New FX Show Taboo Episode 6 Discussed and Explained
So I was wrong. About oh so many things! I think this is a first for me! Hahaha. Definitely surprised me with where this episode went and how completely off the rails Knight and company are willing to go with this thing. Kudos to you guys! Holy cow. Which basically means the show is trading one assumed tension for an entirely different set of checks and balances. But we’ll get into that soon enough. Right now I am required by law in 47 countries, 28 states, and 1,042 counties, that I will be discussing spoilers to Taboo episode 6. If it isn’t a spoiler, I won’t be talking about. So to be clear, this is a radioactive post if you have not seen this episode. Maybe I can interest you in some Episode 1 discussion?
Taboo Episode 6 Plot Overview
This episode is thoroughly intrigued, transfixed… er, fixated, yeah, fixated on Anne Delaney. We’ve seen her consistently in pretty much every episode so far, for a grand total of exactly .027 milliseconds of screen time. You know, the demonic woman in the water constantly scaring you to death? Yeah. Her. But this time, we finally start to see more of her and her actual story. And apparently the story isn’t nearly as good as James likes to think it is. What? Our man James has mommy issues?!? How?! (That was sarcasm. I was being sarcastic. Obviously we all knew the guy had issues with his mother. And now I’m sarcastically explaining to you I’m being sarcastic. Rabbit. Hole.)
So far, we’ve been told that Anne, an Indian from Nootka sound, was purchased by James’ father when he purchased Nootka. And when Anne wouldn’t play a Spanish princess or Italian maiden, he had her put away at Bedlam Insane Asylum. Right? But in this episode we start to hear a bit of a different story. Anne Delaney actually tried to murder her son by drowning him in the river. And so James, as his want, decides to go to Bedlam to see for himself. Because, you know, while it won’t explain a thing, it will add lots and lots of foreboding texture to the story. So there is that.
Episode 6 the Gunpowder thread
Gunpowder. James needs lots of gunpowder. The reasons are thick and convoluted. Something about the American shipping blockade… stop. Let’s learn a bit. I know I know, you just want to know if James ends up with Zilpha or Bow… who cares about the history!! Well. Hrm. Good point. But, it is completely annoying to me if we don’t understand the backstory or what the characters are even discussing.
So, there was this thing called the War of 1812. Which, I had always assumed was just a Napoleonic (no not Napoleon Dynomite – the other one) thing. But apparently, during the same time frame there was another conflict between Britain and America over trade and somethin, somethin. And no, I have no idea why we were fighting with England again. No boundaries were changed as a result of this particular war but American ships as well as British ships were blockading each other.
Now, what has the American war of 1812 got to do with James Delaney? Well, if the Americans kill James, they get Nootka Sound because James has explicitly declared the Americans the heir to the land. That was solely to keep himself safe from the Prince Regent and the East India Company. So, in order to play the political game of “stay alive as long one can”, James has promised gun powder to Dumbarton, the American spy. Dumbarton needs gunpowder in order to keep up the blockade of the British ships.
You have that all straight? James, in trying not to get killed by the Americans, has made nice with Dumbarton. Dumbarton has assisted James on how to create gunpowder quickly. And James is also giving the gunpowder in order to Dumbarton to get safe passage through the American blockade. I’ve actually drawn all the tensions in this show on a whiteboard in an attempt to see how this equalibrium is held in check. Seems like something ought to tumble here somewhere.
The Investigation Into the East India Company
Where the cards start to all come tumbling down is with the for request by George Chichester, who wants the Prince Regent to investigate into the matter of 280 some odd slaves being drowned intentionally in 1804. The ship was apparently managed by the East India Company. Apparently, the ships name was the Cornwallis while in Africa, and the Influence while in England. George states that the abolitionist Charles Grant had been placed on the board and that he strictly forbade the slave trade within the East India Company. He also stated that the trade of slavery in England was illegal. I thought we talked last time about it in detail and I came up with a different date? I’m still very confused on this point. (Wait. Stay right there. Looking it up again.) Phew. Thanks for waiting. Ok, here is an image that gives us a great high level synopsis…
I just literally typed into the Google “What year was the slave trade abolished in England” and voila, out popped this happy little factoid. 1807. So yeah, I think that is a screw up in the show. But it wasn’t super clear either. Why even mention that bit about the Abolitionist on the board? Except that slavery wasn’t actually abolished until 3 years later. Hrmm. I did just look up Charles Grant, and he really did take a position on the board in 1804. He had lived a lavish lifestyle having made a fortune in the Silk trade. But when two of his children died of smallpox he became an evangelical Christian and reviewed his entire life through that lens. Of which, slavery didn’t fit, and he actively began attacking it everywhere he could within the company. So that bit is true. But 1807 man! The reason that it matters that it was illegal is because the Prince Regent is going after Strange. If it was just a Board policy not to buy and sell slaves then the Prince Regent wouldn’t really have a leg to stand on. Gah. Regardless… moving on.
But we did find out one interesting detail about the sinking of the ship. We learned that the Cornwallis was told to everyone on shore of Africa that it was empty. As such, they only had a small crew as befitted an empty ship. Right? Only problem was, it wasn’t empty! So four days out of the port the ship ran aground. In an attempt to cover their tracks and not get busted for continuing to deal in the slave trade, they nailed the holds shut, and drowned everyone on board.
My guess? James was complicit in the nailing shut of these holds. He either did it (doubt it, we’d all hate him) or tried to stop it, but was over ruled in the short time that they had. (Whoops, this should be down in the theories section! Gotta keep you all on your toes. Can’t have you asleep at the switch.)
