11 burning questions we have after Taboo episode eight

The finale of the BBC period drama saw James Delaney’s plan come to life – but will there be another series?

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After eight weeks of death, intrigue and endless atmospheric mumbling, BBC period drama Taboo has come to an end in an explosive episode that saw key characters blown to pieces, secret schemes come to life and old friends betrayed.

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But despite the air of finality, a few mysteries remain unsolved, a few production details still need explaining and one or two of the more surprising moments just need some good old-fashioned discussion.

Starting with…


1. What happened to the opening theme?

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Well spotted – the opening theme of Taboo has reverted to the version that aired in the series’ first episode, played on an instrument called a celeste rather than the usual strings arrangement.

According to production insiders this version of the theme was supposed to sound a bit like a lullaby, and as we reported a few weeks ago it was always planned to change in episode 2 and then back again for the finale. Arty reasons, one would assume.


2. Just how complicated was James’ plan?

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So in the end it seems like more or less everything that happened in this series (perhaps barring his ship blowing up) was planned by James Delaney (Tom Hardy), right down to his capture and torture at the hands of the crown in last week’s episode.

Accordingly, the finale saw James’ long-gestating strategies come into play as each of his allies sprung into action, weaving a web that sprung him from jail, offed his enemies and got him and his friends on a ship to safety.

Even Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander) began to despair at James’ powers of prediction, wondering aloud how on Earth he knew the chemist would be sleeping at a random house when he gave Robert (Louis Serkis) instructions to deliver letters some days beforehand.

Personally, we try not to think too hard about how he could have possibly predicted everything, and put it down to some of his magic powers. It’s pretty much all that makes sense at this point.

With that said, not everything panned out exactly as James wanted. It seems just about the only thing he DIDN’T plan for was his sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) throwing herself into the Thames, following his rejection of her last week. Based on his shocked and upset reaction, our theory last week that he was pushing her away for her own safety might have been right – though unfortunately, it had the opposite result. We guess not even James Delaney can control everything.


3. What treachery did Doctor Dumbarton actually get up to?

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It turns out that US freedom fighter Doctor Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) wasn’t all that he seemed, with the dye-obsessed physician revealed to have been a spy and agent for the East India Company all along.

James accordingly gave him his just desserts via a nasty dye-based death (you could say that he DYED, ba-doom tish), but frankly we’re struggling to work out whether there were any other examples of his treachery prior to this episode. The East India were tipped off to James’ operations more than once, but it always seemed like different culprits were to blame.

Then again, maybe he was just that sneaky – so good at treachery, no-one even realised they had been betrayed for a very long time. Why else would they hire an actor from House of Cards?


4. Why didn’t James take Brace with him?

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In one of the episode’s gut-punch moments, longstanding Delaney servant Brace (David Heyman) was cast aside by his master, with James claiming that there was no place for him in his “mother’s world” (i.e. America) after so long being part of his father’s.

It’s easy to see this as delayed punishment for Brace poisoning James’ father Horace, or the fact that he revealed some unpleasant home truths about James’ mother in weeks past, but it could also be a way for the drama to keep a foot in London for any future series. Keeping a character or two in Blighty while James and co sail the seven seas could help frame the next run of episodes, after all.


5. Is Chomondley still alive?

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The (literally) explosive final scenes of Taboo saw the Prince Regent’s redcoats take on James’ crew, with a drawn-out gunfight in the London docks that saw several of our heroes killed or injured (as well as countless redcoats, but we never witnessed their inner lives so it’s not quite as sad).

Among the injured was chemist Chomondley, who was the victim of one of his own explosives in the battle and was carried, badly burned and delirious onto James’ ship. By the end of the episode he was still breathing but unaware of his surroundings, and considering he was the only one with medical training on board we’d say it’ll be touch-and-go for him to make a recovery.

And of course, even if he does pull through he won’t necessarily be the same sarcastic, womanising chemist we’ve all come to know and love. Perish the thought.


6. Will Lorna survive?

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Jessie Buckley’s actress Lorna Delaney also took some damage in the final fray, and lay bleeding in the bottom of the boat. Still, compared to Chomondley her injuries seem fairly minor, and we’d say she has a pretty good chance of pulling through. Her son-in-law knows magic, after all.


7. Is Sir Stuart Strange definitely dead?

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Jonathan Pryce’s hissable East India Company baddie Sir Stuart was the victim of an early form of letter bomb at the close of this week’s episode, with the resulting explosion blowing out the windows of the East India Company building and causing great destruction.

We’d say this definitely means Sir Stuart is a goner and any potential future series will focus on new foes instead, but we could be wrong – we never see his body, after all, and it’s hard to let go of a villain as entertaining as he was.


8. Where are James and his friends going?

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In case you missed it in Tom Hardy’s gravelly tones, it was revealed at the end of the episode that James and his crew aren’t going to America after all – instead they’re headed to Ponta Delgada in the Azores, an autonomous archipelago of Portugal where James is hoping to find American agent Colonnade (a character mentioned but never seen throughout the series so far).

Clearly, James had had this destination in mind for a while – he’d been looking to get in touch with Colonnade since early episodes of the series – and probably kept talking about America to throw his foes off the scent, and has even more devious schemes in mind for when he hits the sunny shores of Portugal.

Speaking of which…


9. What is James’ NEW plan?

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Yes, we know – we’ve barely gotten our head around James’ London plan, and now we have to start wondering what he has in store for Portugal.

All we know is he has a ship full of gangsters, clerks, actors and one extremely injured chemist, a hold full of gunpowder and the redcoats on his tail – and we can only assume he already has a detailed blow-by-blow prediction of how all of that will come into play when he arrives in the Azores. Classic JD.


10. What was the deal with James’ tattoo?

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Bit of a tangent, this, but did anyone else notice we never really learned what was going on with the brand on James’ back? You know, the bird symbol that he scratched on some wood, and found drawn by his mother and that was put on him when he was captured in Africa? No?

Well, at the time we worked out that it was based on a real symbol called a Sankofa, representing the need to reflect on the past to build a successful future, but the series never revealed those details itself and James never worked out why his mother was drawing the same symbol that his captors marked him with on the other side of the world. 

Whatever the truth, it’s a good sign that there may yet be mysteries to solve in future Taboo episodes – assuming of course, that a sequel series is planned.


11. Will there be another series of Taboo?

 

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Yep, the billion-dollar question underpinning many of our queries this week – will we see Tom Hardy’s James Delaney again, or will one series of sepia growling be enough for the BBC?

The filmmakers certainly want to do more, with showrunner Steven Knight previously telling RadioTimes.com that he wants to do at least two more series, and this episode definitely ends in a way that would suggest there are adventures still to come for Delaney and co.

Still, it remains to be seen if the BBC will commit to more episodes. Critical reception has been a little mixed for the series, and while viewing figures have been solid they haven’t been so stellar that a recommission would be a no-brainer. The schedule of in-demand star Tom Hardy as he works on various movie projects could also be a thorn in the side of any future series, which would have to work around his other commitments.

Still, personally we’re hoping to see more of Taboo in the future, so fingers crossed that we’ll have news soon (if there hasn’t already been some by the time you read this). After all, how else will we get paid to endlessly ask questions about Tom Hardy’s body art?

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Last updated on 13 September 2017