Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Peaky Blinders series finale.
After nine years, six seasons, 36 episodes and dozens of dead bodies (at least), the last ever episode of Peaky Blinders aired on BBC One on Sunday night. And while the period crime drama teased that the death of its protagonist was inevitable, Tommy Shelby’s final fate – and that of many of the Birmingham crime lord’s allies and enemies – was ultimately far less definitive than many viewers expected.
But then, that’s hardly surprising, considering series creator Steven Knight is currently hard at work on a Peaky Blinders film. This big screen spin-off will mark the true finale for Cillian Murphy’s Tommy, his siblings Arthur and Ada, and the rest of their criminal associates. Fans will have to wait a while for the Peaky Blinders movie, though. Cameras aren’t set to roll on the production until 2023, which means it’s likely to premiere sometime in 2024.
So, to help kill time between now and then, let’s unpack the ending of Peaky Blinders Season 6 and tease out how these events could set up the spin-off film.
How does Peaky Blinders Season 6 end?
The biggest revelation in Peaky Blinders Season 6, Episode 6, “Lock and Key”, is that Tommy Shelby’s terminal tuberculoma diagnosis is a fake-out. On the verge of taking his own life, Tommy has a vision of his late daughter, Ruby, who convinces him not to pull the trigger. Moments later, the Peaky Blinders boss uncovers evidence that suggests his illness is a hoax and implicates Sam Claflin’s Sir Oswald Mosley as the mastermind responsible.
Tommy wastes no time tracking down Mosley’s accomplice (and fellow fascist) Doctor Halford, although he ultimately refrains from putting a bullet in Halford’s brain – suggesting this cold-blooded killer is now a changed man. When we last see Tommy, he’s riding out into the wilderness as the last remnants of his old life go up in flames behind him. But then, it’s his only option, given the overall state of his personal life up to that point. His wife Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) has finally left him, his son Charlie (Billy Jenkins) went with her, and he already reduced his manor house to rubble to make way for affordable housing for the city’s working classes.
The other major development in the Peaky Blinders series finale is the death of Finn Cole’s Michael Gray. Michael’s vendetta towards his cousin Tommy is the driving force of Season 6, with the young gangster blaming Shelby for the offscreen death of his mother, Polly (played in Seasons 1-5 by the late McCrory), in Episode 1, “Black Day”. Here, that quest ends as Polly previously prophesised it would: with one of the two men dead. Michael is the one who ultimately ends up six feet under, dispatched by Tommy with a single shot to the eye shortly after his criminal associates are blown sky-high.
The other veteran members of Birmingham’s best-dressed crime family get comparatively less screen time in “Lock and Key”, however, their respective character arcs are all nudged forward to differing degrees. Arthur (Paul Anderson) has kicked his opium addiction and is once again a force to be reckoned with. He even takes revenge on Polly’s killers, IRA Captain Swing (Charlene McKenna), during the episode’s stunningly staged shootout sequence. Then there’s Sophie Rundle’s Ada, who walks away with control of the Shelby Company Limited’s finances and Tommy’s endorsement for his soon-to-be vacant seat in Parliament.
Then there’s the younger generation of Peaky Blinders, Tommy’s youngest brother Finn (Harry Kirton) and his illegitimate first-born Erasmus “Duke” Shelby (Conrad Khan), to consider. Duke proves himself to be true Shelby material during the series finale, gunning down the traitor in their midst, Emmett J. Scanlan’s Billy Grade. At the same time, Finn proves he can’t quite cut the mustard, and his refusal to bump off Billy and willingness to take sides against the family sees him booted out of the Peaky Blinders by Duke – while promising retaliation, naturally.
How does Peaky Blinders Season 6 set up the Peaky Blinders movie?
So, what does all this mean for the upcoming Peaky Blinders cinematic spin-off?
Well, for one thing, it seems unlikely that Tommy’s implied retirement from the criminal way of life will last. Sure, his decision to spare Halford’s life suggests he can control his inner demons. And yes, the final shots in “Lock and Key” represent a symbolic death and rebirth for the character. Yet Tommy still has plenty of enemies at large – most notably Mosely and Boston mobster Jack Nelson – so it’s only a matter of time before they come calling… or Tommy seeks them out.
Michael’s widow Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy) is still alive and kicking, too, which means there’s a decent chance she’ll seek to avenge her husband’s death in the Peaky Blinders movie. Gina even expresses the desire to wipe out every male Shelby (including little Charlie!) early in Episode 6, and with her Uncle Jack’s firepower behind her, she could make good on this threat.
Gina won’t be the only woman making waves in the Peaky Blinders spin-off, either. The series finale heavily foreshadowed Ada’s entry into politics, to the extent you can almost treat this development as a certainty. The same applies to Duke and Finn; their bitter (and no doubt violent) rivalry is virtually guaranteed to be a major plot point in the upcoming movie.
By contrast, it’s harder to pin down what the Peaky Blinders film has in store for Arthur Shelby. His brief farewell letter to Tommy hinted at his own impending demise, which seems like ol’ Arthur contemplating suicide. Knowing Arthur, he’ll likely go the suicide by proxy route and get cut down in a hail of gunfire courtesy of Mosely, the IRA, or the Boston gang. That said, it’s equally possible that Tommy’s older brother was simply saying that his years of substance abuse are starting to catch up with him, and nothing more.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter or Facebook!