Claflin) or new faces that drop in for some extra narrative oomph.
The story and acting is brilliant, and so is the product as a whole. Between the eerie and loud rock and roll soundtrack, the eye-catching set pieces, and the top quality costume design, you can tell that this season is the conglomerated learnings of almost a decade of bringing this series to fans. It provides a conclusion that will truly satisfy and remain iconic for years upon years, and yet does so in such a way that it sets up the one final outing, a crescendoing finale that will hopefully, if produced to a similar quality to this season, be met with thunderous applause.
There is no doubting that Peaky Blinders is the best drama the BBC has produced in the last decade, perhaps ever, and this season does a whole lot to affirm that, even if Sherlock and the imminently ending Killing Eve might have a lot to say about that. If you haven't had a chance to watch this show, but enjoy an enthralling drama or crime/gangster series, then be sure to sprinkle some Peaky Blinders into your life, because you will absolutely not be disappointed.