Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) rises from the ground, his face half clean and half blackened with mud, at the start of Peaky Blinders’ sixth and final season, a visual encapsulation of the Peaky Blinders boss’ continuing war between his light and dark sides. That conflict remains the crux of Steven Knight’s immensely popular British gangster series, whose largely thrilling and satisfying six-part conclusion (debuting on Netflix June 10) finds Tommy once more resurrecting himself in order to straighten out the mess he’s made—in this case, his Season 5 failure to assassinate rancid British Union of Fascists bigwig Sir Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), which has resulted in the killing of his beloved Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory).
Driven by the untimely real-life passing of McCrory in 2021, Polly’s death proves the catalyst for Peaky Blinders’ small-screen wrap-up. Four years after this 1929 calamity, Tommy has given up whiskey in an act of turning over a new leaf and leaving his lethal underworld ways behind. Regardless, Polly’s son Michael (Finn Cole) blames Tommy for his mother’s murder and is hell-bent on revenge. With American prohibition coming to an end, Tommy and Michael meet on Miquelon Island—where French bootleggers earned a tidy profit running booze to and from the States—and strike an uneasy alliance to re-employ these ferrymen to smuggle their opium into the U.S. To do this, Tommy and Michael need the okay of Jack Nelson (James Frecheville), a South Boston kingpin who’s the uncle of Michael’s wife Gina Gray (Anya Taylor-Joy). Yet to maintain the upper hand in these negotiations, Tommy swiftly frames Michael and lands him in jail, thus allowing him to deal with Nelson himself.
Peaky Blinders has always pivoted around Murphy’s magnetic performance as Tommy, a crook whose noble designs—which have led him to become a socialist member of parliament who fights for the working class of his Birmingham hometown—are at perpetual odds with his amoral behavior. Throughout this season, Tommy repeatedly states, “I have no limitations,” and the sentiment is at once true and something he tells himself to bolster his confidence as he charts his latest perilous course. At the top of his priorities is the aforementioned opium deal, which necessitates wooing Nelson, who soon arrives on English shores looking to secure profitable new liquor licenses. However, given that Nelson is a not-so-covert Nazi sympathizer whose main objective on this trip is to learn (on behalf of President Roosevelt) how close Britain is to tipping toward fascism, Tommy’s business with Nelson also invariably involves Mosley, who—along with his evil mistress Lady Diana Mitford (Amber Anderson) and IRA official Laura McKee (Charlene McKenna)—is striving to solidify European support for Hitler’s new world order.