Peaky Blinders: Season 5 – Episode 5 ‘The Shock’ REVIEW

This episode leaves us absolutely shooketh.

The concluding events of episode 4 are what we begin episode 5 with, as we try to absolve ourselves of the shock that Linda tried to kill Arthur, but got shot by Polly instead. There is anticipation and suspense of course, since we wonder if she dies, only to learn that Polly merely wounded her.

The wounding is symbolic of the ripped open state of Linda and Arthur’s relationship, where there is nothing left to salvage or save as she only feels contempt for him. As always, the show’s greatest capability is to make us sympathise with a man like Arthur, even while we understand where Linda is coming from, and why she has reached her limit with him.

It is unbecoming stuff, since their family affairs are spilling into the public life that Tommy has set up for himself. As they try to get Linda sorted, which is an extremely chaotic scene, Mosley decides that this is the perfect moment to deliver his speech.

The way this scene is shot, with the camera moving around Claflin, brings him centre-stage and into our focus. The stage elevates him as well, and he proceeds to deliver his impassioned rhetoric. I don’t know if Claflin intentionally set about to do this, but at times, his intonation reminded me of Hitler.

Perhaps I am reading too much into it. However, this episode seems intent on showing us how villainous Mosley is. Everything about him reeks of an insatiable need to maintain control at all costs. There is such narcissism dancing in his person as well. When he beds the ballerina in his room, he places her in a submissive position, pounding away at her while he stares at himself in the mirror. There is no focus on his partner or her needs, she is a mere object to help satisfy his own.

Suddenly, Tommy isn’t the baddest guy in town, and we see the conflict between the good and the bad rise within him as he watches Mosley deliver his speech. His insular politics to only marginalise is not something Tommy agrees with, and we see the gears shift as Tommy becomes more settled in his decision to deliver reports about Mosley. But as we know, this episode has shock in its title, so Tommy’s best laid plans are blown to bits. As he picks up the pieces, he is forced to reconsider his plans, deciding that maybe the consequences are too high for him to properly go up against Mosley.

Tommy and Ada’s scenes together in season 5 certainly have emotional depth. She doesn’t single Tommy out as much and recognises how all the Peaky Blinders bring some form of ruin into the lives of the people they love. No one knows this better than Tommy, who lost Grace due to all the conflicts the Peaky Blinders had stirred.

Ada also urges him to see that he is capable of being good to want to stop a man like Mosley not for his own personal benefit, but because he knows the detrimental impact a man like that can have in politics. Lizzie also sells this narrative of Tommy to himself, however, he cannot bring himself to accept this, until he visits an old friend in the asylum.

The scene in the asylum surprised me (I would say shocked, but I have repeated the word enough) since I couldn’t figure out its purpose in the narrative. The show also presents a contrary view when we move to the interior space, because we are not greeted with a picture of madness that the guard seemed to tease. Barney looks almost normal, though there is a crazed look in his eyes from time to time, and the mention of the delusions that plague him.

Tommy’s conversation with Barney offers him clarity, and he realises he has been going about things with Mosley the wrong way. He has tried to deal with Mosley through legitimate channels, tapping into the politician side of himself. However, getting rid of Mosley is not to be done above board, it has to be handled the Peaky way. It is great stuff to see Tommy regain his confidence and return to his usual bad cocksure self, and of course we need the image of Tommy brooding by the river while rock music inundates the scene. Nothing like an anachronistic musical turn to get the blood pumping.

As is usual for the show, this episode has fantastic visual scenes, a particularly striking one is Arthur going stark crazy with a gun in a setting filled with Chinese lanterns. It looked like firecrackers going off and really set a kind of oriental mood and atmosphere. Of course Arthur’s mad behaviour leaves us wondering how he will deal with Linda’s departure, and things look set to go off the rails, as they always do when the Peaky Blinders are involved.

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Mosley steps it up on his villainy, and Tommy struggles with the consequences his actions have reaped. 'The Shock' does a good job in setting up anticipation for the next episode, leaving us to wonder where the cards will fall, and in whose favour.