At the beginning of Taboo, we’re introduced to James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy). We see James bury something in the ground. Then, James rides into town and visits his father’s corpse. After the intro scene, Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) is transported into town with her father’s body. Zilpha and her husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall) arrive at the funeral hall. There, they’re harassed by Robert Thoyt (Nicholas Woodeson), who requests more money to bury Horace deeper into the ground. His request is denied. Moments later, James enters and stuns everyone. Seconds later, the casket is placed into the ground and covered with dirt. James says a prayer and reminds everyone he has spent a long duration in Africa.
James speaks to his Zilpha briefly. The woman happens to be his step sister. Back at the local pub, everyone ridicules James and his behavior. Thoyt, who was Horace’s lawyer, confronts James. The man reveals that Horace used to stand on the bridge and call out for his son. James admits he heard him. Then, James learns about a piece of land owned by his father. James heads to the pub and speaks with his sister. He offers her money and reveals he got rich in Africa. Thorne interrupts and sends James towards the door. Meanwhile, the higher ups sit around and discuss the land. Thoyt arrives and tells them about James’ intention to keep the land for himself. Wilton has done a great deal of research and has found that James was actually a cadet at the East India Company.
The group admits Nootka Sound is very strategic to them and cannot be given up to the likes of Delaney. Meanwhile, James strolls across the beach with a dog. He takes the dog home and speaks with his old comrade Brace (David Hayman). James insists Brace is the only one he trusts. The men share a drink, while discussing the land. James admits he doesn’t care about repercussions, since he has sworn to do foolish things. He exits and heads to a window. There, he sees a ghost woman or sorts. In the morning, James learns that his father burnt his shipping logs. James is also given a letter, which contains a financial offer for his father’s land. He tosses it in the fireplace.
James visits his father’s company. There, he finds Helga (Franka Potente) and a bunch of prostitutes. He consults with Helga momentarily, kicks over a table and tells her to leave his property. Zilpha writes a letter to James with her husband’s help. They try to convince James to sell the land. James heads to the beach once again. James speaks with a man on the beach about suicides and witchcraft. The man tells James about his father’s son, whom he has been looking after for many years. James agrees to pay Ibbotson (Christopher Fairbank) a substantial amount and make his efforts well worth it. That night, James has his father’s body dug up and examined by a doctor. During the examination, James raises the dead and goes into some type of trance.
When James returns to reality, he learns that his father was poisoned with arsenic. He tells the doctor to have his father reburied and to warn others not to dig him up. Thorne returns to his wife and tells her that the letter failed. James intends to consult with East India. Thorne is worried that they’ll be left broke. Thorne insists his wife’s half-brother will need to be taught a less. James pays a visit to Ibbotson and gives him money. He spots the kid, but refuses to speak with him. Then, James speaks with Appleby (Roger Ashton-Griffiths), Wilton (Edward Hogg) and those in charge. Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) offers James a drink, before they get down to business.
Strange and his men make several offers for the land, but James refuses them all. He explains that the land is important for the British in their fight against the United States. He also insists the land could be a gateway to China. Strange tells James about his father’s insanity. He also tries to pressure him into opening the envelope. James refuses and leaves. Once James leaves, Strange admits he wanted to solve things in a civil way. Now that he knows he will cannot do that, he hands over the reigns to his colleagues. Later that night, James receives a latter from his sister. She admits the letter was wrote with her husband’s help. She also expresses her concerns that James will unveil the secrets of the past.
Taboo has so much potential. The time period is fascinating. Then, we have the likes of David Hayman, Edward Hogg, Nicholas Woodeson, and Oona Chaplin. Sadly, those are the only notable credits for the first episode. The entire episode was rubbish from start to finish. Tom Hardy murmured through many of his lines and his makeup was downright ridiculous. Hardy looked like he went to the same spray tan clinic as Trump and the eye scar is lame.
The dialogue was equally disappointing. More importantly, Taboo is hinging on becoming full fledged propaganda. It is clearly obvious from this point that the white man is evil, the woman is held captivate against her will, and the Indians will be the protagonists alongside James. Sadly, Taboo is too good for BBC. It may align more closely with FX, but it is highly likely it’ll be cut before the first season is over.
The ratings have already shrunk substantially from the 1st to the 2nd episode. It is truly a shame they had to drag David Hayman into this cesspit. The first episode borderlines around a 4 out of 10.