'Peaky Blinders': 5 times Polly Gray was a complete badass
As the mother, the aunt, and the enemy, Polly Gray treads on the main line as closely as Tommy but she always puts family first.
Polly Gray, commonly known as Aunt Polly among the Shelbys, is the matriarch who has been holding together the Peaky Blinders clan since the gangsters were children. Steven Knight-created show, 'Peaky Blinders', follows the infamous Birmingham gang from the early decades of the 1900s when they were led by the Shelby family. Starring Cillian Murphy as the Shelby patriarch, Thomas Shelby, and Helen McCrory as the matriarch, Polly Gray, the Peaky Blinders have been positioned around these two other-worldly characters who stand at par with each other.
The one exceptional feature about a Knight script is that genders do not get to play their allotted roles, but they are all treated the same on whatever platform they are based on. While on one hand, Thomas is the sadistic anti-hero whose virtues are just as strong as his sins, Polly is the mother-figure who refuses to let the family run by men. Polly has not only spearheaded every strategy of the Peaky Blinders but she has often taken up the role as Thomas' secret weapon in the times when Thomas had completely lost his grip on himself. As an anti-heroine Polly Gray treads on the grey zone where on one hand she is the ruthless businesswoman who can make offers over a dead body, on the other hand, she is a vulnerable mother who does not want her son to enter the bloody business.
Polly stands aside from the conventional female characters who often do not represent ethnic minorities, middle-aged anti-heroines, and the working-class female whose tales of being harassed actually shape the social structure bounding her. A gypsy by birth, a middle-aged single woman, in the 1920s Birmingham, Polly stood as the backbone of the entire Shelby family. While speaking about her character, McCrory had explained, "She has a fearless quality that makes somebody very dangerous when they no longer fear death. There’s no stopping her.” Polly's fearlessness has always been her greatest weapon, and each time she managed to bring the men down to their knees by the sheer use of her wit.
As 'Peaky Blinders' is about to return with its fifth season in late spring, next year, we recall those five memorable times when Aunt Polly was a savage badass:
1. How many times has Polly had a "Fook"?
We all remember when in series 4 Polly had reached a point where she forgot what fear felt like. While that series plunged into exploring Polly and the development of her conscious as a woman of business, there were times when Polly would just play the lady of interests. When Ada came in to inform her that Thomas had called for a family meeting, Polly's nonchalance towards Thomas' rules became prominent when she casually began chatting about her sex life. She explained her plan for attaining satisfaction to Ada claiming that it would only be fulfilled by someone "unsuitable". Watch the clip below:
2. Polly sells off Thomas
Following the incidents of season 3, the Shelby clan was put behind bars and Polly almost had a noose around her neck, in the fourth series, however, Polly returned with a burning fervor to seek revenge for Thomas' actions- at least that is what she portrayed. Polly stood as like a woman scorned with the betrayal of a man, and in her state of fury she offered Luca Changretta Thomas Shelby in exchange of her son, Michael, and Arthur and Finn's lives are spared. She managed to strike the deal with Luca and had convinced everyone that the trap was ready for Thomas. Only, in the end, it was revealed that throughout Polly had chalked out the plan to protect Thomas and pull Luca to Shelby's den.
3. "Why should boys have all the fun?"
'Peaky Blinders' is set against a time when women in the working class were a fierce, independent lot. Polly, who is the eldest of them all, belongs to this class of women who had stayed back and handled every business when the men were out at war. This experience has left Polly with a sense of how the world works, and where women stand in context to the men's authority- although the latter never worried Polly. When Linda spoke to the ladies about a rally that Jesse Edens had organized for women in the labor force, Polly claimed with all her swag, "F*** it! I am not in the mood today," and with the clarion call, "Let's go to the Bull Ring! Why should boys have all the fun?" she led the Shelby women towards the rally as the men watched in awe, hapless in the situation.
4. Polly, a mother at 16
With her tragic past and hard present, Polly has little sympathy for anything but when it comes to Ada, the only girl in the Shelby family, Polly protects her like her own child. She runs to Ada's aid when she discovers that she was pregnant and in spite of being a woman in the early 1900s she advised her to have an abortion. However, once she is assured that Freddie will take care of Ada, she immediately asks them to leave Birmingham and flee to New York as that way Freddie will be able to escape execution. Unfortunately, things went south and Freddie was arrested by the police upon Thomas' order. Polly, however, managed to point out to Thomas that he was wrong and she also brought the siblings together at a time when they might as well have killed each other.
5. Polly's vengeance
Polly was a devout mother who had a breakdown when she realized that her daughter, who was taken away by the authority was dead. However, upon realizing that her son was alive she did not mind holding a gun to Thomas' head but he did not speak anything about Michael, her son. When Michael finally became a member of the Peaky Blinders and was eventually imprisoned due to something that he had not done, Polly set aside her dignity and let Inspector Campbell rape for the sheer hope that he would release her son. However, she did take her revenge in the sweetest way possible by cornering Campbell and shooting him to his death.
We certainly cannot wait to find out more about Aunt Polly when the show returns late spring, next year.