This review covers the finale of Taboo. Major spoilers and violent images await. 

This is it, the final episode of Taboo. The accumulation of all the season’s events in a single episode, but whether all our questions would be answered remains to be seen.

We open with Zilpha (Chaplin) walking down the streets and narrating her loneliness and despair at being rejected. Thinking she has found the way to escape these emotions, she turns and leaps from the bridge into the Thames…

In his cell, James (Hardy) and the guarded Strange (Pryce) continue their discussion. Strange admits his surprise that James survived the sinking of the Cornwallis. James in turn explains how an African saved him and showed him his twisted spirituality. Delaney demands a ship before the investigators arrive to collect his account, and that of Godfrey’s. Strange laughs at this, until James mentions another detail: The Influence was flying the American flag, an act of treason. Considering Godfrey’s (Hogg) claims that Strange owned the vessel, this would see the company chairman destroyed.

Strange hurries off.

Lorna (Buckley) leaves the manor to see someone. Robert (Serkis) unlocks the safe, takes a load of letters and delivers them to Brace (Hayman), Atticus (Graham) and Cholmondeley (Hollander), who is in a bedroom with a nude woman. The chemist wants to know how James keeps finding him, but Robert has no idea.

At the company headquarters, Strange calls for Pettifer (Dixon) and Wilton (Bill). Pettifer fetches Pearl (Haddon) and Helga (Potente), and loads them into a carriage at gunpoint.

In his cell, James prays while his face is covered as soldiers approach to fetch him. Blood oozes from under the hood. The soldiers arrive to find him ill and foaming at the mouth. Coop (Watkins) has doubts, but also suspects the truth serum were responsible. He permits James to see a doctor.

On the road, Atticus and the gang ambush the company carriage. The occupants get out and Pettifer harmlessly discharges his pistol. It is revealed that the ambush was a ruse, and that Pearl and Helga were being given over to Atticus. Pettifer was to report the theft of the hostages to maintain the cover story. But Atticus mentions Winter’s death, before killing Pettifer. Everyone else embarks and departs.

Wilton approaches Strange, with notes about a brig called the The Good Hope. Fitting Strange’s needs, he orders the ship loaded with provisions and diverted. Wilton asks for official reasons for the reports, but Strange becomes unhinged when asked about two carts being sent to the Bedlam Asylum. Wilton asks if they should wait for Pettifer, but Strange says not to bother.

At a crossroads, Helga and Pearl are unloaded as Atticus sets to burning their ride. Lorna calls for the girls to get into a second carriage. Temple (Lloyd) is with her, who confirms James was asleep in the mud when Winter was murdered. After following the assassin, Temple confirmed his connection to the East India Company. Lorna extends Helga an offer from James to join them.

Cholmondeley gets to work on orders to concoct an explosive device.

Meanwhile, Lorna returns home to a letter from James, and immediately leaves to visit Musgrove (Hands). The Countess, in the company of friends, doesn’t seem to pick up on Lorna’s subtlety until “powder” is mentioned. Realizing what Lorna’s on about, they move somewhere private.

Musgrove however, draws a knife and threatens Lorna. The actress states that James is leaving that day, and needs the flags and codes to pass the American blockades. Musgrove demands the Nootka Sound Treaty. Lorna counters that if she isn’t freed and James isn’t given passage, Musgrove would be revealed as an American spy. However, Lorna adds that James knows of the “leaky ship” and that he would fix it for her. Musgrove asks what James is to Lorna, lover or wife.

 “No. His mother.” –Lorna Delaney

As James rests, he hears Robert singing outside the jail, communicating a message. James tells the guard he’s ready to speak to the delegation. Coop asks for the names of James’ accomplices, but the prisoner begins praying again. Coop makes threats until pointing out Delaney’s promise to give him those names.

James claims to have lied. He pointblank tells Coop that the witnesses are gone and the testimonies were destroyed. That he will soon be a free man. The king’s man asks how he could know that. Coop reports the bad news to the Prince-Regent (Gatiss).

Now freed, James gives Robert another letter to deliver to Chichester (Msamati), who is angered by what he reads.

Brace watches the ship arrive as Atticus and his gang fire into the air around the docks. The residents there run, and Atticus’ gang set up blockades and cover.

“If she were dead, I would know it. I would hear her… I would feel it. As if there were a door opened in this very house. No, no… if she was in the river, she would sing to me… and I would hear her.” –James Delaney

Returning home, James finds a suicide note from Zilpha, where she admits fears that she will not go to heaven. She begs him to remember her. Lorna then arrives with safe passage, but he is catatonic and in tears. She reads Zilpha’s note.

