Episode one ended with the dramatic ambush of John and Michael by the Changretta family’s men, as they were gunned down outside John’s house. I had a feeling that the writers wouldn’t kill two key characters so early in the series, and I was right. While John dies, Michael survives his wounds after being rushed to hospital. As a side note, here’s a fun fact for any trivia fans – John and Michael are played by real-life brothers Joe and Finn Cole.
We were robbed of what I thought would be John’s wife Esme’s explosive reaction to the tragedy, with her hurriedly disappearing off into the country with the couple’s children. I kind of hope she comes back because she’s great fun.
The warring Shelby family reluctantly pull together in the wake of John’s death, and set aside their differences for long enough to take a vote on how to handle the situation. With all the key family members having received death threats, it isn’t very surprising that the overwhelming desire is to wage war on the Changrettas and get revenge for murdering John.
Tommy wants to hire Aberama Gold, a hitman, to deal with the Changrettas, but Polly is against the idea. In fact, Polly is against the war altogether and just wants to persuade Michael to emigrate to Australia with her. He agrees, but only after the feud with the Changrettas is over.
The Shelbys gather to say goodbye to John, and Tommy uses the funeral to draw out some of the Changretta’s men, and to engage Gold at the same time. The mafia men attempt to fire at the funeral party, but Gold and his men intercept and kill them, leading to an uneasy allegiance between Tommy and Gold. Polly is furious with Tommy for using the family as bait, and even more furious at getting Gold involved.
Aberama Gold is played by Aiden Gillen, probably best known as Game of Thrones’ Littlefinger, and it seems he still hasn’t quite settled on a plausible accent yet. Where exactly is he from? Nobody knows.
As part of the deal with Tommy, Gold insists that they take on his boxer son, Bonnie, and so they stage his first fight in the factory. After Bonnie knocks out a man considerably bigger than himself, they immediately agree. So it seems that all it takes to get into the Peaky Blinders is to punch someone a few times.
Meanwhile, there looks to be some trouble brewing for Ada because of her communist associations. On the same side of the political spectrum, union convener Jessie Eden sticks to her word and brings the whole factory workforce out on strike in a move which does not seem to bother Tommy in the least. An anarchic workforce seems to be all part of his plan somehow.
In only the second episode of the series, we see Tommy go head to head with Luca Changretta, played by Adrien Brody, complete with a New York accent worthy of a clichéd pizza commercial. Changretta visits Tommy at the factory and lets him know he intends to kill every member of the Shelby family, ending with Tommy. They agree to keep the war honourable. If you’re wondering how you have an honourable fight to the death, they mean that no civilians or children will be harmed and the police will not be involved. What perfect gentlemen.
As if all this wasn’t enough for Tommy to be dealing with, we see the return of one his old flames, racehorse trainer May Carleton, so expect a few sparks there.
This episode might not have had the fireworks of the first one, but there is a lot being set up for the rest of the series, and the war with the Changrettas certainly looks like it will be tense, particularly when Tommy can’t seem to control his own family. Will John’s be the last Shelby funeral? Somehow I have my doubts.