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The fourth season of Peaky Blinders has succeeded in setting up many new plots, characters and vendettas in just five episodes, and the challenge for creator Steven Knight is to resolve them all in one final 60 minute installment. The final episode, named “The Company” will focus on how the family will protect itself, and who will be lost.
The scale of the season has reached an international level with the Italian Mafia flooding the streets of Small Heath, but Tommy Shelby is never one to be underestimated, a man we saw walk out of his own grave in the finale of season 2. One of the many plot threads introduced this season is the rise of the communist party and the threatened general strike on the streets of Birmingham. Talk about the revolution has been building episode by episode and no doubt this will play a part in Tommy’s plans. The extent to which real-life revolutionary Jessie Eden will have in the grand scheme is as yet unknown. Eden was added to the list of Tommy’s love interests last week with a dance, some gin and a quick kiss. This is more than can be said of pregnant Lizzie, who is promised a house and a living, but not the connection with Tommy she craves.
The looming boxing match between gypsy Bonnie Gold and Alfie Solomons’ nephew is the “David vs Goliath” climax the season has been building towards. Alfie, played by Tom Hardy, appears to have entered some deal with the Italians in the last episode, but when it comes to the battle for Birmingham, it would be foolish to bet against Tommy Shelby.
The gypsies will also play a prominent part in the finale, with both Michael and Polly under their protection in the woods. Aberama Gold is one of the least trustworthy characters in a show filled with murderers and criminals, perhaps due to Aidan Gillen’s career-long habit of playing ambiguous and treacherous characters. His involvement with the volatile Polly is an unexpected complication to be factored into the season finale.
Of all the characters that faced the noose in episode one, Polly remains most scarred by the rope she came so close to hanging from. Her gin-soaked seances at the beginning of the season transitioned to reckless drinking, plotting and diving further into her belief in the supernatural. To the audience’s relief, her betrayal of the family to spare her son had been a trap set by Tommy, but deceit against the Italians welcomes new dangers for Polly.
Michael seems relatively safe in a caravan with the gypsies entering the final days of the vendetta, but judging by the blood bath promised at the boxing ring, it is hard to tell where it is safe to be a Shelby. Every member received a death threat with the Italians’ arrival, but so far only one has been successfully targeted.
Arthur has taken a backseat in the story and Finn has risen up to fill John’s shoes. The season so far lacks input from Ada, who steals every scene she’s in, whether she’s locking horns with Jessie Eden or her own nefarious brother.
The shocking end to the first episode cleared a violent path for the new season, with higher stakes, more powerful enemies and a fragmented family. The death of John proved that no one is safe in the Shelby family, and with the odds mounted against them we can expect more casualties in the final minutes.
It is yet unknown whether we have reached the end of the line for Oscar winner Adrien Brody, who plays infamous Mafia boss Luca Changretta. The high stakes duel strongly suggests that only one of the criminal family patriarchs will survive the episode, and it is reported that Cillian Murphy has signed on for a season five, where arguably there would be no show without him.
Peaky Blinders is confirmed for a fifth season, but which other characters will survive is another question. Creator Steven Knight has mentioned that he would like the show to end with the initial air raid sirens that beckon World War Two, but as the show is currently set in the late 1920’s, there is still room to breathe, and surely six episodes are not enough to span a decade.
There are also rumours of a Peaky Blinders film which may conclude the Shelby story. Both Murphy and Knight have mentioned it it interviews, as a feature running concurrent with the series. Whichever way the series continues, the future of the Shelby family rests on the results of a boxing match, both inside and outside the ring.