‘Taboo’ A Bloody Finale, Producer And Star Tom Hardy, Co-Creator Steven Knight Break It All Down


Taboo went out in a blaze of glory. That now has new meaning for TV fans.   The explosive season finale started with a splash, featured plenty of bangs throughout, and ended with a goodbye to England. After expanding its world and introducing a large and eclectic group of characters, Taboo promptly bid many of them adieu via death or by leaving them behind. For different reasons, Zilpha, Helga, Strange, Brace, and Chichester won’t be part of the journey to America. Actually, Delaney often sees dead people, so let’s not count them out yet.


The showrunners Tom Hardy and his co-creator Steven Knight spoke with EW about the grand finale.


Q ~ This episode was a full-on bloodbath, in both an interesting and gruesome way. Knowing that the series would be leaving England, did you guys view this as a way to clear the deck?
STEVEN KNIGHT: In my forward thinking view of what this will be, I always thought we’re headed west. It’s a ship of fools, it’s a ship full of the damned, who are leaving the Old World and headed to a New World. They’ve almost self-selected because they are people who don’t fit in — they are rebels, people for whom that society doesn’t work, hence the line at the end, “We are Americans.”
TOM HARDY: I entirely agree. On a purely story note, I really wanted to see it being hard for them to actually make it to that boat and into the New World and the next season of Taboo. It’s very important to have this be a hard journey to get out of a situation. We lost a lot of people, whether they got killed or were left behind, which was important. Normally things are tied up in a very nice way or you know who is going to survive and who isn’t, but I think there was a sense of excitement in the storytelling process.
KNIGHT: It was kind of a bizarre evolution system.


Q ~ Was it bittersweet to close this prologue chapter and move on from so many crucial characters and this world that you’ve built?
KNIGHT: I think that it’s very unusual to set up a world, which has been so well received and people love and are getting into, and now perversely we’re going to close it down and build another one. I think that’s the whole fun of it. That’s the thing about Taboo is that we break the rules and we’re not going to come back for more of the same. We’ve got the same characters, but we will be in a different world.
HARDY: And also in that tapestry, in that world, it’s great to see a full finish, to see some people die is really sad and to see who is going to make it through. It’s a natural ending to season 1, but it’s also the beginning [of] season 2, which is open to options and variables within the world. And you really never know in Taboo what’s happened, if people have died, or what’s gone on there. So definitely for me, I was just happy watching the episode and seeing the reaction in the U.K. and on Tuesday night in the States as well. I think that will be the last influx of that feeling, so that will be bittersweet. But that means season 1 is over [Laughs]. That’s it, I can breathe out now, it’s done.


Q ~ You have this action-packed episode, but for the first half, Delaney is basically sidelined as his entire plan comes together. Why did you decide to go that route?
KNIGHT: He’s the first in-action hero [Laughs]. I think it’s a triumph of intellect. Conventionally, you’d be pulling out the sword, which of course he does at the end, but rather than cutting ropes and swinging in and swashbuckling, he is using his mind and forward planning. For all the stuff that has been irrational about the series, he’s the master of rationality. He really is, that’s his strongest suit.
HARDY: It’s an interesting and refreshing take on watching as the season’s grown from the essential character to the world around him developing into its own autonomy, getting to know the people in the world. They’ve started to grow now, more like civilians. You know them, you spend time with them, and now, you’ll get to see them move on. Naturally, it’s becoming a team, who survives on the team is the thing. I think it’s really quite exciting to have James up in the tower and his plan falling into place and starting to work within the group. The team starts to grow by necessity. By this point, their hands have all been forced a bit.
KNIGHT: I think there’s a long tradition of that, more recently Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven. But you think of the fables of Robin Hood, where you get this band of merry men and they’ve obviously self-selected as well. You’ve got these people with their different abilities and they’re rebelling and depending entirely on each other in a situation of stress. So I think it’s sort of a subconscious folklore that we’re moving towards.


Q ~ Why are all these people so drawn to him? There’s now plenty of evidence that being in the Delaney business is a dangerous one.
KNIGHT: I would say that it’s that question of whether you believe in destiny or self-determination. I think this is an examination of self-determination, where people are drawn to him not because they don’t have a choice, but because he is the choice that is most like themselves. So he is the one that breaks the rules that they would like to be broken. And I think spies and prostitutes and misfits and all of these people are drawn to him because he almost grasps their difference and makes a virtue of it, which is exactly what he does.
HARDY: Absolutely. He’s assembled quite the diverse collective and it stands outside the basic construct of civilized establishment, in order to evoke change for the better, even though it’s a very painful transition and often it doesn’t look civilized. There’s a strange nobility as well about that crew, the sort of not-so-polished members of society. I think of the biggest things that we had in the original context of the series is that you realize that James is the least savage person in the room, whether around the company or the king. Those who are seen as more savage to those that are on the outside, those who are the voiceless have kind of banded together to use their collective intelligence to become a force to be reckoned with. There’s something totally honest and noble about everybody who gets on that boat.
KNIGHT: In that society, in every society, people use each other, but James says it aloud, “I have a use for you.” It doesn’t mean he’s good, it just means he’s telling the truth and I think that’s a good first step.
HARDY: That’s a huge characteristic. It’s rare [Laughs].


All is well that ends well.  On that note, let’s prepare for Feud, FX’s next groundbreaking limited series.



Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy:   FX; BBC
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