“You know Mr Shelby, it’s almost as if you want trouble,” union firebrand Jessie Eden (Charlie Murphy) tells Tommy in one of the few brief conversations in Peaky Blinders that didn’t revolve around revenge and killing.
She didn’t know how right she was.
Episode two delivered two chilling psychopaths for the price of one: Adrien Brody’s mafia kingpin Luca Changretta and Aidan Gillen’s Aberama Gold hoved into full, ghastly view.
In his bid to combat the threat from the New York mob, Cillian Murphy’s chief Peaky has enlisted the support of Aberama, a Gypsy firebrand and an extraordinary-looking cove with a wide-brimmed hat, a cocky gait and something of a fearsome reputation.
Having a fearsome reputation among this lot definitely means something, especially when someone like Johnny Dogs calls the Gold mob “filthy savages”.
Aberama gave us a taste of his skills while dispatching two would-be killers at the funeral burning of poor John Shelby, stabbing one of the assassins a number of times before nonchalantly taking them to Tommy on horseback and demanding payment for the “brace”.
He showed he meant proper business when he demanded the Yard for himself. Tommy saw him off in some style, but to say this is poised to be an uneasy alliance is probably not stretching things.
Tommy will need everything he has. Adrien Brody’s Luca Changretta also waltzed in to Tommy’s offices to present himself after Jessie’s strike had emptied the factory.
Posing as a Frenchman – “Monsieur Paz”, anyone? was that what he said? – Changretta knew the ruse would be obvious, and seemed to enjoy this fact as much as he enjoyed his own expensive tailoring.
Even Tommy seemed perturbed and impressed by the intrusion, especially when he found that his own pistol had been divested of its bullets by one of Changretta’s men under his very nose.
“None of your family will survive,” Luca leered, and it was hard not to believe him. “We are an organisation of a different dimension.”
Luca then set the rules. The Mafia code of honour would be matched by the Gypsy code. “No civilians, no children,” said Tommy thoughtfully, before Luca added: “No police.”
Well, at least we got that straight. But just in case the message hadn’t got through, he told Tommy: “I want you to be the last. I want you to be alive when your whole family is dead.”
The game is definitely on.
Whether the Small Heath massive are up to the task ahead is a moot point. Esme has already scarpered with her children “on the road”, John is dead and Michael is recovering in hospital – though an army of Brummies is being assembled.
In other news, Aunt Polly had her heart set on a flit to Australia, and only reluctantly agreed to stay put and strike a truce with Tommy in the face of the Mafia menace. At least she proved her worth, pouring away her glass of the strong stuff in one scene (will she stop the Tarot stuff too?), and reading Aberama’s character with witch-like acuity. “Ask Aberama what he really wants,” she said.
Like Tommy, there’s a spooky, spiritual side to her running alongside her strongly down-to-earth aspect. Earlier she delivered a rare moment of comic relief: “I never thought my high heels from Paris would be stepping through the sh*t of Small Heath again.”
That may be so – but it’s good to have her still stepping out.