Taboo - Episode 5

  • James:
    is not the best shot, hates his father very much, appears unable to forgive him
  • Zilpha:
    suffers through constant abuse, yearns for James, starts to fight back

The duel between James and Thorne is void due to the interference of a third party. James appears unaffected by the event and returns to pursue his business, while soldiers search everywhere for the stolen saltpetre. James keeps visiting Cholmondeley to learn about the progress in the gun powder making. He is attacked once more and injures the assassin severely but doesn't kill him. He then either threatens people who work for him if they betray him or promises them diamonds for their loyal service. He also learns that the American Dumbarton knows about the farm and the gunpowder, and that's why James is forced to make a deal with him.

First Scene:
Early Morning. Somewhere at the river. Two men row James and Thorne each in a boat to a small isle. A group of people stay behind on the shore watching them. Lorna doesn't want to stay behind and searches for a shallow spot, and then walks through the river. Thorne looks as he had sobered up. James walks up to the men gathering on the isle. "Good Morning," he says. Nobody responds to the greeting.
The Code Duello says: "The Gypsy woman owns this island between two parishes. It is tradition she offers duellists a little token of good luck. Three shillings each for heather and goose feathers."
"This is not a fairground," Thoyt interrupts.
The Code Duello makes a face and puts his hat on. "Gentleman, a slight has been perceived and one of you seeks satisfaction. Which?"
Thorne raises his hand. "Here is my pistol for inspection." He gives the pistol to the Code Duello. "This is my second, Mr. Hope of Trinity Lane." Mr. Hope bows.
The Code Duello turns to James. "May I see your pistol?"
James hands it over.
"Can we please get on with it? This fog is pestilential," Thoyt complains.
The Code Duello gives the pistols back to James and Thorne. "Where is your second?" he asks James.
"I don't have one," James says.
"The code requires you have a second."
"I don't have one."
"Let's just say this woman is yours and she is late."
James turns around and sees Lorna walking out of the river, being all wet. He turns back showing no sign of any emotion.
"Could you not find a boat like a normal person?" Thoyt snubs Lorna.
"I was bored and I've never seen a man shot before," she replies.
Thorne looks even more pissed due to her arrival.
"Why don't you go and stand over there by the fire to keep warm?" James says.
Lorna does as he says. Thorne takes his jacket off.
"Duellists, stand apart with the attorney between you," Thoyt says. "No lack of faith in either party, but I need payment in advance."
"On my instruction, the duellists will take up position at the points." The Code Duello drives two swords into the ground. "Anyone firing á l'outrance will be fair game to be shot. You will duel to first blood."
"To the death!" Thorne corrects him.
"To first blood," the Code Duello insists. "According to the Irish code of 1777, anyone wounded will be tended by the doctor."
"And no second shot will be fired by either gun," the doctor says.
Thorne hands his jacket over to Mr. Hope and takes his pistol from him.
James gets his coat and hat off.
"Gentleman, take up your positions," the Code Duello says. "The aggrieved party, at the nearest point."
James and Thorne walk to the locations with the swords.
Mr. Hope watches, tense.
The Code Duello holds a handkerchief. "When I drop this handkerchief you will walk towards each other. And at a time of your choosing, there will be a polite exchange of bullets." He does as he says.
James and Thorne start walking towards each other. Thornes shoots and hits James right above his heart. Lorna gasps. James looks at the spot which is not bleeding. He brushes the powder off.
"Dear God, have mercy on my soul," Thorne whispers.
James walks towards him and stops right in front of him. He points his pistol at Thorne's head.
Thorne trembles awaiting his death.
"Satisfied?" James grunts.
Thorne slightly nods.
"My apologies," James says. "That was an excellent shot. I can only assume that your second is a Company Man. Since he failed to load a ball in your pistol."
Mr. Hope turns around and runs.
James points his pistol at him and shoots him in the back.
Mr. Hope falls to the ground.
"Dear God!" the doctor says and rushes over to him.
"I would appear that my life is more precious than yours," James says to Thorne. "Good Day." He turns away and leaves.
Thorne keeps standing on his spot and coughs.

