Taboo Episode 6: Context, Questions, And Theories

“A good man who killed his wife for convenience.”

Episode 6 was by far the most action packed installment of Taboo that we have gotten to date and has set us up for some intense moments over the final two episodes of series one.

As always let us begin with our protagonist.

James Delaney

Per usual we got a lot of James this week, but in ways we hadn’t been exposed to until now.

Visions

Visions/flashbacks/out of body experiences played a crucial role this week and for the first time we saw James interact directly with them.

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The episode opened with quick images of James’ mother followed by an intense conversation with Brace.

Through their exchange we see James yet again express anger towards his father for his treatment of Salish. However, Brace comes to his father’s defense and attempts to explain to James that his mother tried to drown him as a baby and the decision to admit her into Bedlam was done for his safety.

James would head to a body of water, seemingly the same one he pictures his mother in during his visions.

The moment he seems to pulled under the water is the first time we’ve seen anything resembling a physical presence from his mother. It’s impossible to tell the extent of this as James could have succumb to the intensity of the visions and the attempted drowning was his own doing or there could be a stronger force at play.

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One person who probably could (and probably won’t) shed light on what happened is the suspected son of James Delaney. As anticipated, his role increased significantly and you could say he was the episode’s MVP.

Not only did he alert the Chemist of the men fading while stirring the chlorate he also played the very important role of “dead kid with cholera” in order to evade the troops during the search of their carriages.

The next vision came during one of my least favorite moments of the show…

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I knew it was coming, you knew it was coming, we all knew it was coming, that eventually James and Zilpha would do the dirty dance, become lovers in the night time, do a little midnight marauding.

What we didn’t know however was that James would blackout and slip into some of his most powerful visions yet.

And his interaction with Zilpha would conclude with his hands gripped tight around her neck as he left her gasping for air.

The final instance of blackout would be occur at the tail end of the episode and in an hour of seemingly nonstop surprises this one would prove to be the most shocking, but first we have some other business to take care of.

East India Company

The EIC would have a real up and down episode this week with things initially looking very bleak.

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Sir George Chichester would come to speak with EIC over his investigation into the sinking of The Influence and shed some additional facts about the ship’s fate:

  • Originally named The Cornwallis, the ship’s name was temporarily changed to The Influence at the Port of Cabinda off of the West African coast.
  • This was done to conceal ownership as slaves were loaded on to the ship on July 5th, 1804.
  • The ship would be used as a vessel in an illicit network organized by EIC directors to trade slaves, despite the fact such a trade was no longer sanctioned by the East India Company at this point in time.
  • As a result, only a skeleton crew was used and that contributed to the ship running aground on July 10th, 1804.
  • When the ship began taking on water the crew was ordered to lock the crew below deck, so the evidence of the illegal slave trade would die with the ship.

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And perhaps the most damning piece of evidence in an absolute heap of damning evidence was the fact that Sir Stuart Strange’s brother was in charge of a plantation in Antigua.

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So, first off, why did the East India stop dealing in slaves? According to Sir George Chichester it was halted as a part of their operations when abolitionist Charles Grant returned to the Company’s Court of Directors.

Charles Grant was indeed a real individual who served on the East India Company’s Court of Directors in 1804 after temporarily abandoning his lavish lifestyle during a religious conversion following the death of his two children.

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Grant was a champion for social reform and in 1791 he established the Sierra Leone Company, which provided freed slaves with refuge and was passionate about the abolishment of slavery in all forms.

Next up is the reference to Jumby Bay, Antigua, the location of the plantation owned by Strange’s brother.

An initial Google search immediately takes you to a pretty lavish resort and further digging brings up additional details that it is a 300-acre private island first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493.

The island at one point was a sugar plantation, but would eventually become a sheep ranch for emancipated slaves.

There is passing mentions of slaves being brought to Antigua and Jumby Bay in particular, but very few facts outside of that seem to exist, at least in a brief search.

Following these scathing accusations things would start to turn up for the Evil Empire.

First of which was in the form of the host of James’ makeshift factory and a priest who doesn’t quite value the sacred vow as much as we would like.

This lead to the exposing of gun powder’s location and thanks to ‘ol Godders, a very unfortunate end to Ibbotson:

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That would be the least of Delaney’s problems unfortunately and we would soon find out that loose lips most certainly do sink ships.

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“The gloves are off.”

Last episode there was the suspected snitch who ended up losing his thumb for his trouble and this week he apparently decided to follow through to reap that £10 reward.

However, I’m hard pressed to believe that the £10 note was worth the price of his life and to have his heart cut from his body. So, in case you lost count, that is a tongue and a heart removed from a human’s body this week and it didn’t stop there.

Thorne and Zilpha Geary

Finally Zilpha delivered the death blow with surgical precision that we had all been waiting for. Using an absurdly long needle she pierced Thorne’s abdomen and freeing herself from his sexually deranged and jealous clutches.

Which, of course lead her straight to James’ home, where you really find out that James is the type of ride or die that everyone needs in their crew just incase things go sideways.

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And his solution was to use Dr. Dumbarton’s fabricated cholera outbreak as a way to quickly bury the body before questions could be asked.

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This all culminated with the previously mentioned brother/sister love that concluded with some not-so-light choking.

Winter

In an episode littered with death and significant twists Winter may have been involved in the most shocking of them all.

For the first time we saw James completely lose his poise and hit the bottle hard. And just when we had finished polishing one off, out of the woodwork comes expert lurker Winter with a renewed supply.

First off, when someone is so incapacitated they’re wading in the water fully clothed it’s probably not advisable to then provide them with a fresh bottle to keep the bender going.

And as expected that level of consumption lead to a blackout, however the unexpected portion was what we saw when he came to:

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Winter dead and it appears someone had a go at her insides. Whether that was James remains to be seen, but all things point in that direction.

Next week will be very interesting to see how he handles this new crisis on top of all the other transgressions from this week’s episode.

Miscellaneous

When James ventures to Bedlam after speaking to Brace about his mother the doorway reads “Mens Dana In Corpora Sano.”

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However, the actual phrase is mens sano in corpore sano, which in Latin means “a sound body in a sound mind,” very fitting for a mental institution.

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As for the song that Thorne believes was written about James, there doesn’t appear to be a ton written about it, but there was an interesting excerpt from Blake, Politics, and History by Christopher Z. Hobson:

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Theories

The big one is pretty easy to figure out, James was on that ship that sunk on July 10th 1804. His visions from earlier episodes line up with the new information that the slaves were locked below deck and explains his hatred for the East India Company and his desire to bring them down.

How he plans to carry out these plans now that he is without a ship will be interesting to see moving forward.

Episodes 7 and 8 should not disappoint.