We begin with a funeral, as the Shelbys and assorted Peaky personnel – hello Jeremiah Jesus! – follow the coffin containing little Ruby’s body to the docks. They do this to the haunting strains of Sinéad O’Connor’s ‘In This Heart’, brother Charles and a single red rose leading the way to Charlie Strong’s Yard. Arthur, colder than a turkey in Siberia, is in no state to read the words Tommy has written for him. Tommy steps up instead.
“This was her favourite place in the whole world,” states the grieving father, which does rather suggest that Ruby wasn’t shown the best Birmingham has to offer in her seven-years on this mortal plane. “But for now we send her on,” says Tommy, clearly struggling, “to wherever it is you go, in the hope that if there is a destination, it’s a yard like this…” Let’s hope not, eh? Charlie brings Tommy a can of petrol. He asks Jeremiah to light the flame. Lizzie sprints into view. “No, you won’t burn her!” Not that we’re ones to critique the traditions of a culture, but we aren’t half getting through a lot of gypsy caravans this season. It feels a tad wasteful.
There’s no wake. Instead, Tommy heads to the woodland campsite of Evadne Barwell, announces that he’s “here on behalf of the blue sapphire” – the piece of jewellery he believes cursed and responsible for Ruby’s untimely death. He takes out his machine gun, and mows down some a family of (likely) innocents. Not content with that, he takes the barrel of his gun to (an even more innocent) tree. Later he drives to meet Esme and deliver her gold. She has news for her estranged brother-in-law. “A daughter lost, a son found,” she says, telling Tommy of a son he never knew he had, a product of a roll around “under a hazel tree in 1914”. His name is Duke. He’s probably ‘The Grey Man’, but that’s all we’re getting this week.
Back home, Lizzie is furious with her husband for taking a life in their late daughter’s name. “I will set up a fund to research causes and cures for consumption…” drawls Tommy, always looking for a practical fix to a problem. “Stop and close your fucking eyes…” says Lizzie. “I will not stop!” bellows Tommy. Which is kind of the problem, is it not. Listen, Tommy, mate, if you’d spent less time taking your daughter on day trips to Charlie Strong’s Yard and more indulging in rest and recuperation with your family, you wouldn’t be in this mess.
And make no mistake, it’s some mess, perhaps the biggest within a lifetime of making messes. In fact, Tommy finds himself at the fulcrum of such raging chaos that he even takes a drink during a touching scene with Arthur down in the cellar, breaking the abstinence he undertook in the wake of Polly’s death. Well, it’s been that kind of day. Tommy’s situation is best encapsulated by the cursed dinner party he holds with Captain Swing, Diana Mitford, Oswald Mosley and Jack Nelson. Diana likens the axis of evil assembled to a similar meeting she attended in Berlin, in the presence of Göring and Himmler. “When breakfast was served on the terrace overlooking the mountains,” she recalls, “we brought up some Jews and as we ate our eggs, we forced them to eat grass…”
Captain Swing looks horrified, though she is cajoled into singing an Irish rebel song, in the words of Mosley, “to raise our spirits”. Her song segues into Lisa O’Neill’s superb ‘Blackbird’, which then soundtracks a remarkable montage in which the reality of Britain’s creeping fascism is brought to Ada and the family’s door. Back at the table, Tommy is asked to Sieg Heil (or ‘Perish Judah’) to prove his commitment to the cause that Swing, Mitford, Mosley and Nelson believe they’re cooking up together. Tommy raises his arm, stiffly. We shouldn’t read too much into it. Tommy will do anything to pull off the “world-changing” masterplan only he knows the outcome of. He might be a very bad man, “the devil” as Gina Gray – who is later found in a tryst with Mosley – puts it, but he’s no racist, our Tom.
The episode ends with a visit from the doctor and who reveals that Tommy is dying from a tuberculosis. He has a year to 18 months, says the doctor. He prays to Polly to give him time to “finish what I have to do”. “Kill. Kill. Kill,” gasps Polly, from beyond the grave (which is hopefully somewhere nicer than Charlie Strong’s Yard).
- It’s all Tommy this week, since this is very much an episode in which he takes the lead. “You will change your ways,” he tells Arthur, during his latest intervention with his brother, “and I will change the fucking world.”
- “I killed a woman and three men, and their bodies will be thrown aboard the boat, like all the other bodies. But I’m stepping off that boat and onto another boat…” Maybe leave that verse off the ‘In Sympathy’ card, Tom.
- “The paint on the wood left a smell in the air, I didn’t open the window, I quite liked the smell…” Tommy, grasping at poetry in the darkness, burns Ruby’s stool in the fire.