Taboo - Episode 7

  • James:
    travelled to the Volta as a slave, dealt with slaves, stole diamonds, learns that his father was poisoned by a friend
  • Zilpha:
    is dismissed by James, but receives a second diamond to get on with her life

A cruel tragedy devastates James and puts him into a difficult position. He makes a deal with Mr. Chichester to bring Stuart Strange and the BEIC down. He is promised a full pardon in return. After that James cuts off ties to protect the people he loves, because one of his allies whistle-blows some of his secrets to the BEIC. James gets arrested and thrown into the tower where he suffers extreme torture, asking for a meeting with Sir Stuart Strange alone.

First Scene:
Robert brings a tray with a bottle and food up to James' room.
James is sitting at the table, thinking over a bunch of letters ready to be dispatched.
Robert knocks at the door.
"In!" James grunts.
Robert enters the room.
James stares at him.
Robert tiptoes to the table and puts the tray down. He looks slightly intimidated.
James keeps staring at him.
Robert turns around, ready to leave.
"Ah-ha," James grunts.
Robert turns back to face him.
With a wave of his hand James beckoned him to come back.
Robert does come back and stops in front of James.
"I have a use for you," James says. He fetches a key and holds it in front of Robert. The second the boy tries to grab it James pulls his hand with the key out of reach. He plays this silly game two or three times. Robert plays along. In the end James stops and let Robert get hold of the key, though he keeps holding onto it. "For the safe," he says. "Mm-hm?"
Robert nods and there is a slight smile on his face.
James let go of the key. He waves his hand then. "Go."
Robert looks confused, but turns around and leaves.
James keeps watching him briefly, then he blinks and looks away.

Second Scene:
Zilpha's home. Zilpha lies in the bathtub, absorbed in thought. She hears voices whispering. She submerges under the water.

Third Scene:
The harbour. Zilpha walks over wooden bridge. She is dressed in black. She stops because she notices James' destroyed ship. She looks shocked. She quickens her path.

Fourth Scene:
The Delaney office. James has just arrived and takes his coat off. Zilpha enters the room and walks towards James. He sees her but doesn't say a word. She turns her head and looks out the window. "Do you know who blew up your ship?" she says.
James, having his back to her, doesn't reply.
She comes down the steps, looking puzzled.
He turns around and offers her a cup of coffee.
She shakes her head, smiles, and sits down.
James sits down opposite to her. He drinks from the cup of coffee.
"I've been thinking a lot about what happened and... and I think we were right." She looks at him.
He doesn't look at her, swallows, and clenches his jaw.
"There wasn't the time for such..." She pauses and closes briefly her eyes, as if she memorizes their intimacy. "And we have plenty of time."
"No. No, we don't," James says, and now he looks at her, eyes burning with despair.
Zilpha looks a bit unsettled by his refusal. "When you first came back, you told me you loved me."
He looks like he tries to memorize such an unthinkable thing, controlling his feelings.
"I would never have thought..."
"But you don't think... Do you?!" James interrupts her.
She continues to examine him closely. "I know you. I know your nature. I know you."
"No," he denies harshly. "I believed once that we were the same person."
They stare at each other.
"We are," she says.
"We are not."
"We are."
"Not anymore." He blinks, and breaks the eye contact. "Perhaps you should thank your God for that." He looks at her again.
"No." She is on the brink of tears. "No, James. No. No, you can't do this. Not now."
He stares at her.
She casts her eyes done.
"It is done." James stands up.
James walks to the back of the room to get something. He comes back and lays a diamond on the table. "For your widowhood."
Zilpha gasps, and then whimpers. She struggles not to cry.
He forces himself to look away. "Now... I have work to do so please, excuse me."
Zilpha keeps struggling, and finally she gets her control back. She sighs, and a strange expression appears on her face.

Fifth Scene:
During being poisoned James has visions of the slave ship, himself walking through the jungle, a skeleton in a cage, himself hung with handcuffs from a tree, the African, a slave, Zilpha floating under water, eels, coins on his father's eyes, his mother's eyes, eels, a raven landing on a hand, the branding of the sankofa sign into flesh, a woman screaming, the African, the attack on him, being stitched up, his mother under water, Zilpha in the jungle, looking frightened, Thorne on top of her, pulling off his mask, two skulls flooding with maggots, the American flag floating under water.

Best Quote:
Zilpha: "I know you. I know your nature. I know you."

Best Dialog:
James: "I believed once that we were the same person."
Zilpha: "We are."
James: "We are not."
Zilpha: "We are."
James: "Not anymore."

Brace calls Robert a bastard. Does he know who Robert is, or is he just throwing insults around, being his usual cranky?
Why does James let Robert come to his house right now anyway? Does he fear something could happen to the boy as it happened to Winter?
Brace also confesses to the murder of Horace, but says he did it out of mercy. Horace was going mad and had nothing left to live for. Really? What about Zilpha? Was she nobody, because she was only a daughter, and no son, or wasn't she Horace's daughter after all? Apparently James had known about Brace's crime all along and doesn't do anything to punish him.

James denies he is mourning about Winter. Well, he denies that he is mourning at all, isn't he? He denies to have feelings for anyone but his sister, and that's complicated, too. He only cares about the cause and he prefers to drink until he forgets who he is. He is so drunk he isn't even sure if Chichester is a spirit like the others that visit him, or not.

The slave ship sank in July 1804. James was supposed to be 19 years old.

"I have a use for you," James says to Robert. I'm not sure if this means something good considering that James never says this to people he really cares about, like Zilpha. But he way he treats Robert in his home is playful and gentle. He likes the boy, but he appears to be sad about the missed opportunities, like seeing Robert grow up; and what will happen to him if someone finds out who Robert's parents are. It's obvious that James is the father, and Zilpha is the mother.

