Taboo - Episode 6

  • James:
    still mourns the loss of his mother, defends her name no matter what, thinks nothing of religion or patriotism, has a death wish
  • Zilpha:
    loves all sorts of flowers, likes to bathe, is finally done with Thorne's abuse, is as cold as James when she kills

James learns that his mother tried to drown him as a baby, and that is the reason why his father had her sent to Bedlam Insane Asylum. James denies that this can be true. Meanwhile a Mr. Chichester who investigates the sinking of an illegal slave ship is looking for James, but so do many others. James pursues his business with Dumbarton and delivers the gun powder that was demanded. He asks for save passage through the blockade of the Americans in return. Due to a betrayal James has to move the remaining and unstable powder from the farm to the Asylum. But the East Indian Company still get to him by blowing his ship up. The loss drives James to excessive drinking followed by a horrible awakening in the morning.

First Scene:
James walks partly into a pond. He looks around. He listens, sees the reflection of his mother in the surface of the water, and then makes his face and hair wet. Birds squawks, a woman laughs. He listens to the sound, looking around for any more signs. He puts more water over his head, and puts his face shortly under the water. He rises up again, then puts his face under water once more. A sudden strong force pulls him under the water. He struggles fiercely and sees the painted face of his mother. He struggles against her grip around his neck. He pulls free, rises his upper body over the water, and then staggers around. He looks confused and frightened.
The boy, Robert, was observing the strange spectacle from the shore. He turns around and runs away.
Soaking wet James walks back to the shore.

Second Scene:
Lorna comes to Zilpha's home. Thorne enters the room.
"I was calling on the Lady of the house," Lorna says.
Thorne sits down.
"If your wife is indisposed, I will leave."
"You thought the man of the house would be out attending business. I have no business."
"Is your wife indisposed?"
"Your visit is regarding Mr James Delaney, I presume:"
"Yes, I thought, Mrs Geary might know where he would be."
Thorne chuckles. "Why would my wife know where he is?"
"Well, she is his sister and I already tried his attorney."
Thorne stands up and comes closer. "You know, there are so many awful rumours flying around London about him. I heard one about an actress he keeps locked in his cellar - who enjoys the beatings..."
"I don't need to...," Lorna says and turns away. She tries to leave.
Thorne blocks the way out. "An actress...who enjoys walking with a man with human flesh in his teeth. You know, you can even buy a song about Delaney now. In Covent Garden, for a penny."
"I-I'll return when you're sober," Lorna says and tries to go around him.
He doesn't let her. "It's about a cannibal who plans to eat the Prince Regent. So it can only be about Delaney."
This moment Zilpha walks into the room seeing her husband and Lorna standing together. Her face is marked with purple bruises.
Lorna looks at Thorne. He leaves her side and crosses the room to sit back down.
Zilpha looks at Lorna. "Forgive me, I was... just dressing." She looks away.
"He's been gone two days..." Lorna says.
"And she thought you might know where he is, because you are his sister," Thorne continues.
Zilpha puts a bunch of wildflowers in a glass she had in her hands on a table. She walks to stand behind the winged chair Thorne is sitting in. "I'm afraid I have no idea where he is." She puts her hands on the top of the chair. She looks at Lorna.
"I was just telling her about the rhyme they all sing about him now," Thorne says.
"It's-" Zilpha starts, then closes her mouth shut.
Thorne waits then goes on. "Tis in Pall Mall there lives a pig That doth this Mall adorn So fat, so plump, so monstrous big A finer ne'er were born. Pig so sweet, so full of meat He's the one I wish to kill..." Thorne stops.
Lorna finishes the rhyme. "My fowls resign on thee to dine Sweet pig of fine Pall Mall."
Thorne grins. Zilpha looks at Lorna.
"They were singing that rhyme long before Mr. Delaney returned to London," Lorna says.
"Before Mr. Delaney returned to London," Thorne says. "Ah, yes. That golden age."
Lorna looks at Zilpha.
Zilpha looks back, pushing her chin forward.
"You want to know where he is?" Thorne says. "My dear, the whole of London wants to know where he is. His Majesty's Government want to know where he is."
"I'm afraid we can't help you," Zilpha says.
Thorne looks at her and puts a finger on her folded hands.
She winces by his touch. "Miss Bow, my husband and I would now like you to leave." She then puts her hands on his hand. Thorne looks satisfied.
Lorna watches their play shortly then she makes a face. "Of course. Perhaps you be so kind as to order me a carriage?"
Thorne opens his mouth but Zilpha beats him by the second. "No," she says, having a daring look on herself.
Lorna gives one last look of contempt to Thorne and leaves the house.
Zilpha frees her hands at once and leaves the room.

