Taboo Season 2: Everything We Know
9. Delaney's Dark Past
Delaney enrolled in the East India Company aged eleven, serving under Sir Stuart Strange, sailing for Africa aboard a ship called The Cornwallis in 1802. Delaney continues toward Antigua, now aboard The Influence, a vessel secretly transporting slaves, which abruptly sinks off the Gold Coast - Delaney is presumed dead and the rest of the ship and its inhabitants lost at sea. He disappears for a decade, returning to England in 1814, with a reputation for being a practitioner of 'black magic.'
Delaney's relationship with his mother and sister raise questions - his mother, an indigenous American, is committed and dies in custody, while he pursues an openly incestuous affair with Zilpha, leading to her suicide in the final episode of season one. His body is covered in tribal tattoos - in particular a bird, branded into his skin - though their significance is currently unknown. Delaney behaves like a committed villain, yet surely there is more to his character?
Hardy has stated that the character of Delaney is an amalgamation of many famous literary figures, including Hannibal Lecter, Oedipus, Bill Sykes, Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights) and Marlow (Heart Of Darkness). Each of these men harbour dark pasts - yet Hardy still insists Delaney is one of the good guys:
"... James is the least savage person in the room, whether around the company or the king... There's something totally honest and noble about everybody who gets on that boat."
As such, it seems fair to expect season two to reveal Delaney's true motivations.