Warning: This post contains spoilers for Peaky Blinders season 6's finale.
After 6 seasons, Peaky Blinders has done, bringing an end to the story of Cillian Murphy's Tommy Shelby and his powerful criminal family in 1930s Birmingham. Peaky Blinders season 6 may have drawn criticism for its pace, but ultimately, the feature-length finale paid off the season's key plotlines while offering a stripped-nerve portrait of Tommy's mental condition. If the first five seasons were a journey through Tommy's rise to power, Peaky Blinders season 6 was a more overt exploration of the cost of that rise.
For only six episodes, there was a lot riding on the final season. Peaky Blinders season 6's finale revealed the real answers to little Ruby's vision of the green-eyed man, as well as a definitive answer on who would win the battle between Michael and Tommy, as predicted by Polly Gray (Helen McCrory) at the end of season 5. There may not have been full stops to every element of Peaky Blinders various story threads, but with a spin-off movie promised as the final chapter in the Shelby story there are more than enough hints of what the next stage of this twisting saga could entail. Crucially, the Shelbys are not done yet and that is good news, both in-universe and for the world beyond the screen.
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Peaky Blinders season 6 has been the most invested in symbolism from the very first episode, and its more overt exploration of supernatural issues is a change of pace for the otherwise cynical Tommy Shelby. His faith in a God may remain uncertain through all of his trauma, but the Peaky Blinders finale reaffirms Tommy's faith not only in himself as a near-immortal figure, but also in his methods. There's been a lot to unpack, as with all of Tommy's plans, but here's what Peaky Blindersending really means.
Does Tommy Shelby Die In Peaky Blinders Season 6? Fate & Possible Future Revealed
Despite Peaky Blinders season 6 setting up Tommy Shelby's death after his fatal diagnosis of tuberculoma, the finale defied the tone of the entire show to reveal a twist reversing his story entirely. Tommy's doctor - Dr Holford - was revealed to be a follower of Oswald Mosley, paid off to convince Tommy of his impending death to try and make him take his own life. Given Tommy's struggles with suicidal thoughts - including Grace calling him "home" at the very end of Peaky Blinders season 5 - the plan was inspired, until Tommy discovered the truth.What isn't clear is why Mosley changed his plan and seemingly asked Jack Nelson to kill Tommy on his trip to Canada if the false tuberculoma plan was already working. Ultimately, neither mattered as Tommy was already awareof Nelson's plan, and discovered the truth about his doctor's identity from a newspaper clipping from Mosley's own wedding.
Was Tommy's Vision Of Ruby Real In Peaky Blinders' Finale?
Tommy ultimately discovered the truth about his faked illness when Ruby appeared to him in a vision as he was about to shoot himself. At this point, Tommy had put his affairs in order, securing a lucrative future for the Shelby Company, as well as ensuring his criminal empire would be looked after by his first-born son Duke. But Ruby's appearance from beyond the grave intervened, leading Tommy to the fire where he discovered his own newspaper he'd used for kindling - but oddly not read, it seems - and delivering the killer revelation of the doctor's ties to Mosley. The interesting point about this twist is that Tommy learns concrete facts from a vision, which means Ruby can't have been the product of his own imagination. The suggestion is that Tommy's ghostly vision of Ruby is real.
After Peaky Blinders had flirted for six seasons with the idea of supernatural events being real, the finale finally offered concrete confirmation that every vision, every prediction for the future read in tea leaves, every curse, and every ghost was real. That removes the suggestion that Tommy's visions were a result of his PTSD, or that the curse that killed both Grace and Ruby was a romantic explanation for a deeply harrowing set of traumas. Ghosts exist in Peaky Blinders, and they read the newspapers. On the other hand, Tommy could have read the information in the newspaper the night before, while drunk, andseen his guilt personified in an apparition of his dead daughter as his own coping mechanism to avoid suicide and steel his resolve to live on.
How Tommy Knew About The Plot Against Him & Billy's Betrayal
The question of why Tommy Shelby had failed to deal with Billy the black cat IRA informer in Peaky Blinders season 6 was a particularly pervasive one. The unresolved plot thread was the first hint of a finale twist concerning Billy's fate, but with Tommy seemingly losing his grip on reality and his business it actually made sense that there'd be a blindspot. But as ever, Tommy was two steps ahead of his enemies, and seemingly knew the truth about Billy all along. That would explain why Arthur forced Billy to kill the football referee, more as a punishment than as a test of loyalty, and to condemn him to Hell. Exactly how Tommy learned the truth is unclear, but the increasing ostracization of Finn Shelby throughout season 6 suggests the Shelbys worked out the informer by the process of elimination. Billy was an unknown element and Finndropped in the Shelby pecking order behind Isaiah so early in season 6, it was clear Tommy knew he'd revealed the plan to assassinate Mosley. The football betting scam was as much a distraction as it was a lucrative business opportunity, keeping the informant and his unwitting handler away from key business.
Related:Peaky Blinders Season 6 Finally Answers Season 5's Biggest Question
What Did Tommy Whisper To Duke At The Final Shelby Banquet?
