Tom Hardy’s James Keziah Delaney is a man seeking revenge in Taboo, the new FX series Hardy produced along with his father, “Chips,” and Ridley Scott. When he arrives back in London, 1814, after being in Africa for a decade and presumed dead in a shipwreck, Delaney knows his very existence is going to throw some best laid plans into a tailspin.
But he doesn’t care. He’s seen some shit.
Taboo is a vehicle for Tom Hardy to show off his always captivating crazy side. Delaney lumbers about town in a top coat and hat, scars telling the stories of his past. He makes his presence well known in town for good reason. His father has recently died, leaving him a shipping empire and a piece of land in the United States that is vital for the success of the rival East India shipping. The company, headed by Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce), thought that had all of their ducks in a row; they didn’t account for this duck coming back from the dead.
Delaney discovers just how upsetting his appearance is at every turn. His father’s servant is happy to see him, but apprehensive about his desire to dig into his father’s death. His half sister, married to a monster, may very well be happy to see him, but cannot express such emotions. He shows up at his family offices to discover they have been turned into a brothel by Helga, played by an unrecognizable Franka Potente. Then, a late night autopsy tells him what he probably already knew: his father was poisoned. And so the stage is set for a great deal of conflict over the next seven episodes.
While the madness Delaney experienced in Africa has not yet been fully explored, certain terrifying visions and ghosts of the ship he presumably died aboard have reared their head. Taboo is a series heavy in style. 1814 London is incredibly detailed, textured, sometimes beautiful amid the pollution and grime. It’s a fascinating show to simply observe, and Tom Hardy has such an animal magnetism to his every movement, I could watch him read the phone book for an hour. His Delaney is all menace and small twitches, a man on a mission with no time for platitudes or courtesy. He sees through the bullshit, and he has a plan.
It’s great to realize we will get at least seven more weeks of Hardy in this character and this setting.