Tom Hardy is a movie star. There’s no denying that. Just ask Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon. Since American audiences really became familiar with him in Inception, his appeal has been clear. Heck, apparently he might even be the next James Bond. Yet, what Taboo and so many of his other performances have demonstrated is that Hardy is truly a strange, dark, and brilliant character actor trapped in a leading man’s body.
Taboo is a cool and intriguing name for a show, but it really could be called The Tom Hardy Show — and the second episode of the series continues to demonstrate why. While this episode follows up the pilot by delving more into the mystery of Nootka Sound and introduces a few more characters (Al Capone!), it’s still all about Hardy and his weird, yet intriguing character James Delaney. By the end, we’re left with Delaney’s fate left in the air. Luckily, we know that we have at least six more episodes to enjoy Hardy in full dark, mumble, and grunt mode.
And even as I say that the series is all about Hardy, the episode kicks off with Stuart Strange threatening to dismiss one of his many underlings. The only thing that can stop it is the death of Delaney. Well, that being said, he’s sure to be unhappy with the latest happenings. Delaney returned to recover his buried bag of diamonds, which he immediately dug into to buy a Spanish ship in the name of The Delaney Nootka Trading Company. “That f—ing man will hang for treason,” declares Wilton, echoing the feeling of his boss. Unsurprisingly, Strange continues to be frustrated by the situation. After breaking down Delaney’s actions out loud, he has a theory on who is behind all of this. “The f—ing Americans,” he exclaims. Seems unlikely that Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell would be involved, but smart cross programming.
While Delaney may have gained a ship, he’s lost a horse. Left in the place of his missing animal is a note that reads “Atticus.” He knows exactly what this means, tracking down this man for what appears to be a tense showdown. As crazy as Delaney is, even he should be scared of Atticus. Not only is he played by Stephen Graham, a.k.a. Boardwalk Empire‘s Al Capone, but Atticus is also sporting a bald head covered in tattoos, blood on his face, dirty teeth, and a butcher knife. Thankfully for everyone involved, the two appear to be more friends than rivals, so no fight, just a sit-down. Plus, it’s been too long since Delaney had a reunion! Delaney is worried about recovering his horse, while Atticus is much more curious about the largest and smallest thing that Delaney saw in Africa. “Human kindness,” he replies, before changing to a more literal answer of an ant. In the least shocking news ever, turns out that Atticus is the person that people go to when they want someone killed. And such an occasion took place last year when a man wanted Delaney’s father dead. Apparently, having a heart of gold, Atticus sent them away. Despite the perceived favor, Delaney wants something else from this scary man — to be his eyes and ears. “Well, the enemies you’re staring at James, you’ll be needing them old boy.”
If we didn’t already have enough of our favorite British TV actors on Taboo, Sherlock‘s Mark Gatiss shows up and looks as if he brought his Mycroft Holmes fat suit with him. He’s playing the feisty and overweight prince regent, who gets a visit from Solomon Coop. The prince is unhappy for many reasons. The first being that the maps of the blockade of trading ships feature the U.S. in red, which he sees as ironic considering they are the ones who wear red. More pressing are his issues with the rival country. “I have run out of f—ing patience,” he screams. He wants their ships sunk and survivors hung. This all caught Coop offguard, considering that he came to discuss the East India Company. “F— them as well,” barks the prince. “I intend to,” replies Coop with a smirk.
Even though we’re only two episodes into Taboo, Delaney has accrued quite the list of enemies, making his decision to take a late-night stroll on a cloudy, creepy night that much more daring. Lucky for him, the only person following him turns out to be Winter, a young girl who lives with Helga and the prostitutes. She warns him that Helga has hired a man to kill him. The girl agrees to take Delaney out to the silver tooth man’s boat, which seems like a very trusting move on both of their parts. Once within a reasonable distance of the ship, Delaney jumps into the water to swim aboard. After sneaking around, he finds no one and sets the ship ablaze. Returning to the boat, he discovers that the girl is gone. So it begs the question, are we dealing with a ghost girl situation?
