New FX Show Taboo Episode 3 Discussed and Explained

Taboo is the single greatest show on television. Bar none. My week is completely planned and architected around this television show dropping on Saturday. (What, it doesn’t drop for you on Saturday?!? Tuesday you say? Cough. It comes out in the UK on Saturday… so I’m not sure what the rest of you are waiting for. Heheh.) But seriously! Adore adore adore this show. It’s dark. It’s slippery. It’s big in scope. It’s dark. It’s a puzzle. It’s curious. Oh, and it’s dark. And man would I like to know how they are pulling off some of these shots of 1814 London.

Taboo Episode 3 Overview

Episode 3 kicked off with the Oriental (Malay as we find out later) being found on the shore. The silver toothed Malay is discovered by Winter and her little gang of cronies and she steals the tooth to give it to James as a souvenir.

Speaking of which, whatever happened to our man James? Last we saw him, he had a shiv in his belly and was dying on the street. Episode 3? We find him on Dumbarton’s table (Dumbarton remember, is the American spy in London that James contacted last week in order to try and begin negotiations with the American government about Nootka Sound.) Dumbarton is stitching James up, and basically saving his life. (Which, ironically won’t happen next week if necessary… we’ll talk about that later though.)

Basically the message from James to Dumbarton is that he wants to speak to Carlsbad “himself”. That James needs Carlsbad to deliver a message directly to Thomas Jefferson and also to President Madison. He also makes it very clear that he will not be bought for any price… and what he wants? What he wants??!? What he wants is a monopoly of trade between

I want to speak to Carlsbad himself. I need him to get a message to Thomas Jefferson and to the president. James Madison.  He tells spy guy that he can’t be bought, and he will offer Nootka to whomever will give him a monopoly on trade of pelts and tea between Canton and the Americas.  Basically, James is wanting to declare war on the East India Trading Company. He wants to be able to traffic all the tea in China. But the biggest take away on this conversation? Dumbarton accidentally let slip that Carlsbad is a woman… which, James didn’t know before.

Who The Heck Is This Prince Regent Guy!?

If you are like me, like any, at all… you are wanting to know who this Regent guy is. But first, did you guys recognize Mark Gatiss, who plays the Prince Regent? He is from the show Sherlock, and played Sherlock’s brother. Right? No? Yes?

Anyway, after having this “Prince Regent” get airtime last week and this week I figured enough was enough. I was going to go figure out what the heck is happening here. What is a Prince REGENT?(Sorry British visitors to this post… just assume us Americans know nothing about geography or geo-politics. Ok? Great.) So apparently, the answer is fairly simple. George III was actually a very long living king, and did a ton of stuff. But, he eventually went mad and couldn’t rule anymore. So his son stepped in and Kinged on his behalf. Here’s what wikipedia had to say about it all:

“In the later part of his life, George III had recurrent, and eventually permanent, mental illness. Although it has since been suggested that he had the blood disease porphyria, the cause of his illness remains unknown. After a final relapse in 1810, a regency was established, and George III’s eldest son, George, Prince of Wales, ruled as Prince Regent. On George III’s death, the Prince Regent succeeded his father as George IV.”

Got it? Phew. That was really bothering me. I couldn’t figure out why this guy was strutting around like he owned the place and all he was, was a Prince Regent. hahah. If I had actually read the words… Prince REGENT, I would have got it. But alas.

James Begins To Maneuver

James’ position seemed nebulous at best up til now. He was all bluster and bravado carrying himself through. But this was when we start to see the cleverness that has been underneath that bravado. After getting off the operating table he headed straight out to purchase guns and then hands a note to Brace (his manservant) to deliver to the secretary of the Prince Regent, Solomon Coop. And then James heads to Thoyt to write up a new will that specifically states that if he dies, ownership and title of the Nootka Sound would be transferred over to the Americans. Which I might add… was absolutely brilliant.James and Winter stumble upon each other while James is searching his basement for the deed. The conversation runs along the lines of magic, and the bird that James has tattooed… which apparently is a Sand Coffer? Maybe? I can’t find a bird named that though. Anyone know what the type of bird that is? Would love to look it up and learn more about it.Soon after, James goes hunting through his mother’s room. And apparently, for a while, she was locked away and not allowed to speak either English or her native tongue? (And by mother, I assume he meant step mother? Zilpha’s mother. Right?) Regardless, while bashing about in the room, James finds the same carving on the fireplace back wall as he has on himself. And tells of getting branded with the same bird while a slave in Africa. And with that, I officially am requesting Knight that he tell us more about James’ time while in Africa, and also tons more about Zilpha’s mother. Right?!

