Review: Peaky Blinders, Series 2

Bruno Barton-Singer 24 October 2014

Peaky Blinders takes period drama to its logical conclusion; the image matters more than what is seen, the words matter more than what is said. Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy and Helen McCrory are not just saying lines, they are delivering a lesson in how to say lines. This method of writing can create a lot of overwritten scenes, a lot of self-important posturing, and an incredible amount of slow motion (in service to one of the key gimmicks of Peaky Blinders, that the music is modern while the setting is not), but also some perfect, cinematic moments.

The previous series started in a bold, unconventional tone. It seemed to open up a wide vista of gangster life in Birmingham in the twenties, perhaps creating an expanse of shifting alliances and ways of life. Unfortunately, it then opted for a clichéd love triangle and a plain ludicrous stand-off for the series finale.

After an awkward and rather forced start to wrap up things from last series (here the writers could take a lesson from Green Wing, and realise that sometimes revealing less is more interesting), the second series does seem to be setting itself up for something more expansive, most obviously in the inclusion of London as a new stamping-ground.

In terms of character, Pol has become a bit less of a one-dimensional matriarch, although new crime bosses Sabini and Alfie Solomons restore the central tendency of the series to love the lines more than the person that says them. Given the way last series went, it’s too early to say. But Peaky Blinders does know how to bring you back for the next episode.