Note: contains spoilers for Peaky Blinders series five, episode four
“May you Peaky Blinders rot in f**king hell,” declares a furious Linda Shelby (Kate Phillips) as she aims her gun at Arthur Shelby (Paul Anderson) and prepares to kill him.
A shot rings out – but it isn’t Arthur who crumples to the ground; it is Linda.
And emerging from the shadows comes Aunt Pol (Helen McCrory) with a smoking gun. She had been celebrating her engagement to Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen) with some al fresco sex when Linda pulled up in her car, and her quick thinking has saved Arthur’s life.
But the gripping episode four cliffhanger has left us with with one big question…
Is Linda Shelby dead?
In the closing seconds of the latest Peaky Blinders, we see Linda lying motionless in the dirt by her car while the Shelby family stand shocked outside Tommy’s house. Inside the house, where a ballet company is performing Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a swan has just died an unusually bloody death; red cloth spilling out underneath her fallen body.
But is this a sign that Linda has died, mirroring the swan’s fate? Will actress Kate Phillips be exiting the show – or is her character wounded but alive?
Sadly, we won’t find out until next week. But we do have some thoughts…
First up: the fact that we don’t see Linda’s bullet wound makes us think she might not be dead after all.
When John Shelby (Joe Cole) was shot by the Mafia in another major Peaky Blinders death, it was pretty obvious he was doomed given that his body was riddled with bullet holes; but Pol only shot Linda once, and all we see is Arthur’s wife collapsed on the ground, without any close-up shots. She could easily be unconscious rather than dead.
However! The BBC has released this image from episode five, featuring a funeral cortege:
Could this be from Linda’s funeral?
The scene definitely takes place in Birmingham, as the street sign reads “Livery Street”.
And there’s no wagon to be burnt, so it’s definitely not a gypsy funeral – which means it could be Linda’s body in the horse-drawn cart. Any of the Shelby family or their gypsy friends and allies would be given a very different kind of procession, so it’s definitely none of them.
However, there are no Shelbys in the image, which would be unlikely if the body was Linda’s: wouldn’t the Peaky Blinders be out in force? And a woman on the pavement clutches a teddy bear: is this incidental, or could the deceased actually be a child?
But even if Linda has survived, it seems unlikely that she will forgive Arthur for his violence and abuse. And if she has died, Arthur is sure to become even more unhinged. Now we know what the show’s writer and creator Steven Knight meant when he teased ahead of the series five premiere: “He goes through a lot in this series, as you’ll see…”
Peaky Blinders continues next Sunday at 9pm on BBC One