Peaky Blinders, Season 2 (2015)
Reviewer: Charity Bishop
The second season of this gangster drama is not nearly as good as the first, but is still entertaining.
Two years have passed. Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) is on his way to legitimizing their business and making inroads into London, but the Jewish and Italian gangsters do not want him there. One mishap in a bar earns him a violent beating, and a near-murder... fortunately, he has paid off the police.
His sister is dealing with the recent death of her husband, and his Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) desperately wants to find and be reunited with the children taken from her in their infancy. When their pub is blown apart, Tom goes to confront those he believes are responsible, who propose a business deal to him involving murder. Meanwhile, left with a limp from being shot, Inspector Campbell (Sam Neil) has become an agent of the Secret Service. His primary intention is to take down the Peaky Blinders, one way or the other...
Where the first season had a straightforward narrative, this one is more convoluted and hard to follow. Not all of Tom's intentions are made clear, which means his decisions along the way seem like disjointed, disconnected events rather than a steady build toward the excellent finale. While the foray into Jewish gangsters does allow Tom Hardy to turn in a great performance, it's rather dull overall and in the end, unnecessary. There is too much going on. I was also disappointed in how sadistic the behavior became; rape was an often-used plot device, and most of the secondary female characters are only present in sex scenes.
The best subplot involves Polly and her son, who may be a formidable Peaky Blinder next season. All in all, though I literally could not stop watching, a lot of the events of this season meandered or left me with a bad taste in my mouth. There is authenticity and then there is exploitation, and Peaky Blinders sometimes strays into the latter.
Nine graphic sex scenes, all with movement, noise, and sometimes with nudity (male backside, females topless); a woman is threatened with gang-rape (we see men groping her, before they are shot in the head); another woman is forced to perform sex acts to get her son out of prison (she gives him a hand job, then he shoves her down on a table and it's implied he rapes her); a woman is told to lead a man on, but she is raped instead (he shoves her down, and it's unclear how much he does before being stopped). Three women are seen fully nude from the front (one is posing for an artist, two are engaged in sexual activity). Verbal implications that a man was raped in prison, repeatedly. In a dance club, people are shown groping one another, manually stimulating one another, or thrusting. Several instances of bare breasts.
F-words. S-words. Christ/Jesus' name taken in vain. One G--d---n. Crude references to certain parts of the body.
People are shot in the head, with gory results; one man has a problem stopping hitting people, and beats several men to death (their faces are bloody, mangled messes); women are slapped and shoved around; explosions go off; a goat has its throat slit, before a man has his slit; a boy is murdered in prison (his throat slit, blood spurts).
Polly visits a séance to try to communicate with her dead daughter; an awful, ungodly man claims he has salvation.