Previously: Eleanor is the worst and men (except Silver and Billy) are stupid and make bad decisions.
Hello and welcome to Black Sails season 4. I am sad/relieved that I am reviewing the last season and skipping the previous 3 considering that seasons 1-2 were basically a porno and season 3, well…
For those that don’t know, Black Sails is a “prequel” to the novel Treasure Island. It follows Captain Flint (the owner of the treasure that Long John Silver and co are looking for in Treasure Island) and John Silver who we see slowly becoming Long John Silver. It also features other people from the novel like Billy Bones and there are real pirates from history including Ann Bonny and Edward Teach (Blackbeard). Most of the show takes place on the island of Nassau which has become a haven for pirates running from England’s rule. It’s like Game of Thrones, but with more pirates and less sexual assault.
With these reviews, I’m going to go character by character in no particular order and discuss their role through the episode. Sometimes they will be combined depending on how involved their stories are with each other.
Flint and Billy
We begin the episode a couple months after the attack on the maroon island on one of the ships taken from Woodes Rogers men. Flint speeches at Silver about how everyone wants to kill him and that the alliance of pirates and slaves is barely holding together. Flint’s character is interesting in that he doesn’t really grow during the series. His true goal is always revenge whether anyone else knows that or not. First it’s for Thomas, then Miranda (sob), and then against Rogers for besting him. He doesn’t care who he hurts or what he destroys and he will do anything to ensure his success. Flint is his own worst enemy and almost everything bad that’s happened to him after Thomas has been because of him. He uses everyone then throws them aside when they aren’t of anymore use to him. He is also self-destructing. He wants to die whether conscious or not and he rushes into problems recklessly and without thought.
We see this recklessness when as the ship moves towards Nassau. They’re watching the governors ships which are anchored and Flint orders them to move forward. One of their other ships begins to change course and we see a few sunken ships under the water (we later learn that Rogers sunk them on purpose). Flint’s ship runs into them as the crew scrambles to gain control. If Flint had taken more time or was focused on more than revenge, he may have thought it suspicious that they weren’t being attacked so close to Nassau.
Flint is a master strategist, however. When the Fort begins firing at them and men are being blown to smithereens, Flint has them raise the top sails and t’gallants to tilt the ship so that he can fire the cannons at the men manning the fort instead of the fort itself. Pretty clever. Flint, realizing their defeat, orders them to abandon ship.
When some have made it safely back to shore (120 men are lost including Silver), Flint talks to Madi which I’ll get to later and then Billy. Billy is upset because Featherstone was supposed to tell them that Rogers sunk three ships in the harbor. As we know, Featherstone never made it to Flint which makes me worried for him.
Flint goes back to Miranda’s house which has been turned into command central. He looks at the men and rooms forlornly and you can see his pain at having to return to their home. This pain may be why he has a pissing match with Billy, telling him that he will withhold the location of the treasure chest if he is not the leader of the pirate rebellion and as only three men know the location: Flint, Silver, and Rackham, there’s not much Billy can do. The black mark has lost its effect on Nassau so the little power Bill had is gone.
The power struggle between Billy and Flint is highlighted well in this episode. Billy has never liked Flint and wants him out of power badly, but up until now, Billy hasn’t had the backing to overthrow Flint. Billy lost this time, but his alliance with Long John Silver may be the thing he needs to get rid of Flint for good.
Madi and Silver
I have a confession to make. I started watching Black Sails because I kept seeing Tumblr posts featuring Madi and Silver and I have a voracious appetite for black women being loved on. Now at that point Madi and Silver had just met, but having read the novel, I knew that Silver married a black woman. And though I started watching because of their relationship, I love Madi Scott as her own person because she, ladies and gentlemen, a badass.
Back to the beginning of the episode, Silver walks up to Madi who is watching the men work below her. He talks to her about their current mission and asks her if she trusts Flint yet. She half answers and they flirt which is cute. I like how their relationship has progressed into mutual respect and being each other’s confidant. It was obvious from the get go that they had a connection and this follows naturally from the last time we saw them.
When the ship is attacked and they begin to abandon ship, Silver ensures that Madi is in a longboat and safe even though Silver’s peg leg makes it difficult for him to move around. The longboats get away, but many men are still left on the ship. We see Silver become caught on a net and he sinks to the bottom of the ocean. It’s beautiful cinematography, but I really dislike when shows put the main character in danger. It’s obvious from the book he doesn’t die so the fear feels false.
Madi stands by the shore watching the last longboat come in. Flint comes to watch with her and assures her that Silver is okay. Flint tells her that he sees that her and Silver have become friends and that Silver is his friend too. Madi says nothing and we see her heart break when a boat rows up and not-Silver comes off of the boat. Madi watches the sea and whispers “Where are you?” We’re taken to a flashback of John and Madi naked together in bed.
I am a denizen of Tumblr so I saw this picture weeks ago, however, no one knew that they were already knocking boots before the trip back to Nassau. It’s obvious that they’ve been together for awhile because they lay starkers with zero covers, sprawled out for everyone and the lord to see. Then, they have pillow talk about whether Silver can trust Flint. Silver believes that he needs Flint as much as Flint needs him and that he has to trust him because Flint’s fate is his fate. Madi tells him that he does not need Flint, that he is a king in his own right, and that:
“If I was a no-good pirate, I would follow you anywhere you led.”
– Madi Scott, MVP
Be still my heart.
Madi confronts Flint about his promises of victory. Her mother never would have agreed to this alliance if she had known what would happen. Flint has no words for her. Later, Madi sits back quietly and lets Billy and Flint have their measuring contest. When it looks like Flint has one by withholding the treasure, Madi reveals that she too knows the location as John told her it before they left for Nassau. Madi says there will be no Pirate King as far as she is concerned.