Second Scene:
Zilpha's home. The living room. She kneels in front of the fireplace, using the poker, making her hands dirty. She hears footsteps approaching. She turns her head, face marked with hope. She stands up, looking through the window. She wears a black dress, and earrings plus a necklace with orange pearls.
Outside Thorne is approaching.
Zilpha stands frozen on the spot, and gasps. She puts her hands together. Her expression is a mixture of anxiety, fear, and the realisation that something is not right.
Thorne comes inside. Zilpha forces a smile than she goes to him and hugs him. Thorne doesn't hug her back. "You have ash on your hands," he complains and wriggles out of her embrace. "Where is the maid?"
"I sent her out."
Thorne takes the bottle and drinks from it.
Zilpha watches, concerned.
"For champagne?" he says. "Or potatoes?" He turns around to look at her. "Or both?" He walks to an armchair and sits down.
She looks half mad. Her eyes are bulging. "So how did it resolve itself?" she chokes out. "Did you both see sense?"
"No, I shot him. Between the eyes. And a host of devils flew out from the hole in his head and down the river."
She forces herself to stay calm.
He watches her closely. "In that event, it would be potatoes, wouldn't it?" he says, the shadow of a smirk on his face. "Simple sustenance. Life goes on."
She doesn't reply.
He snorts and drinks from the bottle.
"Before you drink any more, could you tell me what happened?"
"But in the event... of a messenger coming to tell you that he had killed me, well, champagne! All the wild possibilities."
She doesn't reply but turns away from him.
"In truth, neither is the case."
She sits down in a second armchair facing him.
"It was void."
He looks at her. "Go and wash your hands. No need for any more questions."
She looks briefly at her hands.
"Not when half of London will be retelling the story anyway."
"So I shall hear through gossip?"
"As I hear about you?" he says.

Third Scene:
James is in the woods where he practices a ritual. He sees a painted man in the water. He hears an explosion. He rides to the farm.
"What the hell are you doing here, at whatever the hell time of night it is?" Cholmondeley says.
"I thought I heard an explosion."
"No. All is well."
"Be careful." James stares at him.
"Making gunpowder and being careful are good bedfellows."
James jerks his head around to stare at Robert. "What?" he snaps. "What do you see?"
Robert looks uncomfortable.
"He's just scared of you," Cholmondeley says. "Everybody's scared of you. Thankfully."
Robert returns James' stare. James looks affected.
"Did you find out how much the Company are offering as reward," Cholmondeley says.
James returns his attention to him. "Work faster." He walks out.
"Steady as we go," Cholmondeley advises Robert.
Robert does as he says.
"Good boy."

Fourth Scene:
James burns all the letters, pictures and paintings in his father's trunk except for the Nootka Treaty. He cries silent tears during this. Lorna is devastated about his actions.

Fifth Scene:
James returns to the farm to tell Cholmondeley about Dumbarton's request and the French Experiment. Cholmondeley warns him about the French Experiment because the progress is faster but very, very dangerous. James as usual won't listen to reason. He threatens Cholmondeley to do it or they will all hang.
"You'd risk the life of your son for chlorate?" Cholmondeley whispers. "He is, isn't he?"
Robert is sleeping in a corner.
"Mm-hm," James snarls. "They have your name, Mr. Cholmondeley. They have your name, and you will be first on the list of their conspirators."
"How do they know so much?"
"Hm." James shakes his head. "Get the chlorate. Yes? I will get you men." He turns around and leaves.
Robert is still sleeping.

Sixth Scene:
Night. Zilpha's bedroom. She is lying on the bed with no blanket covering her.
Thorne enters the room and approaches the bed.
"James," Zilpha moans. She breathes heavily.
Thorne stares down on her.
Zilpha opens her eyes and looks at him.
"You said his name!" he bursts out. "In your sleep. You said his name." He leans down to her. He grabs her by the throat. "YOU said his name! Get him out. I want him out. Out! Get him out! Out!"
She spits in his face.
"That's right, good girl. Spit him out. Spit, spit, spit him out..."
She spits at him again.
He slaps her hard.
She grunts. She hits back, then looks scared.
He grabs her legs.
"No, no! No!" She screams.
He pulls her off the bed onto the ground.
She tries to defend herself. "No, no, no!"
Thorns hits her.
"Ah!" She screams.
He hits her again. He grabs her by the arms and pulls her up and leans her against the bed. He pants and presses his head against hers. "You need a priest, my dear." His kisses her forehead.
She grunts.

