Taboo Episode 2: Context, Questions, And Theories

James Delaney

Let’s briefly jump back to Episode 1 where there was a series of strange moments between James (Hardy) and the scribe for the East India Company.

An image posted on the Taboo Reddit cleared up this relationship – in fact there was none.

It wasn’t the scribe James was peering at, but a ghost just behind him and the scribe was acknowledging these glances, but more of a what the f- is going on moment.

(On the far left side)


So, with that bit of housekeeping wrapped up let us move on to this week starting with what we learned from James Delaney himself and his interactions with others.

James’ Wealth

We found out that it is in fact diamonds in the pouch that he buried to kick off Episode 1, however it still isn’t clear is the source of his remaining currency.

We know he had enough to pay off his son’s (I’m not scared to say it, there is 100% incest occurring here) caretaker, had £200+ to pay off his father’s debts (which is over $200,000 in today’s dollars) and an additional £800 to purchase the Felice Adventurero.

Horace Delaney

In discussions with Brace, James learns that his father was primarily surviving on “honey beer” towards the end of his life, which happens to coincide with his apparent madness and suggest that this is how he was poisoned.

However, the merchant who sold this item has since died and his wife has departed from London.



Atticus very creatively summons James to come meet him (nothing like a little horse theft between old friends) and is very inquisitive about his time in Africa as well as (surprise, surprise) his father’s debt.

Additionally we find out that Atticus had sailed with James’ father in the past, but more importantly that a year prior a “man from Leadenhall” had come to see him about killing Horace Delaney.

Later in the episode it is confirmed that the gentleman in need of a hit-man was Thorne Geary, Zilpha’s husband.




Winter is a 13-year old mulatto girl who comes to see James to warn him that a silver-toothed assassin had come to meet Mistress Helga in regards to his whereabouts.

She leads James to a ship belonging to the supposed assassin and after James sets it ablaze Winter is oddly absent from the following shot when he returns to the boat.

She can be seen in the first episode lurking about, but it remains at least a possibility that she is jut a figment of his imagination.

Mistress Helga


Following his encounter with Winter, James returns to the whorehouse seeking further answers, both about Winter and the assassin Helga had been seen fraternizing with.

They have a very peculiar interaction where James is adamant that she has good in her and he can see she has the same eyes as Winter, suggesting that she is her daughter, hence why she doesn’t put her to work.

Helga neither confirms nor denies this assumption and the two appear to begin the groundwork for a beneficial relationship in the future.

Their conversation concludes with an extremely bold “I want you inside of me,” a statement so forward and preposterous I was convinced that I was actually prepping for our Bachelor write up and watching Corinne and Nick.

Lorna Delaney (Bow)

The first we see of Lorna is her name written on a playbill that James finds tucked away in his father’s desk.

She played the Indian Princess, which seems like some coincidence since James’ mother is supposedly a member of the Nootka Tribe.

If somehow the twist in this show is that Horace Delaney was actually a bit mad and James’ mother ends up being an actress or something similar it would actually make a bit more sense than Tom Hardy playing a 1/2 British 1/2 Native American man.

Regardless, Lorna arrives in London with news that she is in fact Horace Delaney’s widow and as a result of this ~1812 marriage in Dublin and now she could pursue shared ownership over the Nootka Sound.

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East India Company

The arrival of Lorna Delaney is music to the ears of the Evil Empire. With a dispute over the land it makes the prospect of murdering James and negotiating with her seem like their best course of action.

Through all of their scenes we learn the EIC is not shy about using murder to further their agenda.

This point is furthered when James is talking to Thoyt, who states that Prince Regent fears it, governments around the world fear it and they have more men, weapons and ships than all the Christian nations combined.

Further, he went on to say that “all good men who fight them are found washed up at Tilbury” (which is east of London for reference).

The EIC also becomes convinced that Delaney has already been bought by the Americans.

Prince Regent aka “Prinny”

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We see an almost comedic depiction of British Royalty in the form of a very bloated and almost Trump-esque tanned Prince Regent.

As preposterous as his actions appear in tandem with his appearance the are relatively historically accurate and represent symptoms of the diseases he faced at the time.

His love of alcohol and overall poor health habits would lead to “gout, arteriosclerosis, peripheral edema (“dropsy”), and possibly porphyria,” which include symptoms such as stomach bloating and skin decoloration.

The most important bit of information to come from his screen time was conclusiveness that the Crown and the East India Company where in fact very much at odds.

“Fuck them as well.”

“I intend to.”

Dr. Dumbarton

The Yankee Prize that was struck by a Yankee Ball


Dr. Dumbarton is an American spy working in London who is approached by Delaney in hopes that he may be able to speak with the President of the 15 States of America, which at the time is James Madison.

Delaney references Colonay and mentions that he is in Ponta Delgado and the Azores, which is located on Sao Miguel Island and was approaching its economic boom during this time period.

Also he speaks of Carlsbad and the American Society of Secret Correspondence in London, both Carlsbad and Colonay along with this society don’t seem to be rooted in any particular historical fact.

And after using outdated code names and expressions Delaney is hastily turned away, but there’s no chance their paths don’t cross again in the weeks to come.

Zilpha Geary

“You would straighten your skirt and march away like nothing had happened.”

The most inconsequential admittance of incest (and one that will likely lead to the reveal of their child from Episode 1) in TV history.

People were so shook when this happened on GOT, but I guess with the newness of the show and the fact I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going on quite yet made it a little easier to digest.

In addition to this obvious bomb drop she attempted to confront James about rumors of cannibalism and the fact he declined to give a concrete answer immediately makes me believe that he definitely consumed human flesh at some point while he was away.