Lorna believes Zilpha dead, and denies that the dead sing. James doesn’t believe her. Lorna points out that the tide is rising and their chance to leave is slipping away. James considers this, and states he has unfinished business as he walks out. But he promises they will leave together.

Atticus waves the arriving shipments from Bedlam Asylum to the docks.

Chichester visits Strange, denying that he will get away with “this,” slapping Delaney’s letter on the table. Strange smugly states the company worked with the commission, but also adds that he has “one last ace to play.”

James arrives at Dumbarton’s (Kelly) office, limping. The doctor provides him with laudanum to dull the pain, but states that he now needs Nootka Sound. James, however, has figured out that the doctor is really an agent for the East India Company. That Strange threatened to reveal him to the crown if he didn’t play.

James appears ready to sign the document, but knocks the doctor senseless. Dragging him away, James gives him the laudanum to keep him unconscious before drowning him in a bowl of blue dye. James begins seeing visions of his sister under the river, kissing him. He departs after hanging Dumbarton’s corpse, now stained the colors of the American flag.

At the docks, French Bill (Pip) accepts papers from the East India Company, delivered by Wilton. These would allow The Good Hope to bypass British navy. Wilton swears that James will pay the price to God, and Bill responds by putting a bullet in his head. He then orders the powder loaded and body thrown in the river.

“There are kinder gods than Stuart Strange…” –French Bill

At the palace, the Prince-Regent asks Coop about his faith. Coop declares it “ragged,” but the Prince states that he just had a conversation with the divine. Having had enough of these failures, he orders James and his crew dead. Coop warns him that Nootka would go to the Americans, but the Prince-Regent simply no longer cares. Soldiers are dispatched.

James and Lorna arrive at the docks. She is sent to hide with Godfrey, while Atticus presents James with his pistol. It is fifteen minutes to high tide. Cholmondeley is preparing something, but Atticus is worried that his man Cole (Rob Parker) will kill the chemist out of frustration. James forbids it as they need the doctor, and gives loading orders.

Brace moves to give these orders, but James stops him. Brace is not coming because he wouldn’t survive in America. James commands him to return to the manor, which is now his.

But Brace doesn’t have time to leave, as Robert warns of the soldiers arrival. James and his crew arm their traps and take position. The soldiers enter and scan the seemingly empty docks. When the commander orders his men forward, the chemist pulls a wire that trips explosives. As the soldiers recover from the bang, James and two others fire rifles into them, and Cholmondeley throws a bomb. Then they fall back to the barricades.

James orders French Bill to load “the pilgrims,” and the British troops charge out onto the docks. One of Atticus’ crew fires prematurely, giving away their position. As the battle starts, Bill orders all the women to run to the ship. The melee begins soon after.

A group of British soldiers is by the pier, and one shoots Helga as the girls flee. Lorna fires a pistol, hitting the attacker, but another wings her.

The melee is not going well. Atticus is injured. Cholmondeley tosses explosives, but a well-placed shot makes him a victim of his own payload. James and Atticus drag the downed chemist to the boat. But the same soldiers plaguing the girls pins Atticus and James, with Cholmondeley in the open. French Bill runs around the corner and drops, feigning death and hand-signing the number of snipers. Then Cole walks behind Bill and throws one of the chemist’s bombs, storming on. They board the ship with Cholmondeley.

Martinez (Ligairi) is slain, and the rest of the soldiers close in. But James’ crew pull the gangway and take off as the soldiers fire, unable to stop them.

At the palace, Coop is frustrated over a letter he received.

Strange is celebratory at receiving a package, supposedly from the doctor. Believing himself to have won, he orders a celebratory tea. However, the package is actually a bomb, which blows out the windows of his office spectacularly.

Chichester arrives at the manor per James’ request. Brace is there, alone. James left the Son of Africa both his and Godfrey’s accounts of the sinking of the Cornwallis. Brace directs him to the attic. Finding the papers, Chichester takes a moment to reflect on finally being able to deliver justice.

At sea, James descends the deck to check on the injured Lorna. Godfrey tends to Cholmondeley, who still lives despite extensive burns on his back. The chemist seems delusional and asks “Maria” for forgiveness. Godfrey, who poses as her, gives it.

Stepping above deck. Atticus asks if they’re to sail to America. James orders them to Ponta Delgada in the Azores, to find a man named Colonnade. Atticus asks if the gunpowder was for the Americans…

“We are Americans.” –James Delaney

James Fadeley photo.

About James Fadeley

James is a short story author and novelist who spends way too much time playing video games. His first novel, The Gift of Hadrborg is based on The Banner Saga universe. If you think yourself insane, he can be followed on Twitter @JamesFadeley.