And it is then that Coop is given the letter from James, and what a pincer move move that is? Which informs England that if James dies Nootka will go to Madison and the Colonies. Which, literally made me laugh out loud. But, as James mentioned to America, if England will give James a monopoly of trade between China and the Americas??? He’d give up the Nootka Sound. But what is James doing? He wants to counter the East India Trade monopolies on tea around the world that they have. Right? But WHY? We will talk about that in the theories section below.

The specifics of what he is asking for is 100% of the trade monopoly of the pelts between Vancouver and the Cantons. And now though? Coop is saying to the East India (Sir Stuart Strange), look, you can either solve the problems in India, or I’m giving James this monopoly. What were the problems in India though? Well, certain laws and measures passed by Charles II around 1670 allowed trading companies to cease land, mint coins, and take over lands as they saw fit. And from 1750 to around 1850 The East India Trading Company pwned India, ruthlessly and tyrannically. So Coop is saying, look, let’s solve this India chaos (spoiler alert, which won’t be spoiled for another 30 years) and I won’t give James this monopoly that will exclude you from all the tea in China. And in there somewhere, James finds an old friend in a brothel that is a transvestite that would be ruined by the company if they found out. So James has a new informant.

Dangerous Liaisons

I’m sorry, but I don’t know about you, but I adored the book Dangerous Liaisons. The book is fantastic because it just consists of a book of letters that are from and to members of this elitist French society and this clique of friends. Which, brings me to this relationship between James and Zilpha. During the last two episodes we are given fantastic dialogue between the two of them, hinting at a relationship that was, and James’ desire for the future. But in episode 3, we are given letters… dangerous letters. Letters with handwritting that is noticeable and traceable. Letters that are giving others proof of this conversation. Right? I meant to go back and transcribe some of the ideas shared and details given. But I just ran out of time. But how about if I give you a random quote from Dangerous Liaisons instead… which could very well be straight from the letters of episode 3 of Taboo:

“Now, I’m not going to deny that I was aware of your beauty. But the point is, this has nothing to do with your beauty. As I got to know you, I began to realise that beauty was the least of your qualities. I became fascinated by your goodness. I was drawn in by it. I didn’t understand what was happening to me. And it was only when I began to feel actual, physical pain every time you left the room that it finally dawned on me: I was in love, for the first time in my life. I knew it was hopeless, but that didn’t matter to me. And it’s not that I want to have you. All I want is to deserve you. Tell me what to do. Show me how to behave. I’ll do anything you say.”

And we see similar proclamations of love from James towards a similarly inaccessiblely married Zilpha. Right? We see this battle of words. It is a war of wills. A war of hope. And of love. It is a taboo war. It is completely inappropriate and only Zilpha is aware of this. James doesn’t care one iota. THIS WILL BE MY LAST LETTER… after the next one, and the next one. Hahah.  But James, at the end of it, wants Zilpha to go with him to America, and at this point, she’ll have none of it. “Your husband is already gone you can tell by how he follows you.”

