'Peaky Blinders': Why Annabelle Wallis, Thomas Shelby's love, was killed in the show
Show creators "killed" Annabelle Wallis, aka Grace Shelby, but isn't it a shame that the makers decided to chop off a pivotal, powerful female character in the tale?
Set in the aftermath of World War I, 'Peaky Blinders' sketches the lives of the gangster Shelby family which sew razor blades to the peaks of their caps. Turning heads as an Irish barmaid at The Garrison Pub, Anabelle Wallis who plays Grace Burgess, made her first appearance on the show as an undercover agent for the Birmingham police. The first spark between Cillian Murphy who plays Thomas Shelby, and Grace can be seen in the scene when he tells her to get up on a chair and sing a song at the bar.
Grace: Happy or sad?
Grace: Okay. But I warn you. It’ll break your heart.
Tommy: Already broken.
Under the charm of the mesmerizing music, the poignant scene leaves a hole in the heart and at the same time, gives birth to new hope for the charismatic pair. Beautifully layered and nuanced, the look in their eyes can never really be erased. The two do have something in common — a fierce drive towards their duties and a killing streak. It is evident in the scene when both of them kill IRA operatives in the pub. Tommy tells her, “You’ve seen me”, and she answers, “And you’ve seen me,” as they embrace.
The electric chemistry between Tommy and Grace works its magic. There is betrayal, drama and forgiveness. Towards the end of season one, when Tommy makes love with Grace, he tells her with a smile on his face: "I can't hear the voices," and it is clear that the two are in love.
As Grace comes back to Tommy in season two even after marriage, the two rekindle their love one night. The two still have feelings for each other.
The pride for his love reflects as Tommy boasts to Chester Campbell: “You once said to me that men like us can never be loved. She loves me and all you got was a bullet.” Grace's character goes through a slight shift — from a woman of command, she is seen simply as a lady in love in the following scenes. Disappointing as it is, it still doesn't deter viewers from expecting more from her character. In the final scene of season two, when Tommy has a close shave with death, Grace is still on his mind as he says: "Oh, and there's a woman. Yeah. A woman... I love. And I got close."
Season three is a fresh start to their affair as the two exchange vows but soon sum up their romance into a tale of woe. It is utterly sad to see Grace being kept out of major details from Tommy's business. Considering she started off as such an intelligent undercover agent, it is ironical to fathom her as just another "gangster wife". Not long after comes the final blow. At a charity ball, as Tommy attempts to push Grace out of the way, she takes the bullet to the chest and sinks to the floor in her husband’s arms.
Her death comes as a bolt from the blue. Why did she leave her mysterious husband and come back to Thomas Shelby? Why wasn't she able to accompany Tommy's professional aspirations as his wife? Did she come back only to bear Shelby's child? It is a shame the makers decided to chop off a pivotal powerful female character from the show.
Expressing her shock at the sudden twist, Wallis told Birmingham Mail, "I found out just before we started the season. I was surprised. I have so many friends so obsessed with the show, so I’ve had all these theories thrown my way of how 'there’s no funeral' or 'he’s done it to protect her'. Some people are so devastated by her death that I’ve had to give them hope. So I’m just gonna go 'maybe' and hold onto my conspiracy theories."
So, is Grace really dead? Dampening our hopes in a tell-all chat on the set at the Black Country Living Museum earlier this year, show creator Steven Knight said: “Grace is definitely dead. She is gone but not forgotten, and possibly not gone forever.” Well, until we can decipher what he really meant, we can safely say, she may be dead in the show but is truly alive in the hearts of her fans.