Taboo Season 1 Episode 8 Review
BBC and FX‘s Taboo: Season 1, Episode 8 ended the season by tying up loose ends, killing off good, bad, and grey area characters, and by providing an ending that opened up the survivors to the New World.
The final episode of Season One of Taboo was an entertaining and satisfying seasonal finale. What made it memorable was that all, 100%, of the ending was unforeseen. The first season of Taboo was a completely unpredictable narrative, like George R. R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. That is why it was so good. That is why Episode 8 had such replay value. Like Westworld, you wanted to see what you missed the first time when you re-watched Episode 8 of Taboo. Within Episode 8, multiple twists and turns occurred.
Episode 8’s biggest twists and turns occurred during the episode’s climatic battle. Keeping the ship’s passengers out of sight and out of harm’s way I understood. What I didn’t understand was why James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy) didn’t load them onto the ship with the gun powder before the shooting began. Why did James wait until the shooting started to move the people onto the ship?
What James created by doing it that way was a shooting gallery. Perhaps that was James’ plan all along (though the number of provisions James had placed on-board, enough for fifteen people, was a fact against such supposition).
What Episode 8’s writers created by doing it that way (it was purposeful – since not boarding the ship before the gun battle defies reason) was a dystopian reality where the characters served the story only, whether that was through their lives or their deaths. No one, besides James Delaney, was safe. Many TV shows (Ray Donovan, Friday Night Lights, Shameless – the U.S. version) “Jumped The Shark” because of character protection and the desire to keep fan-favorites on their respective shows. That won’t be the case with Taboo. Taboo‘s producers proved that with their season finale e.g. Mr. Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander) getting blown up by his own chemicals and powders, resulting in severe burns to his head and face.
The viewer has rarely seen loose ends tied up in such a cerebral ways than they did in Episode 8. Unlike the haphazard war in Meereen in Game of Thrones and how the brain-dead dragon button was pushed in Season 6’s finale episode, the resolutions to the individual conflicts in Taboo were intricate and unique, each needing to proceed in a specific order and to be carried out by specific people.
The Devil’s Deal that was struck between Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) and James Delaney in The Tower of London during Episode 8 was rather impressive. James had put multiple people at risk, and destroyed a few lives, to fulfill his scheme but Strange was in his own vile league. He sacrificed his own employees “lock, stock, and barrel,” with a satisfied smirk on his face, to save himself. Each employee realized the betrayal, on some level, just before the pistol ball entered their brain.
Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) killing herself was another narrative loose end tied tight then snipped off by the final episode of the season (James had no way to know that his rejection would lead her to suicide). Zilpha brought little to the narrative of Taboo except as a point of contention between James Delaney and Thorne Geary. Lorna Delaney (Jessie Buckley) was an infinitely more interesting character and female foil to James.
Unlike Zilpha, Lorna was able to successfully manipulate James. Lorna leveraged Zilpha’s suicide and James’ desire to die into getting James to continue with his plan. James thought he was going towards his possible death thus to his sister. Lorna thought (and knew) that she had rekindled the hope of a new life away from English rule for all those dependent on James. Lorna knew the resurrected son of Horace Delaney far better than Zilpha ever did.
Here is what was unexplained in Episode 8 of Taboo: did the would-be passengers on James’ ship empty out their bank accounts and bring with them transportable wealth or did they board the ship terrified and indigent? Even in the colonized New World, you would need money to buy food, clothing, and lodgings.
James’ rejection of Brace (David Hayman) in Episode 8 was an instance of kindness James rarely displayed to anyone. James couldn’t fully trust Brace anymore after learning that Brace killed his father. James also couldn’t kill Brace because of why Brace killed his father and because of what Brace still meant to James. It was a tight rope scene between the two with one telling the other what they needed to hear. In that moment, James was protecting Brace from Brace, or at least he wanted Brace to believe that was what he was doing.
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