Taboo - Episode 3

  • James:
    can take a lot of pain, wears a ring with the sign of a Sankofa bird
  • Zilpha:
    wears a ring with the same Sankofa sign as James, likes pearls, likes the colour orange

After he did escape death and was patched up by the American Doctor James makes a will to protect himself from further attacks of the British. He also finds out that Carlsbad is a woman. James wants the monopoly on the trade of furs for tea in return for the sovereignty for Nootka Sound.

First Scene:
James sits in his office and writes a letter to Zilpha. Dear, Sister, I am restoring our father's offices. I have registered the Delaney Trading Company with Lloyds of London and I will ready my ship, so that when the time is right and the Company has fallen we can leave. I am accruing a band of loyal servants, none of whom have any value to me beyond of the facilitation of this greater good. When I left England I was just a boy. Now I am back, much has changed.

James and Brace work in the office.

The letter arrives at Zilpha's house. Backland Place in Chelsea. She writes back. She wears the ring with the Sankofa sign (the same ring James wears), an orange shawl and orange pearls. Your leaving England was the click of the hypnotist's fingers. I woke from a trance and realised the depth of our sin. I have found forgiveness in God and in my husband, and I want no part in your plans or your future.

James replies. But we are the future. Your husband is already passed and you can see that by the way he follows you. You should let him go, poor soul. You torture him. There is enough treachery already surrounding us that there is no need for us to add to it.

The servant puts a pile of letters on the table. Zilpha is having a cup of tea with two ladies. She pretends to be indifferent but looks longingly at the letters. Later she replies. The arrival of letters at this address does not go unnoticed. My husband is harsh and is a Christian. I welcome it. I deserve it.

Your husband is also a fool, James continues. He cannot see all that you are. I have sailed to places where there is no damnation. We used to talk to each other without words in dark corners. Your curiosity and hunger for all that is possible out there could never be tethered by base religious morality, ship insurance and new china.

Please understand that from this moment I will burn your letters without opening them, she denies, sitting at her desk in the bedroom.

Then I will visit you in your dreams.... my love.

Please. I'm your sister. Let all else lie.

Second Scene:
Thorne approaches James outside to the office. "I was passing, from Greenwich. I have business."
"Hm," James snarls, but let's him in.
At first Thorne says he wants to take care of the insurance for James' new ship.
James denies the offer and says his ship is already insured by an insurance broker by the name of Cope.
Thorne accepts the coffee James offered a minute ago and sits down. He then changes the subject drastically. "You know it excites me, the thought of it...when I realise the woman beneath me is capable of what she did. She can seem so cold, at least, she used to. Now I know the secret in her head. And it makes me so hard... and so angry. Mm. And she likes it."
The hand James lights his pipe with trembles.
"Since you came back, our fucking has become almost murderous," Thorne goes on. "It exhausts us. To think I have this wicked... wicked thing beneath me and it's my lifelong duty to punish her."
James looks like he is ready to kill him right on the spot.
"It exhausts us both," Thorne continues with glee. "A beautiful exhaustion. And in the morning I read the Gazette and she eats her toast... like a sweet little bird."
James looks crushed and furious at the same time.
Thorne gets up. "I didn't come to sell you insurance, Mr. Delaney. I came to thank you." He smirks and leaves.
James stays behind, fighting for control.

Third Scene:
A church. Zilpha enters. James is already settled in the pew on the right side. Zilpha walks down the aisle grazing the pew with her hand, almost touching James' hand. She then sits down on the pew on the left side sitting across from him now. Both siblings were black. Shortly they remain silent.
"You summoned me," James starts, showing his watch, rubbing the glass with his fingers. "I am here now. What do you want?"
She looks at the altar.
He does the same. "Shall we pray?"
"I used to think we were the same person," Zilpha says.
"We are," he replies, watching her from the corner of his eye.
She looks at him then. "We are not." She gets up quickly and walks over to him. She lifts her skirts and settles down on his lap. She kisses him passionately on the mouth. He neither resists nor does he encourage her. He just puts one hand lightly on her behind. She breaks free. He casts his eyes down. She gets up. He licks his lips. She straightens her skirts. "Now... I never want to see you again."
She walks away.
"We will speak again."
"No, we won't."
"Oh, but we will."
She is gone. He stays put, rubbing his watch.

Fourth Scene:
Zilpha and Thorne are having dinner. She looks depressed.
"I see that you're bleeding again," he says.
She stares at him, shocked.
"I saw blood."
"How? Where? You searching the laundry?"
"It is equally my business. It seems that jointly we are unable to stop the moon from rising."
"Could you fetch some oranges?" Zilpha asks the servant. "I would like some oranges."
The servant leaves the room.
"Is it the goose or the gander who has bad sauce?" Thorne continues shaming Zilpha.
She says nothing to that. He stands up and pours himself a glass.
"Do you know we can't even afford new china?" Zilpha throws at him.
"So that's your reason for not taking? The dock boys I pay in pennies have litters of children - I just get blood." He drinks from the glass and then moves closer sitting down next to her.
She turns her face away, eyes shining with tears.
"My dearest Zilpha."
She turns her head and looks at him.
"I apologise... that I am not related to you. But you could allow your cunt to swallow the work of an honest man, who will promise to buy you the finest china... if you just agree to stop fucking bleeding."
The servant comes back into the room. "Oranges, madam."
"She doesn't want fucking oranges!" Thorne screams.
Zilpha flinches, and turns her face looking straight ahead.
"We all know what she wants," Thorne continues shaming her.
Now the tears are running down Zilpha's face. Thorne leaves the room, pushing the servant on the way out. Zilpha stays put.

