As I mentioned during our episode 8 discussion of Taboo, there is a lot to talk about with regard to season 1 of Taboo. There are about a million different threads that we could pull on and discuss. But I’ve chosen a few super critical details and will discuss these in depth in order to try and figure out where Season 2 and 3 will be going.
My first question about Zilpha’s death? Was that planned from the beginning? Or was this just a reaction to the grossness of James being that into his sister? I’ve talked to a number of people that just couldn’t get over that one detail. So I do wonder if the sibling (half at that) detail was derailing viewers?
Personally I was a huge fan of James single mindedness with regards to Zilpha. There was a purpose and a drive to his efforts and overtures. Thorne was in his way, and so he stalked around the outside of the house until he saw his opportunity. (Nevermind that that opportunity was Zilpha stabbing her husband in the heart with a hat pin.) But he knew what he was doing from the beginning. And then the random turn at the end. Nope. I thought we were one flesh, one person… but no, I was wrong. What was that?
So it does make sense that Zilpha would take that rejection as a massive blow. Suicidal inducing even. Which was why in the last episode I spent so much time reading the letter and investigating why she did it. Which brings us to another point… in her letter shown on screen she talked all about not getting over the shame of it all. But in Episode 7 there didn’t seem to much shame in her mind about hooking up with her brother. And the Americans were all ready to hook them both up with a new life and a cleaned up back story. So I don’t really buy that as a reason for her committing suicide. What I do buy, is the fact that she killed herself because James rejected her. That makes all kinds of sense to me. Why he rejected her though is another thing entirely. Could it be that his time in Africa changed him – altered his mind and his relationship to his other half? Dunno. And the show doesn’t comment why either.
The Relationship between Dumbarton and Strange
I think I noticed there was a delta between Countess Musgrove and Dumbarton back in episode 4? 3 even? It just seemed like they were pulling in different directions. I didn’t piece it together that Dumbarton was a double agent as I was too busy thinking that it was Musgrove that had seemed like she had gone off reservation. But at the end of the day, as it turns out, (and whatever other euphemism I can shove in this sentence), it was Dumbarton that had broken ranks with the East India Company. But to what end?
Dumbarton was Sir Stuart Strange’s “ace in the hole”. Dumbarton was going to double-cross America in order to sell Nootka Sound back to the EIC in exchange for Delaney’s letter of safe passage. We know this from the conversation that Lorna Bow communicated to Carlsbad. But how did Delaney put two and two together and figure out that Dumbarton had gone rogue? No idea really. Did he sense the difference between the Countess and Dumbarton’s perspectives? Dumbarton seemed out for his own ends (ala gunpowder etc.) and his unalignment with Countess Musgrove. Or maybe it’s just one more omniscient perspective that Knight lent our protagonist to stay a step ahead of his enemies. You do realize he is basically a demi-god, and no real human could outwit others with this level of perfection, right?
Here’s another question for you. Is Strange dead? We know that, last we saw him, that he received a package/letter from “Dumbarton” that was actually, in fact, a letter from Mr. Delaney with a little TLC added from Cholmondesley. Strange, thinking it was the captured Nootka Treaty and the shipping routes monopoly, etc tears into the letter only to blow himself up. But is that in fact what happened? Is Strange now deformed and deranged and hell bent on chasing Delaney down? Obviously we still need an evil prime-mover in Season 2. Will it be Strange or will the bomb have finished him off? Or will Collonnade (personally think the closed captioning got the spelling of “his” name wrong, but whatever) be the new Strange? Or did Strange actually die when he thought that his double agent, Dumbarton, was handing over the Nootka Sound treaty, and ended up blowing himself up? Could he have survived?
Lorna Bow and James Delaney or Cholmondeley?
Zilpha is dead. This much we are sure of. She sang to James and he was certain eventually that she really was dead. Although, I have to admit, that I would have loved a Zilpha return from the dead in season 2, that won’t be happening. Zilpha has traveled the path of the slaves on board the EIC slave ship. The Thames has swallowed her completely.
So that leaves us with Lorna Bow, James’ mother. Which, is that really any worse or any better than a half sister? Regardless of the nepotism, (nepotism? no. no. incest? incestuousness… yeah, incestuousness.) Regardless of the incestuousness… what is going to happen next with Lorna Bow. Well, I’ll tell you what will happen next with Lorna Bow. And that is we’ll get a new corner to the triangle. A replacement for Zilpha. Guaranteed. Lorna will probably be the ultimate winner of James’ ‘heart’. But it won’t be in season 2 that much is for sure. A foil will keep her from getting too close to James as the show continues to spool out the Africa and world travel information. (We’ll get to that momentarily. Promise.)
