Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 2’s bible verse has a layered meaning for Arthur and Tommy Shelby. Creator Steven Knight has said that Peaky Blinders’ final season will answer the question of whether Tommy can be redeemed and find a way back from the brink. The bible verse he quotes gives an indication of Tommy’s feelings towards Arthur, and what the final season could have in store for the Shelby brothers.
Arthur has always been the loose cannon in the Shelby family. He’s loyal to a fault, but quick to anger, with little control over his emotions or vices. With Tommy entering the opium business (which Arthur voted against in Peaky Blinders season 5) Arthur now has unlimited access to a new form of addiction. Without Polly to keep the Shelbys in line, Arthur has spiraled out of control, despite Ada’s best efforts to look out for him. Tommy meanwhile is juggling his business schemes, political adversaries, the IRA, Boston gangsters, and, more importantly, the wellbeing of his daughter Ruby. With all that on his shoulders, Arthur’s drug addiction is the last thing he needs.
In Peaky Blinders season 6 episode 2, Tommy Shelby is meeting with IRA leader Captain Swing when Ada enters and tells him she’s found Arthur with a syringe (again). In response, Tommy sighs and quotes Proverbs 17:17: “A friend loves at all times, but a brother is born for adversity.” The bible verse and the way Tommy recites it can be interpreted in several different ways. Taken literally, Proverbs 17:17 means that a true friend will be there for their companions in both the good times and the bad times, but the purpose of a brother is to be there in times of hardship. A friend’s true colors are therefore revealed during times of adversity, but a brother will be there no matter what. Another interpretation is that true “brotherhood” is forged through danger or hardship. That would certainly be true for Tommy and Arthur Shelby. Beyond being bound by blood, they’ve fought side-by-side in World War I, and against every adversary that has stood against the Peaky Blinders. Their bond as brothers is unbreakable.
Tommy’s exasperated sigh upon hearing about Arthur using opium again opens up yet another interpretation of the Proverbs bible verse. In Tommy’s mind, Arthur has been put on this earth to test Tommy through adversity. Tommy Shelby’s schemes are coming to a head in tandem with his adversaries closing in around him. His plans are finely balanced, and Arthur’s addiction makes him a liability that can easily destabilize everything he’s working tirelessly for. Tommy tries to incentivize his brother to get clean by telling him that Linda, (Arthur’s wife, who left him in Peaky Blinders season 5) is open to the prospect of forgiving him. He needs his older brother back on form and watching his back now more than ever, especially as Michael Gray is out for revenge.
While Tommy’s interpretation of the Proverbs bible verse paints Arthur as his adversity, Arthur has also shown that he’s there for Tommy through his adversity too. He saved Tommy’s life at the start of Peaky Blinders season 6 by taking the bullets out of his gun before he attempted to end his own life. Arthur’s brotherly love may be the key to Tommy Shelby’s survival and redemption. Whether Arthur Shelby also survives to the end of Peaky Blinders season 6 remains to be seen, but until his dying breath, he will be there for his brother, whether it’s part of Tommy’s grand plan or not.