It’s been 2 years since the last time we saw the Peaky Blinders – both in real time and series progression – and much has changed for the Shelbys since the final moments of Season 2.
Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) has taken the family in an extremely lucrative direction and, as promised at the close of Season 2, we open Season 3 with his marriage. As expected, the wedding reception is not in any way traditional – both from the divide between the Bride and Groom’s families, to the backroom dealings with new business allies, who’ve escaped persecution in the USSR. The one thing that can ALWAYS be counted on, though, is drinking, fighting and bloodshed. The wedding reception ends in a family tragedy and, as a result, future decisions are not handled with due care.
Across the ensuing episodes we see not only how far the Shelby’s have come – both within their personal lives and business fortunes – but, as all great crime families know, with greater power come greater threats. Polly (Helen McCrory), Ada (Sophie Rundle) and Esme (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) have had enough of playing second fiddle to the male Shelbys and begin to take business matters into their own hands. A new threat comes in the form of Father John Hughes (Paddy Considine), a ruthless priest in the employ of the Government, working against the Communists and who also hides a darker secret, of a more personal association. He challenges Thomas like no one before.
As with previous seasons it is the characterisations of Murphy & Co. who make this series such compulsive viewing. Sadly, the main business storyline of Season 3 doesn’t feel as strong nor as cohesive as the previous ones. Much of this is due to the departure of Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) at the end of Season 2. Even the return of Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy), while a welcome inclusion, is insufficient in ramping up the tension to the level of the Thomas Shelby/Chester Campbell feud. It is much more satisfying to focus on the family dynamics than business misfortune.
Once again, we are also treated to gritty, 1920s-era sets and costumes, backed by late 20th Century hard rock – including the ever present “Red Right Hand” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (as well as other covers). Fans of the show will, after the climax of the season finale, be desperate for Season 4 (and 5, which has also been confirmed). Let’s hope there is a return to the form of the first 2 Seasons and the final episode of Season 3.
In closing, if you haven’t partaken in this series – and have enjoyed Ripper Street – you should…by order of the Peaky Blinders!
Reviewed by Glen Christie
Rating out of 10: 7
Peaky Blinders Season 3 is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download.