Taboo Season 1 Episode 3 Review
BBC and FX‘s Taboo: Season 1, Episode 3 saw the exploration of a key new character while advancing the main narrative through a conversion of unfortunate events that bolstered the prominence of newly introduced supporting characters.
Lorna Bow / Lorna Delaney (Jessie Buckley) should have listened to James Keziah Delaney (Tom Hardy)’s warning. She was in over her head regarding the British government, the East India Trading Company, and Nootka Sound. Lorna’s head had sunk beneath the surface before Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins) gave her his note (advice) and was completely out of her depth, sinking fast, afterward. By the time she told James that she was going to the theater to preform, Lorna was not just out of her depth. She was drowning, her lungs filling with borrowed breath. Lorna’s life as she knew it came to an end the moment she got into Courtesan Maria (Clare Foster)’s carriage.
As Lorna lay in bed, her confidence stripped away, in the home that she half-owned, she realized it. Her vaudeville boss had sold her out and the police would be looking for her for stabbing the Duke of Richmond (Nicholas Blane). When James nearly drowned on a East India Trading Company slave ship, he faced a new reality. When James was held prisoner for part of his time in Africa, he faced a new reality. Now Lorna Delaney was staring into the face of a new reality, her naivete and stupidity to blame.
This series of unfortunate events in Episode 3 did afford the viewer the opportunity to see the world that Lorna had inhabited. Seeing her in her natural environment placed her in context within the corrupt Taboo universe.
James Delaney countered that corrupt world in Episode 3 with his will. Making a will, bequeathing everything to America if he died, was a brilliant stroke of strategy. It was curious, however, that this move did not occur to James before he was stabbed by The Malay. Why didn’t James make that move once he found out about the presence of The Malay in London? Because Episode 2 needed to end in a bloody confrontation?
Ordering food and other supplies through Atticus (Stephen Graham) was another smart move by James. Atticus was a man who wouldn’t betray James. Atticus had a sense of honor. He already proved that by not killing Horace Delaney for cash.
Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) saving James Delany’s life was a surprise, a surprise Dumbarton was able to leverage (in addition to James’ captive state) to get out of James what James was truly after with regard to the Unites States of America. The fact that James boiled down what he wanted to something specific and manageable was wise. James didn’t possess the business infrastructure to fully exploit Nootka Sound. What raised an eyebrow was that James attempted to use his succinct request to leverage himself into a personal parley with United States President Thomas Jefferson. That skirmish of wits will be extremely entertaining to behold.
It will have to work hard, though, to top the subtle verbal battle that occurred in Episode 3.
The one-upmanship between Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall) and James Delaney in the Delaney dock offices may have reminded the viewer of the sit-down between S.D. Plissken and Bob Hauk in Escape From New York. Delaney knew that Thorne was reading some of his letters to his sister and Thorne knew that James and Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) had engaged in coitus in the past. Both men slapped the other in the face with their hidden knowledge. Thorne was clearly the winner of their engagement, especially since James couldn’t refute the insinuated claim. A rebuttal would have given the claim credence and that would hurt his sister. That was the last thing James wanted. He wanted to rescue Zilpha from her life. Not harden the walls of her prison.
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