*Warning: This article contains spoilers for Taboo Episode 7.*
Taboo is fully living up to its name. From voodoo sex to ritualistic disembowelment, Tom Hardy's period drama is troubling, deeply unique but absolutely compelling, led by grunting protagonist James Delaney and his bloody quest to avenge his father's death.
After more twists and turns than a medieval torture device during his battle with the East India Company and the Americans over ownership of Nootka Sound, the man who always has a plan is in a seemingly impossible situation, trapped in the claustrophobic bowels of the Tower of London, following his arrest for high treason.
The fearless march toward #Taboo's finale is bittersweet. The wait to find out how everything concludes is excruciating, and with events perilously primed for the finale next week, below are the big questions and predictions. But it'll all be over soon. And that's sad. Anyway, on to the questions:
1. Was The Torture In 'Taboo' Faithful To History?
Even within the savage "chop-off-a-thumb-ask-questions later" paradigm of 19th Century London, the torture scenes with Delaney were gruesome and hard to watch. Taboo is a heavily-researched show, and often historically accurate. Despite its barbarity, the torture scenes in the Tower of London do have remnants of truth.
The Tower was used to torture a minority of inmates during the 16th and 17th Century. Sadistic techniques included "the rack" (a device that stretched the victim, ripping their limbs from their body), the "Scavenger’s Daughter" (the opposite of the rack, this compressed the victim's body) and manacles — iron handcuffs that were used to suspend prisoner with feet elevated from the floor.
2. How Does Sir Stuart Strange Play Into Delaney's Plan?
"We have him. We fucking have him. We have Nootka. We have the China trade." — Sir Stuart Strange
Don't be so sure, Stuart, you're dealing with James Delaney after all. The head of the EIC — portrayed perfectly by Jonathan Pryce — is one of the best characters in the show. His shrewd tactical (and increasingly manic) attempts to wrest Nootka Sound accumulated with what looked like checkmate — Delaney in the Tower of London, handcuffed and charged with treason.
The big breakthrough for the EIC's game plan was the death of Winter. In a heartless move that demonstrates the lengths the EIC will go to, they framed Delaney for Winter's death, in the knowledge that her mother, Helga, would then betray Delaney and hand him over.
However, the excruciating cliffhanger of Taboo Episode 7 saw Delaney withstand his torture and getting his one request: A one-on-one meeting with Strange, proceeded with Delaney's new catchphrase: "I have a use for you."
At this point, Delaney still doesn't know that the EIC killed Winter, but he does have leverage that could lead to Stuart exchanging Helga. His informant, Godfrey, has agreed with George Chichester to testify against the EIC. Further still, Lorna has also found a witness who can prove Delaney didn't kill Winter, which could result in Helga withdrawing her statement.
The final exchange between these two is guaranteed to be explosive, but what exactly will Delaney ask of Strange? Most likely, he'll use Godfrey as bait to negotiate not only his release, but a ship to sail to America.
3. Is The Supernatural Element Real? Or All In The Mind Of Delaney?
On top of the intricacies of the unfolding plot involving the struggle for Nootka Sound, the mystery of the supernatural — and Delaney's formative years in Africa — highlight how well crafted the script is. Drip by drip, more evidence has seemingly been revealed, but we still can't be fully sure that Delaney is the purveyor of witchcraft we suspect.
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Almost all of the actions could be explained in other ways. Maybe Delaney and step-sister Zilpha both suffer from schizophrenia, with the supernatural elements becoming hallucinations? The ghosts, however, are harder to explain rationally. They have fleetingly appeared throughout the season, with another sighting in Taboo Episode 7 in the depths of the Tower of London. After everything he has endured, there must be more to Delaney than "madness."
4. What Will The Big Twist Be?
This is arguably the most anticipated aspect of the finale, with #TomHardy previously claiming that by the final episode Taboo is "not what you think you're watching at all." Four standout theories on what this big twist could be are:
- Delaney is already dead.
- Delaney is communicating with his parents from beyond the grave.
- Delaney can enter different dimensions.
- Delaney can see into the future.
For more in-depth background on each, read our earlier article. As things reach their conclusion, each of the theories are still fully relevant. In addition, could the opening credits be foreshadowing an event that is yet to come? The credits do show a figure that looks like Delaney floating in the water after a shipwreck.
The Taboo finale quickly approaching, and there are still a more loose threads than an vintage sweater. What next for Zilpha now she's been shunned by Delaney? Will Delaney punish Brace for killing his father? How will the Americans fit in to the bigger picture? So. Many. Questions. The wait to find out truly is torture.
What are you predictions for the finale of Taboo? Let us know in the comments!