With three episodes of Taboo to go, mysteries and intrigue continue to abound. Who will come out on top? Who will sadly (or not so sadly) die? Will James Delaney ever be able to give a straight answer to a question? Three of Thunderbird Studios’ writers give their theories, beginning with yours truly.
Obviously, massive spoilers are contained within.
Jonathan Ward: So Taboo… the show that doesn’t so much play with your expectations as rip them from your head, stamp on them, set fire to them, and put the flames out with the drink you just bought from the bar. Fair to say it always leaves more questions unanswered than resolved, and that of course keeps me coming back for more. So with that in mind, having just watched episode five, here are my predictions for the rest of the series.
Zilpha Geary continues to be one of the most interesting characters simply because she hasn’t done much aside from being dragged around by events and the men in her life. That is soon going to change I reckon. If she doesn’t become pivotal to the whole series I will be very surprised, and after the events of episode five, the odds of her dear husband surviving episode six seem very small indeed.
And a grand total of zero people will cry about it.
Sir Stuart Strange is going to fall from grace and in an epic fashion. I can’t see him dying, unless by his own hand, but everything is going to fall apart and I can see the East India Company sacrificing him if it means saving their collective necks. Delaney’s interest in him seems very personal and I doubt he’s finished with him yet.
Which brings me to James Delaney, the series poster boy for PTSD, daddy issues and the undisputed winner of all staring contests everywhere. I don’t see a happily ever after for him, if only because the idea of him actually being happy seems incredibly unlikely. Whether or not he dies….if anyone actually succeeds in killing him it will be his half-sister. Certainly I can see the smarmy American doctor pushing him too far and suffering the consequences of it. I think he’ll make it to Nootka Sound in the end, though.
James Fadeley: Ladies first.
I sadly suspect Zilpha knew Thorne’s abusiveness long before marrying him. But Christian guilt could have made her feel she somehow “deserved” it. Killing Thorne, as foreshadowed, would cause a powerful metanoia, a reckoning between her old desires and newer faith.
I think Jonathan is right to assume it won’t end happily for Mr. Delaney. But I foresee a more tragic end for Zilpha. My guess? After slaying her husband, she’ll end up in the asylum, mirroring James’ mother.
And Solomon Coop would be responsible, “incarcerating her for her own protection.”
To escape everything and punish/free her brother from their control, Zilpha would commit suicide (also an irredeemable sin in the Christian faith). But would Lorna aid her? I fear the actress’ desire for James and pity would see her give Zilpha the means. If so, I fear her next performance would be for the crabs, sponsored by the Delaney Nootka Trading Company.
I don’t think Sir Strange is going to die. I suspect he may throw himself at the mercy of James, especially if Mr. Delaney knows something about the fate of the Influence. With James’ anger at Coop, Strange may get a pass for now: control over the East India Company is an attractive option.
But that’s not to say that Mr. Delaney would leave Strange… untouched. Perhaps dunking the man’s head into the waters to “see the other side.”
Now that’s just a guess. Mr. Delaney’s supernatural elements are always hinted at, but never satisfactorily answered. Is it visions or madness? Does he truly read minds or do spies like Godfrey fill him in? Is he sending Zilpha visions, or is she stressed from repressed desire for James? And his healing— a gushing blow to the noggin that is gone the very next scene, a bad stabbing that he recovers from in perhaps a week. Does he heal faster, or is it time passing between takes?
In truth, I think James does have powers, but that he supplements his abilities through more mundane things to appear more powerful. Half sleight of hand, half true magic. I think the ending of Taboo will confirm some of this, but won’t show the whole hand.
Showing, not giving, death to Strange and leaving him to ponder what awaits him would be a confirmation of faith in the show.
Which brings me to my last prediction. A betrayal is coming. It’s not a question of if, but who, where and when. In truth, I’m amazed James has controlled his allies for this long. But there are a lot of shifting loyalties, and James’ clairvoyance and foresight must have its limits. I can’t even guess on this one, but the fact that Countess Musgrove didn’t seem to know about Dumbarton’s gunpowder needs caught my eye.
Andrew R. Aston: Chekhov’s massive pile of unstable gunpowder! If that doesn’t go off before it ever reaches Irish/American hands, I shall be monumentally surprised.
I agree with my fellow reviewers in that Zilpha is probably going to kill her wretch of a husband Thorne. It’s possible she gets sent to Bedlam, set up two episodes ago, but I also remember she has her escape diamond hidden away. I could see her using that diamond for some manner of leverage in the future. I am hoping, like Jon, she will finally develop some agency of her own in the concluding episodes of this season.
Strange is on a path of villainous degeneration and personal ruination, his manipulations growing cruder as the crown closes in upon him and his reptile underlings inevitably betray him to cover their backs. I suspect poor Godfrey the minute-taker is going to be a victim of Strange’s fall; a sacrifice for Delaney’s success.
I think we will see more of Chichester and the Sons of Africa, and we will learn just exactly what happened on that slave ship, and what happened in Africa. I also think a trip to Nootka is on the cards. It seems to be the culmination of his visions, and I think in fact Nootka is important to him not just for ‘all the tea in China’. I much prefer Lorna as a match for James compared to Zilpha, which is why I’m confident Lorna’s not making it out of this story alive. It’s not that kind of tale.
I am not really one to theorise too many specifics over Taboo, as I find it a dark and hypnotic story, and tend to let it wash over me. Much like the Delaney-Nootka legion of the damned, I’m a boat and Delaney’s the river, and I’m just happy to go with the flow, no matter which dark places it may take me to.