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Note: The following article contains spoilers for Peaky Blinders' season 5 finale.
Peaky Blinders' season 5 finale saw the boldest cliffhanger in the show's history with Tommy Shelby's mental trauma culminating with him facing down his dead wife – and horse – while pointing a gun at his head, seemingly poised to pull the trigger.
If you were a bit confused by the finale, it's worth remembering Tommy has been acutely experiencing PTSD from World War I and his various brushes with death since the start of the show – plus there's been plenty of excessive drinking and smoking opium in between.
Throughout season 5, Tommy hallucinates an apparition of his dead wife Grace Shelby (Annabelle Wallis) multiple times, in which she repeats back their old conversations and tries to convince him to take his own life.
The first time Grace returns she tells Tommy: "You have to listen to the voices that you hear. Do what they tell you to do."
Tommy seems reluctant at first, as he replies: "Too much to do Grace. The kids... I need to say goodbye. I need to sleep."
The quest for Tommy's "sleep" is an issue that recurs throughout the season and could be taken as insomnia, or a metaphor for taking his own life and finally sleeping for good.
Later in episode 4, 'The Loop', Grace blames her death on Tommy and says "It wasn't the blue stone, it was you." This harks back to the supposedly cursed sapphire from season 3, which Tommy gave to Grace, shortly before she was shot.
Back then, Tommy sought absolution from a wise gyspy woman, as he wants to believe that the jewel was cursed and it wasn't his fault for her death. Interestingly here, he says again he needs to get some sleep.
During Grace's appearance in Tommy's office in episode 4, the camera lingers on the gun in the open drawer next to his hand. Then shows him standing above the canal, while Grace's body floats away underneath on a narrow boat driven by Tommy himself.
In the following scene we find out that Tommy has been dreaming about his father's narrowboat named 'The January', which is the same month the British Union of Fascists is set to launch with Oswald Mosley, suggesting the two events – Tommy's reuniting with Grace and the new party – will coincide.
By the time we see Grace in episode 5, Tommy is about to press his car's ignition and she says: "Push the button. Unlock the door and come home to me." He presses it almost immediately and expectantly turns around to see that she's gone. This suggests Tommy could now be more resolute to reunite with his wife.
Then in Peaky Blinders' season 5 finale, Charlie reveals that Tommy's mother and grandfather also killed themselves. "Sometimes these things run in the family," he says.
Interestingly, Charlie says that Tommy's mother bought him a white horse to ride, which was the only thing that made her happy before she killed herself. To parallel this, when Tommy faces Grace in the final moments of the episode, it's a black horse standing behind her – likely Dangerous, who Tommy shot at the beginning of the season.
In the final line of the episode, Grace tells Tommy: "The work's all done, Tommy. It's all done. We can walk away from all of this. It's so easy and so soft. Such a small change."
It's not 100% clear how much of the final scenes take place for real. Arthur and Tommy's conversation about who betrayed the assassination plan on Oswald Mosley jumps location from the rally to outside Tommy's house without interruption.
The female breaths which have soundtracked Tommy's hallucinations begin while he's ranting at the rally about who betrayed him, they stop when he's talking to Arthur and begin again when he marches into the field. So perhaps his conversation with Arthur wasn't a delusion, but it certainly is once he enters the field.
The final scene in the misty field transpires exactly how Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy) predicts earlier in the episode, he says: "I had a recurring dream, I saw you, in a field with a big black horse and you said goodbye and then, bang."
BUT despite the shocking and abrupt ending, we don't see or hear that "bang", and it's probably a safe bet that Tommy Shelby isn't going to actually pull the trigger.
Not least because he's the show's leading man, but also creator Steven Knight confirmed his season 6 comeback to BBC News: "We've talked to [lead actor] Cillian Murphy and he's all for it, and the rest of the principal cast are in for it."
The real question is what sort of state will Tommy Shelby be in when we he returns in season 6? Will he be locked up like his war comrade Barney Thomason? Perhaps he'll be condemned to bed rest and left incoherent. Or maybe he'll be missing and we'll see more time of him lost in his delusions with Grace.
Director Anthony Byrne has described season 6 as part one of two, so it's likely we'll get a resolution to the cliffhanger, along with the show's trademark time jump, which could mean that Tommy has recovered from his psychosis.
Tommy has an uneasy relationship with Oswald Mosley and precarious position as Deputy Leader of the British Union of Fascists even before this assassination attempt.
Meanwhile the Peaky Blinders have begun to lose territory to the Billy Boys, had key members killed and Polly has resigned.
Finally Michael and Gina Gray are unlikely to abandon their takeover attempt of the Shelby Company Ltd and still have that "second option" at play.
Tommy Shelby has so much to lose – so it stands to reason, as with most famous gangster epics, that the future will chart his downfall.
Digital Spy's Editor, Laurence Mozafari hosts the official podcast for the show, called Obsessed With… Peaky Blinders. The next episode will be available soon on BBC Sounds.
Peaky Blinders season 5 is available on iPlayer.
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