**Spoiler warning for Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 5**


Since the start of this final season of Peaky Blinders, Michael Gray (Finn Cole) has made it very clear that he wants to be the one to bring an end to Tommy Shelby's life.

This desire was reiterated at the end of last week's fifth episode, and with Michael set to be released from his prison sentence, it looks like he's going to have the opportunity to come good on his word.

Season 6 director Anthony Byrne has already revealed in an exclusive interview with RadioTimes.com that the feature-length finale will be about "revenge" – could he be referring to Michael's actions?

And are we indeed witnessing the final days of Tommy Shelby?

Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 5 recap

Peaky Blinders' Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby
Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders. BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd./Robert Viglasky

Well, the show has clearly been laying the groundwork for Tommy Shelby’s death.

In addition to that terminal tuberculoma prognosis from Dr Holford (Aneurin Barnard) in the fourth episode of the season, Tommy has been doing something of a tour of important people in his life as he tries to set up his loved ones for a more comfortable future.

The penultimate episode, ominously titled 'The Road to Hell', made crystal clear that Tommy’s recently discovered offspring Erasmus “Duke” Shelby (Conrad Khan) is his new intended successor to the criminal enterprises of his empire - with Duke covering the “dark” and hinting that his son Charles Shelby (Billy Jenkins) will hand the “light” and more legitimate side of the family business.

Oswald Mosley and Lizzie Shelby at a table in Peaky Blinders
Lizzie Shelby (Natasha O'Keeffe) was humiliated and heartbroken in the penultimate episode BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd./Robert Viglasky

Tommy also sets about trying to set up a stable side of his import business in Liverpool with Hayden Stagg (Stephen Graham) and also seeks help from sister-in-law Linda Shelby (Kate Phillips) at helping her estranged husband and his brother Arthur (Paul Anderson) recover from his recent addictions and trauma.

Additionally, Tommy made a promise, to be honest with his long-suffering second wife Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) in the wake of their daughter Ruby Shelby’s death and finally told her he loved her.

However, this potential for a newfound closeness was imploded by a surprise visit from Sir Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) and Lady Diana Mitford (Amber Anderson), the latter of whom made clear she had had sex with Tommy to humiliate Lizzie and encourage Tommy to find a more suitable wife.

Sam Claflin and Amber Anderson as Oswald Mosley and Diana Mitford in Peaky Blinders
Sir Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin) and Lady Diana Mitford (Amber Anderson) continue to cause misery BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd./Robert Viglasky

Tommy admitted that he is destined for a sad fate surrounded by monstrous fascists such as Mosley, Mitford and Jack Nelson (James Frecheville).

Speaking of Nelson, the Boston gangster is planning for Tommy to be killed in Canada by a recently freed Michael Gray as Tommy visits the country to close a deal that will leave his family $5 million richer and enable him to live a “mortal” life - however, the consequences of his plan he previously warned to Lizzie would be horrible for her to go through.

Tommy seems aware that one way or another he will soon perish - whether by his illness or at the hands of an enemy.

He is perhaps less aware that Nelson is also blackmailing ‘black cat’ IRA informant and Peaky Blinders associate Billy Grade (Emmett J. Scanlan) into killing Arthur too.

The key issue here, however, is will Tommy really be killed by his cousin Michael?

Will Michael Gray kill Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 6?

Finn Cole as Michael Gray in a snowy prison yard in Peaky Blinders season 6
Michael Gray (Finn Cole) announces he will kill Tommy Shelby in the penultimate episode BBC/Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd./Robert Viglasky

Jack Nelson plans to offer freedom to his niece Gina’s husband Michael Gray in exchange for him completing a task in Canada: killing Tommy Shelby.

However, Michael has been dreaming of the words from his mother Polly Gray (the late Helen McCrory appearing via archive footage) and informs the Irish priest acting as a messenger for Nelson that he has already consulted with his late mother on the subject and intends to kill Tommy.

In his dream (set to Thom Yorke’s melancholic track Unmade), Polly warns that Michael’s actions risk war with Tommy and Michael remembers his swearing vengeance on Tommy for Polly’s death over her funeral pyre.