Third Scene:
Zilpha takes a bath.
Thorne bangs at the door. "Zilpha, open this door!"
Zilpha looks devastated.
Thorne keeps banging at the door. "Zilpha! Zilpha!"
Zilpha gets up slowly and enwraps herself in a black robe.
Thorne keeps banging at the door. "Zilpha, open this door now!"
Zilpha walks to the door. She takes her time.
Thorne keeps banging. "Zilpha!"
Zilpha unlocks the door. Thorne bursts in. "Australia! I swear it. I swear it." He reads the letter out loud. "A position in Sydney, Australia. Ports and Harbour assessor. And the jurisdiction of an assizes. And administration of felons through the docks."
Zilpha sits down on the edge of the bathtub. She looks shocked.
Thorne kneels at her feet and pulls her close. "Never lock your door or draw your robe against me again for I am an assessor!"
She struggles against his grip.
He doesn't let go. "I applied for the position three months ago. I didn't tell you." He kisses the skin under her collarbone.
She freezes.
"Here. Read it. Won't you?" He puts a hand on her neck. "Read."
She looks at him, incredulous.
"Come now, all is forgotten, all is forgotten." He strokes her hair. "How ridiculous it's all been. Duelling. And you and I fighting like children."
She turns her head and looks at him. "Australia is too far." She stands up. "Please leave. Let me finish here."
Thorne gets up, too. He looks deeply disappointed. He walks out and shuts the door.
Zilpha walks to the window and looks out.

Fourth Scene:
James grabs Robert by his coat and gets into his personal space. "I saw you... and you saw something at the pond. What did you see?" He grunts.
"Nothing," Robert says.
"Hm." James stares at him. "I strongly suggest you continue to see nothing."
Robert nods.
James let go of Robert's coat and puts the black scarf over Robert's mouth and nose to hide his face. He chuckles, gives Robert a quick pat and walks away.
Robert looks confused.

Fifth Scene:
Night. Zilpha's home. The bedroom. Thorne lies in bed and sleeps. Zilpha opens the drawer and takes a knitting needle out. She hears a voice talking to her. She also fetches a white cloth. Slowly she walks to the bed and gets on it. She lifts her skirt and puts one leg over Thorne's legs. She hovers over him. Thorne turns in his sleep. Zilpha freezes briefly then she continues. She pushes Thorne's shirt up and exposes the spot above his heart. She puts two fingers on the spot. She places the needle. Thorne wakes up. "Zilpha?" he says. Zilpha looks at him and pushes the needle fully into Thorne's heart. Thorne screams. Zilpha doesn't let go. Her expression is determined. She puts the cloth on the wound. Thorne grunts and stills. His mouth is hanging open.

Sixth Scene:
Night. The Delaney house. Someone bangs at the door. James comes down the stairs, a candle in his hand, wearing only a shirt. Through the glass he sees Zilpha standing in the heavy rain pouring down on her. He hesitates. She looks at him, showing the shadow of a smile. He walks to the door and opens it. Zilpha walks into the living room. He looks unhappy. Zilpha gets off her hat, coat and shoes, and stands in front of the fireplace, with her hair hanging down her back. The fire is almost out. James comes in and puts the candle on a table. She turns around, smiles, and runs to him, hugging him desperately. She exhales. He lets her have her way but doesn't hug her back. She sighs. He stands like frozen. Like that they remain for seconds.
Finally James says: "What have you done?"
Zilpha rubs her face against his. "I've killed him," she says. "Just like you said."
James frowns.
She kisses his cheek and turns away from him going back to the fireplace.
He remains frozen on the spot.
She turns back to him smiling wickedly.
"Where is the body?" he says.
"In the bedroom."
"Are you sure he's dead?"
"Quite... dead." She still smiles.
"Sit there," he says, and points at the sofa.
She obeys having a wicked expression on her face, though she sits down on the ground.
He walks to the fireplace and rekindles the fire.
She checks him out.
He tries to stomach the news. "In the bedroom?"
"Yes." She stands up, walks to the table, and pours herself a glass of brandy.
"When did I, um...?" he starts and stops.
She jerks her head around. "What?"
"Nothing." He sheds a few silent tears.
She drinks and walks back to the fireplace.
"You stay here." He stands up and walks to the door. "I will tell Brace to arrange a carriage. But the time you get home, the body will be gone."
"Home?" she echoes.
He stops and turns around. "Yes."
"You are sending me home?" she says, disbelieving.
"Of course...or you will hang."
She stares at him.
"I will get rid of the body. No-one will know." He leaves the room and climbs up the stairs.
"Of course," she says, with the shadow of a smile. She remains in front of the fireplace, looking lost.

