After 5 seasons, Peaky Blinders is now set to provide the ending of Thomas Shelby’s story in season 6 and a final movie. Tommy Shelby has been the central figure of the show for its entire run as he heads the Shelby family, their business, and struggles with his own demons. The Peaky Blinders movie has the opportunity to bring his narrative to a close perfectly.
The British period crime epic has followed the Shelby crime family as they incorporated into the Shelby Company Limited and spread their reach to the United States. While early seasons focused heavily on the trauma that Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) experienced in World War 1, later seasons have shifted to lay the groundwork for World War 2. Despite taking a role as a member of parliament and regularly promising to go straight, Thomas Shelby has continually fallen back into criminal dealings and put himself into the center of dangerous plots and schemes.
While creator Steven Knight had originally planned for the story to conclude at the start of World War 2 with the first air raid siren in Birmingham, it is unclear whether the story will still stretch that far. Season 5 took place in 1929 and despite time jumps, another decade may be too much to cover in season 6 and the movie. However, there is plenty of time to tie up Thomas Shelby’s loose ends and set up a possible future for the rest of the Shelby family. Here’s everything the movie would need to cover to perfectly end Thomas Shelby’s Peaky Blinders story.
Thomas Shelby’s Death Wish Must Be Resolved
Since his introduction in Peaky Blinders season 1, Thomas Shelby has been struggling with the trauma caused by his experiences in World War 1. While this primarily manifested in trouble sleeping and drug usage to cope with his dreams to begin with, that has mutated in later seasons. Thomas Shelby has been shown to consider suicide multiple times and there is an implication that on a personal level his extravagant schemes serve to both distract him from his trauma and his dreams and also to put him in harm’s way such that he might die by somebody else’s hand. One way or another, the Peaky Blinders movie needs to find a way to resolve this death wish.
With Peaky Blinders season 6 and the movie seemingly planned to close the book on Thomas Shelby, one obvious way to resolve his death wish would be to show the character’s eventual demise. Alternatively, Tommy could be shown to find some lasting peace having completed his schemes and settled down in some capacity. Both of these might be difficult to pull off in a way that feels compelling for audiences, however. Thomas Shelby has been shown to be resourceful and regularly has one trick up his sleeve and a violent death could feel like too much of a failure of the character’s basic traits. Meanwhile, finding true peace for Tommy Shelby could be equally hard in a way that doesn’t undermine his established PTSD without him finding deeper value in something outside his work than he currently has. One of these is ultimately necessary, as the other option is to show him moving on to a new scheme in an independent capacity and while this might be true to the character it would be too open-ended and leave his shadow hanging over the possible future spinoffs.
Peaky Blinders Needs To Settle Tommy’s Love Life
Thomas Shelby has had several relationships throughout Peaky Blinders TV show, but there are two that still need addressing as part of his character’s closure. While his time with the rich widow May Carleton (Charlotte Riley) came to a natural conclusion, his relationships with Grace Shelby (née Burgess) and Lizzie Shelby (née Stark) remain open issues. Grace’s death and his problematic relationship with Lizzie still must be resolved.
Grace’s season 3 death has continued to haunt Tommy Shelby with her appearing as hallucinations during his drug use in season 5. His grief and fear of partial responsibility for her death drives his own death wish and to not show him moving on from this moment before his closure would only work if Netflix’s Peaky Blinders movie ended with his death. On the other end of the spectrum, Thomas Shelby’s continued marriage to Lizzie is problematic as he cheats on her and views her as property. Their relationship either needs to be reformed or ended completely before the book is closed on Thomas’ story. Lizzie’s insistence on keeping to her wedding vows makes a complete split seem unlikely, but a larger transformation or redemption for Thomas might make their relationship more acceptable going forward.
The Shelby Company Limited Needs A Future (In A Peaky Blinders Spinoff?)
As Peaky Blinders has progressed the Shelby Company Limited has become as central a character as Tommy or any of the other Shelby’s themselves. With season 5 focusing on Thomas Shelby’s fear that someone is coming for his crown as the women attempt to take over the operation of the business and Michael Gray is considered as a possible traitor, it has become clear that the company is about more than just Thomas Shelby at this point. Its fate beyond the story of Thomas Shelby needs to be clarified within the movie, and with rumors of Peaky Blinders spinoff series in the works, it could be the vehicle to start new stories in the future.
The expansion of the Shelby Company Limited has already hinted at what some of these Peaky Blinders spinoffs might involve. While Thomas Shelby has moved further into the world of politics, factions of the business have been in charge of their own international criminal trade. The most obvious possibility seems to be Michael Gray’s ventures in America which would open the future series to being able to take place in different locations and time periods while still trading under the Shelby Company name. While Thomas Shelby might end up taking the company down with him, the spinoffs make it likely that it will survive, and it needs to be clear what that future might look like without Thomas Shelby at the helm.
Thomas Shelby’s Legacy Must Be Secured
By the time that the movie is released, Peaky Blinders will have spent 6 seasons and over a decade telling Thomas Shelby’s story. Whatever happens to the man at the end of the movie, his legacy needs to be established, along with what that means for the Shelby Company Limited, his remaining family, and the future generation that is set to come. While Peaky Blinders could have decided to conclude on a dark tragic note with the death of the Shelby family and their company as a nod to the short-lived existence of the real Shelby Gang, the spinoffs suggest there is at least some future to be had.
The changing world around Birmingham has been a consistent theme in the show as it has threatened the continued existence of the Peaky Blinders. The family has been shown to adapt to this in part by bringing in younger blood in the form of Finn and Michael, who don’t always agree with Tommy Shelby, but will help with the business. This suggests that the show will prepare to hand the company off to the new blood, with the potential for Esme to return with John’s children in the future. However, if they take over, they need to carry on and honor Thomas Shelby’s legacy to provide a compelling conclusion to Peaky Blinders as they set up the world beyond.