“The Malay”

A “Malay” refers to someone from Malaysia or Indonesia and is the origin of our assassin. “The Malay” is referenced numerous times and based on the few glimpses we get out our dress wearing assassin it seems logical that they are one in the same.

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It would make sense that the EIC, a company dealing extensively in this region of the world, would have connections to make this appearance of such a character likely.

Granted we get no concrete evidence who hired him, but it seems more probable than not.

Also aside from getting stabbed multiple times the final blow comes in the form of James essentially ripping out his attacker’s throat with his teeth, which again points back to cannibalism in his past definitely being on the table.


Auction House and the Felice Adventurero

For anyone interested in history this was by far the most interesting bit of the episode.

Jardine, Matheson & Co.

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Currently still exists today in the form of Jardine Matheson Holdings, however it did not exist in 1814.

William Jardine oddly enough did have ties to the East India Company. After graduating from Edinburgh University he became a surgeon on their ships in 1803 at age 19.

But, the company in its original iteration was not founded until 1832.

Felice Adventurero

This ship did exist and did have ties to the Nootka Crisis, which a fictionalized version finds itself at the heart of the entire show.

Lieutenant John Meares was in command of the Felice Adventurero as it arrived at Nootka Sound in 1788 and it flew Portuguese flags in order to bypass the watchful eyes of the East India Company.

It set sail from China on January 22nd and arrived at Nootka Sound later that year in May.

At this time non-British ships weren’t required to have licenses from the EIC, therefore the ship had been registered in Macau, a Portuguese colony in China.

Meares, much like Horace Delaney, claimed that he had acquired some land from a Nootka Chief in exchange for pistols and other goods, this would become an asset to Britain during the crisis.

However, the facts of the land’s ownership were never fully brought to light.

In September 1788, Meares and the Felice Adventurero embarked on its return to China.

The lasting legacy of the ship exists in the form of Felice Island in British Columbia and Felice Strait in Alaska.

The Captain Reeves mentioned during the auction doesn’t seem to be a significant historical figure, but Englishmen by that name and within that time period do pop up when searched.

One is referenced being in Jamaica, while another mention credits him for bringing plant life back from China to be studied.

Delaney Aboard The Felice Adventurero

When Delaney goes aboard his latest investment he finds colored stones/beads that were cherished by slaves during this time period and he also discovers London cast shackles on board.

It has been suggested on Reddit that Delaney stripping down and the events that followed on the ship are a type of ritualistic sea burial to put the spirits at peace.

I honestly have no knowledge of ritualistic burials of any sort, so your guess is as good as mine on this one.

Additionally, he carves a bird into the floorboards, which may match the tattoo on his back. Also, it may be a long shot, but it could have something to do with when Brace mentioned Horace sounded like “fighting ravens” when talking into the fires.

Fictitious History of the Felice Adventurero

In a later conversation with Thoyt, Delaney seems to have quite a bit of knowledge of the ship’s (fictitious) past. Stating that it was owned by the East India Company prior to the Spanish and that they had dealt with the Scarfe Family in Tangiers before bringing slaves to Trinidad from the Bunce Islands via Spanish privateers.



Tangier is a port city on the Strait of Gibraltar in Northern Morocco that has served as the gateway to Europe from Africa for centuries.

From there the ship traveled to Bunce Island.

Bunce Island


Bunce Island is located in the Sierra Leone River, approximately 20 miles from Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

It features castles erected by a British salve-trading company in the 1670’s and served as the base for European slave traders for more than 140 years.

In 1807, 7 years before the events of the show, the Atlantic slave trade was abolished by UK Parliament.


The Spanish would be responsible for establishing Trinidad’s first European community, San Jose de Oruna (St. Joseph).

In 1783, the King of Spain encouraged the population of the community to increase and enticed people from neighboring French-colonized islands to come with their enslaved men and women. By 1797 nearly 54% of its population was made up of enslaved Africans.

Slavery would continue here until the 1830’s, despite the fact the British gained control of the island in 1814.



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Following his return from the assassin’s ship, Delaney slips into a very brief vision seemingly of the same woman from Episode 1, that I still tend to believe is his mother.


Once the vision of the woman in the water concludes we get hit with a moment of a knife that seems to be the exact one used by the assassin at the end of the episode, which suggest Delaney has some ability to see into the future.

Sinking Ship

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While onboard the Felice Adventurero and upon the realization that it was used to transport slaves, Delaney slips into a vision of the ship that sank off the Gold Coast that was supposedly responsible for his death.

Again, it includes people pleading and screaming for help suggesting that he may have either had a hand in it sinking or is remorseful because he was unable to do more to help.


Also while aboard the Felice Adventurero there is what looks like a ghost in the background that was pointed out on Reddit that closely resembles the portrait of Horace Delaney featured earlier in the episode.

Tribal Visions

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After James is stabbed at the end of the episode he falls against the wall and the above images emerge. These are the clearest and also the brightest we’ve seen to over two episodes. The terrain at first glance looks more like Africa than the Pacific Northwest, but only time will tell.


James Delaney is Already Dead


When James returns in the first Episode 1 there’s a few references to the return of a dead man and that Hell has opened up.

Additionally, James Delaney having so much knowledge that seemingly would have been impossible to obtain and the way he speaks of his relationship with the dead has made some people believe he can communicate with them to a degree.

Also, the frequent references to rivers brings up some allusions to the River Styx, which connects the Underworld to Earth in Greek mythology. He mentions to Zilpha the great river that separates them and also asked the dead in his visions in Episode 1 if “the river had their tongue.”

It’s more likely that it’s a geographical reference we haven’t quite grasped yet, but it seems increasingly likely that there is some supernatural connection between James and those who have passed.


This episode certainly picked up the pace a little bit and it seems like we’re in for quite the ride over the final 6 episodes of the season.



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