Ahead of Peaky Blinders sixth season, fans of the show have been speculating and theorizing what could become of the Shelby Clan after their plan to assassinate fascist leader Oswald Mosley (Sam Clafin) was thwarted. Season five’s finale left the Shelbys divided, on their heels, and surrounded by enemies.
While it will technically be the last season of television for the Peaky Blinders, the conclusion of the Shelby Saga will be featured in a full length film. With the story coming to the end, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) and the Peaky Blinders will have to identify the “Black Cat” in their outfit, survive the dissension in their ranks, and rebuild alliances to defend their family and territory.
Michael & Gina Gray Will Become Primary Antagonists
The ascension of Michael Gray (Finn Cole) has been developing since his introduction in season two. We’ve seen him sink deeper and deeper into the Shelby’s criminal way of life, taking on more responsibility with intelligence and ambition. Returning from America in season four with his new wife, Gina (Anya Taylor-Joy), Michael’s ambition outgrew his underling status, looking to challenge Tommy’s claim to the Shelby throne.
Michael threw down the gauntlet in season five’s finale, proposing a complete restructure of the family business, with him taking over the lucrative opium venture with the Chinese. Tommy’s rejection of this offer left the door wide open for Michael and Gina to break away from the Peaky Blinder, only to return as a rival and enemy. This would further extend the growing list of antagonists that want Thomas Shelby dead, including Oswald Mosley, the ruthless The Billy Boys, and the Titanic Gang from Ireland.
Aunt Polly’s Exit
With the untimely and unfortunate passing of the brilliant Helen McCrory, the character of Aunt Polly may be making an early exit in season six. Polly was at a bit of a crossroads during the show’s fifth season, as we saw her ambitious son Michael break ranks with a proposal to take over the family business. As “the leader of a new generation”, Michael’s offer to restructure the company and take hold of the Peaky Blinder’s opium business was swiftly shut down by Tommy, considering the proposal as a defiant betrayal.
Tommy acknowledges that Michael’s mutiny may escalate, leaving Aunt Polly in the difficult position of choosing sides against her family. While she ultimately disapproves of Michael’s betrayal, Aunt Polly would never take sides against her only son, and would be wise not to betray Tommy. Along with the death of her fiancé, Aberama Gold, the show may find Polly taking her chips and walking away from the Shelby life for good. It would d be a fitting conclusion McCrory’s character, as the resilient and vibrant matriarch who couldn’t bear to watch her family tear themselves apart.
Who is the “Black Cat”?
As a superstitious family, the Shelbys take dreams and signs from the universe very seriously. In season five, Tommy has been having visions of a black cat, which Aunt Polly interprets as a traitor in their midst. While the foreshadowing is clear, there are many disgruntled parties within the Shelby’s inner circle who may be looking to make a move. Billy Grade (Emmet J. Scanlan), lounge singer and football match fixer for the Peaky Blinders, was seen reaching for the phone after Finn Shelby (Harry Kirton) revealed Tommy’s plan to assassinate Oswald Mosley, heavily implying he is the culprit behind the foiled plan. It may be the case that his allegiances lie with Mosley, Michael, or even the likes of the far-right Economic League. However, this may be a red herring, as Grade was only informed of the hit on Mosley, but not about the hit on the Billy Boys leader, Jimmy McCavern (Brian Gleeson), which also failed and left Aberama Gold dead.
Tommy only divulged his full plan to Arthur, Aberama Gold, Uncle Charlie Strong, and Johnny Dogs. Aberama Gold (Aiden Gillen) was instantly suspicious of Johnny Dogs after the Billy Boys ambushed his remote homestead and murdered his son Bonnie. While he explicitly states that he “is no Black Cat”, Johnny Dogs dislike for Aberama Gold was well known, and he may have used Tommy’s plan to assassination Mosley/McCavern to get rid of Gold for good.
The Shelbys Will Regroup By Building Alliances – New and Old
Thomas Shelby may find it hard to trust anyone after what occurred during Mosley’s fascist rally, but it’d be unwise to think he will be able to defeat his enemies alone. Between Oswald Mosley, The Billy Boys, the Irish “Titanic Gang”, and the seditious Michael Gray, the Peaky Blinders will be in dire need of extra firepower and strategic alliances.
Resurrected from the dead, Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) still wields some power in the criminal underworld and should prove to be helpful to the Peaky Blinders, if he can be trusted. Another key ally to Tommy is the power politician, Winston Churchill (Neil Maskell). While Solomons and Churchill may have had a hand in Tommy’s foiled assassination plot, they both have vested interests in snuffing out the growing flames of fascism. Besides old allies, Tommy may look to capitalize on his business dealings by reaching out to Brilliant Chang, their new opium supplier, and possibly the Italian Mafiosos in America, after they sold out Luca Changretta (Adrien Brody). It remains to be seen if the Chang or the Italians decided to side with Michael instead of Tommy, but their connections and resources could give the Peaky Blinders a fighting chance to defeat their formidable adversaries.
Tommy Shelby Will Fake His Own Death
Character resurrections and faking deaths have become recurring themes on Peaky Blinders. The very first episode of the series ends with Tommy staging the murder of Danny Whizbang for the Italians, only to send him on assignment in London. Arthur is resurrected after his failed assassination during the war with Luca Changretta. Even Alfie Solomons took a bullet to the face by Tommy’s hand, only to return half-dead, using his perceived death to his advantage.
Tommy’s conversation with Alfie in Season 5 revealed his newfound satisfaction with “the afterlife”, keeping the authorities and his enemies at arms length. Tommy’s suicidal ways combined with Alfie’s cushy situation, may allow Tommy to recognize that his death may be the only relief from his endless ambition and the revolving door enemies he faces. Michael’s deal to restructure the company also hinted that Tommy should take a step back from his criminal enterprise, pulling the strings from afar with the alias “Mr. Jones”. Beyond what he could gain from faking his own death, the show continues to emphasize the Shelby’s history with suicide, and Tommy’s own suicidal tendencies. It would not come as a surprise if Tommy decides to stage his own death to outmaneuver the long list of enemies who sense blood in the water.