With a second season of the fan favourite BBC show in development, we take a look at some of the questions hanging in the air after the action-packed season one finale.
When BBC’s Taboo hit our screens back in 2017, audiences were captivated by the dark and gritty series that showcased everyone’s favourite Brit: Tom Hardy. With mystery, murder, and a grunting, grizzly performance from Hardy that kept us glued to our screens, it quickly solidified itself as a strong addition to the BBC drama slate. Set in 1814 London, Taboo is the story of James Keziah Delaney (Hardy), presumed dead, only to show up at his home after the death of his father. His return shakes up those in his wake, not least the handful of opposing parties who endeavour to take over his father’s land for their own questionable purposes.
Now, fans of the show can rejoice in the news that a second series is in development. Although the follow-up season is still very much in the works according to series creator and Peaky Blinders mastermind Steven Knight, we can’t stop thinking about where the next instalment of the story will take James Delaney. Here are the burning questions we were left with after the climactic season one finale…
WHAT HAPPENED TO ZILPHA?
The estranged daughter of Horace Delaney and James’s half-sister, Zilpha Delaney (Oona Chaplin) was thrown by the sudden reappearance of James, who she had long believed to be dead. Suffering at the hands of a stern and abusive husband, Zilpha spent season one desperate to reconnect with James, constantly being thwarted by her husband’s reluctance to let her interact with her half-brother.
Although she is married, Zilpha cannot repress her feelings for James. (After all, this is Tom Hardy we’re talking about.) She also struggles with becoming pregnant, a fact which enrages her husband who humiliates and shames Zilpha for her inner desires. Season one brings a ghastly twist to Zilpha’s story as she murders her husband with a hairpin during the night. When she expects James to embrace her into his life, she is shaken and disappointed when he instead rejects her. Thrown into a depressed haze, she writes James a final letter and, at the end of the first season, throws herself into the Thames. Or does she?
It does certainly look to be the case. We see Zilpha step onto the ledge of a bridge and fling herself over the edge. But James doesn’t seem to think that this is the case. When talking with Horaces’s wife Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley), he tells her that he would have felt her death had it been real. Whether he believes this out of some strange sibling connection or from the depths of the romantic undertones that lay between the two throughout the show, we aren’t sure. But if James doesn’t buy it, then we don’t either.
WHO IS COLONNADE?
The end of season one left audiences with something of a cliffhanger. When James sets sail at the end of the series, Atticus thinks they might be heading towards America. However, James mysteriously tells him that he needs to travel to Azores, Portugal, where he needs to find a man named Colonnade. Sneaky Steven Knight. It left fans wondering: who is the mysterious Colonnade, and what does he mean to James? Although it wasn’t the first time the strange name had been dropped into conversation during the season, it still didn’t leave any certainty about the identity of the man who James seeks.
One fan theory, based on an earlier conversation between Lorna and the Countess, seems to revolve around the idea that Colonnade might be another figure in the network of spies that are in communication with America. It’s also possible that Colonnade might serve as an ally to James and help him establish his trades, or perhaps prove himself useful within the treaty of Nootka Sound. All we know for sure at this stage is that Colonnade is at the forefront of James’s mind going into the next season. Tom Hardy himself even highlighted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that, “The key really is Colonnade”. Consider us intrigued.
IS EVERYONE IN THE CLEAR?
The season one finale focused on the bloody battle between James’s crew and the redcoats, a messy and violent affair that took place at the London docks and resulted in several deaths. Perhaps one of the more shocking moments lay in Cholmondeley’s explosive injuries. Literally.
The maverick chemist and con-artist played by Tom Hollander gave his alliance to Delaney’s cause earlier in the season and stuck around as something of a fan favourite. His penchant for women and his skill with explosives caught James’s eye, who made use of his skills for the final battle. However, Cholmondeley was caught by his own explosion, and ended up having to be carried away from the battle, limp and practically lifeless. Although we later see him on the boat, burned, scarred, and deliriously mumbling to himself, it’s hard to tell what the impact of the battle will be on the chemist, and perhaps even if he will survive his injuries.
The same could be said for Lorna Bow, who also took a hit during the climactic fight. When trying to make her escape towards James’s ship, she took fire at some of the enemy soldiers, only to be shot and wounded in the fray. Bloodied and pale in the cargo hold, our last images of Lorna in season one look reasonably optimistic. Although, in a show as unpredictable and gruesome as Taboo, how certain can we be that Cholmondeley and Lorna’s injuries won’t come back to catch up with them?
Taboo’s first season locked in a solid fanbase, who are now ready and waiting to catch even a glimpse of what the next season might bring. Of course, with Tom Hardy’s ever-packed schedule and Steven Knight keeping his eye on the upcoming Peaky Blinders film, we’ll sadly most likely be waiting a while. But not to worry, because whether you’re looking for a fix of BBC drama or to get stuck into another exploration of the murky and violent past, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.