New FX Show Taboo Episode 5 Discussed and Explained

New FX Show Taboo Episode 5 Discussed and Explained

Hahaha! I was right! I was right! Oh wait. I’m getting ahead of myself again dang it. Sorry. I have this problem – “getting ahead of myself disease” or GAMD. I’m in a support group even. We call it GAMDA – getting ahead of myself anonymous. Daily meetings. Speakers. The works. But it’s very hard to keep up with the speakers. For some reason. (I’m also a member of Rabbit Trails Anonymous – RTA and the Venn Diagram of members in GAMDA and RTA is basically 1:1. Funny that)

Episode 5 of Taboo is starting to pull all the important threads together. We are seeing things hinted at in previous episodes are now fact. Thus my giddiness at the outset. So let’s get to this episode, shall we? Cause I’m DYING to say “I told you so!”

Taboo Episode 5 Walkthrough

Last week we ended with a fantastic cliffhanger. Thorne calls out Delaney and calls him to a duel to the death. Which, seems stupid in the extreme right? James? There is no way I’m ever, for any reason, tussling with this guy. No thank you.

So episode five starts out with this fantastic jump start. A duel. And as we have seen, time after time, Knight writes us out of this amazing knot. Because we know that Thorne survives to the very end of the season, and obviously James survives! He’ll make it all the way through to his eventual arrival in Nootka seasons later. Right? So how are we getting out of this mess with both characters alive??! Brilliantly actually. Loved this quote: “When I drop this handkerchief, you will walk towards each other and there will be a polite exchanging of bullets.” How great is that?

Let me pause to make a comment here. Lorna Bow wades across the river to the island in order “get a better” view. But Zilpha? The most invested person in his duel other than the two contestants? She waits at home. Why? How could she not wade across as well? Well, it’s because she was TOO invested. There was no way she could respond correctly either way, regardless of who dies, she knew she couldn’t react correctly. Thorne dies, she can’t check her excitement and joy. People are already talking! All of society is becoming curious about Zilpha and James. James dies? She wouldn’t be able to check her grief. But James’ second? Is Lorna Bow… she is everywhere now. And is thoroughly invested. In this episode, Lorna solidifies her place beside James. And boy is it about to get complicated up in here.


So how does Knight write us out of this jam? Simple enough. Thorne takes a few steps towards James and fires a strike directly into James’ chest. Is James a demon? How’d he survive?! Well, James quickly deduced that Thorne had chosen his second very poorly, that he was a company man. An East India Company man. And what happens if James dies? His will states that Nootka Sound will go to the Americans and East India Company gets nothing. So obviously the Company man is the one that didn’t load a ball in Thorne’s pistol. “It would appear that my life is more precious than yours.” And instead of blowing Thorne’s head off as he had every right to, he shot the Company man. So much goodness right there for so many reasons.

Which brings us to yet another critical exchange once Thorne heads home. Zilpha has been home waiting and wondering. Anyone would. Right? But when she sees Thorne walking she has to assume that James is dead. And she gasps. It’s measured, sure. But gasps all the same. But Thorne won’t say anything really either way because he knows his wife is partial to James. But who wouldn’t be with a husband like him?!? Thorne does tell her the duel was void. But won’t give her the details.

And in the meantime, upon learning that James stole the saltpeter from the East India, Lorna tells James, “I’m happy to admit I don’t want James Delaney to die, but can you also admit that you do not want James Delaney to die?” Because it would appear that he has a death wish. She is in love with James, but is nearly certain James is basically suicidal. This is a love triangle of epic proportions. It is seeming more and more like the ill fated love triangle of Les Miserables’, between Cosette, Eponine, and Marius. So, maybe everything won’t work out too well for somebody in this centripetal relationship. No? I think I’m going to go on record right now predicting the death of one of these women in episode 8 mirroring the death of Eponine in Les Mis. (Sorry for the spoiler if you’ve been meaning to read the book… cough) and if pressed, I’ll even say that it’ll be Bow who will be the one that dies. Just looking at the facts here people.

Let’s cut back to Chummey the chemist… and his continued work on the gunpowder manufacturing. Mid stir Chumney asks James if he can call on Bow. Which leads to this hilarious exchange:

James – “And you find the actress beautiful?”
Chumney – “Not only do I find her in the large group of women I would sleep with, I also find her in the much smaller group I would masturbate over…
Chumney – “So can I call on her?”
James – “No”
Chumney – “So she’s yours then?”
… No answer from James

Which is curious, is it not? And then later when Chumney sends Lorna a book, James says out loud to her, stay away from him. He is actively dissuading her from having any interactions with him. Hrmmmm.

Biggest News of Episode 5

So now we are back to the first line of this blog post. I TOLD YOU SO!! We see that James decides to bring the boy that we were wondering about back in episode 1 in to help Chumney the chemist out. But before we dive into exactly what we learned – let’s flash back to my episode 1 quote:

Who is the Boy? – James paid a pile of money for the man who was taking care of the boy. He seemed to be 14? 12 years old? Definitely of an age that he could be James’ son. If so, who’s is it? We know that James, when he was kicking the prostitute out of his father’s offices, we learn that James first sexual experience was with her. Could it be her child? No, she had barely any memory of James at all. You’d think if she had carried his child she would remember him better. But what if I do you one better?

