Taboo episode 7 review: Tom Hardy’s Delaney faces the torture chamber

Things get really nasty in Regency London as the Crown and the East India join forces against our hero...with horrific results

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SPOILERS: DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN TABOO EPISODE 7

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Blimey. Taboo really took us to hell and back in the penultimate episode of the series – opening with Winter’s funeral and ending with Tom Hardy’s James Delaney facing all manner of horrors in the Tower of London.

But the medieval masked goons of the Crown and the East India could not get our man to squeal about his gunpowder plot – did you ever think they would? – and by the end he looked like a man reborn and in control (the circumstances of his imprisonment and forthcoming High Treason trial notwithstanding). There’s composure for you.

“I have a use for you,” he told Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) who had been summoned to his quarters.

I bet he does.

It was a great moment to end tonight’s stomach-churning action which opened with the heartbreaking funeral of Winter, whose death last episode had set everything in motion.

Her mother (Franka Potente’s Helga) had shopped Delaney to the authorities and he was arrested without even bothering to hide. He knew they were coming for him and it all seems as if the whole thing was part of his plan. How else does one explain the way he waited for his arrest in the Molly House blithely playing at cards (below)?

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And when they got him, what a smorgasbord of disgusting agony and distress it was: he was waterboarded, force-fed hallucinogens and a brutal thug did something involving a saw and his midriff that I couldn’t actually watch.

And of course the irony is that Helga was wrong. ”Murderer,” she spat at Delaney who seems actually innocent of Winter’s blood. The scene then changed to the sight of the woman we know did kill, but has got away with it, Delaney’s erstwhile lover (and half sister) Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) who was shown lounging in a bath after bumping off her violent husband. But her satisfaction didn’t last long after their incestuous union was swiftly ended by Delaney.

We also found out that Delaney’s dour Scottish serving man Brace was another killer – confessing to slowly dispatching Delaney senior with arsenic before the action of episode one. But instead of getting sliced open by our man, he was told to make the breakfast. It seems Delaney knew all along that he was the culprit and let it slide. He is certainly a man of surprises, if nothing else.

But it’s left hanging nicely for next week’s concluding episode.

What use could Delaney have for Sir Stuart? Clearly some sort of plan is in motion, and Hardy’s adventurer gave us a sniff of it this episode with his talk of taking a crew load of his most trusted comrades (including the cross-dressing informant Godfrey, below) to the New World.

But how he achieves that… well that is anyone’s guess.

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Last updated on 13 September 2017