Peaky Blinders Season 6 Review: Cillian Murphy's Thomas Shelby comes 'full circle' in an epic series finale
Peaky Blinders comes full circle for Cillian Murphy's Tommy Shelby in the finale. Read Pinkvilla's review below.
Peaky Blinders Season 6
Peaky Blinders Season 6 Cast: Cillian Murphy, Sam Claflin, Paul Anderson
Peaky Blinders Season 6 Creator: Steven Knight
Streaming Platform: Netflix
Peaky Blinders Season 6 Stars: 3.5/5
If you have been on the six-season journey of Peaky Blinders, the final act of the famed BBC series seems apt given how it all started. Over the years, the Shelby family has moved in different phases from starting out as a street gang in Birmingham to usurping at the top among Britain's most influential people thanks to the ambition of one man, Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Although it's not power and money that drives Tommy but in fact, it's his way of dealing with his internal demons, the haunting memories of the war that he chooses to suppress with the greed of ambition and the formation of a legacy.
Despite his mental health being a concern from the first time we meet him, Tommy (Murphy) truly finds himself at his most vulnerable and broken self in the finale season. Over the seasons we watch him escape death on multiple occasions and it almost makes us forget that he is in fact a mortal man in the end and the last season is a reminder of that as he battles his emotional and physical strength in the final act. While one would have expected the last season of the show to be an emotional one as it all comes to a close, it turned out to be even more sombre than we imagined considering the loss of actress Helen McCrory last year, which forced the makers to give a send-off to the series' most beloved characters, Polly Grey aka Aunt Polly. Her absence makes the final goodbye tougher than ever.
After the fifth season of the show ended with a botched assassination attempt of fascist leader Oswald Mosely (Sam Claflin), the sixth season kicks off after a four-year jump to 1933. We meet a changed Tommy (Cillian Murphy), in 1933, who has given up alcohol in an attempt to clear his mind of the dark thoughts that follow him post the death of Polly (McCrory). This time, he's setting up an opium import/export operation from Canada for which he is negotiates a collaboration with uncle Jack (James Frecheville), whose niece Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy) is married to Michael Grey (Finn Cole). This time Tommy is not only dealing with enemies externally but also inside the family as Michael is exacting his revenge on him, blaming him for his mother Polly's loss. Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) on the other hand is far from showing any authority or taking on any responsibility at Shelby company due to his extreme drug addiction. It's the women who remain their sanest this season, be it Ada (Sophie Rundle) who seems like the perfect candidate to take over the Shelby business after Tommy and also Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) who tries to be Tommy's compass every time he loses his way. The new addition to the series is also Lady Diana Mitford (Amber Anderson), who is Mosely's (Sam Claflin) lover and an even creepier version of him.
With the sixth and final season of the show, creator Steven Knight builds a plot that coherently bridges historical elements with the show's usual gangster drama vibe. With or without Whiskey, the character of Thomas Shelby continues to have a strong grip over the season as he embroils himself with fascist leaders amid a time that happens to be emotionally draining for him on a personal note. It's the little bits in this season that leave a strong impact such as Arthur once again being unable to be the shoulder of support that Tommy needs. There's also a beautiful exchange the brothers share in a wine cellar as they reminisce how Tommy assumed authority early on in the Shelby household. Prophecies, deaths and emotional turmoil drive this season and while it may not be the best out of all, it's a send-off that seems a believable one.
Peaky Blinders has been known for its gory violence and the gloom and doom that take over the streets of Small Heath, Birmingham every time the Shelby family steps out and the final season doesn't leave out any chance to serve us some action on those lines. Tommy may be an MP and OBE now but he's still a Peaky Blinder at heart and hence the order now famed quote of the series now gets a revamp as he quips, "By order of The Birmingham Urban District Council." In many ways without its historical connections and time period, Peaky Blinders characters are similar to that of Ozark. They are driven by the ambition to wield power that is a result of their troubled pasts. One of the biggest takeaways of the show has been how adeptly the makers have handled the impact of WWI on Tommy and Arthur's characters and keeping that in mind, the ending seems a perfect one for both.
The performances in Peaky Blinders have only gotten better with every season and they continue to remain top-notch right to the end. Cillian Murphy brings Tommy Shelby's broken yet formidable version to the screen with a talent that seems unmatched. Paul Anderson also puts up an emotional performance as the troubled Arthur Shelby. In the final season though, for me, the most impressive performances come from Sophie Rundle as Ada and Natasha O’Keeffe as Lizzie who become the pillars of the Shelby family in the most unexpected ways. Tom Hardy also comes back for a worthy cameo as Alfie Solomons in the final season. Another aspect of Peaky Blinders that continues to remain its best element even in its last season is its music and cinematography. If there's one particular scene that Tommy Shelby's character should be remembered by, it's the one where he blows up his mansion and walks off with nothing but a cigarette in his mouth.
Without giving away any spoilers, Peaky Blinder's ending seems to be a full-circle moment for Tommy Shelby. It's a self-realisation of sorts for him as this time he clearly sees his future beyond the fire and ashes that have been haunting him all through. He's mortal yet immortal in many ways. The final shot of Tommy also mirrors the one that the series began with.
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