For being Birmingham’s biggest gang of bookmakers, smugglers, and overall ruffians, the Shelby family hasn’t gotten up to much troublemaking ever since Peaky Blinders returned for its final six-episode outing. This has led to a lot of fans complaining about how the series has failed to maintain the action-filled gravitas of its previous runs. But according to director Anthony Byrne, who helmed the entirety of season five and is now back for the ongoing final season, this was a deliberate creative decision.
In a chat with RadioTimes, Byrne said that he respects the criticism, but isn’t sure if the producers should cater to fan expectations.
“You’re taking a show like Peaky that is culturally relevant, it’s a TV phenomenon, and there’s an expectation of ‘I want Arthur kicking the s**t out of people and I want Tommy being Tommy and more Peaky stuff,'” he said. “Season 4 was that. Season 4 was a gangster season with the Italians and the Peakys. There was a lot of gangster stuff and guns and all of that. And then season 5 was about the rise of fascism and it was darker. Season 6 is a character piece about the darkness of Tommy Shelby’s soul and it’s how far down is he going to have to go before he can get out. And will there be any left of him? That’s what it is for me. And audiences who love the character will go with it because they’re on a journey with this guy, with Tommy Shelby.”
That’s certainly true of Knight’s intentions, who had previously teased that the final season will be about whether or not Tommy can find redemption at the end of his arduous journey, paved with the blood of innocent people. Byrne further explained why they decided to take the series down a more dramatic path as opposed to an action-filled one:
“There’s always going to be an element of people who want just the same stuff, but we’re not in it for that because it has to evolve, and it has to change. And it has to challenge the audience’s expectations and take you on a far deeper experience than you’re expecting to go.”
While the story of Tommy may come to a close by the end of this final season, the producers will be back with a sequel film that takes audiences well into World War II, with familiar faces expected to reprise their respective roles. For now, we’ll have to wait and see how many of them will actually make it out of this season alive, despite its calmer vibe.