Black Sails Episode (1×03) Review – “III”


Black Sails Review

Black Sails Shows The Dark Side of Pirate Life in “III”

Over the past two episodes we’ve seen Capt. Flint chase after a missing Capt. Log page containing the schedule of the Orca de Lima and its fabled treasure. While he and his men chased after the thief, Capt. Vane and his crew made port, and began to search for their next prize. Things came to a head last week when Vane and his men jumped into the game by making an alliance with Max and the elusive John Silver. Unfortunately for them, Flint got his hands on Silver, but not until Silver had already memorized the schedule and burt it in a bid to make himself invaluable. This week, all of the characters converged as the forged a tentative alliance to hunt the Orca and her treasure. Eleanor helped Flint keep her father hostage, while working as the guarantor for the new alliance. Meanwhile, John Silver may have saved himself, but he left a scared Max out in the cold. Now that Max is in Vane’s hands thanks to Anne Bonney, the balance of power may have shifted, but when all’s said and done, who’s the real winner?

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“It really isn’t as bad as it looks.” Last week we saw Flint arrive on the doorstep of a mystery woman, and while we did learn more about her (like her name), she still remains a mystery.  The mystery woman is Mrs. Barlow and she’s the reason Flint is so hot to trot to catch the Orca de Lima. Why this woman wants Flint to capture the Spanish Galleon is one of the many mysteries surrounding her, but it’s obvious these two are lovers. Mrs. Barlow is a beautiful, well-educated woman of property. She seems to enjoy Flint’s company, but the subservient way she goes to him when he beckons at the end of the episode implies there’s more to their story. While Mrs. Barlow seems fond of Flint, it appears she needs him more than loves him. At least for now. If anyone will ferret out the truth of their relationship, it’ll probably be Richard Guthrie, who Flint is holding hostage at Mrs. Barlow’s while he recovers from his gunshot wounds. Up until now, Richard hasn’t had much to do, but now that he and Mrs. Barlow have struck up a camaraderie, and he’s ignoring Eleanor’s pleas for help with the business, Richard may prove interesting in weeks to come.

Mrs. Barlow: True love shouldn’t require suffering.

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“When we fire on the orca will need to do more than make a scratch, or will stand no chance of success.” The hunt for the Orca de Lima continues this week as Flint forces John Silver to copy the ship’s schedule from memory, but he’s only successful up to a point. Silver gives Flint and his men everything they need, but the most important part. That, Silver is going to save until the last possible moment. In the last two episodes we’ve seen how smart Silver is, and he continues to prove it some more this episode. He knows that if he hands over the most vital information he’ll be of no use to Flint, so he’s holding on to it so he can save his hide. Another way Silver proves useful, is by discovering the identities of the mutinous members of Flint’s crew.  True, Bones already knew of two of the three crew members’ identities, but the last identity earned Silver some points with Bones. Bones still may not trust Silver, but now that the two of them have reached an understanding, Silver’s life is safe for now.

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Silver: There may be a more mutual beneficial solution to all this. What if I were to remain with your crew? It makes sense. I forgo payment for the schedule in exchange for my share of the prize. We’ll proceed with your plan and when the time comes to reveal the last piece I will be right by your side. Is what I tell you is in any way incorrect, you can do with me what you will.

Flint: And when the Orca’s ours, what’s to stop me from killing you anyway?

Silver: Well, that’s a few weeks from now isn’t it? We might be friends by then.

“Silver knows that Singleton wasn’t really a thief. Am I the only one who remembers that?” Billy Bones is a cautious man, and isn’t as big a gambler as Gates, but their partnership is always fun to watch. Bones has a lot he can learn from Gates, but Gates also could learn from Bones, and should heed some of his warnings. Thanks to both Billy and John’s separate investigations, Billy’s theory that the crew members loyal to Singleton are planning to move against Flint proved to be true. Randal, Morely, and Turk doubt Flint’s claim that Singleton stole the Captain’s Log, and believe Flint killed Singleton in cold blood. While Gates spends the episode trying to solidify Flint’s deal with Vane for his ship and men to hunt the Orca, Bones tracks the conspirators and puts their mutterings to rest. In turn, Turk spills the beans about Mrs. Barlow, and warns Bones that his faith is misplaced. Turk’s belief that Flint is undead and being controlled by an island witch may not be a complete myth after all.

“I may have been wrong about Singleton, but I’m not about Flint. To him, we’re all disposable.”

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“Make it right, Jack. Quickly!” Last episode, Jack Rackham lost the crew’s 500 pesos and didn’t get them the skull they requested after he lost everything in his purse chasing John Silver over the rocks. In “III,” Rackham spent the entire episode trying to save his own hide, and use his silver tongue to do so. We saw a bit of Rackham’s talents last week when he worked out the particulars of Vane’s deal for the ship schedule with Max. This week, Rackham managed to get inside Gates’ head and helped create a profitable deal for Vane and the crew. He also managed to solidify his position as Vane’s Quartermaster, even if for a little while. Rackham may have ended up on the losing side by the end of the episode, but it’s obvious he has the skills necessary to rise again.

