‘Taboo’ Recap ‘Episode 3’: Family Ties

In the latest ‘Taboo’ recap, James reveals his asking price for Nootka Sound while finding out that his adversaries will strike at him by any means necessary….

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer

There’s a lot happening in every episode of ‘Taboo’ so it’s understandable if you get lost from time to time.

Over the course of the 90-minute third episode, James Delaney was rescued from an assassination attempt, revealed what he wanted in exchange for the Nootka Sound, made several advances on his sister, visited a gay brothel to blackmail a former schoolmate, had a rather nasty encounter with his venomous brother-in-law, wrote his will and ended up sharing a house with his supposed stepmother while also saving her life at the same time.

Yep, that’s a lot.

Of course, Delaney’s interactions are only part of what happens on ‘Taboo’ week to week because the East India Company continues to connive by any means necessary to gain control of the Nootka Sound while the Crown in England is also very interested in this piece of land for their own gain.

Add in the Americans, who also have a vested interest in this small island, and ‘Taboo’ becomes one muddled mess of deception, secrets and a whole lot of story that can be tough to follow.

And that’s why we recap it.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Taboo’ titled ‘Episode 3’…


The morning after his stabbing, James Delaney’s would-be-assassin washes up dead on the shore with a group of children ready to plunder his belongings. Meanwhile, James wakes up with the American spy, Dr. Dumbarton, sewing up his wound. Amidst their conversation, Dumbarton reveals that he’s checked up on Delaney’s story and vouched that he had a connection with another American spy.

Delaney answers back by demanding an audience with Thomas Jefferson to make his offer for the exchange to gain control of Nootka Sound. Delaney doesn’t want money but instead a monopoly on the fur and tea trade to China, which would obviously reignite his family’s once flourishing and now floundering shipping company.

Dumbarton balks at the offer at first but will gladly pass along the message.

Delaney returns home and tells his servant Brace to prepare the house for a siege of sorts. With seemingly everyone in England out for his blood, James wants to make this house his one place of safety so he orders the windows boarded up with no one gaining entry except those people he trusts.

Delaney’s next stop takes him to visit his father’s attorney Thoyt, who draws up a last will and testament before sending a copy to the East India Company. Delaney can’t be for certain who sent an assassin after him but he’s fairly sure it’s the East India Company so his will sends a very strong message about those continued efforts.

In his will, Delaney says in the event of his death, all of his possessions and lands are to be handed over to the United States of America. That leaves East India in a very precarious position as Stuart Strange notes because not only can they not kill James Delaney but it’s in their best interest to make sure he stays alive. Of course, the Americans could find out and kill him to gain control of Nootka Sound but James seems less threatened by them than the growing number of enemies in England right now.

Later that day, Strange requests an audience with Solomon Coop, the right hand man to the Prince Regent and servant to King George. Strange means to tell Coop about Delaney’s plans to hand over Nootka Sound to the Americans, but the royal employee already knows about it.

Coop then informs Strange that he knows everything including Delaney’s bargaining price to give the Nootka Sound to England. He wants all the fur trading rights, which would put a major dent in the East India Company’s business. It’s clear James is willing to get rid of this land — so long as it costs the East India Company more than they could ever afford to lose.

Coop tells Strange that perhaps they can both win, however, when he reveals that Delaney may soon have a fight on his hands for the rights of the Nootka Sound thanks to his recently revealed “stepmother”, Lorna, who has made a claim to half of everything he owns after a shadowy marriage to his father during his last days.

Forbidden Love

As James continues to plot to take over the trading routes in Nootka Sound, his madness still haunts him daily. In fact at home, James breaks into the room where his mother once stayed before being drawn to a fireplace where he uncovers a mysterious symbol carved into the back wall. James doesn’t know what it means but he shows Brace that after he was captured on the slave ship bound for Africa, he woke up with the same symbol carved into his back.

With his mother on his mind, James also reaches out to another family member — his sister Zilpha, who he is still trying to convince to return to him as a lover rather than a sibling.

