In the ‘Taboo’ recap, James conspires to make an item to trade as he battles against enemies on all sides while reconnecting with his sister and growing closer to Lorna…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
James Delaney is the man who can’t be killed…
Well that is unless you’re the Americans, who would inherit his valuable piece of land called the Nootka Sound in the event of his death, which James finds out this week they are very willing to do rather than hand over a trade monopoly that would give him control over all the tea between North America and China.
The two parties who have it in their best interest to see that Delaney stays alive are the crown of England and the East India Trading Company, both of whom have desires to claim the Nootka Sound for their own, but if he’s not willing to deal for it, then they have to go for other pressure points.
Namely Lorna Bow-Delaney.
Add to that, the growing tension between James and his sister Zilpha only serves to complicate his mission to rebuild Delaney Trading into a powerhouse that could one day crumble the evil East India Company.
Throw in a high society party — and I do mean high — a chemist who tastes shit to test it as well as a late night raiding party to steal chemicals and this was one very packed episode of ‘Taboo’ to say the least.
With that said, let’s recap ‘Episode 4’ of ‘Taboo’…
The Redcoats are Coming
Knowing that they can’t kill Delaney for fear of his property being turned over to the Americans, the British crown decides to strike at the next best thing — his supposed step mother, Lorna, who is currently staking her claim to half his fortune after her marriage to his mad father just before his death.
In the last episode, Lorna was taken to the Duke of Richmond to serve as his whore, knowing full well that she would fight back and stabbing him seems to serve that purpose, which leads to the British government sending police to arrest her for the crime.
James tells Lorna to go with them but trust that he will be with her the entire time.
Once she’s placed under arrest, Lorna is confronted by crown stooge Solomon Coop, who lays out his offer to her to prevent being thrown in jail. She will claim insanity as a plea on why she stabbed the Duke of Richmond, which will allow her release from prison. In exchange, she will sign over her rights to the Nootka Sound to the British monarchy, thus relinquishing her half of the claim to the Delaney estate.
The alternative is to rot in prison but not before Coop rapes her and then sends her down into the dungeons where presumably all of the other inmates will do the same. Just before Coop can carry out his awful threat, members of the East India Company show up to save the day. It seems Delaney sent them an anonymous note about her arrest, which led them to use blackmail information against the Duke of Richmond so he would refuse to press charges.
Lorna is released to return home, while the East India Company is left dealing with the fact that the crown double crossed them and tried to take the Nootka Sound for themselves. Now that means the East India Company and the British crown are at odds with each other while both still maintain a vested interest in making sure Delaney stays alive so his property doesn’t automatically revert to the Americans.
Back at the Delaney home, James once again tells Lorna that she should leave for her own safety but now she’s really refusing to leave. If she’s going to stay, James says he might have use for her, which Lorna takes as official induction into his ‘League of the Damned’ — in which they are the ships and he is the river.
Later that night sitting pants-less in front of a fire, Delaney begins to cover himself in ash and mud while drinking blood. His incantation is not without purpose because he’s somehow reaching out to his sister Zilpha, who is fast asleep in her bed all alone.
The rhythm of his voodoo like spell have a very erotic effect on Zilpha, who begins convulsing in that really good way while breathing heavy and twisting all over the bed. With each new layer of guck that James puts over his face, Zilpha’s pleasures only get that much greater.
Unfortunately, Zilpha’s late night rapture is interrupted when her drunken husband Thorne returns home and finds his wife under the covers but awake. One look at her tells him that she’s been thinking about her brother and when he touches her, Thorne comments about how she’s already warm while asking who is inside of her?
That leads to Thorne forcing himself on Zilpha, just like he described to James a couple of weeks back, as he continues to punish her for each impure thought she carries about her brother.
It’s All Chemistry
The latest induction into the ‘League of the Damned’ this week is a chemist named Cholmondeley, who likes to show off to local women with his pyrotechnics before seducing one of them in his lab later that night. When Delaney shows up and gives him the ye old blue balls, he tells the chemist that his suffering will be worth it after plopping down a bag full of gold.
See, Delaney’s entire mission is to relaunch his family’s trading company but as of yet he’s not found anything or anybody to trade with. One particular item that would be of value to the natives living on Nootka Sound that would help establish his business is gunpowder. Unfortunately, Delaney has already been blacklisted from purchasing gunpowder because during times of war the British government controls all sales and clearly they aren’t going to deal with him.
So Delaney plots another course by hiring Cholmondeley to make him gunpowder instead.
The formula includes human piss — which he gathers by hiring out the woman from Helga’s brothel to provide for him — as well as cow and pigeon shit — which he can harness from the farm where his half-brother is currently residing. After Cholmondeley tests the animal feces by tasting it in his mouth, he reveals that the process could take a year to produce gunpowder unless he can introduce quantities of saltpeter (which is really potassium nitrate) into the mixture.
