I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news first; if you pray at the Church of Tom Hardy than FX’s new Tuesday night drama, Taboo, is your cup of tea. The bad news is that if the thought of a weekly 50 minute dose of Hardy at his Hardy-est makes you want to smash your fresh brewed pot of Earl Grey, well, then you’re going to have a broken pot.
Hardy’s character James Delaney, who is a product of Hardy’s own creation, is the focal point of the series and tends to take up most of the air in the room while on screen. Although, he does accomplish the feat while speaking surprisingly few words. This isn’t to say anything negative of Hardy’s performance in the role. No in fact he manages to bring a lot of humanity to a character whose behavior is often very absent of the trait. James Delaney is essentially the perfect evolution of a Tom Hardy character. He’s mysterious, brooding, smart, and supremely talented in the art of killing people. In playing Delaney, Hardy hasn’t brought anything new to the table that he didn’t already give us as Mad Max, Bane, Eames, or Fitzgerald, but you can’t say he hasn’t mastered the role.
Through two episodes Taboo has painted a grim and filthy, yet incredibly detailed and lifelike, version of early 1800’s London. Britain is embroiled with fledgling America in the War of 1812, the nefarious East India Company is at its heights, and James Delaney is at the center of it all. The story opens with Delaney returning home to London for his father’s funeral after spending a a decade or more in “Africa”, where all who knew him believed he had died. How exactly Delaney knew to return precisely when he did is yet to be seen, but is one of the several supernatural plot threads Taboo has laid out thus far.
In his will Delaney’s father’s leaves all of his worldly possessions to his son and not his daughter. (Delaney has a half-sister, they maybe used to bang, it’s complicated). The most valuable of those possessions; a deed of sorts to a strip of land off the coast of Vancouver, known as Nootka Sound, which Delaney’s father acquired from the natives via a trade treaty. Since we are only two episodes into the season there is still plenty of time to get on board so I do not want to do to much spoiling yet. But essentially his ownership of, and refusal to sell, Nootka Sound puts Delaney in a position to be a deciding factor in the war and at odds with both the East India Company and the Crown itself.
Look, if you take Taboo too seriously it certainly has the ability to drag you down into the muddy streets of old London and suffocate you, and then maybe bite a chunk out of your throat. . . My advice is simply, don’t let it. Just enjoy Hardy playing the type of character that we love to watch him play and realize you are more or less watching Batman, if he had been born British and 200 years ago. I say this because Delaney has the wide ranging skills, incredible knack for outwitting the villains, and tragic past that the Dark Knight is so well known for. But instead of a utility belt he wears a top hat made of beaver fur, which is pretty fun. Check out the trailer below.