More like this

Polly’s prophecy is once again heard: "There will be a war in this family and one of you will die."

As series creator Steven Knight teased himself to RadioTimes.com, Michael wants to kill Tommy and it seems he is intent on being the winner in his war with Tommy.

Finn Cole sits shirtless as Michael Gray in Peaky Blinders
Finn Cole as Michael Gray in Peaky Blinders' final episode YouTube/BBC

Knight said: “I can't tell you [specifics about their relationship] but I'm sure you could imagine. It's not gonna go well.

"I like the complexity of what's happened with Michael, where he was plucked from this village, but he wanted to be plucked, he wanted to get out. And he's become Tommy and he admires Tommy [and] wants Tommy's approval, but he wants to kill him as well."

However, for him to simply kill Tommy in an act of cold blood and catch Tommy unaware seems a bit too straightforward.

Could Tommy willingly choose a quicker death at the hands of Michael once he has completed his business and family goals, avoiding his slower and more painful death at the hands of the tuberculoma?

Or will Tommy even throw a spanner in the works and reveal to Michael that his wife Gina Gray (Anya Taylor-Joy) has been having an affair with Mosley and showing that the Nelson family clearly have no care for Michael at all?

Anya Taylor-Joy as Gina Gray in a silky yellow nightgown in Peaky Blinders
Hollywood star Anya Taylor-Joy is back as Gina Gray in Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 6 YouTube/BBC

We imagine late Shelby matriarch Polly wouldn’t have minded too much if Michael killed scheming Gina instead (she too was present in Michael’s dream).

The season 6 trailer depicts an encounter between Michael and Gina that doesn't appear particularly happy - their marriage could be about to take a turn for the worst.

Perhaps Polly has actually united Michael with his cousin from beyond the grave?

How else could the story of Tommy Shelby end in Peaky Blinders?

Considering how bleak these final episodes have been, we would not put it past Tommy to offer one final triumph - perhaps with help from "chaotic" Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) and Winston Churchill (Tom Hardy).

The title of the finale, 'Lock and Key', could also indicate Shelby facing imprisonment for his crimes instead.

However, the lingering issue of Tommy's health suggests he will die in the coming months, regardless of his encounters with Michael and other enemies.

It had appeared as though Tommy would play a role in the upcoming Peaky Blinders film, but actor Cillian Murphy appeared to place doubt on that.

Speaking to Esquire, Murphy said: "Mmm, talk. I’m open to ideas. I think [Steven] wants to, but I haven’t read anything."

Duke Peaky Blinders
Actor Conrad Khan has been introduced as Erasmus "Duke" Shelby BBC

Tommy could appear via flashbacks or as a ghost (not exactly out of the ordinary for this show), but either way, Steven Knight appeared to suggest that Tommy and Arthur would feature in the film when speaking to Digital Spy.

When asked about their roles in the film, Knight commented: "It's impossible to say yet. But the film – yes.

"We're going to make a film – a feature film – which will move the world on, and then once we've moved the world on into the Second World War, we'll see where that takes us."

The last season appears to have set up a newer generation of Peaky Blinders with Duke, Charles, and the more stable and newly-married Finn Shelby (Harry Kirton), so these characters will likely be the focus of the feature film outing.

Cillian Murphy as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders series 6
Will Tommy Shelby survive the finale of Peaky Blinders?

Knight told Esquire: "In series six we're bringing in the new generation, and they are going to be part of what happens in [the] film. I think it's finding those actors that you just watch and you think, there you go. There's the future.

"The film, I know exactly what it's about. And I know what two stories it's going to tell. How the story will unfold, I don't know. What will happen after that, I want that to depend on the film. For all we know somebody is going to pop out – I think I know who it's going to be."

Will a new character will take centre stage, perhaps Duke or Charles?

Whether it is in this final episode or in the film, Tommy Shelby’s days appear to be numbered.

Peaky Blinders concludes on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 9pm on Sunday 3rd April 2022.

Read our guide to the best series on Netflix, check out our Drama hub for more news, interviews and features or find something to watch with our TV guide.


The latest issue of Radio Times is on sale now – subscribe now to get each issue delivered to your door. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to the Radio Times podcast with Jane Garvey.