Taboo Season 1 Episode 5 Review: Rule Of Thumb

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Why, oh why don't these people get it by now? You do NOT f*ck with James Delaney. Not. Ever.

Delaney to the Duel - Taboo Season 1 Episode 5

There were quite a few shocks on Taboo Season 1 Episode 5, including the opening scene. We got want we wanted, sort of: a beautifully shot duel scene, but with a twist. 

Thorne is Ready - Taboo Season 1 Episode 5

I REALLY wanted to see Thorne bite it, but alas, we'll have to wait until another day.

As satisfying as it would have been to see Delaney waste Thorne, it is actually more in keeping with the theme of the show to have Delaney spare him. 

My apologies - that was an excellent shot. I can only assume that your second is a Company man, since he failed to load a ball in your pistol. It would appear that my life is more precious than yours. Good day.

Delaney [to Thorne]

Knowing that he is alive only out of the mercy of Delaney is pure torture for Thorne, and I'm sure Delaney revels in his agony. This is a revenge tale, after all.

I love the glint in Delaney's eye as he watched Thorne suffer – hey, don't judge! 

Thorne is Desperate - Taboo Season 1 Episode 5

I'm really angry about how Thorne treats poor Zilpha. It was clear that she was severely bummed at seeing Thorne not dead. She deserves much better than that ass.

Thorne: Champagne, or potatoes? Or both?
Zilpha: So how did it resolve itself? Did you both see sense?
Thorne: No. I shot him between the eyes, and a host of devils flew out of his head and down the river. In that event it would be potatoes, wouldn't it? Simple sustenance. Life goes on.
Zilpha: Before you drink anymore could you tell me what really happened?
Thorne: But in the event of a messenger coming to tell you that he had killed me, well, champagne. All the wild possibilities. In truth, neither is the case. It was void.
Zilpha: How?
Thorne: No need for anymore questions. Not when half of London will be re-telling the story, anyway.
Zilpha: So I shall hear through gossip?
Thorne: As I hear about you.

I still can't get a handle on how she REALLY feels about Delaney. I know he is using his supernatural mojo on her, but there has to be something there from when they were kids.

Zilpha is Afraid - Taboo Season 1 Episode 5

I think she protests a lot, but deep down she wants him. The taboo aspect is maybe what's holding her back, but being Thorne's literal punching bag is far worse.

The events at the end might change all that, however. More on that later.

You can't even begin to express what an all out badass Delaney is, so I don't understand why anyone would stand in his way.

The scene where he rides to the gunpowder factory on his pale horse takes your breath away. The cinematography on this show is exceptional. 

You've had a fall. You probably don't remember who you are, so let me remind you. You've been following me, haven't you? Are you King, or are you Company? It doesn't matter. Now there is nothing up that road apart from death, and anybody like you. So you run along and tell your friends how you almost lost your heart.

Delaney [to henchman]

If you're in his League of the Damned, then the scene where he does the ol' thumbectomy on one of your buds would freak you the hell out, am I right?

He either has really good informants, or his supernatural chops are even stronger than we realize. 

Delaney [to his minions]: Now gentlemen, before I go on the subject of confidence and betrayal, I hear that the Company are offering 10 pounds for any information. I also know that one of you has already considered collecting. Let me be very clear, I know which one of you it is. I want you to know that there will be no place for that man on my ship when we sail to the new world. Because he will be of no use to me: he will be of no use. For he will have no thumb. [Delaney cuts off a man's thumb] I am inside your heads gentleman. Always.

And a guy with that bad a disposition AND supernatural powers is unbeatable.

That's the only potential weak spot as far as the narrative to me. If no one is a worthy adversary, then there is no drama. 

Dumbarton Plans His Next Move - Taboo Season 1 Episode 5

The only ones who seem to be mildly worthy right now are Dumbarton and the Americans. Just when Delaney thinks he has it going on, Dumbarton seems to be a step ahead.

The fact that Carlsbad didn't seem to know about the gunpowder situation either leads me to believe that he's got a side game going on here. Delaney will surely keep a keen eye on him.

Now we've screwed maharajahs, we've screwed moguls, and this man, this man is merely a London mongrel. So? Come on! Ideas?

Strange

Strange is still gunning for Delaney, but he'd better worry about Coop and the Prince Regent more right now.

Coop is really turning out to be 24 carat bastard, and I love it!

He is a sniveling, backstabbing weasel, and he's becoming one of the show's most compelling characters. 

