Zilpha Geary isn’t dead. She’s Taboo’s most important character

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22 Responses

  1. Alison says:

    I think the drowning of Dumbarton was significant. Delaney drowns him & then waits & Zilpha starts talking to him – it is barely audible but she says something like ‘Quick work’ and goes on to say ‘You will see me again.’ I think the drowning of Dumbarton (in James’s mind at least) is some way to bring Zilpha back (or at least her soul back). After the drowning, she’s suspended in the water & then starts moving (as if coming back to life).

    I think the ghost thing for her return isn’t a runner. What would I do? Bring her back as another identical looking person who James meets (is she the reincarnation of Zilpha or not blah blah?). It would also get them round the incest thing for a relationship to develop.

    She’s definitely coming back in some form.

  2. Ellen says:

    Zilpha, I’m sorry to say. Is not dead. I do not like her character AT ALL. If she were, James WOULD’VE heard her sing. He’s not stupid.
    MY QUESTION: What happened when they finally had sex that turned James off so much???

    • V says:

      In an interview, Hardy says that in that scene, James realizes that his obsession (yes, that’s right–not love) w/Zilpha was spiritually stunting him and that he needs to let go. Also, Hardy says that this incestuous relationship was James’ way of punishing Horace for what he did to Salish.

      Source: http://ew.com/tv/2017/02/28/taboo-season-1-finale-postmortem-tom-hardy-steven-knight/

    • Suzanne G says:

      Great question!! I wondered the same thing! James said “You can thank your God for that”. However, he said this only shortly after she had murdered Thorne. God would never have told or inspired her to do that. Soooooo, this was contradictory to me, and didn’t make sense. They need to clarify and straighten this out in 2nd season .

  3. Tom says:

    Not dead!

    • Theresa Fitton says:

      It doesn’t matter because she can still appear to James as a ghost or in a dream or even show scenes from the past before James went away to Africa

  4. J Marie says:

    I don’t think she’s dead either, in fact it seems that the story line between James & Zilpha may be more than just a subplot. The Sankofa bird that shows up everywhere- tattooed on James back, on the matching rings that James & Zilpha wear, carved on the fireplace, and also in Bedlam – means to go back and fetch what you have left behind. The first words that James mutters to Zilpha in Twi are “come back to me, return to me, I want to be inside you”. The sex voodoo is actually a real fetish ritual in which a person binds himself to the other and there is no way to break the bond. Zilpha said she had been to a doctor who had sent her to a priest who had been to Africa and he said that James “visits as animals”. Clearly this was something ongoing, even while James was away. I think Zilpha and James both practiced some kind of magic before he left for Africa. She hints at something more than incest when she asks him to keep the secrets buried in a deeper grave. When Zilpha tries to push James away he basically tells her that is impossible because of the “great big river that connects them” and says “I will always be this close to you, won’t I?”. He also says they used to speak to each other without talking in dark corners and they are the same person. This all hints to some kind of mystical connection beyond just being related and the incest.

    We see Zilpha with ashes on her hands and going under the water in the bathtub a few times. These are also hints of her doing some kind of ritual. She asks for guidance in killing Thorne and clearly some spirit is assisting because there is no way she could kill him so successfully on her own with a knitting needle. She thought it was James, but could it have been Salish? Is this confirmed when James sees Salish while he is literally inside of Zilpha? I think that disconnect caused the break-up, but later as he works through more visions, he seems to gain some understanding. He tells Atticus “the lioness will do anything to protect her cubs regardless of the consequences, even if it means her certain death”. He was talking about his mother. Are the cubs James & Zilpha? Was Salish trying to protect Zilpha?

    The jumping off the bridge scene does not appear to be happening in real time. You mentioned this on the podcast. You can’t have a voiceover happening during the walk and later jump. The lighting also seemed different. Also what is written on the suicide note and what is said on the voiceover are different – and I’m sure that’s significant too. I really think the jumping scene is just in James’ head. The spoken letter says “eyes I didn’t know I had have been opened”, I think this is referring to her 3rd eye being opened and she’s now using her “gifts” the way James has been. The very last vision of Zilpha that James has is like a reconciliation – she says “James you came back, you told me you loved me”. Then the kiss and she says “you shall see me again”. I think this shows the unbroken circle of the sankofa – they can’t get rid of each other. Plus if James survived a shipwreck, it wouldn’t be surprising if Zilpha survived a jump into the Thames, if she did jump! I’m pretty sure Zilpha’s part in this story is not over yet! I hope the writers continue the good work they started with this. It’s a fascinating story.

    • Gene Lyons says:

      Exceptional insights! This is why I love exchanging ideas with you brilliant viewers.

    • Tonya says:

      This was a great read gave me other things to think about..

    • Saa says:

      I agree with every insight you wrote here. And the drowning/magic theme in this show is too much to ignore. I mean, one of the earliest things in James’ life is being drowned. He always goes into the water and nearly (or does) drown, and comes back alive. Now she is paralleling that. No way is their story over.

    • Suzanne G says:

      Great insights, indeed. All the more reason why the 2nd season needs to go back and answer many, many questions and obvious connections between James and Zilpha themselves, and then both of them involving Horace and Salish that Season 1 just didn’t have time to answer. Not to mention Africa and the threads there. Also, I do hope in season 2 they consider expanding the series to at least10 or 12 episodes. There are simply too many subplots twining together that need time to “flesh out” to pack it all in to 8 episodes. Speaking with many viewers on Taboo Tribe, the season, much to our dismay, ended too quickly.

  5. Mary O'Driscoll says:

    Good thoughts, well executed (no pun intended). Her death had such a distant feel, it felt odd. Cool visual though.

  6. Jamilla says:

    I agree 100% with everything stated in this article. We only had a glimpse at what Zilpha could bring to this show. We have the Lorna the typical “strong” woman, that has been shown time again. However what’s missing on TV is Zilpha, that caged up wild woman that equals or even surpasses James’s wild. The letting of hair down, kicking off shoes and grabbing something to drink after she just killed her husband. The wicked child like face as she’s told to “sit there”. She could and should be a force to be reckoned with. We think James is bad, we haven’t seen anything yet. I would hate that they used Zilpha’s character as a victim! Someone done the way she was by her husband, brother and father should have been able to let loose and show James just exactly what he came back for. He obviously knows Zilpha and her wildness he has seen it. He states it in his letters. We should be able to see that character transform.

  7. Shelly says:

    I believe she is dead but will be haunting James in his dreams.

    • Gene Lyons says:

      Definitely a possibility. When I refer to “dead,” I’m talking more about the character than the physical body. In that sense, Salish is alive, too. Zilpha isn’t dead because she her role isn’t through, even if her mortal life has ended.

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