|Tom Hardy in FX's Taboo.|
On its face, FX’s new drama Taboo seems an intriguing proposition. It’s clearly modeled on the sorts of dark, thrilling narratives that have captured readers’ imaginations since at least The Count of Monte Cristo. However, this show, a collaboration between Steven Knight, Chips Hardy, and star Tom Hardy, falls short of its inspirations.
The Monte Cristo comparison springs to mind because, as with Dumas’s classic story, Taboo is about the return of a mysterious hero, long thought dead, and the unfolding of his plan for revenge. Hardy plays James Delaney, who surprises his half-sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) and everyone else from his past life when he suddenly returns to England for his father’s funeral. It soon emerges that Delaney’s father holds the deed to a small piece of coastline on the far side of the world (the Pacific Northwest, to be exact). Although this rocky, faraway plot seems worthless, a surprising number of people expresses interest in taking it off Delaney’s hands, including Zilpha and her husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall), the family lawyer (Nicholas Woodeson), and Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce), chairman of the East India Company.