After weeks of mystery, murder and muttering we’re finally in the home stretch of period drama Taboo, with a whole heap of James Delaney’s (Tom Hardy) secrets revealed and some no-doubt explosive revelations to come in the remaining episode this series has to air.
Still, this penultimate torture-filled instalment still might have left a few heads scratching, so with that in mind we’ve continued our weekly tradition of querying, quizzing and overall questioning the main points of what we saw in the latest instalment, with a mind to discovering what we can expect for the series finale.
Starting with where we left off…
Who killed Winter?
Our very last question from episode 6 becomes our very first for episode 7 – oh, how the wheel turns.
Anyway, despite what most of London (especially Franka Potente’s Helga) thinks, it wasn’t James who offed the cutest li’l street rat since the Artful Dodger – according to the investigations of Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) it was actually the East India Company, as we predicted last week.
Exactly why they did this is unclear – if they were framing James, how did they know for sure it would cause Helga to betray him, and why did they seem surprised when she came to them? – but either way we have one more reason to hate those besuited botherers.
Do we now know all of James’ secrets?
Thanks to the work of George Chichester (Lucian Msamati), it seems we know more or less everything that happened to James before the series started. Working on a slave ship for the East India Company, it was James who nailed down the hold to let the slaves drown, explaining his guilty visions earlier in the series, and after The Influence/The Cornwallis sunk he was taken as a slave himself (presumably around the time he was branded).
After this he became a slaver himself, stole his apparently endless supply of diamonds from another slaver and then came back to London, determined to punish the East India for what they’d done while also making a name for himself.
Sure, the whole “where did he study magic?” question is a bit vague – we’d direct your attention to JK Rowling’s African wizarding school Uagadou – but it feels like after all the mystery, the broad strokes are clear.
Then again, sometimes the truth is more complicated than we realise. Case in point…
Who killed Horace Delaney?
Welp, after a few weeks wondering who killed James and Zilpha’s dad Horace, we’ve finally learned the truth – and the murderer wasn’t nasty husband/brother-in-law Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall), as we assumed.
Instead it was apparently-loyal servant Brace (David Hayman) who poisoned the family patriarch, believing it was a kinder way of putting him out of his madness and suffering towards the end of his life. Makes sense – but then again Brace also went on a rant about why he should probably have killed James too, so it’s safe to say he might not be quite as stable as he first appeared.
Still, it’s good to see that particular mystery finally put to bed. Though if this list is anything to go by, we still have a few others left to be wrapped in in the final episode…
Has James genuinely cut off his sister?
One of the episode’s more surprising scenes saw James apparently kick his sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) to the curb, after their reunion last week didn’t exactly go to plan (it’s a bit of a mood-killer when you have a vision that makes you strangle your sister thinking she’s your mother trying to drown you, after all).
Showing her the door and giving her one last diamond for her troubles, it looks like now Zilpha is free James has no time for her – unless of course, all is not as it seems.
Think back to a few episodes ago. James told Lorna that all those near to him would be dragged down to hell with him thanks to his schemes – so what better way to protect the one person he really cares about than pushing her away? And what better cover for their estrangement than convincing her he actually has no interest in her any more?
For our money, we wouldn’t be that surprised to see a bit of a reconciliation in the final episode – and afterwards, we’ll need to take a long hard look at the show that has almost made us root for an incestuous couple. Brrrr.
Was Helga’s betrayal part of the plan?
James looked genuinely shocked to find the dead body of Winter before him in the last episode, so we’re a little confused by the fact that her mother Helga’s vengeful turn to the East India Company seems to be playing exactly into Mr Delaney’s hands.
Was he really able to predict so far ahead, did he just know he’d have to be captured at some point or is he just an excellent improviser turning bad situations to his advantage?
Maybe we’ll find out in the final episode, but for the moment we remain unconvinced that ANYONE has done anything that James hadn’t anticipated. No wonder everyone refuses to play Battleship with him.
How accurate were the torture scenes?
Shots of James basically being waterboarded by agents of the crown might seem anachronistic, but the so-called “enhanced interrogation technique” is actually a form of torture that’s been around for a long time. A full 400 or so years before the events of Taboo during the Spanish Inquisition, a similar technique was used during trials, so it’s not quite so strange for people to have been doing it in the 19th century.
What is James’s “use” for Sir Stuart?
After withstanding all sorts of horrible ordeals to secure a meeting with Jonathan Pryce’s East India Company bigwig Sir Stuart Strange, James says to him the same thing he said to Edward Hogg’s Godfrey earlier in the episode: “I have a use for you.”
But what exactly could this “use” be? Does James intend Sir Stuart to testify, like Godfrey did, to the truth of what happened to The Influence, or does he have grander schemes in mind? Will he use Sir Stuart’s power over The East India Company to wreak havoc with the organisation, and if so, how on Earth will he force him to do what he wants?
Frankly, we can’t wait to see how James pulls it off, and also work out how exactly he planned for the whole thing to happen. Only one more week, guys – and we might never have burning Taboo questions ever again.
(Er, unless there’s another series).
Last updated on 8 September 2017