During Tommy's last supper, he gathers the Shelby family to pass on his final instructions for the ongoing welfare of the business and the family, seemingly sharingout his roles among those left behind when he dies. Intriguingly, he leaves his instructions to his first son Duke (Conrad Khan) mysteriously unrevealed, whispering them into his ear in a particularly loaded moment. Given Duke's story in Peaky Blinders season 6, it seems Tommy is setting his son up to be his true heir, not so much to the Shelby empire and wealth but to his role as the family's shadier power broker. Despite how recently they have met, this is Tommy anointing Duke as his favored child in Ruby's absence, at least in the perception of Charlie, whose legitimacy as Tommy's "righteous" son dictates Tommy's unwillingness to allow him to be corrupted. That may yet set up future conflict. Duke is more like him and more suited to taking over from him and the fact that he whispers to him is more important than the specific of what he actually says.
Peaky Blinders' Ending Sets Up 2 Family Conflicts
Though the final group scene for the Shelbys in Peaky Blinders' finale sees most of the family reunited and Tommy setting out a pathway for a hopeful future, the family is broken at the end of season 6. Finn Shelby is missingfrom the table, having attempted to shoot Duke during the murder of Billy and his banishment from the Shelby family. His vow of revenge against his nephew sets up a future where the Shelby family will be at war, in a far more pronounced way than Michael's exile in America played off. There's also a possible conflict set up between Duke and Tommy's other son Charlie, who are presented as the two sides of Tommy's character. While Charlie left with his mother in the finale, his treatment by Tommy has already nurtured resentment in him, and the connection between Duke and Tommy could easily be a point of contention.
Tommy Shelby Will Never Get Revenge Against Mosley Or Jack Nelson
The painful revelation about Tommy Shelby's future is that there are a couple of known details thanks to the real history of his season 6 enemies. Jack Nelson is based on Joseph Kennedy and Oswald Mosley is obviously a figure from real-world history, and as such their stories play out in firm ways. Mosley survived until 1980 and Kennedy was alive until 1969, suggesting that the World War 2 timeline of Peaky Blinders' mooted spin-off movie can bring no resolution to either conflict barring a Quentin Tarantino-like change to history for the sake of Tommy's catharsis. There are possibilities still offered despite Peaky Blinders' traditional fidelity to real events though. The Peaky Blinders movie could begin with Mosley's political defeat and arrest, with Tommy fighting him politically and helping coordinate violentopposition to his marches and assemblies from his place in the shadows afforded by his assumed death.
Why Peaky Blinders Season 6 Was So Much Slower
Criticism of Peaky Blinders season 6 centered around how much slower it was than previous seasons, with accusations of a Game of Thrones-level disaster. But the finale was a high point for the entire series, confirming how perfectly season 6's slow-burn approach had been set out. Even with the tragedy of Helen McCrory's death and the forced exit of Polly Gray, the more tentative pace and move away from explosive bloody violence in every episode looked very deliberate. The pace allowed for a more intimate portrait of Tommy Shelby's mind, even if it came at the cost of other character arcs, with the shift away from violence not only mirroring Tommy's own trajectory but also allowing for the increasing moments of temptation Tommy fell to. By the end, as the IRA, Billy, and Michael all died by his hand or under his instruction, Tommy cast off the shackles of his assumed, acceptable identity and the claustrophobia of denying who he was all along.
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What Peaky Blinders' Final Shot Means: Will Tommy Return To Crime?
Peaky Blindersseason 6's final moments suggest that Tommy is finally free. His criminal empire is in the hands of his son and Arthur - even with questions over his sanity in the wake of Tommy's "death" - his legitimate business is prospering well after his deals with Alfie Solomons and the Housing Department, and his political career has ended with Ada lined up to take over his seat. At this point, he could leave his entire life behind, but Tommy hinted to Arthur in the Peaky Blinders finale that he is now motivated by doing good primarily. His deal to build affordable housing placed his social obligations even above wealth (or so he claimed) and his opposition of Mosley and the fascists had long been a matter of principle. Could Tommy be set to be a sort of underground avenger figure in his future? Could he work more closely with Churchill? Could he even be drawn back to the battlefields of France by Hitler's invasion of Europe?
As teased by Tom Hardy's Alfie Solomons in the final episode ofPeaky Blindersepisode 6, being "dead" has its advantages and it seems that Tommy will see the benefit. The symbolism of him watching his own funeral pyre at the end reinforced the idea of him being free of his ghosts and his murder of Michael ended his fear of judgment from Polly and the realization of her chilling prediction about their war. Tommy admitted his real vice was a quest for power in episode 5, admitting his rise in society was no more than another road to evil, and arguably one populated with even worse villains. Given Mosley's attempt to kill him and the pain he and Diana caused Lizzie, it seems unlikely he will be able to turn his back on his past. On top of that, the hint that Arthur may kill himself to join his brothers would surely lead to Tommy revealing his survival to him at the very least. Even with that, Tommy may see the value in the short term of adopting Alfie Solomon's plan to remain dead when Peaky Blinders returns for its true movie finale. In other words, Tommy Shelby is "dead", long live Tommy Shelby!
Next:Peaky Blinders' Season 6 MakesThe Original Tommy Casting Even Worse