TV Review: Taboo 1.6 “Episode 6”
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Episode 1.6 “Episode 6”
Written by Chips Hardy & Steven Knight
Directed by Anders Engstrom
Starring Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, David Hayman, Michael Kelly, Jonathan Pryce, Jefferson Hall, Franka Potente, David Hayman
Air date: February 14th, 2017

Spoilers below for the FX series Taboo:

Last week on FX’s Taboo, everyone’s plans had a wrench thrown in them. James Delaney (Tom Hardy) had a chemist mixing gunpowder to use as a trade chip into China. But he is now being blackmailed by American doctor Dumbarton (Michael Kelly), and all the gunpowder must go to him. This required chemist Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander) to add an explosive chemical to the mixture, something he was not too keen on doing. Adding to this issue, was Delaney’s estranged young son helping to prepare the powder. At the same time the East India Company and their leader Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) were having an inquiry opened into the sinking of a ship where over 200 slaves drown; a ship that Delaney may have been on. And perhaps the root of all Delaney’s unrest was Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), his half sister and beloved, who was brutally beaten and raped by her husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall) after he found out about their secret tryst.

Spoilers for this week’s episode of Taboo below:

James continues having visions of his mother. These visions become clearer when Brace (David Hayman) tells him the truth about her; that she attempted to drown James in the lake, his father rescued him, and that’s why she was imprisoned in an asylum. Delaney doesn’t take well to the information, and disappears on a journey of self discovery. He encounters the ghosts of his mother along the way. Meanwhile back at the gunpowder mix, Cholmondeley explains the process by comparing adding the new chemical, to adding a baby to a marriage. This is done in hilarious fashion.

The East India Company does not take well to this inquiry of the sunken slave ship. George Chichester (Lucian Msamati), the black man who opened the investigation, is getting closer to finding the truth. While he searches for Delaney, the E.I.C figures out their next steps. Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) is so desperate to find James, that she seeks out Zilpha and Thorne. Their interaction is awkward, yet intense. Oona Chaplin can control a scene with facial expressions alone, her eyes are hypnotic. And Jefferson Hall pulls off the disgusting and lecherous Thorne with sickening ease. Somehow these two rival Hardy for intensity. Taboo is show like no other I’ve watched. Set in a interesting and forgotten time, in the dirtiest and nastiest sections of London, filled with plots, betrayals, and complexities. Yet at its core, it comes down to the acting, and on this series, it is truly top notch.

In horse drawn wagons, in caskets labeled “Cholera,” Delaney and his League of the Damned deliver the powder to Dumbarton. Zilpha finally has had enough and dispatches Thorne in a scene that literally chilled me to my core. My goodness, Oona Chaplin needs an Emmy nomination right now! Dumbarton calls it cholera. Before James can celebrate his sister’s would-be freedom, there is a rat amongst the damned. The East India Company receives word of Delaney’s powder theft and gunpowder production line, and swoops in. But James is one step ahead, albeit a dangerous one. They sail the powder kegs away down the river, but this is the unstable mixture, and the slightest bump along the way could mean certain doom.

After Thorne’s funeral, the intensity hits up another notch, as Delaney and Zilpha share an intimate moment interrupted only by the ghosts of his mother. The East India formally declares war on Delaney, blowing up his ship. It’s amazing to witness Tom Hardy here, as he fully convinces the audience he may in fact be the devil himself. The reactions to the characters around him are truly inspiring. The last two episodes of this season are going to be a holy war as Delaney is left a broken and desperate man, drunk and caked in the mud, the body of young Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood) lying dead at his feet.

If you could not tell from the review, I LOVED this episode. The first few episodes of Taboo took their time to set up the complex world, but these last three episodes have one-upped each other at every turn. The acting is just out of this world, and both Hardy and Chaplin deserve award consideration for this episode alone.

Next week is the penultimate episode and the shit is going to hit even larger fans for everyone involved. Tune in next Tuesday night at 10:00pm ET only on FX.

Episode 6 | Season 1 Episode 6 Trailer | FX

The East India Company declares war on James Delaney, whilst a family revelation drives him into dark and haunted places.


  1. So do you think he killed her or was it someone else?

    Comment by Jessica_Dwyer — February 16, 2017 @ 12:11 pm

  2. I thought it was too obvious he killed her. We knew the EIC was following him. Framing him to increase his enemy count made sense. Then again, with James Delaney you truly never know.

    Comment by Daniel Torkel — February 22, 2017 @ 10:41 am

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