In the ‘Taboo’ recap for the penultimate episode, James is sought for treason against the crown as the East India Company finally finds evidence to convict him…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
The rumors about James Keziah Delaney’s whereabouts over the past decade have been quite the bit of gossip around England since he returned home.
Some say he disappeared to the dark shadows of Africa where he learned witchcraft and evil magic but the reality is much scarier but still nightmare inducing.
James receives a visit this week from George Chichester — the investigator who has been seeking answers to the sinking of a ship originally called the Cornwallis, later changed to the Influence, that was shipwrecked and sunk with a crew of slaves on board that was bound for an island on the orders of the East India Company. All of those things were highly illegal and Chichester wants to bring the men who ordered it to justice — most notably Sir Stuart Strange of the East India Company.
It seems Chichester knows a lot about Delaney’s travels and the tribulations he endured after leaving home to go to Africa. Chichester reveals that Delaney was actually on the crew of the Cornwallis and he was one of the men ordered to nail down the doors that would trap the slaves inside as the boat sank to the bottom of the sea. He also knows that Delaney then later stole a haul of diamonds from a fellow slaver before returning home to reclaim his family’s legacy.
Now Chichester doesn’t want Delaney to pay for his crimes but instead to testify against the man who ordered him to do it — and his name is Stuart Strange. Rather than accept the royal pardon for his part in the investigation, Delaney promises his confession and testimony for another arrangement instead. It’s clear the sins he’s committed continue to haunt him to this day, especially given the rather violent nightmares he’s endured all season long, but Delaney is willing to give his account of what happened on the Cornwallis in exchange for a favor from Mr. Chichester.
What is that favor? We may not find out until the season finale but with that said, let’s recap the latest episode of ‘Taboo’ titled ‘Episode 7’…
At the end of last week’s episode, James woke up from a drunken stupor in a pile of mud and shit, barely able to stand up after drinking down two full bottles of liquor. Unfortunately, Delaney doesn’t wake up alone because he soon sees the dead body of Winter — Helga’s daughter, who has been following him around ever since he arrived back home. Even Delaney can’t say for certain that he didn’t kill her given his rather foul mood the night before after his ship was blown to smithereens, but he knows that his grief over the girl is definitely real.
As we pick up this week, James watches from a distance as Helga and a few friends hold a funeral for her daughter. Lorna visits James as he keeps an eye on the proceedings but rather than admit his heartbreak, he feigns that he’s actually looking for a new ship.
Out on the water, Helga receives help from Atticus, who attends to her daughter before finding the perfect spot in the river to place her lifeless body. Helga is both devastated and vengeful because she believes deep down inside that Delaney was the man who murdered her little girl.
The next day when James is walking down the street, his top hat is shot off by a bullet and another soon lands by his feet. From the distance he sees Helga standing on the deck of her brothel shouting ‘murderer’ at him as all the people in town look but try not to stare. Delaney picks up his hat and turns to walk the other way.
Later, Delaney meets with Atticus to go over plans as they continue the final preparations to get a new ship that can be used to sail to the new world in America. Right now, Atticus is more concerned about Helga and her inevitable betrayal because she believes without a doubt that James is responsible for Winter’s death. Rather than giving Atticus the go ahead to get rid of Helga, he orders his man that she should not be touched. James says that Helga has already suffered enough and she won’t suffer anymore by his hands while knowing full well that she will turn on him at any time.
With the walls closing in on them, Cholmondeley delivers Robert — possibly Delaney’s brother or son — to the family house as ordered. It seems James wants to spend time with the boy while also handing him the key to the family safe as he starts to put his affairs in order while anticipating an impending arrest.
James knows it’s only a matter of time before Chichester’s investigation into the sinking of the Cornwallis or Helga’s betrayal lands him behind bars. So he begins writing letters to those closest to him while entrusting Robert with the only key to access his valuables.
At the Delaney Trading Company later that day, James is visited by his sister Zilpha, who just discovered that his ship was recently blown apart. The last time these two were together, James finally had sex with his sister again after all those years they spent away from each other, but the act ended with some bizarre imagery running through his head that sent him running from Zilpha.
Now, Zilpha has arrived with plans to fall into her brother’s arms because she has finally realized that they are two halves of the same person and they should be together. There’s only one problem — James no longer feels the same way. He tells his sister that their reunion was short lived and cannot continue. He then tosses her a diamond as penance for becoming a widow.
It’s hard to believe this open and shut case is really the end of James and Zilpha’s forbidden love affair but for now it’s definitely going on the back burner.
Back at home, James walks in to find Lorna and Robert doing their best to cook dinner because Brace is locked in his room and refuses to come downstairs. James finally ventures up to him where he finds Brace clutching onto his pillow while shedding tears down the side of his face.
James finally confronts Brace with the truth that he had been buying large amounts of arsenic in the final months before his father’s death to help kill off the rats in the house. Unfortunately the rat infestation has only grown larger, but the arsenic still disappeared. Brace then confesses to poisoning Horace Delaney until he expired.
Brace claims it was a mercy killing because Horace was going mad and it was the only sane thing to do. At the time, Brace believed James was already dead so this was the best way to put an end to the Delaney family once and for all. Now he’s feeling guilty and awaiting whatever punishment James will hand out to him. Instead of disowning the family butler or taking his life right then and there, James instead tells Brace to suck it up and get downstairs to make dinner before Lorna and the boy destroy the kitchen.
