‘Taboo’ Recap ‘Episode 6’: The Empire Strikes Back

In the latest ‘Taboo’ recap, James’ good fortune finally runs out when traitors and the East India company strike back at him with tragic results…

By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer @DamonMartin on Twitter 

Through the first five episodes of ‘Taboo’, things have been going remarkably well for the one man army known as James Delaney.

He’s single handedly managed to pit the British government against the East India Company while protecting his own life by threatening to give away a very valuable piece of land to the colonists in the United States of American. Delaney has started to rebuild his family’s shipping empire and even made off with a valuable chemical that helped him create his own gunpowder for sell.

All this while protecting the people closest to him and collecting a group of individuals dubbed the League of the Damned who would seemingly follow Delaney to hell and back — or at least fear him as the devil incarnate.

But this week saw Delaney’s run of good luck come to a staggering halt.

While he was finally able to reconnect with his beloved sister — quite carnally I might add — he started to realize what that relationship was built upon while also learning a very deep, dark family secret that shattered the way he felt about his dear mother. Add to that, the East India Company fired back at Delaney with both barrels.

Not to mention Delaney’s drunken stupor ended with him waking up next to a dead body and he can’t be sure whether or not there’s blood on his hands.

With that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Taboo’ titled ‘Episode 6’…

We Are Family

As James Delaney continues to rebuild his family’s shipping empire, he’s doing so under the guise that he’s honoring his mother while damning his father for putting her away in an asylum after he purchased her as a slave during one of his trips overseas. James has always held his mother in very high regard while cursing his father for the way he treated her.

Unfortunately this week, James had the image of his mother shattered when Brace told him the truth about her commitment. It seems when James was still a baby, his mother took him to the nearby river and attempted to drown him and if not for his father discovering what she was doing, he would be dead. That’s why Horace Delaney had his wife committed.

Of course, James refuses to believe the story but then he starts to remember all those haunting visions that he has in the water with the voodoo woman drawing him in. It seems those are nightmares of his mother’s murderous intention when he was still just a baby.

The revelation about his mother sends James away from his home to the farm where he’s currently producing the gunpowder reserves that he plans to sell to the Americans. His disappearance alarms Lorna, who seems to be the only person worried that he’s been gone for days without a hint of where he’s gone.

Lorna eventually visits Thorne and Zilpha Geary, thinking that perhaps James’ sister might have some clue where he’s gone. Unfortunately, Thorne is drunk and still stewing with hatred for his brother-in-law while Zilpha is barely functional after her husband savagely beat her and then forced an exorcism upon her a week ago.

Lorna gets no answers and leaves.

Inside the Geary house, things only get worse from there after Thorne celebrates a new job offer he’s received from a company in Australia, but his wife wants to hear no part of it. Australia is just too far away she tells him and he shrivels away defeated yet again. Not to worry, Thorne’s displeasure soon comes to an end when Zilpha visits him a few hours later with that same giant needle we saw last week except this time she crawls onto the bed and jams it into his belly until he is dead.

Zilpha has finally rid herself of Thorne and that leaves her only one place left to go — to her brother’s side where she’s always belonged.

Stir the Pot

At the farm where James’ crew is currently creating the gun powder, Cholmondeley oversees the production while instilling a certain amount of fear about just how dangerous this work can really be if the stirring of the pots every stops. Cholmondeley continues to mentor young Robert, who may or may not be James’ son and/or brother.

While the crew continues to make the gunpowder, James visits the pond nearby for another spiritual connection with his mother, who he now knows tried to drown him as a child. When he dunks his head into the water, the voodoo woman who we have to assume is his mother, tries to pull him down. As James finally pops up, breaking free of her clutches, he spots Robert sitting on the shoreline watching what happened.

After the gunpowder is finished, Delaney loads it up in caskets inside carriages marked for cholera — a gift from his American benefactor Dumbarton — so they can roam the streets without fear of being stopped and searched. Delaney also warns Robert to forget what he saw on the shore, perhaps so the boy doesn’t discover his witchcraft or so he doesn’t fall prey to the same devilish ways.

On the way into town, some curious soldiers decided to stop the convoy and have a look at the bodies in the coffins. Just when it appears that Atticus and James are going to have to cut down a garrison of British soldiers, one casket is opened and the unfortunate man finds a dead child inside. Actually, it’s Robert who had the foresight to jump inside one of the caskets just in case someone decided to look.

The convoy moves along making the delivery to Dumbarton, who will soon ship the caskets overseas to continue funding the Americans war against the British.

Take Off That Dress

Following a successful delivery of the gunpowder, Delaney feels on top of the world — or as satisfactory as he ever seems to feel. That night he hears a frantic knock at the door and when he peeks through the window, James sees his sister Zilpha standing in the rain awaiting him to let her in.

When he opens the door, Zilpha bursts through and embraces him before explaining that she did exactly has he had said — she killed her husband. Now at no point during those erotic visits in her sleep did James seem to tell her to kill Thorne, but alas that’s what she believes. James agrees to take care of the body but she needs to return home so no suspicions are raised about her part in his death.

Thanks to some help from Dumbarton, Thorne’s body is marked as plagued with cholera so no further investigation is done and James even helps out at the funeral by digging the grave where his body will be buried.

Back at the house after Zilpha played the part of the grieving wife, she is finally alone with her brother and he only needs one look at her to command ‘take off that fucking dress’. A moment later, James is having sex with his sister and it’s quite passionate — that is until James starts seeing visions of his mother again.

