The red right hand returns: What to expect from Peaky Blinders 5
It's time to keep up with the Shelbys
Tommy Shelby is back - with a new season that’s reportedly much more explosive and brutal than its predecessors. The trailblazing gangster drama 'Peaky Blinders' is returning after two years, and fans are quite 'peaked' as this season promises a premise that's much more intense and historically aligned. The cult hit starring Cillian Murphy as the half-gypsy Birmingham kingpin made its debut in 2013, and has evolved into a period masterpiece over the span of four seasons.
Showrunner Steven Knight, who just this month announced a Peaky Blinders festival, to be held at Central Birmingham, is perhaps the most excited about the new season. He has revealed that Season 5 draws parallels between the past and cultural climate that exists around the world today, which makes it all the more relevant. Season 5 is set to premiere on August 25 on BBC, and will be out on Netflix in a few weeks.
If you’re binging on the last four seasons to catch up, you should stop reading here. Unless you want a quick primer on what to expect from Season 5:
Following the First World War, three Shelby brothers are back at their grimy, impoverished hometown of Small Heath, with nothing to show for their bravery. Thomas ‘Tommy’ Shelby (Murphy), a decorated former sergeant major, and his brothers, Arthur (Paul Anderson) and John (Joe Cole), slowly take control of Birmingham as their gang Peaky Blinders dominate the crime circuit with illegal betting rings, arms robbery, smuggling.
Through the course of the four seasons, the Peaky Blinders acquire a considerable amount of power, with Tommy striving to legitimise their business and clean up the Shelby name. The show has a stunning allegiance to history, and Steven Knight’s script weaves in famous historical milestones and real-life characters into the premise, like the infamous New York crime lord Al Capone, who was mentioned to be an ally of the Shelbys, and the devastating 1929 Wall Street Crash, which will be the background for Season 5.
Where we left off
In Season 4, the Shelby’s are under attack from New York’s Sicillian mafia boss Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody), who seeks vengeance over the murders of his father and brother, who died at the hands of the Peaky Blinders. Things turn bloody, and Tommy loses his younger brother John to the conflict. The season also chronicles the events which led to the 1926 General Strike which took place throughout the UK, spearheaded by workers to protest wage reductions.
In fact, the show also depicts real-life radical leader Jessie Eden whose call for justice saw hundreds of female workers in Birmingham take to the streets to protest their poor working conditions and low wages. Season 4 ends with the Shelbys prevailing over the Changrettas primarily by killing Luca. Tommy secures an endorsement from the government for his campaign to become a Member of Parliament for Birmingham South, in exchange for giving out the names of Communist Party workers, which he acquires from Eden.
New season, new problems
Season 5 will explore the rise of fascism which took over the United Kingdom in the early 1930s. Shelbys are dispersed all over the world at the beginning of episode 1, with Michael on a semi-exile at Shelby Company headquarters in Detroit, Polly spending her time with a pilot in Monte Carlo, and Tommy busy with his role in political office.
But the family is quickly united over news of the Wall Street crash, to navigate its economic implications which can disrupt the family business. Meanwhile, Oswald Mosley (Hunger Games star Sam Claflin), another real-life character, who was the leader of the British Union of Fascists, may pose some problems for Tommy and Co.
Showrunner Steven Knight has revealed that the show will end with season 7, and the end destination for the story will be the start of the second World War.
Shelby women are stronger than ever
From the very start, women in Peaky Blinders have been few, but infallible. Knight’s script has etched out unyielding and gritty trajectories, for every recurring female character, be it Polly Gray (Helen McCrory), the company treasurer and Tommy’s aunt, or Ada (Sophie Rundle), the only female Shelby sibling who has never let her family come between her political stance.
Other noteworthy women to lookout for would definitely be Jesse Eden (Charlie Murphy), whose partnership with Tommy is not all what it seems, Linda Shelby (Kate Phillips), who has always been a challenge to the family’s authoritarianism, and also Lizzie (Natasha O'Keeffe, who has a child with Tommy at the end of Season 4, and may be looking at a lot more screen time. Moreover Split actor Anya Taylor-Joy joins the cast as Gina, Michael Shelby’s wife.
No more Alfie
Much to the disappointment of Peaky fans, Tom Hardy won’t return to reprise his role as the intimidating and garrulous bootlegger Alfie Solomons. Hardy has been a part of the show since Season 2, and clearly had a lot of fun playing the bullish Camden gangster, as it was revealed that he never really wanted to exit the show.
In fact, Paul Anderson, who plays Arthur, has revealed that Alfie’s fate was up for debate, and it was eventually decided that the fan-favourite would be killed off. At the Season 4 finale, Alfie betrays the Shelbys’ trust by making a deal with Changretta, and is shot to death by Tommy.
Peaky Blinders has featured some of the most incredible, and unconventional music as part of its background score and OST. The title track, Red Right Hand, sung by the Australian rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds has a following of its own.
Season 5 brings in English singer-songwriter Anna Calvi, who will score the music for the show. Calvi has revealed that she has given the show a country treatment by treating it like a Wild West film set in Birmingham; so definitely expect to hear a lot of high-powered bass and acoustic drums.