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A “Taboo” to talk about

By | Liam Olson

First impressions are important when it comes to a new television series. “Taboo” is a new program produced by FX and BBC One that gives a great first impressions in their first episode, “Shovels and Keys.” The episode is an introduction to different portions of the plot and the characters give the viewer many reasons to keep watching.

The first episode of “Taboo” aired on FX on Tuesday, Jan. 10. Kristoffer Nyholm directed “Shovels and Keys” and Steven Knight wrote the script for the show. Knight worked with actor Tom Hardy and his father, Edward “Chips” Hardy, to create the script.

Right from the start of the show, there is an eerie and dark tone. The show opens with James Delaney, played by Tom Hardy, riding in on a horse through the rain in order to bury an object in the middle of nowhere. This is just the start to the mysteries this show contains.

The plot of the episode is complex with the various parts of the overall story being introduced. However, the base of the story is that James Delaney returns to London in 1814 after the death of his father, who left him a piece of land called the Nootka Sound. James had been presumed dead for more than 10 years but was actually in Africa for unknown reasons. James must navigate through the cutthroat business world of London to run his father’s shipping company and protect the Nootka Sound from his half-sister’s husband and the East India Company.

The snippets of each part of the story is what makes the viewer even more enticed to find out answers to the questions this episode creates. What did James do in Africa for 10 years that gave him supernatural abilities? What is the importance of the Nootka Sound? To what extent will the East India Company go to take Nootka Sound from James? These are just some of the questions created by “Skulls and Keys.”

One major point of the show worth mentioning is the relationships that James Delaney has with other characters. Throughout the episode, James finds himself face-to-face with old friends and acquaintances, as well as enemies old and new.

With characters such as the loyal family servant, Brace, played by David Hyman; James’s half-sister Zilphia, played by Oona Chaplin; and the ruthless East India Company Chairman, Sir Stuart Strange, played by Jonathan Price; this diverse cast of characters will play essential parts in the story of James Delaney.

Since a majority of the first episode was introductions, there was not enough screen time  to give a fair review of the actors’ performances, except for Tom Hardy. Hardy gave an excellent performance as James Delaney. He perfectly captured the brutal, composed and mentally unstable characterization of James. With his portrayal, he effortlessly went through scenes as though he was the character himself.

“Shovels and Keys” is a slow but great start to “Taboo,” with the introductions out of the way. Viewers will want to dig deeper into the many mysteries and characters “Taboo” has to offer.

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