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Taboo Episode Eight review: Finale that flatters to deceive

Prithviraj Dev |

Series: Taboo

Director: Anders Engstorm

Cast: Tom Hardy, Jonathan Pryce, Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Stephen Graham and Franka Potente

Genre: Period-Drama

Taboo’s first season comes to an end in a finale that starts off with a bang, but ends with a veritable whimper.

If there was any doubt whether James Delaney could moonlight as a master puppeteer, they would have been quelled. As he, despite being held in the infamous Tower of London, gets Sir Stuart Strange of the East India Company and the Crown to play on his terms one final time.

Locked in the dungeon is Tom Hardy character, James Delaney, but manages to exude an aura of being in charge. Hardy’s brilliance has been extolled enough already in this eight-part season, but he takes his performance up a notch even as the team effort sags noticeably towards the end. 

And, after last week’s instalment which felt chaotic at times, this time around things feel a little easy to keep track off, right from James’ epic showdown with Strange in the beginning to the massive battle at the docks at the end (More on that later).

Using his son as the messenger boy to deliver his messages across London, James’ masterplan seems unstoppable. And not once will you feel tense about the final outcome which leaves little doubt that the Delaney scion will have his way.

His stay in the Tower hasn't gone unnoticed for his rag-tag crew, who are busy preparing for one final stand. Such is their unwavering loyalty.

After an exciting 30-odd minutes that set the stage for a grand battle at the end, the final act is disappointing in many ways.

With predictable story arcs for the butler Brace, half-sister Zilpha and Sir Stuart Strange, the final episode doesn't quite venture into unchartered territory, a massive negative considering characters that have played crucial parts in the story so far. Showing Dumbarton as a double-agent was an understatedly brilliant move, but appears insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

Coming to the big battle at the docks that seems inevitable, as the Crown finally decides the time for gloves is past, is epic any way you look at it. Gunpowder, muskets, crude-grenades, who doesn't want to see chaos ensue as Delaney’s men engage in an massive melee with the British Army. 
The only large action set-piece in the whole season is an impressive visual spectacle and as we have been accustomed to. The makers don't shy from zeroing in on the gruesome, a desperate mini-battle each man must overcome in a bid to survive only to be dragged into another almost immediately after.

While mercifully, Delaney doesn't quite come out of it unscathed as he loses a few key personnel in the bargain, it is difficult to believe that soldiers who are trained for conflicts such as these will fall like chaff in the wind despite having a numerical superiority. It was just another detraction in what was supposed to be the crown piece in what has been a solid, if slow debut season for Taboo

As James sails away on the high tides with a skeleton crew, you wonder just how he will manage the long, arduous journey to the land of the Star-Spangled Banner.
Many more questions remain in one's mind, but after a seriously underwhelming finale, most viewers will struggle to justify returning to their television sets for a second season