Seventh Scene:
Dumbarton is lead to Thorne's body. He briefly checks Thorne's face, then throws an official cholera document on his chest. "For immediate burial," he tells the nun accompanying him. He leaves and the nun covers Thorne's face up again.

Eight Scene:
Zilpha's home. A maid dresses Zilpha for the upcoming funeral of Thorne. Zilpha looks without hope when she puts her black hat with the black veil on. The maid hands her the hatpin and leaves. Zilpha plunges the hatpin through the hat. Now she looks defiant.

Ninth Scene:
The graveyard. Two men dig a grave. James arrives with a bottle in his hand and talks to them. James continues to dig the grave for Thorne alone. The church is over. Zilpha, the priest, and the mourners walk out to the graveyard. Zilpha notices James digging a particularly deep grave for Thorne. She stares, perplexed. James stops and gets out of the grave. He takes the bottle and walks to the back of the graveyard. Zilpha approaches the grave and puts briefly a hand on her belly. She smirks and casts her eyes down. James watches the funeral.
"And to you, your church on Earth and in Heaven, we offer honour and glory, now and for ever. Amen," the priest finishes the ceremony. "Amen," repeat the mourners. The coffin is let down into the hole. All the mourners but Zilpha leave. James keeps watching her. It starts to rain. Zilpha remains on the spot. James, too. Finally she turns her head and looks at him. He looks back, clenching his jaw. She turns away and starts walking.

Tenth Scene:
The rain is still pouring down when James arrives on his horse at Zilpha's home. He gets off the horse and stomps up the stairs. He enters the bedroom without knocking. Zilpha jerks around, startled. She still wears her black dress and hat. James walks towards her. He stops. He stares. "Take that dress off," he says.
Zilpha looks intrigued but does not move.
"Take that fucking dress of now," James says, looking like he is on the edge of breaking apart.
Zilpha keeps looking at him, and she appears like smiling.

Eleventh Scene:
James and Zilpha are lying on the bed, naked. He is on top of her, and they are kissing each other. James is inside of her and she moans holding on to him. He and she both enjoy making love to each other very much.
But during the intercourse James starts to see visions of his mother touching his face as a grown man, then moving closer as if she wants to kiss him on the mouth. James stops penetrating Zilpha. He looks disturbed. Zilpha tries to hold him closer. James sees his mother kissing him as a baby, and then putting him under water. He starts to fight Zilpha's grip.
James is under water fighting the hands on his throat keeping him under.
Then we see Zilpha being strangled by James trying to get free of him. "James..."
He realizes what he's doing and let go of her. He looks confused and shocked. He gets off the bed. He sees visions of his mother in the water, screaming.
Zilpha is on her back, looking horrified.

Twelfth Scene:
James sits leaning against a wall in the Bedlam Insane Asylum, looking devastated. He is playing with a flint lighter in a room filled with barrels of gun powder.

Best Quote:
James: "Take that dress off. Take that fucking dress of now."

Best Dialogs:
James: "Where is the body?"
Zilpha: "In the bedroom."
James: "Are you sure he's dead?"
Zilpha: "Quite... dead."
James: "Sit there."

James: "I will get rid of the body. No-one will know."
Zilpha: "Of course."

Brace says that James is as bad as his father. James says that his father was mad and that he is scarcely a man to follow.

The Cornwallis sank on July 10th, 1804. That means James was only 17 years old at the time. Can this be true or is the timeline not reliable?

Briefly Zilpha is grateful to Lorna that she mentioned to know the degrading song before James had arrived in London, but then she changes her attitude towards Lorna, and doesn't call a carriage for her? Was that because she is jealous and envies Lorna for being able to live with James in the same house and talk to him?