Just as James predicted, Helga and one of her girls go directly to the East India Company where they report witnessing the theft of the saltpeter, the production of gunpowder and how it was handed directly over to American spies currently operating on British soil. Helga points the finger directly at James Delaney as the sole culprit and she’s willing to testify to that fact as will the girl she’s brought along with her.
Stuart Strange is overjoyed with the news because after all this time, he’s finally got James Delaney exactly where he wants him. “We fucking have him,” Strange exclaims while finally celebrating his victory because this confession means James will not only go to jail but he will be tried for high treason for a direct crime against the King of England.
Helga is rather pleased with herself until Strange orders that she’s held alongside her accomplice until the trial begins. He can’t risk either one of them getting killed much less changing their minds until Delaney is behind bars and then hung from a rope until he’s dead.
Strange and the rest of the executive board from the East India Company visit the palace where they request an audience with Solomon Coop to tell him all about the good news. Strange is ecstatic to report Delaney’s crimes while also learning that his conviction will cost him the rights to all of his possessions — including Nootka Sound — and it all reverts back to ownership of the crown. Coop is slightly confused why Strange is so celebratory considering the stretch of land ended up with the government anyways but that’s when he hits him with his bargain for the two witnesses willing to testify against Delaney.
In exchange for their testimony, Strange wants the monopoly on trading rights for tea and other goods from the ports around Vancouver stretching all the way to China.
Meanwhile, Godfrey — Delaney’s spy inside the East India Company — makes a mad dash to tell his benefactor about Helga’s betrayal and his looming arrest. When he finds James in the woods where he’s been meditating and presumably smoking some sort of hallucinogenic drug while seeing the same crazy visions, Godfrey tells him that time is limited because British solders will be coming for him any minute. Rather than panicking, James gathers up his things and tells Godfrey to come with him because there will be another confession on this day.
James takes Godfrey to the Molly house where he gathers with the other men dressed as women before taking a meeting with George Chichester. There, George hears Godfrey’s admission about Stuart Strange ordering the Cornwallis to pick up slaves, deliver them to his brother’s plantation and then when the ship ran aground, the additional command to sink it with everybody still alive inside. Godfrey has kept the minutes for the East India Company for the past 12 years so nobody knows more secrets than him.
Of course, Godfrey is panicked and scared but James assures him that he’ll never actually have to give testimony but rather just a written account of what happens before they all disappear aboard a ship bound for the new world in America. Now it’s time for Godfrey to go find Atticus, who will give him safe keeping until he’s freed from these charges and they can all travel to America together. Delaney also instructs Godfrey to hand over Helga’s location to Atticus when he arrives. Perhaps Delaney has decided Helga needs to go or perhaps he has another idea?
Speaking of the Americans — upon hearing that Delaney is about to be arrested on charges of treason, Countess Musgrove aka Carlsbad begins burning documents that could tie her to the gunpowder or the United States in general. As for Dumbarton, he refuses to leave and instead plans to stand his ground until he’s either dead or in jail.
As for Lorna, she continues to pursue a little boy she saw at Winter’s funeral who ran from her when she asked about his association with the girl. When she spots him in an alley a few days later, Lorna once again questions him about how he knew Winter. A few minutes later, Lorna bursts into the house and proclaims that the boy was a witness the night Winter was murdered and it was the East India Company who committed the crime, not James Delaney. Of course her information ultimately comes a little too late to save him.
Finally, the soldiers catch up with Delaney at the Molly house before beating him and place him under arrest for treason.
Delaney is taken to the local jail where he’s stripped of his clothes, beaten mercilessly and then tied to a chair in a private chamber. There he’s confronted by Solomon Coop, who tells Delaney to give up the names of all his co-conspirators and if they are captured before fleeing England it might make his trial and subsequent punishment a little less severe. If Delaney refuses to cooperate, then he will have his torturer force the information out of him with very little in the way of rewards when it’s finished.
Delaney makes a counter offer — he will tell the crown everything they want to know in exchange for a meeting in private with Sir Stuart Strange. Coop scoffs at his demands and tells his executioner to go to work.
For the next 12 hours, Delaney is beaten, sliced up, water boarded and even fed psychedelic drugs to make him talk but the only two words that slip from his lips are ‘Stuart Strange’.
Not so far away from the jail, Strange is enjoying a game of golf while soaking in the fruits of his victory when he gets a visit from George Chichester. As smug as Strange looks right now, Chichester’s grin is even bigger.
He tells Strange that he has a witness to all the crimes he’s committed and the East India Company is finally going to pay for what they did to those slaves on the Cornwallis. Strange laughs because he believes the witness must be Delaney but when Chichester answers back that there is another it doesn’t take him long to figure out Godfrey must have betrayed them. Strange is not only concerned but down right petrified because Godfrey knows everything and more from his time taking the minutes at the East India Company.
Following the meeting with Chichester, Strange is picked up by soldiers and brought to the jail to sit down with Delaney.
While only one of them is actually under arrest, Strange admits that this entire situation has ended with him on a hook and Delaney in a cell. That’s when Delaney raises his head for the first time and tells his enemy point blank — “I have a use for you”.
What plan does Delaney have to get himself out of charges of treason? What deal did he broker with Chichester? And how exactly does he plan to escape England with passage to the new world and who will join him on this journey?
We will hopefully find out one week from today.
The season finale of ‘Taboo’ airs next Tuesday night at 10pm ET on FX.