Taboo: 1.02

It's a slow start to the episode, politics and alliances, schemes and plots. It's the birth of the Delaney Nootka Trading Company, now with its first ship, much to the dismay of the East India Company, who believe that James Delaney is in league with the Americans. And they may not be wrong.

Enter Dr Dumbarton, played by Michael Kelly from House of Cards, an American spy. Delaney is desperate to establish credentials with him, to create a line of communication back to the Americans, but Dumbarton seems unconvinced and they're well matched. The tense encounter leaves intrigue in its wake: is Delaney really an American spy, or is he playing yet another faction against the East India Company?

Mark Gatiss, fresh off the set of Sherlock also joins the cast as the Prince Regent, riddled with incompetence and disease. He and his agents are also playing this game of geo-political chess; opposed as they are to the power of the East India Company.
Alliances are being forged all over; Franka Potente's Helga is shanghaied into Delaney's schemes, diverting from her own interest in his rooms. Helga’s daughter Winter also has an interest, but more important is former shipmate of father’s, Atticus. Played by Stephen Graham, last seen as Inspector Heat in The Secret Agent, Atticus manages to be another good match for the previously unassailable James Delaney, and another asset in his slowly assembling crew.

This show seems to be attracting almost every scenery chewing talent into its ranks, albeit almost entirely men. Potente hasn’t really been given much to do, Chaplin simpers and Ware and Peace’s Jessie Buckley hasn’t had much of a chance yet.

Overall, not much happened this week, after the bombastic start and mysterious trailers. Most of it, barring the last 10 minutes or so, was setup and paper shuffling and conversations. It’s not that every episode needs mystery and shenanigans to occur, sometimes a bit of scene-setting and exposition is required. But other than those last 10 minutes, and especially the last scene, it all seemed to plod a bit, as if the high promise and strangeness of the previous episode had cooled a bit. Perhaps the viewers are being given a chance to catch their breath and settle into the goings-on before we travel back, and deeper, into terra incognita. But I for one am looking forward to delving deeper into the promised strangeness, discovering more about James Delaney’s history with slavery, his father’s moonlight fires and Winter’s mysteries.

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