After the first three episodes of Peaky Blinders season 5, I was ready to declare it the best season yet. It had all the right components of a historic season for a stellar piece of television entertainment, and as an avid fan of the period piece, this season was reaching for the summit. As the finale in episode 6 came to a close, I was left empty, scratching my head about how something with so much potential could be botched so horribly.
As usual, no spoilers.
As visual storytelling goes, few shows can achieve the opera for the eyes that this season delivered. We’re treated to emotions that are difficult to find in television as every nuance in the troubled faces of the Shelbys and their cohorts sang about a tale deeper than politics, deeper than crime. Deeper than family. Symbolism was often delivered with ham-fisted displays of the obvious, but it was acceptable. As long as you’re immersed in the story, the blatant symbolism made perfect sense.
But then they got too smart. The writers decided it was better to smack us in the face with political discourse and statements about socialism being superior to populism. They were so clearly sympathetic to the Communists and Socialists who were “fighting for the people” and so desperately opposed to the Trump-life Fascists whose mantra was “Britain First,” they might as well have been wearing their Antifa t-shirts while writing the last three episodes.
True fans likely won’t care. They’ll be more concerned with the climax, which I won’t describe, and what it all means for season 6. I’m a true fan, but I do care that the humble beginnings of the Shelbys as anti-heroes was only loosely punctuated by their actions while being betrayed by their motivations. It’s as if they needed the now-socialist Shelbys to be politically correct to promote an anti-Trump and anti-Boris-Johnson message to the modern day masses.
Long gone are the days when they killed for the sake of greed and advancement. Now, the Shelbys are social justice warriors, especially the protagonist, Thomas.
There are even attacks on the capitalistic faction within the family as allies become villains and loyalties are broken for the sake of the dollar. This isn’t the Shelby family we’ve seen persevere through four previous seasons.
We do have an ounce of hope. Season 6 has been set up to be the culmination of a long journey through early 20th century England with everything on the line. If they can keep their virtue-signalling in check, it has the potential to redeem the show.
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