We got some answers in addition to questions, questions, and more questions. Plus a nasty cliffhanger to boot!
In a crackling, suspenseful Taboo Season 1 Episode 2, we start to see a few dents in the mighty armor of James Delaney, and the show is much the better for it.
I never expected to end the episode with Delaney collapsed on the cobblestones, a pig sticker in his gut, and I was pleasantly surprised, frankly.
Up to this point, he was a one man apocalypse, the unstoppable force.
I said in my Taboo premiere review that it would make the show much more compelling to have him a little vulnerable at times. Well, that's just what we got.
This episode made me think of Delaney as a 19th century version of Clint Eastwood's "Man With No Name" character from his spaghetti western days, assembling a team of slimy minions to do his bidding, setting one faction against the other.
I loved the scenes between Delaney and Atticus. Atticus is a nasty individual to be sure, and I have no doubt that the two of them will get their hands dirty soon.
Atticus: What's the smallest thing you've ever seen?
Delaney: Human kindness.
And not for nothing, but it seems like everybody has a nice sheen of blood and guts all over their faces. Try and bathe once every oh, month or so, please.
The great thing about this episode is the humor that was weaved into the scenes. Great lines between Delaney, Atticus, and Brace.
Brace: I made some coffee: it will be stone cold.
Delaney; Aren't we all?
The other hilarious introduction was that of the Prince Regent and his lackey Solomon Coop.
The insane, gout-ridden Regent dressing down Coop about the color of the ships on the map had me in stitches.
This episode showed me that it doesn't take itself too seriously, and it won't be straight up misery porn like, oh, some zombie apocalypse show you may have heard of.
And even though it might not have been intentional, the way Strange let his lackeys have it about their failures was too funny.
Strange: Where did he get the money to buy a ship? Jesus Christ, am I the only one in this company with a brain? They got to him first: either in Africa, or on the journey back to London. One of their agents approached him, briefed him, gave him money, and secured his services.
Lackey: Who did, sir?
Strange: THE FUCKING AMERICANS!
One piece of business that Jonathan Pryce is doing with the character is subtle but very effective.
The way he taps his walking stick when he is particularly annoyed really gives him a deep down menace that's great to see.
I can't wait for him to use that cane on one of the dunderheads in his orbit: you KNOW it's coming.
Winter is fascinating as well. She slips in and out of the shadows like a ghost, and is setting up to be Delaney's own little Artful Dodger.
Delaney: Who are you?
Delaney: Miss Winter.
Winter: No, just Winter.
Delaney: Just Winter.
Winter: I live with the whores, but I'm a virgin.
Delaney: Why are you following me?
Winter: To save your life. Mistress Helga gave information to a man with a silver tooth. The man meant to do you harm.
There is such a sadness about her, and I think her crush on Delaney will only intensify.
Delaney: I like to see what lies beneath. You have goodness in you. You do. I can see it in your eyes. And you have the same eyes as her: Winter. She's your daughter, isn't she? And that's why you don't rent her. Am I wrong? I would rather that you work with me, rather than against me.
Helga: Work at what?
Delaney: Necessary evil. And whorehouses are full of secrets. I need to know where Mr. Silvertooth is hiding.
Winter is being used to soften Helga's character, and that's a good thing.
Helga's propositioning of Delaney was to me nothing but a mere strategy on her part, and Delaney saw right through it.
All the characters introduced here were fantastic, including Dumbarton, the American spy.
The fact that he rebuffed Delaney for using the wrong code words threw a little cold water on Strange's theory, so I don't quite know what to make of Delaney's true relationship (if any) with the Americans.
He sure seems to know a lot, but is it from supernatural means? Hmmm.
Dumbarton: You were mad to even come here. We are an angry nation.
Delaney: I'm counting on it.
The other wildcard is the actress Lorna Bow.
She seems pretty devious and totally unafraid of Delaney. The fact that she probably bamboozled father Horace into marrying her makes her a potentially strong adversary.
Delaney: Well, I have no love for the theater.
Lorna: And I spend very little time in German brothels.
One person who I DON'T think will be a strong adversary is Thorne, Zilpha's snotty hubby.
Now that Atticus outed him as the one who was looking to kill Delaney, I give him three or four episodes before Delaney takes care of business. Good riddance to bad rubbish.
But the best part for me were the moments on the slave ship, where Delaney struggled with what looked like his history as a possible slave master.
Carving what appeared to be the symbol of a bird (the same one that was burned or cut into his back) into the boards of the ship, along with ripping out the shackles, was a pivotal moment for his character.
It was like he was performing a cleansing ritual on the ship, and by extension, maybe his soul as well.
We still don't know what the deal is with his time in Africa; is that where he got the tribal tats?
Or are they from his Nootka Indian heritage? No matter where they came from, he is clearly tortured.
And speaking of torture, he's still 100% into Zilpha, and judging by the tender way she touched his cheek, my guess is there's still something there on her end, too.
The cliffhanger told us a lot about Delaney, as well.
The way he ripped Mr. Silver Tooth's neck apart with his teeth seems to enforce the rumors of him being a full-on cannibal while in Africa.
I'm pretty damn sure he will survive the injury. The question is, who will save him? Winter? Helga? Dumbarton, the doctor/American spy?
Like I said at the beginning: questions, questions, and more questions. But I'm really liking the new characters, as well as where the story is heading.
And making Delaney more than just an unstoppable force of nature can only improve the plot.
I don't know about you, but I'm all in. I can't wait to see what happens next.
Tell me what you think: do you have any theories about Delaney's past, or where the journey will take us? Let me know in the comments section.
And remember, you can always watch Taboo online right here on TV Fanatic!