TV Review: Taboo 1.7 “Episode 7”
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Episode 1.7 “Episode 7”
Written by 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 21st, 2017

Last week on FX’s Taboo, we went off the deep end. James Delaney (Tom Hardy) is trying desperately to get out of 1814 London with with a supply of gunpowder, so he can sail to Nootka Sound and trade with the Chinese. Standing in his way is greedy American Dumbarton (Michael Kelly), who blackmails him for his entire payload of powder. Add to this, what he truly desires more than anything is his half sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin). She, in the best scene in the entire series, dispatched of her abusive husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall), and went to James only for him to nearly strangle her in a bizarre sexual encounter, that was interrupted by visions of his native mother. His visions take an even worse turn when a drunken stumbling Delaney wakes up next to the dead body of Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood), the daughter of Helga (Franka Potente) who was a member of his “League of the Damned” but now may prove his biggest threat. Helga, the East India Company, the Americans, and the Crown… all are after James Delaney as we enter the penultimate episode of Taboo.

Spoilers for this week’s episode of Taboo below:

It’s lose one, gain one for James Delaney. As Winter’s body is cast out to sea, Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander) delivers young Robert (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) to the Delaney house. Robert is Delaney’s estranged son. Neither James nor Helga know for sure if he murdered Winter, but add Winter to the list of spirits he now sees. As James struggles with visions, George Chichester (Lucian Msamati) visits him to discuss the sinking of the slave ship James happened to be on. As Delaney drunkenly rambles, Chichester believes he should come back at a later time. “Don’t bother, I’m always like this,” Delaney assures him as I laughed out loud. We finally get the connection as Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) controlled the ship and was sending the slaves to Antigua where his brother owned a sugar plantation. Rather than write up a report, Delaney has other ideas.

Delaney walks the streets as bullets fly through his hat to the tune of “MURDERER!” from Helga. Zilpha meets him looking for answers about their love, and James dismisses her with a diamond payoff. He goes to meet Atticus (Stephen Graham) at the old asylum where they stored the remaining gunpowder. James confronts Brace (David Hayman) at home, and finds out he actually killed the elder Delaney with arsenic, putting him out of his misery. Tom Hardy is scariest on this series when doing nothing at all.

Helga is a mother in mourning, and in her distress she goes to Strange and the E.I.C to confess about Delaney’s gunpowder deal. Strange can’t contain his happiness at proof of Delaney’s treason and is giddy at the thought of everything Delaney becoming incorporated into the East India Company. Helga’s reward is captivity by the E.I.C. Strange brags to the representatives of the Prince Regent about his win-fall in landing witnesses against Delaney. What he doesn’t know is that Godfrey (Edward Hogg), James’ confidant inside the E.I.C. goes running to tell him and swears to him and Chichester he will speak the truth when asked to testify. Godfrey is guaranteed safe passage with Delaney, and is sent to Atticus to be kept safe. Shortly thereafter Delaney is arrested for treason and carried away to prison.

Lorna (Jessie Buckley) finds Winter’s young friend who confides in her that it was actually the Company that killed Winter and not James. Unfortunately this realization occurs after his arrest. Solomon Coop (James Watkins) lays out the future for James. Unforgiving torture until he confesses and delivers the names of all his comrades. He obviously has no clue who Delaney is, because I can’t imagine him fearing torture, but more likely laughing at and during it. Delaney counters with an offer to surrender all information in exchange for a meeting with Strange. The torture however continues in gruesome and uncomfortable ways more than twelve hours before the Prince (Mark Gattis) has had enough and orders the meeting with Strange. When they finally meet face to face, Delaney issues one line, “I have a use for you.”

Everything sets up for a phenomenal finale next week. Taboo has been one of television’s best surprises this winter, a complex and brutal show featuring harrowing, unique, and brave performances. Tom Hardy is a cut above all others in episodic TV right now, and should earn himself an Emmy Award. He possesses the unique ability to be an extremely popular and good looking actor, and yet disappear into these roles and become the characters he plays. I think back to The Revenant. While Leonardo DiCaprio was fantastic, you never stop seeing him as Leonardo DiCaprio. Hardy meanwhile was nearly unrecognizable as John Fitzgerald, and surely deserved the Oscar for best supporting actor. Hardy WAS Bane in the Dark Knight Rises (2012), and this great screen presence goes back to his epic portrayal in the titular role in Bronson (2008). He is quite simply, one of, if not the best actor around today and he throws his entire being into James Keziah Delaney. It is a privilege to watch him work every Tuesday night.

Next week is the season finale of Taboo, on FX starting at 10:00pm ET.


Episode 7 | Season 1 Episode 7 Trailer | Taboo

A devastating betrayal puts James Delaney’s freedom in jeopardy, handing his enemies the opportunity they’ve been longing for.

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