I’m one episode in Taboo, and I’m confused. I actually don’t even know how I’m going to write this review, because I can’t think of how to explain what I don’t understand, or maybe I do get it and I just don’t like it. I guess the following episodes will tell me, but at this stage I’m kind of glad it’s a short series.
So, from what I’ve gathered, Tom Hardy plays James Delaney, heir to his dads shipping empire. His back story is that he has been in Africa for a large number of years, but has returned to London to claim his dads fortune after hearing of his death. The East India Company, some big time cooperation (probably government related), run by Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce), want to buy a piece of land Delaney owns but he refuses for some reason. This show is deep into the war in 1814, so there is a lot of tension between the US and Britain and Delaney is playing on that factor also. There is also some type of magic associated with Delaney’s past which locals believe came from his time in Africa, resulting in racist taunts toward Delaney from those in high regarded positions, including from his half sister, Zilpha’s (Oona Chaplin) partner, the arrogant, Thorne (Jefferson Hall).
Episode one is crammed with dialogue. Too much dialogue in my opinion, probably because I couldn’t piece the style of language together. It’s so poetically written that it is hard to catch on. It’s almost as though they speak in riddles that you miss the next one, because you’re still stuck trying to figure out the first one.
I must admit, I felt dumb watching this because I didn’t understand what was going on. What’s so special about this piece of land and why does this company, that even the king is part of somehow, want it so badly? Why does Delaney not want to give it up? They are not questions of curiosity, but moreso questions of what-is-the-point. I was feeling as though I wasn’t clever enough for something like this. It’s a slow start for this series for me.
I’m looking forward to seeing Hardy turn real bad and spill some blood. I hear there is a bit of gore and gets physical.
Visually, the scenery and the costumes are magnificent. They set the tone for the era and that early 1800s lifestyle in London. Hardy’s attire itself tells us that he is a ‘no bull’ type of man, sporting a long, black coat and a black top hat. But, I’m afraid that what’s overpowered with style, is lacking in any substance in just one episode.
I feel I have a lot to learn and a lot I need to figure out to even remotely enjoy what’s to come. I just want it all to make sense and I really want to understand it. At this stage, I’m glad it’s only a few episodes long. I need your strength on this one.