Peaky Blinders: 2.02

If Peaky Blinders episodes were named like Friends episode, episode two of season two would be ‘The One With Tom Hardy’. It’s all anyone was talking about in the run-up to season two, it was his absence in episode one that many people commented on, and it’s the thing everyone is talking about for episode two.
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And rightly so, Hardy has an amazing screen presence, and there’s no shortage of it in his role as Alfie Solomons: Boss of Camden’s gangs, arch-enemy of the violent Sabini, rum distiller and baker. A bruised and beaten Tommy doesn’t appear to be in the same league as his verbal sparring partner, but nonetheless an alliance is formed.
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The other victim of Sabini’s violent attack at the end of the last episode was Ada. We learn that, with the help of agents of the Peaky Blinders, she manages to escape too much harm. Not that’s she’s grateful about it, she wants nothing to do with the gang or that side of the family. But her principles are somewhat softened when Tommy buys her a house.

Aunt Polly gets a house too, but for a more specific purpose: Tommy is going to try and find the children that were taken from her; it’s to be a family. Her joy turns ashen though when he eventually withholds even his partial success from her. The boy is nearly of age, and he’ll be able to make his own choices soon. So, naturally Polly goes off the rails in the newly revamped Garrison pub, with its new, slightly forced, 1920s flapper aesthetic. Not an especially over-the-top night really, but seemingly sufficient to earn her a walk of shame, rammed home by her encountering her long-lost son in the street while she is in a state of some distress.

It’s not just Polly who was going off the rails. Arthur too seemed to be struggling with the past and himself this time, perhaps as this season’s Danny Whizzbang. I have no idea why the Shelby’s decided that giving him cocaine was a good solution to this, but who am I to judge?

Overall, this seemed like an episode of setups, with mere incremental movements: An unread telegram from Grace in New York, Major Campbell’s extortion of Tommy to make him an expendable assassin, the slightly over-acted Sabini… But the highlight of this episode was the introduction of Tom Hardy’s Alfie Solomons. Long may he chew the scenery and steal the show.

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