Taboo, S01E01: Shovels and Keys review

Taboo (Photo: Facebook)

Series: Taboo

Director: Kristoffer Nyholm

Cast: Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, Jonathan Pryce, Leo Bill, Richard Dixon, Michael Kelly and David Hayman

Taboo, a miniseries co-created by Tom Hardy, has been creating quite a flutter among historians for its ‘overly negative’ portrayal of the East India Company (EIC). With an impressive pilot episode, it raises expectations. 

Tom Hardy plays the lead as James Keziah Delaney, a long-lost son who returns to London from Africa just in time for his father’s funeral and a shipping tycoon who was at odds with the EIC because of his land purchases in what is now the United States of America.

Set in the 19th century, at a time when the British Empire was at its absolute height and the EIC was ravaging in far corners of the mapped world, Taboo’s location and plot points are certainly intriguing.

With generous amount of profanities and hints at barbaric rituals (hints for now, we may get to see them soon), Hardy’s brainchild is certainly not for the faint of heart.

Sir Stuart Strange(Jonathan Pryce) heads the EIC,  and his chilling almost puppet-master like persona makes him the perfect protagonist against Hardy’s impulsive James Delaney.

The Crown (Or is it the EIC? The lines are blurred) are eyeing the Delaney’s properties and with a half-sister (Ooona Chaplin) and her covetous husband (Jefferson Hall) thrown in the mix,the stakes are high and a taut tone has been set.

One episode is not enough to whet one’s appetite, as James’ alleged desecration in Africa are only shown through brief flashbacks, making him the biggest mystery. To add to that, his  shady equation with his half-sister makes for a space indeed worth watching out for.

Danger lurks around every corner for James, with no shortage of people to stab him in the back. It would be interesting to see if he can find some allies rather than going alone Dark Knight style ( he even has his own butler!).

With the fledgling Unites States growing in power and at war with Her Majesty’s Crown, one hopes more historical phenomenon are woven into the story as the series progresses.

Revealing just a few tasty tidbits from the past of the major characters, Taboo has all the makings of a great miniseries and after Shovels and Keys, one feels the horizon is bloody and brilliant.