The next day, Delaney goes looking for Helga and interrupts one of her “sessions.” Considering the frequency that he has visions, he rightfully wants to know if Winter is real. She denies knowing such a girl, insisting she wished she did because her Danish customers would love it. I’m smelling a little “will they or won’t they” vibe to these two, a possibility that only gets amplified when he takes off her wig and says, “I like to see what lies beneath. You have goodness in you.” After staring into her eyes, he concludes that Winter is her daughter, a theory that Helga doesn’t deny. He wants to know where the silver toothed man is and attempts to recruit her like he did Atticus (what an army he’s building).
NEXT: Delaney is greeted by an unexpected surprise
Continuing his streak of strange and unsettling nights, Delaney heads to inspect his new ship. He does what any new owner would do: looks around, tests the chains, has a breakdown, gets naked, spends the night chained up, and has flashbacks to a sunken slave ship. Nothing out of the usual for Delaney. Once, he’s done with that, he decides to handle a more important matter — finding out who is trying to kill him. His investigation begins with Dr. Dumbarton (House of Cards‘ Michael Kelly). Dumbarton is no ordinary doctor… he’s an American spy if Delaney and his secret code is to be believed. Delaney has a small request, a sit-down with the U.S. president. The doctor is rightfully skeptical of the man before him, pulling a gun and ordering him to leave. “You’re mad to have even come here,” he says, clearly not knowing how mad he really is. “We’re an angry nation.” To which Delaney responds, “I’m counting on it.”
Delaney’s day of errands continues with a stop at Thoyt’s office. It’s time for the reading of his father’s will. For about the 50th time, Thoyt asks about Nootka, with Delaney informing him that he intends to use it for trading, but unfortunately his recently purchased ship was once used to carry slaves by the East India Company, whom Thoyt reports to. “You are their whore,” Delaney says. “The same as almost everyone else in this city, apart from those who are actually labeled a whore.” Also present for the will reading are Zilpha, her bitter husband, and a large group of angry creditors. It’s official: Horace Delaney left all of his assets to his son and nothing to his daughter, a move that gets Thorne Geary quite heated. “Be sure of this Delaney, that legacy is your death sentence,” he threatens before storming out. Atticus later confirms to Delaney that Geary was the man who came wanting to have his father murdered.
Even though he doesn’t inherit his father’s debts, Delaney dumps out the exact amount that his old man owed. As a line for payment forms, a young lady approaches, claiming that what she deserves isn’t on the table. “He owed me all that is due from a husband to a wife,” she announces, revealing that her name is Lorna Delaney, previously Lorna Bow, a name that Delaney recalls from a playbill that he had found at his father’s home. The mysterious actress has a document that proves she was married to the elder Delaney two years earlier in Ireland. Rightfully suspicious, Thoyt and Delaney pepper her with questions, in particular about the man’s fragile mental state. “Love is a kind of madness,” she responds. While this matter gets sorted out, Thoyt recommends that the two stay away from each other. “Well, I have no love for the theater,” cracks Delaney. “And I spend very little time in German brothels,” she quips. I think we’ve got some chemistry here! For a strange man, Delaney sure seems to vibe with a lot of women, even if they are his sister, a prostitute, and his stepmother.
Speaking of his appeal to women, Delaney decides to take a night out at a concert. No, he’s not shockingly a fan of music, instead he’s there to see his sister. Not one for a scene, she heads outside for a one-on-one. He continues to express his feelings, admitting that he missed her. “You use to straighten your skirts and march away like nothing happened,” he says. “Who marched away?” she asks. “And thank God you did.” Clearly disturbed by the rumors, she wants to know if he really ate flesh. He agrees to tell her everything if she leaves with him, a request she doesn’t accept.
On his way home, a woman is following Delaney. Could it be that Zilpha changed her mind? Nope, definitely isn’t as Delaney and the woman walk by and stab each other. Gutting them with a blade wasn’t enough for Delaney, who then takes a bite out of their neck. Turns out that it wasn’t a woman, it was the illustrious silver tooth man. Delaney may have finally killed him, but he hasn’t gotten out unscathed. He falls to the ground with a blade stuck in him. As he bleeds out and has flashbacks to Africa, he passes out alone on the dark street.
What did you think? What’s the deal with Lorna Bow? Did Delaney die and we’re going to get six episodes of Helga running her business?