The penultimate episode of Taboo starts with James (Hardy) watching from a distance as Winter’s (Martinwood) body is laid to rest. As Helga (Potente) mourns, Atticus (Graham) casts side glances at his standoffish boss.
Cholmondeley (Hollander) brings Robert (Serkis) to the manor. Brace (Hayman) is dour to the appearance of the bastard, but Lorna (Buckley) is more warm to the child. As Robert is escorted into the house, Lorna (whether or not she knows it) shuts the door on the chemist.
Lorna then visits James, who still watches the funeral. He claims he only seeks a ship as she states her conviction that he cares. She reports Robert has arrived at the manor. As Atticus and Helga row Winter toward the sea, James departs. Lorna sees a boy spinning about before falling over. She helps him up, and asks if he knew Winter. The boy flees against her wishes.
As they row, Helga asks if Winter will sink. Atticus, experienced in disposing of bodies, knows so. He also defends James, giving him the benefit of a doubt. She is more skeptical.
“You are among them now… the ones who used to sing to me…” –James Delaney
Elsewhere, James hears Winter’s final words. And even sees visions of her. She disappears before he can ask her the important question, as someone knocks. James rises to answer the door as Brace pretends to sleep. It is Chichester (Msamati). It turns out that it was James who wished to speak to Chichester, after avoiding him for a very long time.
Chichester has some questions for James, who asks if he is a spirit. The idealist claims to know much of our protagonist, including that he stolen several diamonds. James, he believes, was aboard the Cornwallis the night it sank. After being shown a nail, James seems to confirm that he locked the slaves to drown. Chichester, disbelieving him due to his inebriation, offers to return later but is told it is best to remain.
Chichester offers his deal: an account of the night and naming of Sir Strange as the mastermind, in exchange for a pardon. James has a counter offer…
The next morning, letters are written to Brace, Cholmondeley and others. James stares into the void until Robert appears to serve breakfast. As the boy attempts to leave, James calls him over. After being teased, Robert is presented a key to the safe and sent away.
Walking among the village, someone fires at James, knocking his hat off. The neighbors flee as Helga cries “murderer!” Reloading, firing and missing, James takes his hat and calmly walks away.
Zilpha (Chaplin) walks down the dock and spots the remains of the Felice Adventurero. She asks James about it in the Delaney’s offices, but is denied answers. Zilpha seems to have assumptions that the relationship will continue, but James denies her. James gives her a diamond and tends to work.
James and Atticus go to the asylum, the former berating a man for lighting any fire: the powder is there. After showing his partner where his mother was kept, James gives him a metaphor. Atticus connects the dots— Helga will rat them out to the company. But James commands Atticus not to harm her, and instead to fix the leaky roof.
Lorna struggles with cooking alongside Robert. Tired of her difficulties, James confronts a lethargic Brace with the truth. The servant was the one who had enough and gave Horace Delaney the arsenic, fearing his master’s mind gone. Not even angry, James lets his servant go cook.
Sir Strange (Pryce) is visited by Helga and Pearl (Haddon) as Godfrey (Hogg) records. The former confesses to having heard that James Delaney gave gunpowder to the Americans, and to being paid not to speak. Pearl is less enthused with betraying James, but complies. Believing his foe can be charged with treason, Strange has Helga and Pearl confined until trial. He and Wilton (Bill) go to inform Coop (Watkins) while Godfrey runs to inform James.
James has a vision of his mother while standing before the river, but Godfrey interrupts to deliver the news. After asking where they are, James wants to introduce Godfrey to someone.
Coop, listening to Thoyt (Woodeson) read the law regarding treason, is displeased. At least until it is cleared that the crown would receive Nootka Sound. But to do so, Coop would need Helga and Pearl’s testimony, which only Sir Strange could give. The deal Strange offers is simple: the crown gets Nootka and Delaney’s neck, the East India Company gets the monopoly. Coop gives his blessing and orders James’ arrest.
Godfrey and James venture down a road, giving coins to soldiers and beggars, to Godfrey’s other job. Chichester awaits them there. The spy is concerned about being judged for his dual life, but Chichester is not so cruel a man. Godfrey is to give his testament of what Strange has been saying about the Cornwallis at the company.
He does not wish to testify, but James asks privacy. Our protagonist promises Godfrey a place in his ship when he leaves, to a new world. Delaney has no plan to stay for the trial however, intending to sail before hand. Godfrey’s compliance satisfies Chichester.
Soldiers are on the way. Godfrey panics as he packs. James assures him again and sends his spy to Atticus, whom he is to tell the location of Helga. Reluctant and angry, Godfrey leaves as James states he will have a ship in time.
James visits the ladies of the establishment and suggests they leave. They laugh, until he explains the soldiers will be very violent. Realizing his sincerity, they obey. The soldiers soon arrive and arrest him. He is soon thrown in a cell, stripped and beaten.
Dumbarton (Kelly) is warned of the incarceration but refuses to leave.
Lorna, on the streets, meets the boy Temple (Lewis Lloyd) who ran from her earlier. Before a shrine to Winter, Temple explains that he wants to be forgiven. After receiving his secret, Lorna runs back to Brace with news that the East India Company killed Winter. But she finds Brace’s hands running red from scrubbing a pot. He confesses to having killed Horace and wishes he had done so to James too out of mercy. Especially since he is now their prisoner.
James is dragged before Coop. Promising torture, the king’s man wants the names of all James’ accomplices and the American spies. As he speaks, Cholmondeley and Musgrove (Hands) destroy evidence linking them to James. Delaney agrees, but has one request: to have a private meeting with Strange in a prison cell. Coop laughs at this, until James points out that his allies are escaping the city as they speak.
The torturer sets to work. At first carving into him, the techniques change to waterboarding. The act drives James to have visions. He resists, and insists on Strange.
Chichester visits Strange as he plays golf, who does not know him. Chichester warns him that he has a testimony against him for the sinking of the Cornwallis. Strange taunts him, thinking it Delaney. Chichester unnerves him by saying it is another.
Godfrey meets with one of Atticus’ men to be row boated elsewhere.
The Prince-Regent (Gatiss) spins the globe, and Coop reports that James has not yet broken. Back in the prison, a foreign doctor provides James with some kind of serum before immersing him in water. His visions are incredibly powerful and clear this time. Images of hunting in forests, Zilpha being taken by Thorne, branding of slaves. Maggots, James hanging by his wrists and the sankofa. But James does not break after twelve hours of interrogation.
Back at the company, Strange is disappointed to hear that Lorna has not seen James. However, Wilton reports that Godfrey’s wardrobe was only half for men, and that he was a “Molly.” Connecting the location of James’ arrest to this news, Strange figures out who the mole was.
The prince, having had enough with waiting, orders Coop to give in to James’ demand. Strange is marched to James’ cell, and wants to know what James wants. The music dies as he speaks…
“I have a use for you.” –James Delaney