What about James and his sister? – I think the boy is the son of Zilpha Geary and James Delaney. Who is James’ half sister. Thus her letter telling him to pay the extra two shillings to bury the past deeper, and to leave it untouched. She’s “happily” married. She’s glad to have the man she has and the estate that she has. Maybe she barely dodged a bullet getting pregnant with the boy, and James had to put the child up with someone quickly before he fled and joined the East India Company as a ship’s mate.

Now. Jump forward to episode 5. So, the man that is taking care of the boy says to James, I kept him out of it. He doesn’t need to know anything. And then James tells the boy that he stole the saltpeter – and now, whether he wants to be or not, that the boy is one of us. And a few minutes later, the boy’s caretaker refers to the boy as James’ son. So now we know… for a fact, that the boy is definitely Delaney’s son. But the question on the table? As I said above, who is the mother?! As I said, it could be the prostitute he was talking to. Or some other random person. But we all know who the mother is.

Taboo Episode 5 Odds and Ends

There were a bunch of odds and ends I am not going to recount in detail. Deal. But, we see James go to his boat crew and cut off a thumb of one who was considering turning them in.

Lorna Bow finally brought Delaney’s trunk to James. In it, James finds nothing really big… only the Nootka Sound treaty. Which, I assume is incredibly important as the lynch pin for holding together a non-imploding lattice of mutually supporting tensions. (Come on. That was brilliant. I’ve got nothing better than that sentence right there.) About the same time, James tells Lorna about his mother and the land. That the Nootka Sound was purchased by Horace Delaney with gunpowder and James’ mother, Horace Delaney’s first wife,was purchased with beads. And when she wouldn’t play the Italian countess, Horace had her sent to the bedlam insane asylum. Things are getting incredibly personal here between James and Lorna sports fans. He may not admit it, but he is taking a shine to the woman.

Which brings us to the Sons of Africa and George Chichester. The Prince Regent and Coop are tired of nipping at the heals of the East India Company. And they’ve decided, that if they can go after Sir Stuart Strange directly they’ll have a better time pointing them where they want. So Coop goes and finds letters from George Chichester (say that name five times fast) that he has written yearly for the last ten years or so on July 10th, the anniversary of the sinking of the The Influence . In it, George brings allegations that the East India Company was trading slaves illegally and were guilty in the deaths of 280 slave lives (76 of which were children).

You see where this is going right? To exactly the same place James is going. Everything for James is motivated by revenge. He was on the sloop, the Allegiance. James saw those 280 people die. He saw the cover up first hand. He saw the injustice. Right? You are getting this already, yes? The only reason James is creating the trade agreements, and setting up the Nootka Trading Company, and putting his life in jeopardy, is to get back at the East India for this event. Makes sense, right?

Last random detail? The Americans need the gun powder in 8 days. Only problem? Chumney’s way will get it in 4 weeks. So the Americans recommend the French Method. Which makes gun powder faster, but will explode if it isn’t stirred 24/7. And even then, might just explode because it feels like it.

Zilpha’s Exorcism

This final section of the episode is fullon over the top, in pretty much every way. Thorne hear’s Zilpha saying James’ name while she is sleeping (which, I might add, is one more bit of evidence that Zilpha and James are destined together minus her protestations. (I mean, they do have a son together after all! That poor kid.) And as a result of this, Thorne brings in a literal exorcist to drive out Zilpha’s demons. Wow. And did I mention already that Thorne punched Zilpha in the face? She has a massive bruiser as a result. And at the end of the episode, Zilpha is seriously considering killing Thorne with a hat pin. A HAT PIN! wow.

Taboo Episode 5 Theories

Tons, and tons of different things got sewn up for us in this episode. There is a serious confluence of events heading towards an East India come uppance. We have the Chichester connection and the official investigation opening with the Prince Regent. And we have James’ purchase of a sloop just to verify that it was used as a slave ship. We have lots of markers that are coming together as proof that the East India is meddling in the slave trade illegally. Wait a second… was it illegal to trade in slaves at that time (such an evil question – I MEAN MINUS THE MORAL HEINOUSNESS OF SUCH A THING) for the East India? In a word, yes. As of March 1st, 1808. And since this film is depicting 1814 – we can assume that the ship that James was on that was secretly shuttling slaves happened after that time period. But wait. I’m just realizing that George had been sending letters for 10 years. Which puts that particular ship sailing around the 1804 time frame? Which is prior to the trade becoming illegal. Am I missing something here. It could be that James wasn’t on that particular ship? And the investigation has nothing to do with the illegalness, but rather the murder of 280 souls. Gah. It isn’t adding up and I hate that. But George and James are on the same journey regardless of the specifics. Right?


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