The two of them exchange letters for several weeks as James lays out his plans to conquer the East India Company and re-launch the Delaney Shipping Company while Zilpha shuts him down at every turn before finally declaring that if he doesn’t stop writing, she’ll just burn the letters before reading them.

Of course, Zilpha is still drawn to her brother after sending him another letter to meet in a church where she straddles his lap and gives him a passionate kiss. Afterwards, Zilpha declares that this is the last time they will ever see each other to which James responds that she’s mistaken.

Meanwhile, James receives a visit from his awful brother-in-law Thorne, who offers up his services as an insurance provider to the new ship he purchased before quickly being turned down. Thorne’s rejection then puts him on the offensive to piss James off as much as possible.

So Thorne reveals that he knows all about Zilpha and James’ previous relationship and now he punishes his wife on a nightly basis with some of the roughest sex he’s ever engaged in as a recourse. James doesn’t flinch but it’s clear he’s holding back with everything inside not to slit his brother-in-law’s throat.

Back at home, Thorne continues to taunt Zilpha before going on a rant after discovering that she’s gotten her period again this month. Thorne wants to put a baby in her yet Zilpha’s body is not cooperating and it’s making him rather agitated.

Eyes and Ears

James has handsomely paid several people around town including his blood thirsty buddy Atticus to watch his back while he maneuvers around the vile business and political world in London. Now James looks to add another person to his inner circle, but this one will be paid by blackmail rather than money.

James visits a gay brothel where all of the men are dressed as women and it’s there he discovers an old friend.

Godfrey — the man tasked with keeping the minutes in all of the East India Company’s meetings — doubles as a prostitute in this brothel. It seems James recognized him right away when he met with the East India Company because they were classmates once upon a time and then he found out Godfrey’s extracurricular activities.

James agrees to keep Godfrey’s secret so long as he doesn’t keep anything hidden about the East India Company meetings. Godfrey will report everything back to James and in exchange he will protect his old schoolmate from any potential harm that could come to him. Before leaving, Godfrey admits that he was in love with James when they were children but now he’s serving him in secret while hoping that the East India Company never finds out about it.

Family Ties

When James returns from a visit with his sister, he finds his “stepmother” Lorna Bow has made herself at home. Of course Brace is ready to use one of the guns James purchased as protection from his new pal Atticus to shoot her, but Delaney has other plans.

Lorna tells James that she’s happy to hand over her claim to the Nootka Sound if he will give up the house. At that moment, James realizes that she’s not trying to manipulate him for the valuable land but her potential claim to half the Delaney estate makes her a valuable bargaining chip for the British, for the East India Company and the Americans as well.

Instead of kicking her out, James offers her a place to stay inside the house.

Later that night, Lorna declares that she’s going back to work as an actress at a local playhouse. Of course, James vehemently disagrees because if she’s out in the open, Lorna is a target. Still she insists so James follows her to work in a carriage of his own.

Following the abrupt conclusion of her play due to a riled up crowd, Lorna is picked up by a woman in a carriage who claims to be a fan. It seems most of the actresses in this particular playhouse also double as prostitutes and this woman has been promised that Lorna will gladly participate in a threesome along with her husband, the Duke of Richmond.

Lorna refuses but soon encounters the Duke, who isn’t willing to take no for an answer. So Lorna swipes at him with her knife, which immediately earns her a death sentence from the Duke. Suddenly a gunshot rings out and James appears from the shadows to rescue Lorna from the Duke’s clutches. He whisks her away but now knows that the East India Company was behind this entire set up.

Lorna was lured into a trap and her would be perpetrators knew that she would resist the Duke, which would result in his harm thus making her a fugitive. Now Delaney is convinced that he must protect Lorna because she could ultimately hold the key to his chances of bargaining the Nootka Sound to secure his family’s future.

‘Taboo’ returns for a brand new episode next Tuesday night at 10pm ET on FX.

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