Best Quote:
James: "You should know that I am a very dangerous man?"
Lorna: "I was told that, too."

Best Dialog:
Zilpha: "I used to think we were the same person."
James: "We are."
Zilpha: "We are not."

Godfrey was once in love with James. James calls him Godders. James does like him, and pities him for his feelings, but uses him anyway.

James continues chasing his sister, not holding back with his intentions. He wants to leave with her, and only her, when his plans considering the Company are executed. He sees the two of them as the future. Everyone else is just a servant to him, people he needs for certain tasks. He doesn't care that Zilpha is married. He wants to live with her in a free world.

Zilpha on the other hand continues to deny her feelings, and implies that she wants to be married to a man who treats her the way Thorne treats her, because she deserves it. But fact is that she longs for every letter or word of James and can't stop thinking about him. Maybe she has to deny her feelings because Thorne reads every one of her letters? Fact is Zilpha acts differently every time she is alone with James.

Frankly James has no clue what is going on in Zilpha's marriage. He thinks Zilpha controls Thorne and considers him a fool. He even pities Thorne as if he is the victim and not Zilpha.

James also implies that a lot of treachery is already surrounding the siblings and they shouldn't add more to it, like denying the truth. Yeah, like what? What had they done in the past as young as they were besides the incest? What dark secret destroyed their lives?

Zilpha says her husband is a Christian, but is she? She never says so.

James only welcomes Lorna in his house because she owns a trunk with his father's belongings, and he assumes the Nootka Sound Treaty could be in there.

James believes that a man is capable of change.

The speech Thorne gives about the sex life he and Zilpha supposed to have unhinges James. Obviously he either believes every word of it or he suffers because Thorne can do to Zilpha whatever he wants, and James can't do a thing about it. Well, he could. He just could kill him, but that would interfere with his plans and so he does nothing. Fact is he burns with jealousy and hate.

The worst is that not a word Thorne says is true. He and Zilpha have no such sex life. He beats and rapes her, and Zilpha gets no joy out of it. But James doesn't know that. His weakness here is his distrust in Zilpha, and his longing to be the one that give her a good time, which is typical male. Thorne provokes and hurts James on the lowest level and succeeds perfectly. He also creates doubt in James what will be one of the reasons for later events, because James only knows lies about Zilpha's marriage to Thorne. The lies Thorne and Zilpha feed him.

By far the worst is that Thorne, no matter that James and Zilpha were sexually involved, also talks about James' sister, meaning that he says things to James a husband should never say to the brother of his wife. Yes, James loves Zilpha like a lover, but she is still his blood, and also loves her like a brother.

The most interesting about the church scene is that it happens right after Thorne's verbal attack on James. Did the idiot tell Zilpha about it or did she find out some other way? Why did she summon James now, considering all the denial in her letters? Had she to show him that he is the only one and she belongs to him alone, always will, no matter what Thorne implies or what will happen in the future?
Why such a meeting in a church anyway if Zilpha had planned to kiss James? Or was that just in the spur of the moment? Kind of risky.
Well, she called on him, and he came right away. That does mean she has some control over him. That she straightens her skirt just like James remembered earlier is her rise to the challenge. His last words "Oh, but we will" sound rather like a threat than a promise.

James bathes in ash. In E5 Zilpha will have ash on her hands.

The inscription on Salish's gravestone implies she died 1795. James was 8 years old then.

The Crew of the Damned:
Atticus. Delivers guns to James. Brings him over the river to make the will.

Godfrey. Lives a double life as a transgender. Becomes James' spy because James blackmails him.

Lorna. The actress moves into James' home. She is used to get to James.

Bill. A French man.

Questions & Thoughts:
Dumbarton said he had James followed by one of his agents. Is that true or did the agent follow Zilpha for hidden reasons?

Dumbarton implies that CARLSBAD (a woman) saw James swaggering through town and she says that he might be crazy enough to take on the King, the Company and the Free Fifteen. How does she know so much about James? At this point of the story the two never met, right? Or did they?

How much does Brace know about Atticus and why did he call him a snake?

One of the meanings of the bird, the Sankofa, is It's not wrong to go back for which you have forgotten. Who put the tattoo of the Sankofa on James' back and why?

How did Salish die? Was she fatally ill, was she killed or did she kill herself?

Coop asks the right question: Why does James hate the East India Company so much? What did they do to him?

You leaving England was the click of the hypnotist's fingers. What does this saying mean or imply? It's a very strange choice of words.

Inspecting his ship James is being watched by an unknown man. Who is he and who did send him?

Who truly feeds Lorna all the information she has? The BEIC, Coop and the King, or the lawers?

Did Thorne read James' letters to Zilpha once again? Is that why he comes to James and provokes him? James mentioned the subject of 'ship insurance' in his letter, Thorne uses that pretence to start a conversation with James. Later Zilpha talks about the new china another subject James mentioned in his letter.

In which church do the siblings meet? The same church Horace's funeral was hold? Another church they know since childhood?

Taboo Episode Guide