New FX Show Taboo Episode 7 Discussed and Explained
This episode went EXACTLY to plan… except for absolutely anything and everything! Gah. I definitely foresaw a large swath of this episode happening as it did. And yet!?? And YET?!? But now that we are through episode seven we are just one episode away (please tell me episode 8 is a two hour episode please!) from the conclusion of season 1. We have already heard from Knight saying that he sees this as a several season experience (3 to be exact), with it all ending with James Delaney arriving in Nootka. (Which, is a bit of a spoiler in a million different regards.) But right now, with episode 7 in our hands now? We have plenty to talk about. Mainly, the biggest thing? How my heart was broken… and then wasn’t. So let’s away through the episode review shall we? And then we can discuss theories for episode 8 on the other side.
Taboo Episode 7 Overview
Taboo episode 7 kicks off with Winter’s funeral. Which isn’t necessarily a funeral per se, but rather a smattering of people and a priest next to a boat. James is at a remove because, well, you know… he might have killed Winter after all. (Gah, if that isn’t the most bulky and clumsily handled plot line in the entire series.) And while he is there, Lorna Bow arrives to let him know that Robert… his son (with Zilpha we assume) had been dropped off by Cholmondeley at the house. Lorna also lets James know that she doesn’t think he killed her. But Winter’s mother? Helga? Oh she is certain he did it. And she’s angry.
Chichester then is summoned by James. Which George finds curious seeing as though he had been dying to talk to him for so long, and had been searching for him, but James had always avoided him, until now. But it’s clear that Chichester believes that it was James that nailed the holds closed.
James – “Aye aye captain I said.”
Chichester – “Yes I know you were just following orders.”
James – “No, I like driving in nails, takes your mind off the rain and the sinking ship.”
Chichester – “Maybe I should come back when you are more…”
James – “No, I am always like this.”
Which is not what happened. I think I talked about this in the episode reviews for both episode 5 and episode 6, didn’t I? And maybe even earlier. That I saw this all heading towards the confluence, and towards James being aboard the ship. But I posited that it couldn’t possibly be that James was the one that actually nailed the holds shut. That it would be the unpardonable sin. That we as an audience are ok watching him gut East India men left and right, and American spies, left and right… but to be found guilty of killing an entire ship of Africans? No. I still believe that something will drop, showing that Delaney didn’t do it. Notice he didn’t say he did it. Aye Aye captain is as close as he got. He also said he was guilty of even worse crimes. (How?!)
Chichester makes it clear that he is of the mind that James is the only member of the crew that has survived. And Chichester wants an account of Strange ordering the slaves being loaded aboard and the command to go to his brother’s plantation. James listens, but then offers an alternative suggestion as to how to get at Strange which was to use Godfrey instead, who was the official note taker for the East India Company even back then.
WAIT! Interjecting fomantic fatherly interlude between James and Robert inbound! Robert brings James his breakfast on a tray. And he grunts. Then he calls him back and gives him the key to the safe. James plays a bit with him, by keeping the key from him, and then Robert snags it away. And just like that, James has made up for being the world’s worst father of all time. See? I hear birds chirping and angels singing. Or not.
Our Love Triangle Loses a Side?
Speaking of romantic interludes… now we have Zilpha walking out and about down by the docks (cause that would happen) and she saw Jame’s burnt out ship. And she hustles over to talk with James. And Zilpha makes it clear that James’ strangling of her the episode prior was ok. That they just have to take it slower… and that they have all the time in the world. Which James laughs at.
Zilpha – “I was thinking, and you are right, we have time, all the time in the world.”
James – “You don’t think. And no, no we don’t. I once thought we were one person, not anymore.”
Zilpha – “No, you can’t do this.”
James – “It’s already done.”
A couple episodes ago, I likened the love triangle side of things to the book (or the movie if I must) of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”, and that couldn’t be more clear than right here in this exchange. Do you remember in that book when … nope, nevermind. Here… I’ll show you, this is the scene from the movie I was about to refer to:
No? There are so many political machinations that folded into that moment in this clip. But at the end of the day he is sending her away. Why? That’d take me another 3,000 deconstruction post to get to the bottom of that particular problem. Did he actually care for her? Was he protecting her? Or did he hate her all along and see her as a land war to be won and conquered and thrown away? James, similarly is sending her away. There are a million questions that I have now. Is he doing this to protect her? Is it because he’s worried he’ll kill her. Better yet, is he worried that the Crown will kill her? Or the Americans? Or, an even more practical result and literal approach? He just doesn’t think they are a match anymore? Thorne, or the intervening years, or life, caused them to drift apart? What happened? Why is James sending Zilpha away? He even gave her a diamond for her widowhood?!? hahaha. That’s about as harsh as it gets. Here, widow, live off of this. I’m totally of two minds on where this is going between James and Zilpha. We are definitely going to be discussing this in the theories section below.
