Now that we are five episodes into season one of Taboo two things are abundantly clear. The first being that this show, as I pointed out in my initial review, is a Tom Hardy highlight reel. The second is, as the title indicates, there’s a whole bunch of taboo shit going on. At times when watching Taboo it can be easy to get lost in all the taboo things that happen. You may find yourself thinking things like,
“Was Tom Hardy covering himself in fireplace soot and blood the most taboo thing I saw tonight? Or was it when the prostitute distracted the fat guard with a blow job?”
It can all be very confusing.
But fear not like James Delaney’s ornery butler Brace, I am here to help. Let this scale of taboo things in Taboo guide you like a Nootka indian spirit guide.
Things that are taboo, but understandable
–Robbing the East India Company for supplies to make your own gunpowder:
Most people would not do this, therefore it is taboo. However, when you need gunpowder to trade with the Nootka indians (I think) and the EIC is hoarding it all what else are you supposed to do? Obviously for James Delaney the answer is to enlist your merry band of whores and criminals to break into the Company’s storage vault, steal their salt peter (aka potassium nitrate), and bring it back to your secret farm so your chemist friend and secret son can make you your own gunpowder. Honestly this is barely even taboo.
-Killing a gigantic assassin with meat hooks:
Right off the bat you would think this one would rank higher but here’s the thing. It was self defense, so inherently it can’t be that taboo. Was dragging his body around via meat hook and disemboweling him a step over the line? Yeah maybe but in Delaney’s defense he was definitely concussed at the time.
Things that are very taboo
–Cutting off a fat man’s thumb because you know his thoughts:
In the aftermath of the East India robbery Delaney is forced to grease the palms of those involved after a reward is posted for any information that leads to identifying the culprits. But while he’s greasing palms he also ends up having to sever a thumb. On an average day Delaney does five things before breakfast that are more taboo than cutting off someone’s thumb. The thing that ratchets up the level of taboo-ocity here is that he cuts off that fat man’s thumb because he says he has read his thought and knows the fat man is considering collecting that reward. Silly fat man, Delaney owns your mind, and now he owns your thumb too. (Full disclosure I have literally no idea what that mind reading business is about.)
-Covering up that you intentionally sunk a ship filled with 300 slaves:
Looking at you Sir Stuart Strange. You don’t get to be the highest ranking official of the diabolical East India Company without having a few skeletons in your closet. But having 300 of them in there is well, taboo. The Crown and the Company are at each other’s throats in their fight over Delaney and now Sir Stuart is feeling that heat on a personal level.
Things that are extremely taboo even for Taboo
-Having an exorcism performed on your wife after you beat her up:
Every show has that one character whose death the viewers anticipate from the first time said character shows up on screen. In Taboo it’s this asshat:
Thorne Geary, the uber-douche, boat insurance salesman, husband of Delaney’s sister, Zilpha. His most recent feats of douchebaggery involved getting tweaked out on nitrous at a party, challenging Delaney to a duel, getting cucked at said duel, beating his wife, and then forcing her into an exorcism. Taboo meter was off the charts this week for ol’ Thorne. God I can’t wait til they kill this dude.
-Delaney using African voodoo fireplace magic to dream bang Zilpha, who again, is his (half) sister:
Yeah, that one kind of speaks for itself.