[SPOILERS for those not caught up on Taboo ahead.]
The season finale of Taboo saw Tom Hardy’s dogged James Delaney securing a ship, taking care of a few loose ends in typically violent fashion and sailing off for the Azores with a hold full of gunpowder, a crew full of weary misfits and an American flag flying from the mast. Delaney’s next order of business is meeting up with the mysterious Colonnade, and after that who knows? Perhaps he will take time to bond with his son-or-half-brother Robert, or strike up a romance with his step-mother Lorna Bow (assuming she survives the gunshot wound she received in the final fracas on the dock)?
Someday the show might even take Delaney all the way to Nootka Sound, the prize he fought so hard to secure throughout season 1. According to Taboo writer Steven Knight, a three-season arc has been mapped out, so there’s a lot more story left to tell if the series does well enough to remain on the air.
It may not last the planned three seasons, but we now know that Taboo will at least get to continue its obscure and twisty narrative through season 2. BBC One and FX have ordered a second season of the series from Tom Hardy’s Hardy Son and Baker and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free London production houses. Hardy, in typical non-wordy fashion, expressed his pleasure upon the show’s renewal:
“We are grateful and excited to continue our relationship with the BBC and FX in contributing towards British drama. Fantastic news.”
Taboo reportedly was one of the most successful programs ever on the BBC’s iPlayer and also caught on big with the 18-49 demo on FX, becoming the network’s most time-shifted series ever for that group. Those stats are further proof that in today’s media landscape, viewership numbers are only important if they take into account all the people who watch via means other than sitting down in front of the TV, when a program initially airs.
Much of Taboo‘s success can be put down to the star power of Tom Hardy, who plays the enigmatic Delaney with all the gruff charisma and bruising physicality we’ve come to expect from him. The show’s incredibly graphic violence is probably also a major selling-point for the younger people who make up its core fanbase. Even in today’s landscape where shows routinely push the envelope for violence, Taboo is remarkably brutal in its depictions of the outrages folks are capable of inflicting on each other. And the series’ hero Delaney is often the most insanely violent character of all.
Despite the success of Taboo, some critics have argued that the show is too dark, too murky in terms of plot and too willing to resort to sensational violence as a means of resolving things. It will be interesting to see if Steven Knight, Tom Hardy, Ridley Scott and company decide to moderate the series’ unrelenting bleakness in season 2 or elect to double-down on its depiction of an early 19th-Century world rife with casual inhumanity, wanton corporate greed, murderous brutality and horrible hygiene.