Seventh Scene:
Night. Zilpha walks through the house. Her face shows the marks of Thorne's beating.
Thorne approaches her. "Zilpha. My love. My love." He grabs her arm and hinders her from going upstairs. "This is a holy man of God," he says.
Zilpha turns around and sees a second man in the house.
"He's practised in removing and discouraging demons," Thorne continues.
"Your husband reports a Barbason has been visiting you," the man says. "There is a ceremony of exorcism which can eradicate the Barbason. It's a very short process. And quite inexpensive."
Zilpha stares at him.
"I told the priest how he visits you," Thorne says.
Zilpha turns around and looks at him. "No."
"He visits you," Thorne insists.
"No, no...No! Don't touch me." Zilpha tries to go around him.
He grabs her and pushes her against a door. "Will you at least acknowledge that...?"
"Got to hell!" Zilpha tries to fight him off.
"Goodness. A slight thing she is, but fearful!" the priest says.
Zilpha screams and fights against Thorne's grip.
"Yes, I see it. I see it," the priest says. "Is there somewhere we can pin her down?"
"Stop! Stop!" Thorne says to Zilpha.
She screams.

Eight Scene:
Zilpha's hands and feet are tied to the ground. She screams in agony.
"Exi ergo, transgressor," the priest says. "Exi, seductor..." He sits down on Zilpha's body and lays his hands on her breasts. Zilpha screams, then spits at the priest.
"...Christo, in quo nihil invenisti de operibus tius: qui te spoliavit, qui regnum tuum destruxit, qui te victum ligavit, et vasa tua diripuit", he says, and keeps touching her intimately.
Zilpha writhes in disgust and keeps screaming.
Thorne watches them.
Zilpha sobs.
"You see these blemishes?" the priest says. "It is the evil coming to the surface." The priest stands up.
"It's almost done, my love," Thorne says.
"Exi ergo, transgressor," the priest goes on. "Exi, seductor...persecutor. Da locum, dirissime, da locum...In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti." He trickles holy water on Zilpha. "Amen."
Zilpha has stopped moving and screaming.
"Amen," Thorne repeats.
The priest turns to leave.
"Can we untie her now?" Thorne says.
"Leave her a few moments. Let her reflect... and recover." The priest leaves the room.
Thorne follows.

Ninth Scene:
Thorne unties Zilpha. He walks to the door, then turns around. "Will you come to bed?"
"Yes, of course," Zilpha says. "I'll be up in just a moment."
Thorne goes upstairs. With trouble Zilpha sits up. She looks defeated.
In the bedroom. Voice-over: Zilpha: 'Teach me.' She opens a drawer. Voice-over: Zilpha: 'Guide me'. She pulls a knitting needle out and looks at it.
Thorne wakes up and watches her. "Zilpha?"
Zilpha puts the needle back and closes the drawer.

Best Quotes:
James: "This is the Delaney household. We have no warmth here."

James: "The oil in the paint is burning very nicely, thank you."

Best Dialog:
Cholmondeley: "You'd risk the life of your son for chlorate? He is, isn't he?"
James: "Mm-hm."

No matter he could die James faces Thorne in the duel. He needs to protect Zilpha's honour. He needs to protect his sister. I don't think he cares what people say about him, because he never cares what people say about him, but he cares what people say about her. Zilpha's James' priority right now, and not the destruction of the BEIC.
That James didn't kill Thorne makes Zilpha's life a bloody misery. Well, he didn't know that Thorne beats and rapes her, because she lied that she is happily married. After the ball James thinks it's his fault Zilpha and Thorne fight and he has to fix that. He lets Thorne live so he can go home to Zilpha. He thinks he does the right thing having deceptive informations.

The name of the Second James shoots is Mr. Hope. Well, that's foreshadowing. Instead of Thorne he kills all hope to save his sister and sail along with her.

What did Zilpha burn in the fireplace? James' letters? The last proof of their forbidden love? Why didn't she get rid of them before? Was she too attached to them despite of what she said? Didn't she have the heart to get rid of them before? Like her brother she has the hands full of ash.

James swallows a whole egg at once. The egg is the symbol of the soul. Lorna throws her egg away. Winter calls him the devil.

Zilpha's feelings are hard to read. Is she relieved that Thorne is coming back alive or not? Did she wish James dead so she can be free of him and her obsession? Does she just know or feel that James isn't dead? (The same sensation her brother claims to have later.) Is she only curious about what had happened? Was she sure James would kill Thorne and is kind of surprised by the outcome? What does she really feel or want? James dead or alive? Does she know herself? Does she have premonitions, too?

After the ball James only wounds an assassin but didn't kill him.

Brace is not happy that the trunk is back. "I thought he'd burned that damned trunk on the foreshore along with everything else. It would float. Slip it into the ebb tide and let the river take it. Or it could burn." He knows what is inside. The truth. If it was up to him he'd burn it. Less chance the river might bring it back.

Cholmondeley makes James realise that Lorna is a beautiful woman. James doesn't say Lorna belongs to him but he forbids Cholmondeley to call on her. If it is due to moral or personal reasons is unclear.