Once again, however, Delaney’s only option to get saltpeter are either trading with Burma or getting it from the East India Company. James assures the chemist that he’ll have what he needs once it’s time to start making the gunpowder.
After sending Cholmondeley on his way, Delaney is preparing to leave the farm when his horse gets spooked, which lets him know that somebody is there waiting on him. Shortly after, Delaney is attacked by a mountain of a man, who quickly beats him to the ground and then thumps him with a club to render him unconscious.
Just when it looks like the giant is going to drag him to wherever he’s supposed to go, Delaney wakes up and slices the man with a knife before literally climbing up his fallen body with each stab wound dragging him forward. Finally after the assassin fails to reveal his employers, Delaney decides to send a message by disemboweling the giant and leaving him for dead.
As it turns out, Delaney doesn’t have to be told who sent the killer after him because there’s only one party who benefits if he’s dead — the United States of America
Upon returning home, James receives a pair of letters left for him while he was gone. One letter is an invitation to a party being thrown by the mysterious Countess Musgrave and the second is an envelope containing a note with the American flag on it. James decides this is a ball he must attend and since the invitation is for two, he invites Lorna to join him for the evening.
Before leaving for the party, Delaney conducts some other business with the distinguished members of the ‘League of the Damned’ including a stop by Helga’s to procure her assistance as well as a visit with his mercenary pal Atticus to plan a grand robbery. Cholmondeley contributes a bag of chemicals and everything is set while James and Lorna attend the ball.
Once they arrive, all eyes are on them, especially after Lorna insists they are announced as ‘Lorna Delaney and James Delaney’. Inside, James locks eyes with his sister, which only serves to horrify her even more after that rather erotic visit to her mind the other night.
When she makes a hasty exit, James gives chase and confronts her about that shared moment from the night before. Zilpha still resists and says that it’s the devil’s work that he’s doing while James believes she really wants him but claims otherwise because society would frown upon a half-brother and sister engaging in a sexual relationship together.
Before James can finish his conversation, American spy Dr. Dumbarton shows up to have a conversation about what transpired the day before with their would be assassin. Dumbarton admits to hiring the man to kill Delaney because the Americans realized that would be the easiest way to get their hands on the Nootka Sound, but his unwillingness to die made him an even more intriguing partner to negotiate with now.
Dumbarton even offers Delaney and his sister sanctuary where they can start a new life together, far away from the disapproving eyes of the British government and the people there who already know they are brother and sister.
Delaney brushes him off before going back inside where he meets up with Lorna again. Lorna is starting to find a strange attraction to James and even goes as far as confronting Zilpha because she sees her as competition until finding out that she’s a half sibling to her new crush. Outside, Lorna flirts but Delaney ignores her until he’s invited into a rather strange dance with the hostess of the party, Countess Musgrave.
The dance is actually akin to the old high school game ‘five minutes in heaven’ where the two of them are shoved in a closet and left alone while the crowd outside wonders what’s happening inside. A few seconds with Countess Musgrave reveals that Delaney is actually speaking to Carlsbad — the secret leader from America, who he’s been seeking an audience since first arriving in England.
Carlsbad speaks with Delaney about his options for negotiating with America for ownership of the Nootka Sound before the two of them are expelled from the cabinet. This certainly won’t be the last time he meets with her this season.
Meanwhile, across town at the warehouse for the East India Company, Atticus, his men and all of Helga’s whores are unleashing James’ plan to get the saltpeter for the gunpowder mixture.
One girl offers a guard fellatio while Atticus and his men slit throats, stab and otherwise occupy the rest of the forces from East India. Finally with the last of the garrison locked away behind a door, Atticus uses the mixture given to him by the chemist to blow the lock off the storage locker where all the saltpeter is being kept.
The gang robs the East India Company of several bags of saltpeter as Delaney’s gunpowder factory will soon be in full operation.
Back at the party, Delaney exits his meeting with Carlsbad and once again begins to pursue his sister, who is now stuck side by side with her husband who has been imbibing nitrous oxide all night long. After seeing them lock eyes, Thorne confronts Delaney before shouting to the crowd that he fucked his sister, which leads him to drag the drunken idiot outside.
Thorne is still erupting about the illicit affair shared between his wife Zilpha and her half-brother James. Finally, Thorne declares that he’s challenging James to a duel and only one of them will leave that gun fight alive.
The episode ends before James can answer, but given the disdain he shares for his brother-in-law and how much he wants Zilpha for himself, it’s hard to imagine he’s going to turn this opportunity down.
‘Taboo’ returns with a brand new episode next Tuesday night at 10pm ET on FX