Taboo: Episode 8
February 27, 2017 8:01 AM - Season 1, Episode 8 - Subscribe

In the season finale of the historical drama Taboo, James Delaney's push and pull between the East India Company, the British Crown and the American upstarts comes to an end, of sorts.

Season 2 isn't a sure thing, but before the series aired, writer Steven Knight said they had planned for two to three seasons.
posted by filthy light thief (11 comments total)
I'll be honest, I'm disappointed and sad that Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) went out as she did. I was hoping she'd be more of her own character, instead of a tortured prop for James. Jonathan Pryce is free from the role of yet another British noble villain, and how the heck did I not recognize Franka Potente as Helga, the now-dead brothel operator from Germany? She, too, had a crap ending - dying to get a gun? At least she went back for something of purpose, rather than a sappy sentimental item.

(And while browsing the IMDb page for this show, I see that Scroobius Pip was French Bill, a relatively bit character who had more of a visual presence in this final episode)
posted by filthy light thief at 8:08 AM on February 27, 2017

Yeah, I was sorry it ended that way for Zilpha, too. She could've been a really fascinating character, but I think your description of her role in the series is sadly accurate.

I have an ambiguous relationship with this show, but the last episode, ending as it did, makes me badly want a second season, just to see where it goes (I'm hoping Lorna, who I ended up really liking a lot, pulls through) and also because whatever my mixed feelings about it are, it's one of the most gorgeous things I've ever watched. (The husband remarked that it often was like being inside a Turner painting.)
posted by skybluepink at 2:27 PM on February 27, 2017 [1 favorite]

I loved it all the way through. I hope it gets a second season. Production design goes a long way with me, and this show most certainly has it. I love the twisty political drama, especially in this time period. I also loved seeing the monstrous presence of Colonial England taken down a few pegs - although America gets off surprisingly clean (I guess that might be the focus of next season).
posted by codacorolla at 8:18 PM on February 28, 2017

Did we hear Zilpha sing from the river? No, we did not.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:57 PM on March 1, 2017

I just assumed that the little interlude after James took the laudenum from Dumbarton was inferring that Zilpha did indeed die. I think James was speaking in metaphor when he said the dead sing to him.
posted by catch as catch can at 10:08 AM on March 2, 2017

That was also my impression. It's a shame, because that's a really interesting character. I guess that, given James' supernatural powers, she can come back in the next season as a spirit, but the whole storyline with him borderline raping, manipulating, and then dumping her was gross as shit, and detracted from the show as a whole. To be honest, with the way she was shoved out of the story, I don't even know what the writers were going for with her character.
posted by codacorolla at 11:33 AM on March 2, 2017 [3 favorites]

With James' sudden disinterest in her and her equally sudden death, I was guessing Oona had a new gig lined up, but the only thing I see on IMDb is a movie (As We Like It) in her upcoming credits, and that's already in post-production.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:06 PM on March 2, 2017

He was on laudenum. This calls into question the reliability of that hallucination. Yes, I believe he can hear the dead singing from the river, and I don't think even he knows if she's dead or not. It didn't matter. He knew he had to move on.
posted by Stanczyk at 2:32 PM on March 2, 2017

I actually took his act of drowning the doctor-spy in the paint as some kind of sacrifice for a spell to hear her death song. There's surely some supernatural aspect to the show, which I was hoping for more clarification about, and it deals with a mythology I'm not very familiar with (African voodoo).
posted by numaner at 9:28 AM on March 3, 2017

The opening credits seem to hint at his own drowning during the sinking of the Cornwallace, and his cheating death. It's not overt, but I think that it could be read that way. It leaves me wondering if he somehow is returning to that time in the flashback. When they kiss in the hallucination, is she saying goodbye or saving his life with a breath of air? Or maybe both. I don't know but I don't think it's certain that she's dead. If the show returns I think we'll see her again. Even in her letter she says they'll meet again. She doesn't specify where. Nootka is also on the other side.

As for drowning the American in blue dye, I think the effect he wanted to achieve was a red white and blue flag for the EITC to find, with the white being the unsigned document and the red being the man's flesh. I don't think it was a ritual or spell.
posted by Stanczyk at 3:44 AM on March 4, 2017

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