Sir Stuart Strange Plans His Next Move - Taboo Season 1 Episode 3

Strange: Belton! You will improve your game. You have to improve your fucking game! This bastards at the palace have opened a Royal Commission into the sinking of The Influence.
Belton: The Influence-why?
Strange: It's a personal campaign. A stab in my ribs. Now you will deal with it. You, and the Africa desk. The Commission is not the King, so they can't subpoena, so you will deal with it. And treat them with disbelief. They have appointed some educated blackamoor to prepare the evidence. So you go into your office, and you write to him. Offer him full and unfettered cooperation on behalf of the honorable East India. No - full and willing cooperation.
Belton: Yes sir.
Strange: Then, I will tell you which papers to burn.

The sinking of The Influence has to be the same ship that has been alluded to, from the show opening all the way to Delaney's visions last week.

That explains Delaney's quest for revenge, and why he wants to take down Strange and East India so badly. We just don't know the particulars yet, but that will come soon enough.

The scene where he finally finds the Nootka treaty was revelatory and heartbreaking. It was so sad to see Delaney cry over his mother.

I am looking for a particular document. A treaty, that is all. A treaty between my father and the Nootka Indian tribe. A treaty in which Nootka Sound was bought for gunpowder and a wife. That was my mother, his first wife, who he bought for beads. His wife would not play the Spanish Princess, or the Italian Countess, whatever it was. She refused to play, and he had her sent to Bedlam, the insane asylum.

Delaney [to Lorna]

Lorna may in fact have feelings for Delaney, but I wouldn't put it past her to be running her own game as well. 

The sticky wicket here is the chemist Cholmondeley's sexual interest in Lorna.

Delaney: And you think she's beautiful?
Cholmondeley: Who?
Delaney: The actress.
Cholmondeley: Not only is she among the large number of women I would sleep with, she's also among the much smaller group of women I would masturbate over. Well, this is fun. So may I call on her or not?
Delaney: No.
Cholmondeley: So she is yours?

The grunt and stink-eye that Delaney gave him was totally hilarious. Don't poke the bear, mister!

The Chemist and His Apprentice - Taboo Season 1 Episode 5

Another interesting part of that dynamic is how Delaney all of a sudden wants to involve his son in the gunpowder scheme.

I'm assuming, of course, that the boy is the product of Delaney and Zilpha's taboo relationship. Weird.

It was cute that the perverted chemist was acting almost like a father figure to the poor waif. That was unexpected.

And will the kid actually ever speak? Or did he inherit his dad's gift for non verbal communication? GRUNT! 

The perv preacher doing his "exorcism" on Zilpha was VERY disturbing.

After all that she's been through, does she really need a nasty dude feeling her up and assaulting her? Not so much. 

On the bright side, the ritual seemed to unleash something dark inside her, and now she seems to be channeling the spirit of Delaney.

Asking for help and guidance while she held that hat pin with evil intent sure was creepy. 

Who knows? Maybe she will be the one to put Thorne out of our misery. Now that would be poetic!

So this is random, but was anyone else grossed out when the Prince Regent was noshing on a gigantic OSTRICH EGG? I know I was.

Lots of black humor in this one too, like this:

Lorna: We need some more coal for my fireplace, it's freezing.
Delaney: Now, why would we do that? This is the Delaney household, we have no warmth here.

As everyone keeps getting ground under the wheels of Delaney's revenge train, I'm still stoked about where this is headed. 

What about you? Will Zilpha be the one to take Thorne out? Will the gunpowder scheme go boom? Can anybody stand up to the beast Delaney? Let me know in the comments section.

And, of course, you can watch Taboo online and revel in all it's bloody glory, right here on TV Fanatic.

Rule Of Thumb Review

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Rating: 5.0 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Ron Gilmer is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and read his personal blog at Idiotbox Watcher.

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Taboo Season 1 Episode 5 Quotes

Thorne: Champagne, or potatoes? Or both?
Zilpha: So how did it resolve itself? Did you both see sense?
Thorne: No. I shot him between the eyes, and a host of devils flew out of his head and down the river. In that event it would be potatoes, wouldn't it? Simple sustenance. Life goes on.
Zilpha: Before you drink anymore could you tell me what really happened?
Thorne: But in the event of a messenger coming to tell you that he had killed me, well, champagne. All the wild possibilities. In truth, neither is the case. It was void.
Zilpha: How?
Thorne: No need for anymore questions. Not when half of London will be re-telling the story, anyway.
Zilpha: So I shall hear through gossip?
Thorne: As I hear about you.

My apologies - that was an excellent shot. I can only assume that your second is a Company man, since he failed to load a ball in your pistol. It would appear that my life is more precious than yours. Good day.

Delaney [to Thorne]