One of my favorite conversations of the episode was between Brace and James. James calls Brace out for killing his father. “We still have so many rats?” “Everyone has rats.” “Even after you bought so much arsenic from the Apothecary?” He’s saying, what other use did you have for the arsenic if you didn’t use it for the rats exactly? Oh yeah, you killed my father. Pinch by pinch in his food. No wonder he was going mad. “I did him a kindness… I did him a kindness…” Which, sort of assumes that Brace wasn’t in on the original land grab from the beginning. We take him on his word here? Maybe another shoe will drop in episode 8 with regard to Brace? We shall see.
Taboo The Beginning Of The End Game
One of my favorite things about James Delaney is that he sees the plies of every other character in the story 10 deep. And everyone else is stuck spinning their wheels at the average of 1 or 2 plies. Take for example the chaos between Helga, Winter’s mother, and James. Helga believes that James has killed Winter. She doesn’t know why. But she’s pretty sure no one but James did it.
So James and Atticus discuss what to do. Atticus… wisely (tho immorally) wants to dispatch Helga into the great beyond. James… staring off into the distance, evaluates his end game possibilities and determines where this will all end up. Rook to King 4. Bishop to Queen 3. Check. Pawn to check mate. He sees Helga turning him in to Strange and the East India. Ply 1. He sees Helga and her second getting locked up and held as ransom for James. Ply 2. He sees the Strange battering for James and his trumped up attempt on the King. Ply 3. He sees Coop accepting the deal from Strange and giving the monopoly trading rights for James. Ply 4. He sees his torture for information on the Americans. Ply 5. He sees the the torturer not succeeding. Ply 6. He sees Coop bringing Strange to him in negotiation for information on the Americans. Ply 7. And he sees his final play freeing him from the Tower… Ply 8. Though we don’t quite know what that play is yet. He sees them all, and he decides to tell Atticus, don’t harm her. Let her be.
And that is exactly how it played out. Helga to Bishop 3. East India to Rook 2. Torturer to King 3. And on and on.
It is interesting that the East India and the Prince Regent have only just now come upon the plan to seize James’ property by claiming he was making a play for the life of the King (Prince Regent). That because James’ blood is now tainted, and his life forfeit, all property is the King’s. I mean, really? Couldn’t they have come upon this particular plan 6 episodes ago?! hahah. So they are happy. Strange and the East India are getting the monopoly between Nootka and China. The Prince is getting Nootka. And James will be tortured and have his head lopped off. How could it not play out any better than that?
Only flaw in this plan? Chichester. That annoying George Chichester is constantly meddling into the affairs of this silly sloop that sank all those years ago. And he is dangerously close to having Strange cornered now that James has supplied him with Godfrey to testify. “I have a use for you.” Delaney says, and with that the penultimate episode in the season is completed.
Taboo Episode 7 Theories and Season Completion Guesses
Two things matter to me at this point. Sure, there are a hundred that need to be wrapped up. But only two really matter going into the final show. The first? What is James going to do with Zilpha and Lorna Bow? He’s cast Zilpha away as a widow. They were a single person. Now? they are completely adrift. Will James declare his love for his father’s widow? (Which sounds only slightly better than declaring his love for his father’s daughter. hahaha.) I will guess that Zilpha will stay the outcast, and she’ll be setup for a bigger role in season 2. I also believe he will make a slight, ever ever so slight, overture to Bow. Doubt it’ll be anything dramatic. Which will keep the love triangle potentially in play later down the road.
The second thing? How is James going to get out of prison for high treason? Not an insignificant thing. Oh, and get a ship. And get his monopoly back. Oh and survive the episode? The most obvious guess is that he is now bribing Strange to get him out. He’ll trade Godfrey for safe passage out. But why go in in the first place? If he saw this is where he would land, why do it, unless it strengthened his position. That is the real question. And with one episode to go!!
Interested in reading all of my Taboo recaps so far?