There’s been much hype and intrigue surrounding the debut of new Tom Hardy-led period drama Taboo, but the BBC have been coy about exactly what they reveal in regards to the actual plot of the series. All we knew before the first episode premiered was that Hardy would be playing James Delaney; a man who most of London thought dead before his return to the city in a bid to reclaim his father’s shipping empire.
Downton Abbey fans beware. If you’re looking for a show similar to the one that came to an end just over a year ago, this isn’t the period drama for you. It may be labelled in the same genre, but that’s where the similarities end. This is no fairy tale.
Opening in the wind and mud, the visuals are grey and dreary, but still hold a beauty about them. After rolling around in the dirt for a while, we see Delaney ride into 1814 London on a white steed. The contrast of him and the horse is instantly apparent. What we’ve been conditioned to expect from a handsome rogue riding in on a stallion however is not what we will receive here; Delaney is no Prince Charming. He is good-looking and has a wisdom about him, yes, but he isn’t the man you’d like to take home to meet the parents.
Hardy is a man who I have seen excel at every single role I’ve ever seen him in. This one right here might be my favourite of them all. He plays Delaney with such poise and elegance, which is odd to say about a character who at times seems so unhinged and abnormal. There’s no telling just what Delaney will do next, but at the same time he’s got an incredibly charming personality. Whilst you know he’s more than willing to go over to the dark side to get whatever he desires, you can’t help but root for him. Whether that’s the Hardy effect or not is in the eye of each individual viewer.
Those behind the show do an impressive job of reeling you in right from the very beginning. It’s what needs to be done with a brand new series of this type, and so within minutes, viewers are left with a handful of questions that need answers. Period dramas are usually slow burners and there’s no breaking away from the mould here, but we’re still given more than enough to chew on and maintain an interest.
We discover that there are rumours surrounding James and his time in Africa, away from London, but we don’t yet find out exactly what they are. We hear that if a brothel Madam was to send one of her whores away with Delaney for a night of passion, she’d likely never return. We know right away that Delaney is not a man to be crossed, but as to why everybody around him seems to look at him in fear or disgust is not information instantly available. He works in a way that is yet to be deciphered.
It becomes clear that mysticism, magic and tribal rituals are all something that have been playing a part in Delaney’s recent life, and they’re something that he’ll be bringing to London moving forward. This could be bad news for those opposing him as he makes instant enemies; one of which is his brother-in-law, the husband to his half-sister. Delaney and his sibling share a secret – one which she begs him not to reveal and to keep buried forevermore – but when something of this type is teased we know it’s only a matter of time before that secret bubbles to the surface.
Taboo continues next Saturday on BBC One.
tagged in Tom Hardy