Why does James tell Robert everything about the robbery and the making of gunpowder? Why does he want Robert to become a part in the Crew of the Damned? Is it because Robert was a witness as James killed a man? Is it because he wants to keep Robert close to protect him? Is this kindness or a threat? Does he want Robert to die doing the very dangerous work? Seriously? What does James want to happen to Robert?

James says he heard an explosion. Was he concerned for the powder or Robert? Cholmondeley on the other hand thinks that James had a premonition of the future.

There is a scene change from the sleeping Robert to the sleeping Zilpha. Well, nothing in film making is coincidence. This was on purpose and a message to the viewer. Robert is Zilpha's son.

There is a strong possibility that Zilpha is not possessed by James. She is just a woman thinking about the man she loves and wants. She gets aroused and treats herself. Quite normal. But not for many men at this time, of course, A woman having and acting out on sexual feelings was in the eyes of the church possessed by a demon. She was considered evil.

The Crew of the Damned:
Atticus. Takes money from James. Watches as James cuts off the thumb of a man. Looks at the body of a Company man. Tells Winter to say it was the work of the devil Delaney.

Godfrey. Listens while Stuart Strange rages on about James.

Lorna. Crosses a river to witness the duel between James and Thorne. Admits that she doesn't want James to die. Brings the trunk of Horace Delaney's belongings to the house. She read all the letters Horace wrote to James. She learns from James that Horace bought his first wife for gunpowder and lies, and that he had her sent to Bedlam Insane Asylum.
"Have you never bought a soul for beads?" she says and leaves.

Bill. Watches as James cuts off the thumb of a man. Saves the girl Pearl from being killed by a Company Man. The man is found dead shortly after.

Pearl. Listens with the other whores to James' offer. Either they get their thumbs cut off or diamonds as a price for their loyalty to him. Later a man of the BEIC puts a knife to her throat after fucking her and threatens to kill her if she doesn't talk. Winter and Bill save her.

Cholmondeley. Makes gunpowder. Recites Shakespeare. Tells James about having intentions towards Lorna. She is amongst the small group of women he would masturbate over. Warns James about the use of chlorate. Says that he knows that Robert is James' son.

Robert. Is hired by James to be Cholmondeley's assistant in making gunpowder. James doesn't say it but he cares for him.

Questions & Thoughts:
Was the explosion James heard in the woods a premonition of the exploding ship? Does James have premonitions of the future? Is that the talent why he thought he was mad when leaving England? Does Robert have premonitions, too? Is that what James means when he says to the boy: "What do you see?" Is he concerned that Robert had inherited his talent? Or is James hurt that Robert is scared of him? His son - scared of him.

When James cuts the man's thumb off, saying he is the one who will betray him, he doesn't need magic. The man is the one man in the room who doesn't look at James when he's talking about betrayal. So, no magic, just damn good perception about humans in general. James is not in anyone's head, he's just paying attention. The Mentalist! Duh!
Of course it's also possible James had another premonition.

The reaction of the countess on the day James visited her on business is curious.
"I will have your gunpowder in eight days," James says.
"Powder?" she says.
"Yes. Dumbarton said the need was very urgent."
"Then it must indeed be urgent," she says, playing along.
"Hm. If your business is not gunpowder, what is it?"
"My business is the deal."
Considering that she is supposed to be CARLSBAD she knows not much about what is going on. So is she, really? Or just a decoy, like I already mentioned before and the true CARLSBAD is still in hiding.
The Countess wears a black dress with golden ornaments similar to the one Zilpha wears at the ball.

Why did James kiss the letter Cholmondeley sent to Lorna? Why is he concerned that Cholmondeley makes advances towards Lorna? Does he feel like a friend, son in law, family member or is it romantic? Lorna on the other hand teases James of having feelings for Cholmondeley himself. What are her feelings? Friend, mother in law, or romantic?

Did Zilpha know the priest? Have they met before? Was he the priest who had been to a missionary in Africa, the one she went to confess to in the past, the one the doctor took her to?

Is Zilpha a victim or does she put up a show for society to make an easier escape later? Does she rile up Thorne on purpose, for example saying James' name after Thorne had entered the bedroom, which is not very clever.

What was in the trunk that made Brace worry so much and James cry? The big dark family secret? Does Lorna know, too, after she had read all the letters Horace had written to James?

Does Zilpha ever say the given name of her husband? I don't think so. On the contrary she says James' name all the time.

How do the Americans know so much? Who or what is their source?

Taboo Episode Guide