Taboo, paradoxically, feels limited and infinite. Its unique, intricately crafted mixture of period drama, supernatural allusions and Tom Hardy grunts make the overlooked gem an experience that feels equally comfortable being a one-off experience or the beginning of something much more.
The satisfying nature of the show's final episode doesn't need to be elaborated to standout as a hit, but, equally, due to top-level writing, dexterous direction and sublime acting, there's so much potential for more. Fortunately, Taboo Season 2 has already been commissioned, and scriptwriter Steven Knight has confirmed that he envisions three seasons in total.
In an interview with HuffPostUK, Knight — who also wrote the hit BBC show Peaky Blinders — explains how Taboo will be "three series and out," with an outline of the story involving James Delaney and the League of the Damned already planned. He explained:
"I can feel the three acts. The first was 'the escape.' The second will be 'the journey' and the third will be 'the arrival,' and that’ll be it. I don’t think the story will be what viewers are expecting, but hopefully they’ll enjoy it."
A distinct "act" for each season befits a show that oozes a borderline theatrical influence from a time gone by, and should maintain the levels of intrigue and complexity for each. But what do the titles "The Escape," "The Journey" and "The Arrival" tell us about the direction of the show? Let the speculation commence.
This one is obvious, because, well, it's already happened. In hindsight "The Escape" makes perfect sense for #Taboo Season 1; Delaney returned from "beyond the grave" before spinning an intricate web of manipulation and deceit to get what he wanted — a team of surprisingly loyal criminal aides, a ship and safe passage to America.
Originally, Taboo's premise was based on Delaney avenging his father's death. However, it became clear that he had bigger plans. He wanted to strike an unlikely deal with the Americans while also checkmating the all-powerful Sir Stuart Strange of the East India Company. With superhuman levels of game-playing and strategy, his first mission, and his escape, is complete by the time the credits roll in the finale.
The name of the second act reveals one big plot point — the entirety of Season 2 will center around the journey of the League of the Damned following their climatic, explosive escape from the London docks. As Delaney cunningly revealed in a bombshell, rather than travel direct to America, he is planning a detour to Ponta Delgada in the Azores to meet the mysterious Colonnade, suggesting our top-hatted protagonist has made — or is looking to make — an important deal.
Who is Colonnade? That remains mostly a mystery, but namedropping him was enough to earn Lorna a conversation with the American spy countess Musgrove. And, in the second episode, Delaney revealed that he knew of Carlsbad's identity through Colonnade himself. He said:
"Carlsbad is the head of the American Society of Secret Correspondence in London. I know that name, because Colonnade told me it. He was drunk. He was trying to push his jelly up a whore. Carlsbad will know my name and know my business."
But how could Colonnade work into Delaney's new plan? In the confusing power-struggle for ownership of Nootka Sound between Delaney, the East India Company and the Americans, Delaney revealed that he'd grant sovereignty to whomever grants him a monopoly on the tea trade, which could be the reason for the diversion to the Azores.
As Taboo is known to draw influence from history, what better time for a brief history lesson? The Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal. Its capital, Ponta Delgada, saw a huge economic rise in the 19th century, thanks to exports to the UK, and a growth in foreign owned business. This led to it becoming the third largest town in Portugal, full of intellectuals, socialists and businessmen (see: a rich creative source of interesting characters).
It's relevant to Taboo due to the influence of America. The US Consulate of Porta Delgada still operates in present day, making it the oldest continuously operating US Consulate. The Dubneys, an American family who originated from Boston, served as Consuls in the Azores for 90 years, starting in 1806 (as well as making money from whaling and, crucially, shipping businesses). They would've been the US relation at the time of Delaney's arrival in 1815, so it's plausible they may be included, or at least inspire a similar, fictional family.
So we know the Americans had an influence on the island around that time, and that Delaney is visiting to meet an elusive American spy. Digging a little deeper, the key reason for Delaney's detour may be hidden in history, in the form of tea. The Brits' favourite hot beverage was introduced to Europe from China around the 17th century, originally as a luxury item due to costs. By the time period Taboo is set in, the East India Company had a monopoly on the trade.
However, the Azores had a significant influence on the tea industry. Way back in 1750, tea made its way to the island, long before it arrived in countries such as Brazil, Australia and India. By 1878, the Azores had set up plantations to provide Europe with access to tea. It could be that Taboo Season 2 will focus on Delaney as he attempts to become invested in the early stages of such a plantation — with the help of Colonnade.
It's almost impossible to predict Season 3, "The Arrival," before Season 2 has even been filmed. All we can really detract is that the League of the Damned, having stopped off at the Azores along the way, finally arrive in America. But, what then?
It's unlikely we'll see a huge tonal shift away from the deception and visceral pre-Victorian violence, so perhaps Delaney will have to pull more strings to set up home. That is, of course, if he decided to continue to America...
What are your predictions for Taboo Season 2?