Taboo episode six review: the body count piles up as Tom Hardy faces his demons

Two major characters died. What will stop James Delaney in his quest for gunpowder and trading deals?

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We lost not one but TWO major characters in the latest episode of Taboo. SPOILERS if you have not seen Taboo episode 6.

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Firstly there was Zilpha’s abusive husband Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall) who was stabbed in his bed – his wife pretending to have taken on board the beneficial effects of last week’s exorcism and acting the meek submissive spouse before impaling him in the guts.

“I killed him, just like you said,” Zilpha (below) told her lover (and half brother) Tom Hardy’s Delaney when she turned up wet and bedraggled from a rainstorm on his doorstep. She seemed to get quite a thrill from that.

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And, much more tragically, poor young Winter, the prostitute’s daughter and James’s friend, was found dead at the end of the episode.

It followed an encounter with Delaney when she gave our brooding hero a bottle of grog; when he woke muddied and hungover from his stupor he found the poor girl’s body by the Thames.

Did Delaney do it? He has been having a lot more terrifying visions these days – he even seemed to strangle poor Zilpha while copulating with her after her husband’s funeral, so anything is possible. Clearly he suspects he is responsible.

But we’ll have to wait and see. Personally I reckon his fondness for her would suggest his innocence and that we should point the finger at the “Honourable” East India Company. But you never know the power of the supernatural in the world of Taboo.

Back in the mercantile machinations which rub alongside the otherworldly with curious ease (a testament to the skill of writer Steven Knight), Delaney was told “it’s war” by the oily company man sent to warn him.

To prove they meant business, they had earlier had Delaney’s ship blown to smithereens in the dockyard. Killing Winter could be a clever strategy to destabilise him, too.

Still, Delaney managed to stab the man who was meant to guard the ship and seemed to have allowed this to happen (one of a number of eviscerations tonight).

And he will be pleased that he and his men managed to secure their supply of gunpowder, ferrying it away from the authorities in a mock funeral procession after their whereabouts were revealed.

The traitor this time was Ibbotson (Christopher Fairbank). Wracked with fear of the devil, he had confessed to a priest who told the East India for £25. But Ibbotson too met his comeuppance – left dead in the confessional booth with his tongue ripped out.

But if you have trouble with nightmares tonight it was more as likely be for the constant flashbacks to Delaney’s mother, the frightening vision of black and white face paint and shrieking hate we have encountered before in this series. Tonight we witnessed the moment she tried to drown her infant son.

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Delaney’s visit to the scene where this happened only saw him dragged down into the water, facing once again her malevolent face. That scene calls for a herbal sleeping remedy tonight. Pray you sleep better than Delaney himself…

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