She Is A Weakness

Last week we heard that a woman named Lorna Bow was making a play to be James Delaney’s father’s (Horace Delaney) wife… at first I assumed that this was just a play for Nootka.  But as episode 2 progressed, and now episode 3… I don’t think that is what is happening. We already know that Horace Delaney was a serial husbander (with at least 2 wives, if not 3 that we know of. And now Bow?), right? So it isn’t a stretch to think he married someone else as well late in life. Better yet, Bow is making it clear that she wants no part of Nootka. She just wants the house? Which just doesn’t add up if she was coming from the East India and just manipulating the situation to their end. Oh, and by the way, she has a trunk of Horace’s letters, papers and the like? Did this not just jump out to anyone else other than me? (Cough… THE NOOTKA DEED IS IN THE TRUNK SHE HAS!!)
I digress. Basically, James now has a very significant problem on his hands. Bow has the papers. He has to keep her alive. East India can lever her. Bad. If this is his new step mother, for real, then he has to protect her and keep her from getting killed by The East India! And quickly this begins playing out in front of our eyes as we see someone ask for her (apparently actresses also doubled as whores? I knew that women were not allowed on the stage, probably for this very reason, but I had no idea that those that were actresses were also call girls?!? I am going to have to research this particular assertion.) Regardless, she protests, and stabs an Earl or Duke or someone important and now she’s in hot water – and James is on the hook to save her. Yes? Yikes.

Thorne Geary Is a Jerk

Can I say that out loud? Thorne is an idiot. Sure, he is inferior to James in every way. And he feels threatened. But really? The conversation between Thorne and James in the office?!? Out. Of. Control. Uncool in every way. And your goal, Mr. Geary, is to keep James away from your wife? Really? I don’t think you are going about it in the right way… AT ALL. I did love James’ retort, I am certain you recognize my hand writing… classic. And then Thorne goes after Zilpha as well? She is doing her best to beat James away. And now Thorne is punishing her for it. Granted, all Zilpha’s protestations amount to nothing more than on big flirtation fest really. Right? ‘Me thinks she doth protest too much.’ Anyway… I want to see Thorne die a violent death somewhere around episode 8. And you know what, I bet that he will align with East India at some point here soon enough. I bet you…

Taboo Episode 3 Questions 

Questions? Hrm. Each episode review I chat about what happened in the episode, questions and theories that I have. In episode 3, I do wonder how deep we will go into the American side of this story. Will James leave London ever? I doubt it. The place, and the context has so thoroughly been setup. I also wonder if Bow will find herself dead in the next episode or two. Wait for it… nope. She wasn’t in episode one, and she is in all the rest. So, somehow… someway, she’ll survive at least to the end of the show. Which is a fascinating development.

Taboo Episode 3 Theories

Why was James wanting to bust the East India Trade Company’s monopolies in the Americas? What was he doing? He was turning the thumbscrews on the company. He is one man, and he is one man trying to hurt the company. But why? Why? Why wouldn’t he just say to America or to Britain, pay me a good price! Right? Why wouldn’t he just get a pile of money for Nootka? Obviously the countries will pay significantly. But James hasn’t even read the offer from England. Didn’t even look at it?

WHY? Because he wants to hurt, physically, the East India. But why would one man tilt at this untiltable windmill? Because something horrible happened traveling with the East India. Because something unconscionable happened. Maybe it was the horrors of slavery that he saw. Which, is supported by evidence in last week’s episode. The boat that James bought had been used as a slave ship by the East India. Right? “But we don’t deal in slaves” says the East India. Which may have been true from and to London. But it was obviously untrue at other ports of call though. And that is what James is beginning to prove and beginning to call out.

I think James is going hurt East India for their dealings in the Slave Trade. There could be another reason. But I doubt it that there will be an idea bigger than slavery that we’ll see from his flashbacks. I mean, why look further when you have the terrors and inhumanity of slavery?

 

Interested in reading all of my Taboo recaps so far?
Taboo – Episode 1.1
Taboo – Episode 1.2
Taboo – Episode 1.3
Taboo – Episode 1.4
Taboo – Episode 1.5
Taboo – Episode 1.6
Taboo – Episode 1.7
Taboo – Episode 1.8
Taboo Season 1 Final Thoughts

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6 Responses

  1. PGreene

    Sankofa bird.
    And it wasn’t James’ step mother’s room. It was his mothers. She was in his visions in the room and led him to the sign in the fireplace, which is the same as on his back.
    Remember Nootka came from his mother’s tribe.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Then which mother was Zilpha’s? I assumed that the Indian/slave purchased mother was Zilpha’s… no?

      Gonna have to look that bird up! Thanks!

      Reply
  2. Hanna

    Where is number 4 update?!! love your updates it explains things to me a lot clearer!

    Reply

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