10 July 2017
7 reasons Tom Hardy could be the devil in Taboo
Step back in time to 1814. It’s muddy, filthy, grimy London, where the air is filled with smog, industry and deception. Period drama Taboo, produced by Ridley Scott and first in Africa on Showmax, centres on the mysterious return of James Keziah Delaney. (Played by the fantastic Tom Hardy, you’ll recognise him as Alfie Solomons in crime drama Peaky Blinders; 2013-current).
What makes him the talk of the town is that James is dead. Or he was thought to be dead – James left a decade earlier for “a mission” to “the dark continent” – aka Africa. No one had heard of him since and he was thought to have been taken by “bloodthirsty savages” in the jungle wilds. But surprise – he’s back and in the mood to cause merry mayhem.
The first bit of chaos on James’s menu is disrupting his father Horace Delaney’s (Edward Fox) funeral. Those present are horrified at the sight of James’s ghostly appearance, dark demeanour and the fact that James will now inherit his father’s shipping business and considerable wealth.
One of the properties is a valuable piece of land called Nootka Sound in North America, which the British and United States both want to control. It will open trade routes to the East and bring its owners untold wealth. Except that James isn’t going to sell and he’s got an arsenal of dark magic to keep his enemies at bay.
James isn’t a patient man either, nor will he be told what to do. Instead, it’s his way or the highway. And he doesn’t mind sinning to get things done. Here are seven evils that James Keziah Delaney uses in his quest for chaos:
“Taboo is infinitely gruesomer than most of the 19th-century dramas that arrive by way of the BBC, but it’s respectably ambitious, and studded with luminaries from both sides of the Atlantic. Hardy, though, does the lion’s share of keeping the audience intrigued.” – The Atlantic
1. Dead man walking
James’s return from Africa isn’t welcomed by many, especially those who’re fighting for Nootka Sound. Not only does he look like he’s crawled out of a coffin, he behaves like someone who’s seen the darkness at the end of the tunnel and embraced it with open arms.
2. Dark magician
We’re not talking about voodoo. James is bringing something a lot more sinister to the table – he’s a master of Juju (a spiritual form of witchcraft originating in West Africa). It allows him to control invisible demons, gives him power over his enemies and even makes himself impervious to attack from the day he sets foot in London.
3. Love thy sister
Fantasy series Game of Thrones (2011-current; the first 6 seasons are available on Showmax) has been doing frowned-upon relationships since day one with sibling-lovers Jaime and Cersei Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey), but what would Taboo be without its own spin on something so sordid and scandalous?
And in an odd coincidence, there’s a Game of Thrones connection: James’s half-sister lover Zilpha is played by Oona Chaplin, who played Talisa Maegyr in GoT in 2012 and 2013. Plus, the High Sparrow, played by Jonathan Pryce in GoT, is in all eight episodes of Taboo as Sir Stuart Strange, chairman of the East India Company.
4. Family feast
Forget the bad teeth, blood and guts of 19th-century serial-killer London – in episode 2, James hints heavily at having resorted to cannibalism while living in Africa. It’s part of the Juju belief system and helps practitioners ingest powers. Besides, when you’re as much of a psychopath as James, nothing’s out of the question.
5. British colonialism
That all-too-familiar evil is at the centre of Taboo. It’s set during the time when Britain was trying to conquer the world and was at war with more countries than most people knew existed. And it’s part of the driving force behind James’s hatred for the people fighting over his father’s estate – he detests both the Americans and his own countrymen, and it’ll be over his dead body that either gets their hands on Nootka Sound.
6. Murder most foul
Of course there’s going to be bodies left strewn all over the city. But no one – maybe not even James himself – is ready for the body count. After eight episodes, James is in double digits when it comes to murders and no one seems able to stop him. Even a knife attack that leaves James looking like a tailor’s pincushion doesn’t get the job done!
7. Paper power
James knows all too well that people can be bought. And luckily for him, his travels haven’t been entirely unprofitable. By paying off his dead dad’s debts, James not only clears the slate with creditors, he’s able to buy favours from all manner of miscreant, criminal and unsavoury character. After all, he can’t do everything himself – James will need a helping hand or two pulling off his plans.
Okay, so this is more of a fun one … but considering that both Tom and his character come from the country that gave the world English, James should be locked up in London Tower for the amount of unintelligible grunting he does.
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