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TV Review: Taboo 1.3 “Episode 3”
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FX's Taboo Starring Tom Hardy

Episode 1.3 “Episode 3”
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 24th, 2017

Spoilers below for the FX series Taboo:

James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) is at war with the British East India Company over a small piece of land between Canada and the United States. A trade war between competing shipping companies doesn’t seem like the most intense of topics for a show, especially on the FX network, noted for its risky hard-hitting series like American Horror Story and Sons of Anarchy. But there is much more than meets the eye here. There are assassination attempts, love triangles, battles over inheritance, and the issue of Delaney’s mysterious past. He was thought dead, but is very much alive and full of visions from his journeys throughout Africa and maybe his Native American mother. We left Delaney off, having been wounded while surviving an attacker’s blade, while a strange actress showed up to contest his claims to his deceased father’s company.

Taboo 1.3 review: Delaney wakes up on the table of Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly of House of Cards fame). This is particularly distressing since he threatened Dumbarton’s life last episode. Yet the good doctor works to heal him, stitching up his wound in a quid pro quo of sorts… I heal you, you pay me with information as to your plan. It’s revealed that Nootka Sound, the land in dispute, is the gateway to China, and Delaney wants a meeting with Thomas Jefferson in exchange for access to “all the tea in China.”

Along with murdering their would be assassin, Delaney turns to legal ways of screwing with the East India Company. He has a will written up to leave his holdings, including Nootka to the United States of America. And since the War of 1812 is nearing it’s end, that means he’s essentially prevented them from further plots on his life… at least from them, after all, Dumbarton is American. The representative of the King, Solomon Coop (James Watkins) meets with Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) of the E.I.C. to discuss their next steps. It seems Delaney has made an offer to both America and the King to give up Nootka in exchange for a trade monopoly from Vancouver to China.

Coop goes to Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley), Delaney’s father’s estranged widow, to try to cut a backdoor bargain. Meanwhile Delaney follows the E.I.C. bookkeeper to an underground sex exchange where he blackmails him into giving him company secrets. He continues to pursue his sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), and has an encounter with her husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall) who offers his help to Delaney with insurance. Everyone in this series is trying to make a deal, and with multiple people. “Trust No One” would be an excellent tagline. Thorne goes for broke, and goes into vivid detail about his sex life with Zilpha since Delaney’s return. That scene was tremendous in its intensity and awkwardness. Jefferson Hall ups the ante with his interactions with Zilpha later.

Taboo is a very difficult show to discuss and review. The episodes are long, over 80 minutes including commercials, and there is much talking, plotting, and backstabbing. There are politics, trade discussions, lawyers, and representatives. But what is clear is Tom Hardy’s absolute devotion to the character of James Delaney, and the period the show takes place. He is a revelation as is the rest of cast with Jefferson Hall measuring an 11 on the creepy-meter. It is a hard show, but one worth investing your time in.

Taboo airs Tuesday nights at 10:00pm ET on FX.

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