Born out of the mind of creator Stephen Knight, FX’s “Taboo follows the reappearance of prodigal son James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) to 1814 London. Having been presumed dead for a decade, Delaney reappears at his father’s funeral, startling his half-sister Zilpha (Game of Thrones’s Oona Chaplin), his family’s business associates and causing chaos for his father’s shipping company. A brooding, sinister hulk of a man, James isn’t so much an enigma as he is a total outsider to Recency United Kingdom norms.
At his father’s funeral, Delaney mourns using different language, different motions and symbols painted on his face. Everyone surrounding him is uncomfortable. We see the estrangement especially with his sister, Zilpha. There is a secret between them that neither will say but James declares on multiple occasions she needn’t worry about money or fear his love for her. It’s an.uncomfortable statement wrapped into a darkly dramatic narrative.
The enemies of James are numerous and well-connected. Sir Stuart Strange of the East India Company is one enemy bound and determined to buy (steal) a piece of prime real estate from Delaney. Nootka Sound on the Pacific coast was the ancestral home to James’s mother, an indigenous Canadian. The cat’s out of the bag regarding Delaney’s heritage and he doesn’t care. He also doesn’t care about the East India Company hounding him for the patch of land. Bought and paid for in blood by his father, James has a connection to Nootka Sound…one that he doesn’t feel in London.
There are many more questions than answers in the first episode. We get a random scene of Delaney seeing his biological son for the first and only time, but declining to have a relationship with him (although providing for his monetary needs). We see him hallucinating and seeing the dead people he enslaved, judging and haunting him. The ride for “Taboo” will be eventful, if not necessarily entertaining always.
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