I think it’s important to note that as much as Silver trusts and thinks of Flint as his friend, he did not tell him about his and Madi’s relationship. Now Flint knows (maybe not the full extent) and it’ll be interesting how he reacts going forward.
At the end of the episode we see Silver free himself and float half-drowned to shore. He sees a man with a torch checking out the bodies and he crawls to him. The man says “Long John Silver? Welcome Home.” We see that it is none other than Israel Hands, Silver’s coxswain aboard the Hispaniola.
Black Sails has continuously shown Madi as being a strong leader and level-headed which continues in this episode. Madi can see Silver’s potential even if he doesn’t see it himself and the reveal of their sexual relationship may seem out of left field, but it was obvious from last season that they were attracted to each other in some way. Madi is someone who is very sure of herself and a good judge of character and it’s clear she sees something in Silver.
The growth of Silver is one of the most interesting pieces of the show. When we first see him he is a cocky man who is only looking out for himself. The reason he even becomes a part of the Walrus crew is to save his own hide. Slowly he begins to make decisions with others in mind until he sacrifices his leg for his crew. Now he is so afraid of failing them that he second guesses every one of his decisions. I’m curious how his evolution to infamous Pirate King will be shown though I’m sure Madi will be a huge factor.
Rackham, Ann, and Teach
Jack Rackham and Ann are sailing with Teach (Blackbeard). They’re still upset about Vane (Teach especially) so even though they are with Flint against Rogers, they have their own agenda. After Flint’s disastrous run at Nassau (Teach and them were back doing their own thing), Teach recognizes that they don’t have the ability to fight Rogers fleet. He hopes that one of the ships follows them as they flee and sure enough they fall for it. Blackbeard orders his crew to prepare to be boarded.
Ann watches as Jack loads his guns and it’s obvious she’s worried about him, we all know he’s more of a behind the scenes type of guy. After the fight where Rackham is almost killed again, Ann goes to talk to him about his bad choices. She’s the badass in the relationship and he still hasn’t figured that out.
Ann tells him that he’s stupid for fighting and Rackham complains to Ann that he fought because he wants to make Vane proud of him. That he likes to envision Vane is watching him as he avenges him. Ann curses Vane and tells Rackham that Vane is dead. Almost all the men on this show mope and complain because people don’t follow them or because someone died. The women have to hold it together for everybody and they never get their due.
Max, Eleanor (ugh), and Rogers
Eleanor and Max are underneath the Fort, protected from the attacks that aren’t coming. Eleanor is embroidering because she’s playing the part of good cultured wife for Woodes Rogers (even though he’s married). She’s my least favorite character and it’s no surprise that she’s pretending for Rogers. I don’t fault her for trying to survive, but she’s the reason Vane died and she’s a flip flopper. When someone better comes around she’ll drop him quick.
Rogers is with his new second in command, Captain Berringer, and he’s wondering why no one is telling him he secret pirate hiding spots. I don’t know why he doesn’t ask his girlfriend, but he doesn’t understand why no one will be a snitch. I mean they are barely keeping the men left on Nassau under control and that’s only because they’ve been busy holding “court” and hanging people.
Berringer decides to round up the 120 men they captured and then he cuts off De Groots ear! De Groot has been with us since day one and this is very upsetting. Berringer tells De Groot you killed all my friends and I’m like everyone’s killing each other’s friends, it’s called a war.
Rogers brings in Max and Eleanor to discuss his new plans. He tells Max that they have to take care of their prisoners and they must have trials because they’re civilized, but Max just saw them beat a man on the street so she don’t believe him. She’s hustling and trying to get that money though so she brings up the fact that Rogers’ men are using her whores and food without payment. Rogers says that there are no more secret friends and that they all must do their part which means that Max has to foot the bill for his men.
Behind closed doors, Eleanor yells at Rogers for saddling Max with the cost of the trials and blah blah they’re boring. My interest perked up though because Rogers is an IDIOT and divorced his wife for Eleanor. His wife is more upset than he thought she’d be so she is using her families money and influence to make his creditors pull out of the war for Nassau. Eleanor is like I’ve got influence and money (not really) and thinks she can help.
Eleanor irks me and she has similar character development to Flint. To recap, Eleanor went from Vane, to Flint, to Vane, to Flint, to Vane, back to Flint, then to Rogers. She goes with whoever convinces her that they’re right and then she destroys her relationship with the other. When she finally gets to Rogers, she tries to convince herself that Vane means nothing to her. The only way to do that and to prevent Rogers from finding out how far her betrayal goes, she gets Vane killed. She is now doing to Rogers what she did to Vane though she’s trying her damndest to convince everyone otherwise. I don’t believe that she truly loves Rogers and has changed. All of her previous actions points to the contrary.
- One thing I love about Black Sails is the diversity of the crew. They have African pirates and Asian pirates that use their own skills from their culture to fight. It was more apparent in the previous seasons because they had two prevalent side characters that were later killed, but you can still see the diversity in the crews.
- What I find interesting about the show (by which I guess I mean history) is the guns. They literally have to reload each time they fire so Blackbeard has like 6 guns on his person locked and loaded. I can’t imagine having to go to battle and just throwing my gun away after one shot.
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Tayci is a mother of 3 boys and a Ravenclaw and a member of #WizardTeam. In her spare time she tries to write, but usually plays Fallout 4 or Tropico 5. You can find her work here and here and you can find her onTwitter and Tumblr @taycibear.
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