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'Peaky Blinders' fan recap: Racehorses and robberies

Season 1 | Episode 1 | “Episode 1” | Aired Sep 20, 2014

If you’ve ever wondered how the other half lived while watching Downton Abbey, then look no further: Peaky Blinders takes you to the streets of 1919 Birmingham, England, from the view of the Shelby family’s gang, who sew razor blades into their caps and fix horse races for profit.

The pilot opens with Cillian Murphy’s looming Thomas Shelby, who rides into town on a black horse as the townspeople cower behind their gates, watching to see what his presence will bring. He asks for “the woman who tells fortunes,” so she can put a “spell” on his race horse. He tells the people the name of the horse, so they can bet on it and boost the economy a bit after World War I’s lasting impacts. In reality, it’s a way for his family gang, Peaky Blinders, to dupe the people into gambling their money away on a horse that his family of bookies will make sure doesn’t win.

Thomas rides back home after his little spectacle, only to be met with anger and annoyance from his older brother and the gang leader, Arthur (Paul Anderson). Arthur is furious with Thomas for pulling the stunt with the horse—he doesn’t want to take the chance that the horse will win, causing them to lose a lot of money. He also informs Tommy that they need to have a family meeting, because there is a new cop in town, who’s come all the way from Belfast.

Cut to Inspector Chester Campbell (Sam Neill) on the train to Birmingham, looking over the folders of Thomas Shelby and Freddie Thorne, a suspected Communist and rebel who just happened to serve alongside Thomas in the war. After the montage of file shuffling, we see Thomas enter the local bar, where Freddie happens to be lurking.

The two share a strained exchange—clearly something bad happened between the two—before a manic Danny Whizz-Bang (Samuel Edward Cook) stumbles into the bar in the midst of a PTSD fit. Tommy and Freddie calm him down and reassure him that he isn’t in the trenches any longer. The barman tells Tommy he needs to control Danny before something goes seriously wrong.

At the Shelby family meeting, Arthur further discusses the arrival of the “copper” with Thomas and the ladies of the family, Aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) and Ada (Sophie Rundle). The family assumes they shouldn’t have anything to worry about if they keep a low profile, but Polly sees Tommy’s discomfort and assumes he isn’t telling them everything.

She later meets him at an empty church, where he admits that when he was in London, a routine robbery took a turn for the worse, and his men accidentally stole two crates filled with guns that the government meant to ship to Libya. Polly scolds him for being foolish and tells him to send the guns away so their family can’t be pinned to the robbery; he tells her he’ll take care of it.

That night, we discover Ada has been sneaking around with Freddie; they meet under a bridge on the outskirts of town because the Shelbys wouldn’t approve of him. Although the family wouldn’t approve of a Communist, Arthur doesn’t seem to have any problem with renting out the whole movie theater to enjoy a date with two ladies at once. He starts to get friendly with the gals, but their outing is interrupted by the police. The cops drag Arthur to the police station, where Campbell beats the living daylights out of him for information on “the robbery.” Afterward, Arthur convinces Campbell that he doesn’t know anything about any robbery, and Campbell proposes a partnership between himself and the Shelbys to find the culprits.

Meanwhile, in town, a mysterious Irishwoman named Grace (Annabelle Wallis) enters the bar looking for a job. The barman tells her she’s too pretty to work there, but she convinces him to hire her once she starts singing, which she says calms down bar patrons. After getting the job, Thomas requests a bottle of rum from her. He promptly offends her by asking if she is a whore; if not, she’s in the wrong place. Great first impression.

He takes the bottle of rum to Arthur to help clean his wounds from his beating. Arthur tells Tommy and the family about the deal with Campbell, and Tommy is hesitant to comply. However, Polly seems to think it’s a good idea, and implies that Tommy had better take care of his problem to not raise suspicions.

Campbells meet with a young Winston Churchill (Andy Nyman) about his investigation into the gun robbery. Churchill warns Campbell, however, that his violent interrogation methods should be kept under wraps; in England, “bodies wash up on the front page.” Campbell then meets up with Grace, who’s there to help do some recon for him.

Later that day, Danny experiences another episode, which ends with him stabbing an Italian storekeeper. Unfortunately, to keep the peace between the Shelbys and the Italians, Thomas is forced to kill Danny with an Italian audience to make sure the job gets done. Tommy arranges for his men to bring about one of their boats in the harbor, has Danny stand in front of it, then promptly shoots him as the boast sails past, catching the body. A coldhearted move, but it turns out that the whole thing was faked; Danny is now off to London to do some business for the family. He’s officially a Peaky Blinder.

At the episode’s conclusion, Tommy loads up his boats to get the guns out of town. He tells his uncle that he’s changed his mind about dumping the guns, and asks him to hide them away in one of the sheds where they keep stolen goods. If the government is willing to go through the trouble of sending in people to find the guns, he’s not going to miss out on the opportunity to sell them right back.

A lot happens in this first episode, and it does a great job of establishing the family’s ominous and controlling presence over Birmigham. Hopefully in the next episode, we’ll see just what Danny is being sent to do, whether Tommy and Grace will start to develop a flirtation, and if Aunt Polly will continue to be the real badass of the family. She probably will.

Peaky Blinders is available on Netflix.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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