Zilpha's bathroom is decorated with many colourful flowers. Is that a sign for that she is blooming, and shouldn't be underestimated?
Thorne threatens to take Zilpha to Australia. That's the straw that breaks the camel's back. A husband back then had all the power. He could beat, rape, abandon his wife, and even put her in an Asylum. Certainly he was enabled to take her along to wherever he wanted to go.
Never lock your door or draw your robe against me. The threat is clear. I do what I want with you until the end of day. I beat you up. I rape you. I take you away. I own you. She is like his slave. So, that's why Zilpha killed Thorne. I think I would have done the same in her position. I can't even imagine how life for a woman in those days must have been. A European woman in a Christian world.
"Australia is too far," she says. Too far from what? James? Robert? London? A secret she hasn't yet revealed? Whatever it is, that is the reason why she made her decision to kill Thorne. She can't allow him to take her away from here. She has to kill him. She has to stay here.
Thorne is the typical male abuser. He beats you up, and afterwards he says: Come now, all is forgotten. You and I fighting like children. Are you fucking kidding? You are taller and stronger than her. You raped her. You beat her up. You tight her up and let a priest abuse her. You bastard. You made her life a living hell. No, nothing is forgotten, no, that wasn't a children's playtime.

Both James and Zilpha likes to clean themselves frequently by bathing or plunging into water.

The way James puts the scarf over Robert's mouth and nose was almost gentle. He even chuckles. He is definitely fond of Robert and the way he stands his ground. That's my boy.
Dressed like that Robert looks like a miniature edition of James.

Robert pretends to be dead to distract the soldiers. That's a thing James would do and already did tricking one of his attackers. So, is pretending to be dead a Delaney thing?

When Lorna complains to James that she thought he might have left for good he mocks her "And would that be good?". He simply doesn't care that everyone is looking for him and that his life is in danger. He just wants to know: "What did my sister say?"
Well. Lorna is honestly concerned for James and she obviously likes him. James is slightly touched by her concern, but all he cares about is what his sister said. He must be damn curious considering he didn't know a thing that happened to her since the disaster at the ball.
The most interesting question is: Did Lorna tell him about Zilpha's beaten face or not? I think not, because James didn't do a thing to save her or get her away from Thorne.
If Lorna said nothing is it because of jealousy or defiance? If Lorna told James what had happened at the Geary home why did James nothing to help his sister? Revenge? Jealousy? Defiance? Or because he couldn't let Zilpha's fate interfere with his cause to destroy the BIEC?

When Zilpha runs to James after the murder of Thorne she does that because she thinks she is safe there. She also believes she can stay here with him, plus the way she looks at him tells she hopes for more than comfort. She doesn't even realize that she is in danger to be prosecuted for her crime until James mentions it. That ignorance can be caused by lunacy or simple shock. Besides that she is full of glee that she had killed Thorne. No wonder after all the things he'd done to her.
James on the other hand keeps in control. He doesn't touch Zilpha, no, because if he touches her now, not having taken her in over ten years, he could lose that control and he has to get rid of Thorne's body first. He can't risk hours of passion. Not now. He is shocked about Zilpha's crime, but remember, he didn't know what had happened to her, because she always lied to him. Just now he sees the marks in her face.
What he knows is that he didn't talk to her or tell her to kill Thorne. He thinks she is mad, but he loves her anyway, and cries in front of the fireplace.
Fact he was insinuating he was coming to her and talking to her before, what she often denied, and now that she refers to that, he can't say: No, I never did that. That would be cruel.
Well, she is a victim who killed her abuser, but 200 years ago nobody cared for such a thing. A wife was owned by her husband. He could rape her, beat her, and much more and no law would convict him for the horror he put her through, but her for killing him. It's sickening.
Yes, in a way James behaves coldly, but he has to, to protect both of them.
Yes, Zilpha is grateful, but she expected more coming here, and is kind of disappointed.

At the funeral. The second Zilpha puts a protective hand over her belly I was thinking: Are you pregnant? Dear God, no. Not now! Then she smiles wickedly. If she does that because of James who digs a deeper grave for Thorne to protect her or because she's expecting a child is uncertain.

Zilpha and James talk to each other without words, but that is their way, isn't it? He showed his love, and she accepts the gesture and invites him to follow her home with just one look.

