Peaky Blinders: 3.01
At least, brand new Peaky Blinders! Last season was solid, with decent viewing figures, and Tom Hardy's star power drawing in new audience. The quality largely stayed high, though the series felt a little rushed overall; it suffered a bit from Second Season Syndrome. This is when the first season of a single-writer show is worked on over a long period of time, polished and tweaked, refined and made perfect; but then it’s a runaway success and the studio asks for the same level of genius in a second season, but with half the time to do so. What often happens then is that elements that reviewed well in season one, are exaggerated and emphasised, often to the point they are no longer recognisable. Where season one of the show was applauded for its strong female characters, then second season seemed to take the idea of that, and apply it thickly and crudely. The result was that instead of characters being strong in the man’s world of the Blinders in their own ways, they had to be shown to be strong by surviving sexual assault, repeatedly.
We left Thomas Shelby preparing for a wedding, to whom we didn’t know. And the ominous warning that Winston Churchill would want words, and likely actions, from him in the near future. Two years later, and it’s a joyous wedding day; as joyous an event as can be serenaded by Nick Cave that is. I won’t spoil who the bride is, but anyone who has read my previous reviews of the series will probably be able to guess my reaction to the reveal. The very opposite reaction that some of the more stuffy wedding guests had at seeing that old comrade-in-arms Jeremiah Jesus was the vicar marrying the couple.
Grace’s extended family contains several officers of the cavalry, gentleman who see themselves as naturally better than the Shelby’s. There’d be rivalry between them even if there wasn’t animosity between cavalry and the ground troops, so the Shelby’s see it as natural provocation them even being there. It’s all Tommy can do to restrain them, when it suits him, on this of all days.
But it wouldn’t be a gathering of Shelby’s without business. New business. Russian business, that Aunt Polly knows all about, but Tommy’s brothers don’t. Guns and revolutions, Winston Churchill and government plots. And a Georgian Duchess who’s likely to be no end of trouble.
Another new cast member is Ruben Oliver, played by Alexander Siddig last seen on Game of Thrones, a charismatic painter that catches Polly’s eye. Another romance? Or another play by dangerous players?
Peaky Blinders excels in its relationships: Tommy and Grace’s love for each other, Pol’s distrust of Grace, Tommy’s brothers love for each other. It’s always been an important factor and season three kicks this off well. Equally, the music choices are more carefully handled than last season, deftly placed pieces of modernity amidst the period drama, like the little explosions of violence that the show is best known for by some.
Overall, a great new start in very different surroundings to where we began in season one.