The review contains spoilers for 'Peaky Blinders' Season 5 Episode 2 — 'Black Cats'
Black Cats. You may find it to be a strange name for a 'Peaky Blinders' episode. Well, it's not, or is it? Black cats: what do they signify? Bad omen. There is a spell of darkness and misfortune everywhere. But, most of all, it is in Thomas Shelby's mind. The second chapter of season five unfurls a new side of Tommy. Cillian Murphy, who is known for playing the Shelby leader as a calm, composed and shrewd mastermind brings a new facet of Tom alive—and it is dark, deadly, dangerous.
Thomas Shelby is his own enemy, show creator Steven Knight teased at the premiere night. In 'Black Cats', we can see his words coming true. For the very first time, on a 'Peaky Blinders' episode, Tommy is restless and anxious. It is a side of his we have never seen before. But, why is Tommy so fidgety?
"I had a dream about a black cat, last night, Pol," he confesses to Aunt Pol (Helen McCrory). "A black cat dream means there is a traitor close by. It was you who told me that, Pol," he continues. Polly tells him, "Black cat can mean lots of things. It can mean you're hurting yourself. Betraying yourself. Are you seeing things, Thomas?"
Thomas senses a traitor among his very own. Is he right, or is he thinking too much? In another scene, Tommy opens his heart to Ada, telling her about his fears. "I am talking about an empty chair. My chair. My throne. People thinking I'm going to fall, they start behaving in a different way around you. Linda, she wants some for Arthur, Aberama Gold, people in the north, Michael..." he trails off. Position and power can make the strongest men vulnerable. Is Tommy going to be another one of them? Where is the bullheaded and hard-nosed man? Like sand from a fist, his grasp on his family and business seems to be slipping away.
Michael Gray (Finn Cole) is back with newly-married wife Gina Gray (Anya Taylor-Joy) around his arms who calls him "baby" in her cat-like voice. As expected, his arrival is an unwelcome one. He is staged to be a traitor even before he can explain himself. "I did not betray my f**king family," Michael screams out loud on the streets of Birmingham. But, who's listening?
Tommy finally lends an ear to his story and believes him, but not without a threat. In all the drama, it is Polly who woos with her razzmatazz as she waits for her son in a hat and fancy sunglasses. She has a smug face for Michael and doesn't even look at his wife, but it is she who believes him. "Tommy is telling the truth," she tells Arthur. Watch out for the swank and swagger in the scene when she turns and tells his wife: "Hi, Welcome to the family, Gina Gray."
Tommy has more than one enemy waiting on the brink. Oswald Mosley pounces at him and they have a common connection: May Carleton, the horse trainer Tommy had an affair with! "I am my own revolution," Tommy shoots back at the British fascist. Mosley is the least of Tommy's concerns right now. There is a bigger nemesis around the corner. Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen) is hurt and his son Bonnie (Jack Rowan) is crucified on a cross. Does it have a connection with the letter signed as the Angels of Retribution? Yes, and they have a message for the Shelby leader: "Tell Tommy Shelby it's time to f***ing share." The Billy Boys have arrived with a song as their introduction.
"Hello, hello, we are the Billy Boys,
Hello, hello, we are the Billy Boys,
We're up to our knees in Fenian blood,
Surrender or you'll die,
We are the Brigton Derry Billy Boys."
There is trouble in Tommy's marital life too as he tells his wife Lizzie: "In my mind, I still pay you for it [sex]." People around seem to loathe Tommy and what he has turned into: a villainous politician. It seems what Michael is told is coming true: "Tommy Shelby is a spent force. Politics has got to him. Now is a good time to move in." It is endearing to see then how his faith still lies in his close friend Johnny Dogs (Packy Lee). "In all the world, of all the people, you alone I know, I can trust," he tells him.
There's a new gang in town.#PeakyBlinders continues on Sunday at 9pm on @bbcone.— Peaky Blinders (@ThePeakyBlinder) August 26, 2019
Watch the series so far on @bbciplayer: https://t.co/GBT4N6EhRv pic.twitter.com/H6MZKaUoW5
There's a bigger conspiracy on the brink. Tommy's agitation seems justified in the last scene as a note rustles with the leaves in the soft breeze. It reads: "By Order of the Billy Boys!" Is this the end of the Order of the Peaky Blinders, then?
Missed the review of the first episode? Read it here: 'Peaky Blinders' Season 5 Episode 1 — 'Black Tuesday'.