The Last-Minute Story Decision That Completely Changed Peaky Blinders

Steven Knight's "Peaky Blinders" often kills off its characters and later resurrects them (sometimes, as ghosts). But one resurrection was a Hail Mary of sorts, for the show.

Following Alfie Solomons' (Tom Hardy) betrayal of Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy) during the American mafia's attempted takeover of the English crime world in season 4, he was shot by Tommy in the season finale. Alfie was presumed to be dead by everyone until the character appeared once more, an entire season later, revealing minor details of his impossible survival and crediting his second shot at life to drugs.

You'd think killing off a character of Alfie's distinction would require extensive planning, so the crew could bring him back at the right time. But it turns out, Alfie's death was a last-minute decision that was mainly conceived by actors Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy.

Dead ... Or Alive?

Speaking on the show's official podcast, "Obsessed With ..., Peaky Blinders", David Caffrey, who directed season 4 of the show, revealed that Tom Hardy's departure wasn't written into the script. Writer Steven Knight set the foundation for the shocking scene, but the actors approached it a little differently, making Alfie's death a last-minute decision.

"That was the thing with the script – that wasn't in the script," said Caffrey. "I think we started shooting. We had a tiny little window with Tom about. We did the stuff at the beer barrels in Liverpool, and then we were about to go to the beach.

So yeah, that particular scene — I think it was Tom and Cillian that sort of worked out the scene, that they fire their guns together and both fall over.

So pretty much the bones of the scene that Steve had written was there, but you know just through production reasons, you kind of have to approach things in a different way."

The scene led to fans speculating whether Alfie was truly dead and if Hardy had been written out of the historical drama series. Alfie Solomons didn't reappear until the season 5 finale, which saw Tommy visit him to ask for his help. Tommy needed Alfie's assistance in his plan to assassinate the fascist party leader Oswald Mosley and asked for Alfie's men to create a distraction at his rally so his sniper could take a shot at the politician. 

Unfortunately, Tommy was betrayed again. The sniper was killed before he can take his shot, which begs the question — who betrayed Tommy Shelby? Alfie had crossed Tommy before, but it seemed too simple for him to be responsible this time. The only people aware of Tommy's scheme were members of his close-knit circle, and imagining someone close to him had betrayed him is what drove Tommy to hold a gun to his head as the season 5 finale credits rolled. 

The "Peaky Blinders" season 6 trailer has confirmed that Tommy is alive — but not necessarily in great shape. As his mental health condition continues to worsen and the terrors of the impending World War II loom over his family, we're left to wonder if the Shelby family patriarch will make it out alive.

The BBC drama returns for its final season later this year, and with tensions at an all-time high, we might see Tommy face his demons head-on in season 6. He's promised not to rest until he finds a man he can't defeat, but we're yet to see if Oswald Mosley is that man.