The second season of Steven Knight’s six-part BBC period drama, Peaky Blinders, is the latest show to be reviewed for this blog, which I watched towards the end of last year, starring Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Tom Hardy, Annabelle Wallis and Sam Neill. It’s currently available on DVD in the UK and on Netflix in the USA.
When Peaky Blinders first hit back in 2013, it blew me away. The acting, the period setting, the atmosphere and the killer soundtrack, the show was one of my favourites of the year and I was waiting for the show to return patiently until it finally did towards the end of last year. Upping the stakes from the first season, and adding Tom Hardy to its cast as it divided attention between Birmingham and London, Peaky Blinders really knocked it out of the park to make a very good claim for what is arguably the best British TV show. (Sorry, Doctor Who, Sherlock – you’re not quite at the level of Peaky Blinders yet).
If you remember the first season, Peaky Blinders ended on a cliffhanger, which it resolves very well and picks up things with Tommy looking to expand in London. With the 1920s in full flow, business is booming for the Peaky Blinders, however, that doesn’t stop enemies from Tommy’s past returning to haunt him.
The characters that we have come to grow familiar with over the first season have returned, apart from Freddie (Iddo Goldberg), whose funeral casts a looming presence over the show’s first episode, having died off-screen during the time-gap that the series presents us with, which was good to see because this character, and his forbidden romance plot with Ava (Sophie Rundle), was one of the more underwhelming elements of last season. The stellar cast of actors and actresses are back in one form or another, and some get brilliant storylines this season. Helen McCrory’s Polly Gray gets a character defining arc when she learns that one of her children, who was taken away from her when she was younger, might be alive after all, and there’s some good material for pretty much everybody here.
The atmospheric 1920s setting is great to see. With the expansion to London comes the addition of new cast members, including Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Locke), who makes an interesting addition to the cast with a scenery-chewing performance as crime boss Alfie Solomons that instantly makes his presence notable. Other new characters present interesting new additions as Charlotte Riley takes the role of May Carlton, an Aristocratic widow who comes from a different background to Tommy, but shares a similar interest in horses. Then there’s Noah Taylor, who plays another London-based crime boss, Darby Sabini, pretty well, making it an entertaining mix of old and new that isn’t really dull at all.
The music continues to be the best thing about Peaky Blinders. No longer limiting itself to just Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (although Red Right Hand is still used as the themetune) and The White Stripes, there’s also Arctic Monkeys (their own cover of Red Right Hand), Johnny Cash (Danny Boy) and The Kills (Pull a U), among others. All allows for a great mix of music that really helps add to the atmosphere that the show creates, making the episodes quickly go by with no time wasted at all.
Moving at a great pace, Peaky Blinders Season 2 is also notable because it’s a bit more violent than the first season, so those of you who are squeamish have been warned. Don’t let the gore put you off though, because there’s enough intriguing stuff here for it not to matter (and I wasn’t bothered with it all), and it comes across as something really fresh and exciting for a show on the BBC, offering a unique and stellar vision of the 1920s that doesn’t disappoint, ending on an excellent note that will have fans eagerly looking forward to a third Season.
If you haven’t watched the second season of Peaky Blinders yet but are familiar with the first, then I strongly encourage you to do so. It’s so awesome, and one of my favourite shows on TV and my only real complaint is that we don’t get as many episodes as we should each season – I’d take as low as ten over six, but Steven Knight and company always seem to get it wrapped up so well that it doesn’t matter. It helps that there are extremely high production values on this show as well, with an excellent backdrop that really helps keep the show engaging and awesome.