Or, could it possibly be, that Taboo will go in the direction of Taboo-less-ness and point Lorna Bow at Cholmondeley instead? We know for sure that Cholmondeley is intrigued having given her a book. But Delaney squelched that idea by telling her he is a terrible sort. But it may very well be that Knight will ditch the Step-Mother and Step-Son connection (as they killed the step-sister connection… quite literally) via a Cholmondeley hookup. Who knows what will happen with Lorn Bow-Delaney.
Who Is Robert’s Mother
I talked to this off and on throughout my episode recaps. But I still want to know even more than I did now that the season is over. Initially my thought was that Helga could be the mother. (No shade, early in episode 1 thank you. Geeze.) Because that was who James had lost his virginity to. But then as the Zilpha thread unspooled we realized that she would definitely be the most likely candidate to be Robert’s mother. No? BUt. bUT, BUT! Zilpha made zero mention, or question of, or acknowledgement of a child. At all. Zero. And while one episode ago I had her at a lock to be Robert’s mother… the fact that she didn’t mention a son in her suicide letter, that she never asked about the boy, nothing, means that I really don’t think it was her. I mean think about it. If she was, then this is how it went down… James and Zilpha hook up. Zilpha gets pregnant and probably goes abroad to the continent to have the baby in secret. She gives the child to James, and James leaves the child with some random guy to care for. So Zilpha knows nothing of what happened to her boy. Even if she was thoroughly riddled with shame as a result, wouldn’t you think she’d inquire, at least a, ‘So, um, the kid?’ ‘Yeah yeah, fine all good.’ ‘Oh, ok. Good.’ Right? Something? But she’s dead now and we got nothing from her on that front. Which leads me to think that Robert is an open thread to be discussed in Season 2. We’ll get to that in a moment.
And as a side bit o’ trivia… do you know who the actor is who plays our wee-Robert? He is none other than Andy Serkis’ son… Andy Serkis… yes? Gollum, my precious! Andy Serkis? Work with me people. His name is Louis Serkis. Which is pretty great for him that he doesn’t have to spend his life acting behind motion capture rigs like his father has! hahah.
Taboo Season 2 Theories
Season two will be similar to season one, I’m sure of it. Knight and Hardy are saying that it will be extraordinarily explosive. Which is all fine and good. But James Delaney has said over and over again that he has done many more worse things than nailing the hold shut on a slave ship and drowning hundreds of people. Right? So the driver for story and plot all will come from James’ past and wrongs that he will want to revenge. Guaranteed. Sure, he went after the head of the East India Company in the first season. In the second, maybe it will be a murdering Pub Owner. Or a swindling subordinate of Strange’s? Or better yet newly minted head of Portugal per a Napoleonic coup. Here check this out, I was just flipping through the wikipedia information on Portugal during the time of Taboo and there were all kinds of fireworks going on in Portugal at this time:
In 1807, Napoleon ordered the invasion of Portugal and subsequently the royal family and its entire court migrated to Brazil, Maria I declaring the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves in 1816. This would be one of the causes for the declaration of Brazilian independence by Pedro I of Brazil in 1822, following a liberal revolution in Portugal.
And who’s to say that the Delaney’s Band of the Damned won’t hang out there until something enormous happens, historically I mean? I mean, Brazil, Portugal, Azores… there could be some really wild magic happening inside of that historical ecosystem. So, like just a total noob, I just typed into Google: “What happened in the Azores during 1814?” and what comes up? hahaha.
The Battle of Fayal was an engagement fought in September 1814 during the war between the United States and the United Kingdom at the Portuguese colony of Fayal in the Azores. Three British warships and several boats filled with sailors and marines under assignment for the Louisiana Campaign attacked an American privateer in port. After repulsing two attacks from British troops and sailors, killing one of their commanders, the Americans won a tactical victory but scuttled their ship the following morning to prevent it from being captured.
So, um, yeah. I’m guessing Knight is sending James and company into that engagement. What would be ultra clever is if Knight was writing the League of the Damned into the exchange. Which I am sure he is somehow. But a ship named the Good Hope wasn’t included in the battle. So I’m not quite sure his angle quite yet. Still thinking. Guess we will have to wait and see.
Interested in reading all of my Taboo recaps so far?