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TV Review: Taboo 1.5 “Episode 5”
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Episode 1.5 “Episode 5”
Written by Steven Knight & Ben Hervey
Directed by Anders Engstrom
Starring Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Jonathan Pryce, Jefferson Hall, Franka Potente, David Hayman
Air date: February 7th, 2017

Spoilers below for the FX series Taboo:

Last week’s episode of Taboo on FX was the best of the season thus far. James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) continues his war against the East India Company by launching an assault on their stockpiles of raw materials. Since no one will sell Delaney gunpowder to use as trade goods with the Natives in America, he will make his own with the help of chemist Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander). Delaney was at a debaucherous gala at the time of the murderous robbery, trying to cut more and more backdoor deals, and woo his half sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) to run away with him. This doesn’t sit well with her husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall), who at last call challenged Delaney to a duel… to the death!

More below.

The duel doesn’t go according to plan for Thorne. You see, his second forgot to load the chamber of his gun. Since Delaney signed a will giving all control of coveted Nootka Sound to the Americans should he die, the East India Company and the Crown are in a unique position of needing him alive. Having survived yet another bout against death, Delaney goes to continue his plan. Continue making the gunpowder, rounding up allies, his “League of the Damned” as Lorna Bow (Jennie Buckley) describes them. Her relationship with Delaney is growing closer and closer though he is not exactly the romantic type, especially with his obsession with Zilpha.

I need to pause and just discuss Tom Hardy. This is the guy who I felt outshined Leonardo DiCaprio in the Oscar winning The Revenant last year. Since 2008’s Bronson by Nicolas Winding Refn, Hardy has proved that he is one of the most daring performers in the industry. He is mesmerizing in Taboo. A passion project of him and his father (Chips Hardy) for years, he has completely immersed himself in the role of James Delaney. His facial expressions can tell whole stories. His visceral movements when slicing open a potential assassin are pure animalism. I don’t know if enough critics are watching right now, but Hardy is way ahead of any “Best Actor” category for me.

Back to the dingy streets of London where American doctor Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) comes with a blackmail proposal for Delaney. He and his Americans need the gunpowder that Cholmondeley is brewing up, but needs it now or else Delaney and his crew face certain death. This requires adding an explosive chemical to the mixture that Cholmondeley does not approve of. The war brewing between all of the parties is getting extremely interesting, albeit a tad hard to follow due to the countless backstabbings and backroom affiliations. While Delaney is reeling from the shot from the Americans, The Crown takes a shot at Strange (Jonathan Pryce) and the E.I.C., by opening an investigation into the sinking of a ship, The Influence, which Mr. Chichester (Lucian Msamati) claims was sunk on purpose, killing and drowning 280 slaves on board. It is likely this was the ship Delaney himself was on, when he was thought to have drowned.

Back to back fantastic episodes for Taboo, as the plots are intertwining, yet all coming together. Jefferson Hall’s Thorne Geary is just a vile human being, and he plays it so well. The final scenes with Zilpha where he has a priest exorcise her is brutal. Oona Chaplin held her own in those scenes, and really the whole cast is just elevated above most others on television. You lose track that you’re watching a show on FX, and totally feel immersed in 1814 London. This is must see TV at it’s finest, and continues to make FX one of cable’s premiere channels.

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


Episode 5 | Season 1 Episode 5 Trailer | Taboo

James Delaney is blackmailed into a dangerous mission, whilst animosity between the Crown and Company escalates to a new level.

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