The startling site sends James running away from Zilpha, unsure of what he just witnessed during his physical encounter with his sister. Madness seemingly infected his mother but has that somehow been passed through to his sister as well? Zilpha only shares the same father with James but something is not quite right with her and now he’s finally seeing it for himself.

The Empire Strikes Back

The East India Trading Company has been taking a lot of bullets thus far but it’s finally time for the powerful corporation to fire back a few shots of their own.

First things first, Stuart Strange must find a way to deal with George Chichester — the man who led the Prince Regent to open a royal inquiry into the sinking of a slave ship that was being run illegally by the East India Company. To make matters worse, Chichester is no fool because he knows the boat had its name changed from the Cornwallis to the Influence to cover up what the ship was really doing in Africa.

Chichester even knows that Strange’s brother owns a plantation, which is likely where the boat was headed before hit ran aground and the ship was ultimately left to sink with all of the slaves trapped inside.

Strange looks at this situation as a chess board and while Chichester is the latest bishop to threaten him along with Delaney’s knight, he’s finally ready to flex his muscles and take down all the other pieces on the board.

It starts with some valuable information Strange receives from a priest who took confession from Ibottson — the farmer and innkeeper who was caring for Robert and who has been host to Delaney and his men as they make the gunpowder. It seems Ibottson started to feel guilty when he noticed strange markings throughout his barn left by Delaney. Convinced that he’s the devil, Ibottson confessed everything to his priest, who in turn sold him out for 25 pounds. Now the East India Company knows where James is making his gunpowder with the saltpeter he stole from them.

Thankfully, Delaney’s blackmailed informant Godfrey was there taking notes and he makes a mad dash to tell him what happened. Delaney is clearly angry, but he also seems just as perturbed that Godrey could be seen with him, which would ruin their arrangement and likely get him killed.

Delaney rushes off to the farm to beat the British soldiers, who will be along shortly to seize the entire supply of gunpowder and the chemicals to make it. While Cholmondeley objects, Delaney convinces him by handing over a human heart as a sign of his conviction to do whatever it takes to protect this legacy he’s building. The heart came from Ibottson, who was killed and left for dead in the booth for the priest who sold them out is taking confessional.

Meanwhile, Cholmondeley tells Delaney that the current state of the gunpowder is far too volatile to move over rocky roads on the back of a carriage. So Delaney comes up with an alternative plan — move the vats of almost ready gunpowder by boat down the river. The ingenious plan is successful as Delaney gets away and stores the gunpowder reserves at the abandoned mental institution where his mother died.

When the soldiers along with the East India Company arrive, the farm is empty and they’ve once again missed out on catching Delaney red handed.

But that was only strike one from the company because while Delaney was protecting his gunpowder, he failed to keep a closer eye on the other thing he valued most in this world — his precious ship that would help relaunch his family’s business.

On the way to the docks the next day, Delaney is met by East India Company man Wilton, who tells him that the gloves are off and it’s time for war. A second later, an explosion blasts through the wharf as James’ ship is completely blown to smithereens. When the East India Company fights back, they mean it.

Revenge Is a Dish Best Served Drunk


In a fit of rage over the destruction of his ship, Delaney first visits his friend Atticus to inform him that he now demands loyalty from all the people who work for him or they will suffer atrocities. To that end, Delaney ultimately kills the man who was supposed to be watching the ship — and it happens to be the same guy whose thumb he cut off a week ago as a warning not to betray him.

Afterwards, James cuts out the man’s heart and hands it over to Atticus.

Atticus curiously asks James if he things the man betrayed him because he cut off his thumb or if James already knew he was going to betray him and that’s why he cut off his thumb in the first place. James doesn’t answer but with a human heart twitching in his hands, Atticus is shaken and maybe even a little scared of the man he calls his employer.

James is also angry with Godfrey, who didn’t bother to tell him that the East India Company was planning on destroying his ship, but he says they never discussed that plan in front of him. Has Godfrey been discovered or Stuart Strange now taking matters into his own hands away from the East India Company’s board of directors?

From there, James goes to visit Helga, the brother owner, and demands that she seduce then kill a captain so he can take his boat. Helga declines but says that she can help James get a boat. Right now he’s not concerned with that, however, because James would rather milk a bottle of liquor to soothe his angry soul.

Later that night at the docks, James continues to drink away his misery when Winter shows up as she always seems to do. Winter told James earlier in the episode that she doesn’t fear him — unless all the stories are true and that he’s actually an African devil. James tells the girl to go away, especially right now with the way he’s feeling.

Instead, Winter offers him a second bottle of booze, which he starts to drink while wading back into the water because that seems to be his sanctuary these days. Given the fact that he now knows his mother tried to drown him, perhaps the water isn’t as therapeutic as James might think it is.

The next morning, James wakes up face down in a pile of mud after passing out from the night before. When he rises, James looks around at his surroundings before spotting something disturbing just a few feet away. At the base of the dock lays Winter’s butchered body — the little girl who followed James around is now dead. Not only has Winter been killed, but pieces of her flesh are missing and it appears to be the same brutal kind of way that James finishes off anyone who betrays him.

And judging by the stunned look on his face, Delaney isn’t sure whether or not he’s the one who killed her.

The penultimate episode of ‘Taboo’ airs next Tuesday night at 10pm ET on FX ahead of the series finale in two weeks!

Related News

One Response

Leave a Reply


  1. ‘Taboo’ Recap ‘Episode 6’: The Empire Strikes Back