Peaky Blinders: can Season 3 play another blinder?
As Season 3 of the BBC’S atmospheric period crime series opens, two years have passed since we last met Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). He’s now married to the lovely Grace (Annabelle Wallis), living the high life in a plush Warwickshire country house, and they have a little son, Charlie. All seems serene, with the grime and danger of ’20s industrial Birmingham far away. Tommy even promises Grace he’ll go legit from now on.
But this being the Shelby clan, things can’t stay tranquil for long. A group of White Russian aristos, looking for help in their struggle against the Soviet government, are offering a fortune in Romanov jewellery. Meanwhile John (Joe Cole), Tommy’s volatile younger brother, resents the Shelbys’ secretary Lizzie Stark (Natasha O’keeffe) stepping out with one of the rival Italian Changretta family – and takes drastic action to make his feelings known. The consequences will be horrendous.
Third seasons frequently suffer something of a falling-off – but Steven Knight’s drama goes from strength to strength. The darkness grows darker, the psychological twists ever more labyrinthine. The choice of music – Queens Of The Stone Age, Radiohead, and of course Nick Cave’s “Red Right Hand,” played over the end credits – is spot on.
There’s also a formidable cast in this series: the peerless Paddy Considine is a creepily menacing priest and Gaite Jansen plays a seductively amoral Russian princess, while Tom Hardy, acting up a storm, makes a welcome return as Jewish gang boss Alfie Solomons. Helen Mccrory finds new depths in her portrayal of formidable matriarch Aunt Polly. As for Murphy, his Tommy Shelby – those hooded eyes dark-blue pools of banked suffering and fury – now surely qualifies as one of the finest small-screen performances of the decade.
The sixth and last episode rises to a nail-biting triple climax, the three-way action skilfully intercut to maximise tension, before quietening down to what seems like a valedictory finale. But Knight has a last devious trick up his sleeve – the cruellest and most unexpected betrayal of all. The repercussions can only be guessed at. Two more seasons of Peaky Blinders are promised; it’s an irresistible prospect.
The look of Peaky Blinders has the intensity of childhood recollections... of awful events.