Note: The following article contains discussion of themes including suicide that some readers may find upsetting.
Peaky Blinders’ season 6 premiere tackled plenty of huge questions that have hung over the show since season five, and all within ten minutes of the episode starting.
Firstly there was the reveal that it was Captain Swing who foiled Tommy Shelby’s assassination plot on Oswald Mosley. Then we saw how the show would address the fate of Polly Shelby, after the untimely death of Helen McCrory.
Her exit (which we explain more here) was tied into Captain Swing’s “changes” to the Peaky Blinders organisation, resulting in Polly’s death alongside Aberama Gold (Aidan Gillen) and Barney Thompson (Cosmo Jarvis).
Tickna mora o’beng
The closing moments of the episode have thrown up even more questions, as Tommy’s daughter, Ruby, fell ill and started having a fever dream, including an ominous premonition, repeating the Romani words: “Tickna mora o’beng”.
Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) explains to Tommy that Ruby “kept saying these gypsy words, ‘tickna mora… tickna mora o’beng, o’beng’ over and over”.
At this point, Tommy panics and starts shouting at Lizzie to explain more, she adds that Ruby could also see “a man with green eyes”.
Tommy warns Lizzie to keep Ruby home from school and away from the river. He adds that Ruby can’t ride a horse, or go near a horse, meanwhile Curly should sleep in the stables with them. (Unlucky, mate).
Tommy then advises that Esmeralda, should be consulted like a doctor, as she’s a gypsy, and a Black Madonna should be placed around Ruby’s neck.
So what do these ominous fever dreams mean? Well, we put it to the man himself, creator Steven Knight.
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, Steven said: “It’s difficult to translate from the Romani, but it means ‘devil’. It means a bit more than that, but yeah. So it’s not good. It’s not a good thing.”
Meanwhile Den of Geek asked Steven if Tommy is the “devil” from the premonition, to which Steven explained: “Tommy’s biggest fear is that it’s him, but it’s not.
“Tommy in series six, and to an extent series five, discovers that he’s a good man when he comes across something more evil than him.
“And when he does come across that evil – which is Fascism – he discovers that actually, he will do things against his own interest, to prevent that from happening, which I think is one definition of being good.”
Fascism will likely lead us back to Oswald Mosley (Sam Claflin), and guess what? The actor has green eyes, too, just like in Ruby’s dream.
It’s also worth remembering that in the season-five finale, Tommy found out about his mother’s suicide, and that news has weighed heavily on him ever since.
His mother gave him a white horse, which she enjoyed watching Tommy ride – before later drowning herself in the canal after numerous attempts.
When he was hallucinating and about to shoot himself, we saw the silhouette of a black horse (assumed to be Tommy’s horse Dangerous, who he shot in series five) next to his dead wife, Grace.
We also know Tommy’s grandfather killed himself, so perhaps Tommy is worried that the curse on his family drives them to it, and all this might explain Tommy’s request to keep Ruby away from the river and horses.
Normally at this point it would make sense for Tommy to talk to Polly, given that she was always the mystical character, thought to have had second sight as well as being able to read tea leaves.
After the phone call with Lizzie, Tommy speaks out to the empty room in the hope Polly’s ghost can hear him. He explains: “They know I’m trying to get out, Pol. They’re coming for me.”
It’s great the show has managed to keep Polly’s character so central to the story, and at the front of Tommy’s mind despite her being killed, and it’s only natural Tommy would still speak to her as he’s still processing his grief.
Perhaps Tommy’s remark about “trying to get out” could reference a move towards Tommy’s eventual redemption, as Steven Knight has previously teased.
We know from the season-six trailer that Esme, the wife of Tommy’s dead brother John is going to appear. Esme is a gipsy and fled after John’s death, so she might be a logical character to advise about this potential curse now that Polly is no longer around…
Peaky Blinders series 6 premieres on Sunday, February 27.