James calls Lorna Mrs. Delaney, which means he accepts her marriage to his father and that she is a part of the family now.

When Winter's mother Helga shoots twice at him James doesn't even blink. He would accepted to die by her hand to make it up to her. She fails, though. He just picks up his hat and walks on. Man, that guy is truly dead inside.

When James says 'You never think' to Zilpha it is an accusation. What had Zilpha done in the past to deserve such contempt?
When James breaks up with Zilpha he says they are not the same anymore. This is not meant as an insult to Zilpha but to himself. He is beyond redemption, too far into evil, but Zilpha is not and he doesn't want her to become the same person as he is. His fate is done. He can't change that. While getting rid of Thorne's body he must have noticed the way Zilpha had killed him. She stabbed right into his heart that is similar to the way James kills his enemies. So, he thinks Zilpha got on the same path as he once did, a path that can only lead to destruction and damnation, and he doesn't want that to happen to Zilpha. He is frightened to drag her down with him. He doesn't want her to become the same person as he is now. He truly loves her and that is why he broke with her and sent her away. He wants his sister to be with him, but he also wants her safe and sound and far away from the evil that is surrounding him.
When Zilpha says, no, you can't do this, not now, what does she mean by that? Now, after he had fucked her, now that she is pregnant, now that she is alone, or now that she had figured out what she really wants in life? James looks puzzled, but doesn't ask what her words imply.
When Zilpha starts crying, James gets up, and then after he put the diamond on the table he turns his head away as if he fears if he looks at her he'd cave in and take her into his arms. She turns her head away, too, ashamed of showing her weakness, her forbidden love for him, swallowing her tears. Quickly she gets a grip on herself, and then she shows a strange expression. Something like: I should have known. Okay. Fine. Be like that. Have it your way. I will show you. You will regret this.
That is the second diamond James gives to Zilpha. He wants to be sure she has enough money to live comfortable. But did she take it? We don't know. We are never shown that scene. So, it's not certain.
I hate James for doing this to Zilpha, even if I understand his reasons. Still, I hurt watching this, over and over again.

When James says to Atticus: "The lioness will fiercely protect her cubs, regardless of the consequences. Even if that means her certain death", it is possible he doesn't talk about just Helga and Winter, but about his mother, too. What did she do to protect her children, and why and how were they threatened?

James knows that he will be arrested and still doesn't flee or do something to prevent it, meaning that this was his plan all along.

The law says that every relative of a person guilty of high treason against the King is a traitor, too, stripped of every right or tenures. That means Zilpha would get nothing even if James dies. Maybe that's why he gave her two diamonds. He must have known that. He couldn't be sure to survive the tower and the torture. He needed to be sure she is financially secured.

The visions James is having while being tortured are a puzzle. Are they of the past, the future or both together? The man in the African mask who fucks Zilpha is revealed to be Thorne. Does that mean Thorne was wearing a mask, and James didn't realize that on a conscious level? Is the jungle he is walking through real or just a symbolic place of James' mind? The two skulls squirming with maggots are not a good sign that is certain. But what about the eels, the water and Zilpha looking scared? Is this foreshadowing the fate she will suffer, or does it mean more?

One thing is certain. Zilpha loves James, and James loves Zilpha, no matter what they did to each other in the past or how much they have suffered, or whatever will happen in the future.

The Crew of the Damned:
Atticus. Attends Winter's funeral. Helps Helga to deliver her child to the river. Tells Helga that it is not certain that James is the one who killed Winter. Meets with James at the Asylum to check out the powder. He then tries to make James do something against Helga before she betrays them, but James forbid him to ever harm Helga. She was harmed enough.

Godfrey. Is a witness to Helga's and Pearl's statement about James' crimes against the crown. Runs to James' house. Robert opens the door for him. Is send to the woods where he tells James the terrible news. Gives James the address of the safe house. Rides with him back to town where James introduces him to Mr. Chichester. Godfrey's Christian name is Michael. He was a clerk for 12 years and James and Chichester ask him to make a testimony against the BEIC. Godfrey doesn't want to, but James persuades him. Godfrey then packs his things and leaves to go into hiding. He is dressed like a woman when he is picked up by Atticus' brother in law.

Lorna. Takes over Robert at his arrival at the Delaney household. Refuses entry to Cholmondeley. Walks to the beach and watches Winter's funeral and tries to comfort James. She says she knows he didn't kill Winter. James ridicules her comfort and her trust in him. She tells him that Robert has arrived at his house. Talks to a little boy who was Winter's friend. Tries to make dinner. Learns from the little boy Temple that he was a witness as two men from the BIEC killed Winter, and from Brace that he killed Horace with arsenic, and that James was taken to the tower.

Bill. X

Pearl. Makes on Helga's behalf a statement against James. Is taken to a safe place until she will be pardoned.

Cholmondeley. Delivers Robert into the care of Lorna. Tries to go into the house but is denied. Destroys evidence and leaves his house.

Robert. Is brought to the Delaney household. Goes inside. Brings a tray with a bottle and food up to James' room. Gets the key to the safe from James. Smiles. Helps Lorna to prepare dinner. Opens the door for Godfrey.

Questions & Thoughts:
Is the ghost of Winter real, or is she just in James' mind because he's heavily intoxicated?

What are the so much worse things James had done?

Did James send Zilpha away because he fears she turns into the same person as he is, or because he wants to protect her from the things the BEIC could do to her if she stays close to him

Does Robert know what had happened to Ibbotson? That he is dead, or that James is his killer?

There is a female ghost in the left corner when James is interrogated. Who is it? His mother? Zilpha? What does the ghost want? Is she watching over James or is this just in James' mind like many other things?

Taboo Episode Guide