Regardless of all of that. George Chichester is the wrecking ball that will lay waste to the tenuously arranged tensions that have been constructed so far in the past six episodes. If he topples the East India side of the equation, the Prince Regent may gain the upper hand over America, and the East India? Or conversely America over the other two? Right? Or worse yet, who knows what East India will do when pressed up against the wall. Right? Yeah. That detail comes home to roost at the end of the episode.
The Love Triangle Goes All Kinds of Wonky
Definitely the most interesting bit of the episode right here is the progression of this love triangle between James, Lorna, and Zilpha. Lorna Bow, James’ step mother (and interested other) goes looking for the now AWOL James who has been hard at working making illicit gunpowder. Simple enough. Everyone is out looking for him, why not Lorna? I’ll tell you why. One of the first places she looks is at Thorne and Zilpha’s Geary’s house. I mean, she is his sister after all. She might now? Right? HAHAHAHA. Good Lord Al’mighty. That visit goes over like a led dirigible. And at the end of it, Lorna has to fetch her own carriage because the Gearys refused to do so. Cold.
But soon after Lorna Bow leaves, Thorne lets Zilpha know that he had applied several months ago to become an assessor in Australia and had been given the job. He is exultant and triumphant. Until Zilpha says, “Too far. Now go so I can finish.” Hahahah. Thrash. Let’s just say that Mr. and Mrs. Geary are not doing well at all. At all.
And then a few minutes later, we see Zilpha enter Thorne’s bedroom and pull out her hat pin again. Hat pins back in the day were becoming more and more used for violence. I’ve listened to several podcasts discussing the trend for men to speak directly to women without introduction (which were called mashers, apparently) and the trend for women to stab said mashers with their hat pins as a result… some stabbings resulting in death. I kid you not. Seems fullon to me. But hey. You gotta do what you gotta do. Regardless of her choice of weapon… Zilpha slid her hat pin into Thorne’s heart and killed him.
Now, I predicted that Thorne would make it through to episode 8 because he is listed on the call sheets all the way through the final episode. But, who knows. Maybe they listed him erroneously in order to throw us off? (“Luke I am your Father” was actually “Luke, Obiwan killed your father.” during the original filming to throw everyone on set off. So this wouldn’t be the first time a production company disseminated false information to keep audiences guessing. But I assumed that Thorne would remain in play for the duration of the season in order to keep Zilpha in check… and to continue the chaos with Lorna. But now? It’s open season between Zilpha and Lorna. Well, we should dive in on that in the theories section below. But holy cow. Thorne is dead. (We all knew it would happen eventually… but didn’t realize it would be episode 6!)
Regardless, Zilpha has a noose problem on her hands. “Oh yeah.” Here’s the literal dialogue between the two:
Z – You are sending me home?
J – Yes, or you’ll hang.
Z – Of course
Except! James has a plan. He heads over and then takes the body out to Dumbarton, which they label as a Cholera death. This Cholera outbreak is starting to get out of hand apparently. Which saves Zilpha, literally. But it’s funny that she is surprised she can’t just start living with James. Hahah.
The Explosive Finale of Episode 6
Godfrey learns that Strange and the East India has found out the location of the gunpowder factory. Was it Robert’s caretaker, Ibbotson, that snitched? It was wasn’t it? He was having that penitent moment in his room staring at the cross, no? And it was him that was dead in the confessional, right? That would then mean that Robert doesn’t have a caretaker anymore if that is true. Hrmm. Just now piecing that together. So will James take his son back now that he and Zilpha… hrmm…
Anyway, James has to get the gunpowder in process out of their new factory. And it’s still curing and highly dangerous. So they use the canal to get it out without blowing up and without getting caught. Then, Strange decides the gloves are off. And although he can’t kill James, he can kill those that are close to him. And so, he finds where James’ ship is and blows it up. And at this point, James is wigging out about needing a ship. Starts to drink…
The Winter Finale
See what I did there? Hahaha. Winter. Finale. Anyway. James is drinking down by the water. Winter brings him more alcohol. And you have to remember back to the beginning of the episode and a conversation between Winter and James, when she said that she wasn’t afraid of him. Which would make her the only person on the planet that isn’t afraid of James. But when James wakes up the next morning in the mud, Winter is found dead.
Taboo Episode 6 Theories
Zilpha has been lying with James all along about her feelings for him. This much was obvious. But it was confirmed minutes after Thorne died. Which leaves us with the question of Lorna. James and Zilpha can’t exactly elope or Zilpha will hang. So that gives Lorna some entrée with James still. But James is the epitome of disinterested. Hrmm. My theory here? Winter died this week. Lorna dies next week, or the week after because of her closeness to James, and her claim on Nootka. Zilpha is quasi-safe because their affair is still in the dark.
Strange, the head of East India is now getting squeezed by George Chichester and the Prince Regent. Which means he is going to continue escalating on James. Not to mention the fact that it looks like James is siding more and more with the Americans. Which means, people close to James are going to start dying at a quicker clip. Will Robert be the next at risk person? His guardian is now gone, right? And it’s going to become apparent very quickly that Robert is important to James.
And who killed Winter? I was a little annoyed with the initial assumption that James would think maybe he did it. Really? That’s just stupid. “Oh, noooo, did I kill Winter? Oh bother!? Mercy me!” Come on. Seems like a real lame plot line to even entertain. Personally think it’s obvious that Strange was behind Winter’s death. But it will mean that Helga will bring hell fire and fury his direction regardless. But really? It’s definitely Strange. Right?
But did you all notice the disjoint between Dumbarton and Countess Musgrove last week? Seemed like maybe something is up there? Could it be that Dumbarton is playing James? Maybe there is a double back in there somewhere? Two shows left! This thing is getting crazy.
Interested in reading all of my Taboo recaps so far?