Taboo: 1.03

Episode 2 ended with an assault on James Delaney in the streets of London, one viciously thwarted by him, but not without grievous injury. An injury that ends him up with Michael Kelly's American doctor once more, albeit more beneath his mercy and knife. The surgery table is a charged arena for negotiation, but Delaney's demands are simple: A trade monopoly for the use of his strategically crucial land.

And so his machinations continue apace, weaving all of London's power players into a complex tapestry of his own devising. And amidst all of this, again hints and allusions to magic and mysticism. And again, to an incestuous history between James and his sister. A pudding that, if not handled very carefully, is in great danger of being over-egged.

It seems the only factors in London beyond the control of James Delaney are the women in his life. His sister, who continues to refuse him. And his newly acquired, and newly widowed, stepmother. An innocent, trapped in the machine of mercantile manipulation and murder.
Twice in this episode, where Hardy's superhuman mystical warrior growls, is his stepmother referred to as a weakness. Sadly this is a trend throughout the show, and not one that seems to be changing in a hurry. Simpering and weak obstacles, wives or whores, ingénues who must be protected by those who know better. Perhaps when Taboo moves to the New World this trend will be reversed, but it's become somewhat pointed.

Bit by bit, Delaney's plan is being revealed: Clearly Strange, and by extension the East India Company, were involved in enslaving the young scion. A crime that means that James intends to dismantle the entire Company, by any means necessary, and replace it with his own mercantile enterprise. Not a noble cause, but a cause nonetheless. And a cause even the Crown and the fledgling American government wouldn't be adverse to helping him with.

Taboo continues to draw in viewers. Even when action is replaced with creeping body horror or paper shuffling, even though every room seems to suffer from a lighting issue, even if we're not sure if James Delaney is necessarily a good man, Taboo is compelling viewing. The mystery as yet lightly sprinkled, over an entrée of a working man's struggle against the capitalist elites. Again and again, we're drawn in, to watch more, and uncover more of this world. And of Delaney's new one.

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