Taboo Season 1 Episode 2 Recap: Meet The 19th-Century Mic Drop

Photo: Courtesy of FX.
Tonight's installment of Taboo, a.k.a. "Why people try to cheat and/or kill James Delaney," certainly picked up the pace. Compared to the murky premiere, I could almost tell what everyone was up to without rewinding three times, with the notable exception of a few good mysteries that I have a feeling will be stringing us along for a while.

The action begins in Strange's (Jonathan Pryce) office, where the East India bad guy is threatening to fire Pettifer (Richard Dixon) if Delaney (Tom Hardy) is still living in two days. Welp, sorry, guy. This show is doing well in the ratings, so whatever you're planning won't work (spoiler!).

Our antihero, meanwhile, is very good at choosing stormy weather for his trips to the hill where he buried that pouch. It contains uncut diamonds — part of how Africa was "good" to him, I assume — which he'll now store in a standard safe in his home. I hope they find other excuses for his dramatic rides through the countryside. One of those diamonds goes to his beloved sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin). He may have cashed in some others to buy a ship at auction. Side note: I like that dramatic method of allowing people to bid until the candle burns down an inch — please take note, reality shows. At first, the newly founded Delaney Nootka Trading Company seems designed for the sole purpose of pissing off the EIC. They are hopping mad and throwing about accusations of treason.

And now for a word from our sponsor: George, the Prince Regent (Mark Gatiss), with his ridiculous fat suit, pet rabbit, and Godfather-esque stuffing in his mouth. This caricature of a man appears to have wandered over from the set of Victoria. If you hang in there for his whole silly complaint about the color-coding of maps, you get one key point: He's not the biggest fan of East India, either. "Fuck them as well," he tells his secretary, Solomon Coop (Jason Watkins), who replies "I intend to." Could that attitude work to Delaney's advantage?

EIC might not be too far off with its treason theory. We later see Delaney trying to meet with an American agent by using the code words, "I have a wound in my shoulder," with a doctor at St. Bart's hospital. Dr. Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) isn't too impressed with Delaney's name-dropping and demands to meet with the president of the 15 United States.
Photo: Courtesy of FX.
Pictured: Jason Watkins as Solomon Coop.
"We are an angry nation," Dumbarton says, pointing a gun at Delaney's head.

"I'm counting on it," he answers. How does he manage to make every conversation go his way, even when people are vowing to kill him?

Speaking of which, we meet another of his few friends in this world, an old army buddy named Atticus (Stephen Graham), with a fascinating compass tattooed on his head and suspicious blood splattered all over his face and arm. (Don't tell me that's from the horse, please.) He'd like payment for not murdering the elder Delaney when someone tried to hire him for the task — we later learn it was Zilpha's lovely husband. Atticus agrees to lend his eyes and ears to Delaney's cause.

Thanks to Winter (Ruby-May Martinwood), a young girl who may or may not be whorehouse madam Helga's (Franka Potente) daughter, Delaney is also aware of a silver-toothed Malaysian man who's out to kill him. It seemed a little rash to just set the guy's boat on fire without even confirming what he was up to, but who are we to judge?

Back on his own ship, Delaney finds the shackles that indicate it once carried slaves. Cue the flashbacks to his own shady past, which prompt him to freak out and carve a bird into the floor. According to the credits, the foreign language he's been speaking is Twi, the language of the Ashanti people of Africa. It's a lot of credit to the show and to Hardy that he can be naked and yet completely not sexy in this haunting scene.

He's super sexy, however, when he shows up at the will reading and dumps a pile of coins in front of all the people his father owed. That's a 19th-century mic drop right there... Until, oops, there's a little, redheaded hitch in his plan: Mrs. Lorna Bow Delaney (Jessie Buckley), his father's supposed widow. Is she the real deal, despite the fact that she's also an actress? Did she enter dear old dad's life before or after he was poisoned out of his mind? Either way, she may be about to sue for some or all of Nootka Sound.

He can worry about all that after he gets over being stabbed in an alley. See, James? We'd all be better off if you traveled solely by dashing, romantic horseback.

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