The Horror Honeys: Taboo Episodes 1 & 2: A Horror TV Honey Review

Taboo Episodes 1 & 2: A Horror TV Honey Review

A Horror TV Honey Review with Kat Wells

Who’s got perpetual nap-hair, rides a white horse, and doesn’t take any shit from anybody? James Keziah Delaney, that’s who.

Taboo, the new dark period drama produced by Scott Free UK and airing on FX, stars Tom Hardy as Delaney, a disreputable brute who has returned to his native London (circa 1814) in the wake of his father’s death after over a decade of living among savages in Africa. Delaney has long been presumed dead, and his return wreaks havoc on the plans of many people who were counting on benefiting from the spoils of the elder Delaney’s passing; arguably the most interested and ruffled party is the famed East India Company, which had its sights set on a politically important plot of land in the Americas owned by the late Delaney and which had been promised to them by his daughter (the younger Delaney’s half-sister).

Oona Chaplin plays Delaney's half-sister, who he has a full-boner for.
If all of that sounds like stuffy period drama fare, make no mistake: Taboo is determined to live up to the spirit of its name, even if they make you wait until the end of the second episode for any real action of that ilk. Nudity, tattoos (egads!), incest, murder, prostitution, and even cannibalism are all featured or discussed; and, importantly, the show is steeped in all of the dirtiest, most unpleasant aspects of life in London in the early 1800s. Though you’ll want to print and hang countless beautiful shots on your wall, you can also practically smell the stench of the town and its people wafting through your TV screen. This nastiness is one of the hallmarks of the show and what gives it a feeling that sticks with you and makes you want to come back for more.

Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot what we were talking about.
But back to what the show is about: Delaney has returned for a reason. He knows about the value of the plot of land in question, both monetary and political, but more importantly, he seems to know something mystical about the land that isn’t revealed to those of us watching. Now that he’s back in London, Hardy’s Delaney makes hulking, growly visits to the places he must, to get the things done he needs to, all while giving off the impression of a wild dog on its hind legs threatening to burst the seams of the coat and hat he’s had to put on to keep up the ruse. Hardy is unpredictable as Delaney, and for that reason, ridiculously fun (and funny) to watch as he navigates social life again after, well, whatever it is he’s been doing in Africa (we’re only given very brief flashes). Visiting whorehouses, empty ships, and old friends, he gruffs out lines like “I know things about the dead,” and “I have sworn to do very foolish things,” which are equal parts deliciously ominous and kind of comical (and I mean that in a good way). He also speaks occasionally in some strange (presumably African) language that sounds a lot like Parseltongue, and is one of the few things that really lends the show a spooky horror tone.

It's a wonder he didn't burst into flames walking into that church.
Delaney is tanned and sun-worn and sticks out like a sore thumb among the pale, sad London elite he must traffic in to work out the details of the fate of the aforementioned land in dispute. And if it seems like I’m only talking about one character, that’s because Taboo really focuses pointedly on Delaney’s journey, with everything else tending to take a backseat. So far it works just fine that way. The show also serves as a great reason to bone up on the history of the East India Company, which is wildly fascinating, and to try to figure out if the uncomfortably unwell, boil-covered Prince Regent character is a portrayal of a real historical figure (it appears he is).

One of the most interesting things about Taboo is that Delaney is not a hero with a heart of gold, or really any redeeming qualities. He’s rough and unfettered, and it’s a lot of fun to watch him piss off the establishment. Among other things, this is a show about the intrusion of the wild upon the civilized, and I hope that the end of the second episode is an indication that there is a lot more wild to come.

Kat's Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Naked Tattooed Tom Hardy's

Taboo airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FX

Belladonna Horror Mag 2.1
Belladonna Horror Mag: Belladonna Horror Mag 2.1
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