“Secrets to me are weapons.” – James Delaney
This week on Taboo, those secrets proved to be quite a destructive weapon when it came to injuring the quality of the episode as a whole. In “Episode 2,” we are plummeted deeper into the inner workings of the unexplainable James Delaney as he begins to hunt down the men hired to kill him in the midst of establishing his trading company. Taboo stacks more thick layers on an already thick plot, and leaves us questioning the muddled chaos that lies ahead.
Picking up where we left off last week, the East India Company wants Delaney dead. It has become Pettifer’s (Richard Dixon) responsibility to handle this deed (or else). Meanwhile, Delaney cashes out on his iffy diamond collection obtained in Africa in order to buy a new ship as he begins his plans to create The Delaney Nootka Trading Company, free from both the British and Americans. Unable to comprehend why Delaney would not accept their offer as well as how he knew so much about secret British trade meetings, the members of EIC can only conclude that Delaney is working with the Americans. How else would he know so much? This is one of many in the long list of questions surrounding all that is James Delaney.
A great deal of the episode from there on in essentially consists of Tom Hardy grunting and breathing loudly. Splash in some awkward and uninspired sexual tension between Delaney and Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), and you’re left with about 15 minutes of real content. The search for Delaney’s hunters is drawn out and dull. Though there are many moments of unexpected twists and new-formed mysteries, they do more harm than good. By the end of the episode, you are left trying so hard to comprehend all of the new information and mysteries that you instead find yourself forgetting about half of them. Like I mentioned before, the long list of questions continues to grow and, in some cases, you don’t really even care to find them out because it all seems a bit too up in the air.
Nevertheless, Tom Hardy’s grunting and groaning does add to the complexities of his character. He is inconsistent and unpredictable, which makes him so interesting to watch. Hardy does a commendable job at portraying a great deal of emotion in a single sigh. He is able to take such a boring and veiled moment and turn it into something much more complex with such subtlety. This is primarily what makes the character so intriguing, and what keeps you fixated on the show itself.
Though the episode does drag on, it leaves you with a great plot twist as well as an unsettling ending. During the official reading of the Will, a woman comes forward claiming to be the wife of the deceased Horace Delaney. The marriage is proved to be legitimate, and Nootka Sound’s fate is now unknown. The arrival of Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) is questionable due to the timing as well as the EIC’s desperate need for the land to be put in the hands of a reasonable and loyal patron. This is one of the few questions that stays in your mind, whereas some of the other mysteries revealed tend to slip through the cracks.
“Episode 2” did something rarely seen; it gave us too much information to comprehend, yet bored us at the same time. Nevertheless, Hardy’s eerie performance along with the mystery revolved around what will happen with Nootka Sound leave us curious as to what lies ahead.
Taboo airs Tuesdays at 10 PM EST on FX.