In the bedroom. James looks like he's the man, but he is not. He is on the verge of bursting (twitching eye, unshed tears, clenched jaw), and Zilpha is the one who calls the shots. He appears to order her around, but she remains calm and looks not threatened in any way, just intrigued by his emotional outburst.
Where are the servants? Are they out? Do they know James is here? Do they notice what is happening? Do they care? Do they think: Whatever! Thorne was a piece of shit treating us like shit. Do they take care of the poor horse standing in the rain?

Making love James is on top, but Zilpha holds him close by grabbing his head, dictating the rhythm. I think she is the only one who is allowed to come this close to this man without being hurt or killed.
Zilpha's ring changed place from the right hand to the left hand, meaning to be connected to the heart by a vein; signifying to the world that she has a “claim to his heart”.
James wears his ring on the left pinkie. During the Victorian era, both single men and women uninterested in pursuing marriage could wear a ring on the little finger of their left hand. Wedding bands, always a gift from wife to husband, were usually worn by Western men on the left hand pinkie finger.

James playing with the flintstone near the barrels with gun powder is a distinct sign of a death wish. The union with Zilpha which should have been the high point was a disaster. James is crashed, and doesn't care about anything right now. He doesn't know what to do. The one human being he wanted the most is not only a threat to him but in danger to get killed by him. Right. Let's drink a lot of brandy.

Random facts: James didn't ejaculate. Is that one of the reasons why he behaves so violent and self-destructive in the aftermath?

The Crew of the Damned:
Atticus. Helps James to deliver the gunpowder to Dumbarton. He notices what Robert does to save the men from getting arrested. Helps James to move the remaining and unstable powder from the farm to the Asylum. Listens to James complaining about the loss of his ship. Watches James kill the man who didn't guard the ship like he should have, the same man whose thumb he once cut off. Is frightened of James and fears James might kill him, too. Is unsure if James is crazy or can do witchcraft.

Godfrey. At a meeting of the BEIC he hears that Ibbotson has betrayed James. Soldiers are send out to arrest everyone on the farm. He runs to James' house and warns him. Later James threatens him and holds knife to his throat because Godfrey didn't tell him about the plan to destroy his ship. Godfrey swears he didn't know. James leaves. Godfrey is in tears.

Lorna. Is worried for James because he didn't come home for two days. Visits Zilpha but is confronted by Thorne. Complains to James because of his lack of empathy after he is back. Says that she visited his sister.

Bill. Helps James to move the remaining and unstable powder from the farm to the Asylum.

Pearl. Tells Helga that the devil is here, by that she means James. Watches James drink too much and losing it.

Cholmondeley. Trains his new helpers. Calls Robert by his name. Helps James to deliver the gunpowder to Dumbarton. Has to handle Ibbotson's cut off tongue which James puts into his hands. Helps James to move the remaining and unstable powder from the farm to the Asylum.

Robert. Is called by his name. Watches James behaving strange in the pond. Keeps doing his job for Mr. Cholmondeley. Is questioned by James and gives the right answer. Saves the men from getting arrested by lying down in a coffin pretending to have died from Cholera. Oddly enough neither James nor Cholmondeley do notice that, just Atticus. Helps James to move the remaining and unstable powder from the farm to the Asylum.

Questions & Thoughts:
Who was the appearance hovering behind Ibbotson? Was that a premonition of his death or only his superstitious fears? What ghost was it?

Is the church where the secret meeting with Dumbarton takes place the same church James and Zilpha had their secret meeting?

Did James kill Ibbotson for his betrayal or to cover up the secret of Robert? And when had he time for that? Killing the man and putting him into the confessional? Time was precious, because the soldiers were on their way, wasn't it?

So, is Zilpha pregnant, or not?

What did the visions of James' mother during having sex with Zilpha mean? Was it a warning? A memory from the past? A premonition of the future? The guilt James was feeling on some unconscious level?

So, was the betrayal of the man whose thumb James cut off a premonition James had, or just damn good intuition?

Why does James look ashamed when Winter sees him drunk and raging like a lunatic at the brothel? Why did he leave immediately? Why does he care about Winter's opinion of him? Why does he look like he is going to cry? The only ones James sheds tears for are family.

Why does James having visions of his mother during the time Winter was killed? Was that a warning? Was that a mourning gesture?

Taboo Episode Guide