TV Review: Taboo 1.2
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Episode 1.2
Written by Steven Knight
Directed by Kristoffer Nyholm
Starring Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Jonathan Pryce, Jefferson Hall, Franka Potente, David Hayman
Air date: January 17, 2017

Spoilers below for the FX series Taboo:

Last week we were introduced to the latest bizarre series from FX, a series years in the making for star and co creator Tom Hardy called Taboo. Hardy plays James Keziah Delaney, who was thought dead, drowned en route to Africa. Unfortunately for those who look to profit from his father’s death, Delaney is very much alive and the sole inheritor of his father’s trading empire and possession of a crucial piece of land, Nootka Sound, located between British-controlled Canada and the United States. Being that this is 1814 and the War of 1812 is entering its final stretch, this land is important, especially to the British East India Company and its head, Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce), who tries unsuccessfully to buy the land from Delaney. Delaney has other ideas, some of which include finding out who poisoned his father, and also a possible rekindling of things with his half-sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin).

On this week’s Episode 1.2, Strange wants Delaney dead, but to his annoyance, Delaney is buying ships at auction and dumping the food and drinks in his father’s estate. He finds out from Atticus (Stephen Graham) that a man came to him a year ago asking to kill his father, and they work out a deal for Atticus to be Delaney’s eyes and ears, since he’s amassing enemies. A strange young girl named Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood) approaches Delaney telling of a silver-toothed man out to kill him. This whole show is very weird. Hardy is one of the few actors around I can picture playing a “hero” this dark and twisted. In many ways he resembles his character from The Revenant. Following Winter’s lead, he sneaks onto the killer’s ship and burns it into the sea.

He seeks counsel from Brace (David Hayman), his father’s butler. Delaney needs a copy of the Nootka treaty to prove the land was acquired fairly and not through conquest. He seeks allies and goes to Helga (Franka Potente), the owner of the brothel, and discerns that Winter is her daughter and thus she will help him. He is in constant pursuit of his father’s killer and his would be assassin, and that keeps bringing him closer to blows with the East India Company. We finally get to the reading of Father Delaney’s will and Zilpha is completely left out. Her husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall) is not impressed. “That legacy is your death sentence,” he screams. I challenge anyone to find an actor with a better angry-face on television right now. When all the dust settles from the Will reading, a woman approaches with some interesting news for all parties”¦ a woman, Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) was married to Horace Delaney for 2 years in Ireland.

After the ordeal at the Will reading, Atticus reports on the mystery person seeking his murderous services”¦ Thorne Geary. When the lawyer Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson) goes to the East India Company with the news, Strange is overjoyed. Miss Bow would receive full control of Nootka, in the case of James Delaney’s death, which he states, is imminent. More imminent than even he knows as someone follows Delaney home.

Taboo is a dark and interesting show set in an often forgotten period of history. There are so many layers to Tom Hardy’s James Delaney and he is such an intriguing character, yet the show is taking a slow burn approach and showing barely anything. He is haunted and we see glimpses of his past, but none more than mere glimpses. While the history teacher in me loves the story of competition between rival trading companies during the time of the War of 1812, I feel the general audience may need to see pace and plot quicken ever so slightly. The show airs at 10:00pm on a Tuesday, and audiences will expect a certain level of excitement in order to commit over an hour that late on a work night. That said, the intrigue level is there, the acting and sets are fantastic and Hardy seems fully committed (as always) to leave audiences wholly satisfied.

Taboo returns next Tuesday night at 10:00 on FX.


Episode 2 | Season 1 Episode 2 Trailer | Taboo

As James Delaney assembles his league of the damned, an unexpected arrival threatens to disrupt his plans.

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