“No matter how many lies we tell ourselves, no matter how many stories we claim to be a part of, we’re all just thieves awaiting a noose.” Since Flint doesn’t have the men, ships, and guns he needs to take the Orca, Gates asks Capt. Ben Hornigold’s assistance.  At first Ben isn’t interested in handing over his ship and crew to Flint, because he sees Flint as “arrogant and presumptuous.” In the end, he agrees and Gates gets his first command. Sadly, Gates’ new promotion is short-lived. Rackham’s desperation to save his own hide causes him to tear down Gates’ self-esteem so that he can procure Vane’s place in this endeavor. Even though both Gates and Rackham have had their own great scenes in previous episodes, this was the first time Gates and Rackham shared a scene together as opposing Quartermasters. Mark Ryan and Toby Schmitz were both brilliant as Gates and Rackham this episode, and none more so than when these two men faced off over both of their current situations. Gates may have seemed victorious as a brand new captain in light of Rackham’s misstep last week, but Rackham ended up winning when he crushed Gates’ triumph.  Who could have foretold that by episode’s end, the tables would have turned?

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Gates: Get up and walk away.

Rackham: With all due respect, Mr. Gates, this tone is beneath us. As Quartermasters we serve our masters best when we rise above the fray and see the truth from an unobstructed vantage, when we …

Gates: I don’t know what you’re after Jack, but you sound like one desperate motherfucker tonight. Has it got anything to do with that massive cache of pearls you lost out by the wreck last night? How long did they give you?

Rackham: They weren’t real specific about time frames.

Gates: Usually in my experience that’s about three days. Perhaps instead of pestering me you should be out there looking for the boats.

Rackham: It won’t take much for you to lose that new crew of yours. You may have them fooled now but at sea, perhaps you’ll oversleep the bells and need a few hours. Perhaps you’ll be at the glass any help where to point it. Perhaps you’ll slip And fall and that knee of yours will give out. Perhaps… perhaps… Perhaps No one will say anything because they respect you too much, but at the moment the Orca looms close and the first shot is fired, and you will know at that moment what every member of the crew is thinking, “Christ almighty, I wish we had a captain 30 years younger.”

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“Who did you have to threaten to get him to agree to all this?” Gates may have relinquished the idea of commanding his own ship, and Rackham may have saved his own hide, but these two weren’t the only ones with something to gain this week. Thanks to Rackham, Vane was going to profit from Flint’s haul, and might have even won Eleanor back as well. Gates just needed to get Flint to agree, and leave old grievances in the past where they belonged. Watching Flint, Gates, Vane, Rackham and Eleanor come to terms with this tenuous new alliance was hilarious. Both Flint and Vane stared each other down while Eleanor stayed out of the way, and Gates and Rackham tried to settle the dangerous waters between the two captains. Apparently, Vane killed one of Flint’s men, and Flint wanted restitution for his dead crewman. Vane and Flint are both hard, stubborn men, but it was interesting to see the volatile Vane hold his tongue and take the part of the more civilized of the two. The partnership of these two nemesis seemed like an exciting prospect, but unfortunately, the alliance was short-lived.

Flint: I want to talk about Mosiah.

Rackham: What about him?

Flint: He’s dead. And before we talk about anything I want to hear your cowardly fuck of a captain apologize for it.

Gates: A moment to confirm with my colleague. Outside? That was my fault. Entirely my fault. I should’ve been clearer when I prepared you for this meeting. When I said that we need to keep our tempers in check for this meeting to happen, I should’ve specified that we’d need to do so for the duration of the meeting as well. Not to worry. A simple setback. Now  we have clarity and a unity of vision. I feel good. You?

“I told her I would protect her. Did she not believe me? She chose this. Not me.” Max’s disappearance doesn’t seem to have made Eleanor realize her hand in destroying their relationship. When we last saw Max she was sneaking out of town before Vane could get his hands on her in retribution for her and Silver’s failed deal, with Anne Bonney hot on Max’s heels. Though Max’s whereabouts wasn’t at the forefront of this week’s episode, her discovery ended up have repercussions that will reverberate for the rest of the season.

Vane: You do understand that I had no choice? What you? It required an answer. I’ve been meaning to ask you about our mutual friend. She guarded your door, offered to protect you, yet you left anyway. Why?

Max: You really have to ask? How did it feel when she threw you aside?

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“The captain may have brought her here, but it’s up to us when we’re done with her.” I had been wondering if Vane was aware of Max and Eleanor’s relationship, and this week we discovered that he was very aware of it. However, while I may have previously believed that Vane wanted to hurt Max because of her and Eleanor’s affair, this turned out to be untrue. A captain’s place among his men is a tenuous one, and Vane needed to assert his authority if he wanted to keep his position. After his deal with Max and Silver fell through, Vane needed to appease his men. Unfortunately, while Vane may not have wanted any harm to come to Max, his men felt differently. I don’t know what surprised me more. Eleanor coming to Vane to renew their romance, or Max pledging herself to Vane after being gang raped by Vane’s crew in payment for their failed deal. Whatever the case, Max has made sure that Eleanor knows their romance won’t be rekindled just because Eleanor saved her from further harm.

Max (to Eleanor): We could’ve left. We could’ve been free. He didn’t do this to me. You did.

Max (to Vane): My actions have cost you your purse. Until my debt is paid, I’m yours.

Captain, my captain… Gates may have given up on commanding his own ship, but it looks like Gates will be a captain after all. Now that Eleanor has declared Vane “Persona non Grata,” and forced many of Vane’s crew to “jump ship” and join up with Flint, Flint now has the men, ship, and guns he needs to capture the Orca de Lima, and Vane has lost everything. In one moment Vane has a chance to have part of one of the greatest treasures known to man, Eleanor back at his side, and the reputation of one of the most feared and revered pirate captains ever. The next, Vane has a Quartermaster, Anne Boney, are raped and beaten whore, no ship, no Eleanor, and no (or very few) crew. Life in New Providence is uncertain. You can be on top of the world one moment, and a beggar the next. A man’s place is garnered through wit, blood, and treachery, and no man (or woman) it seems can rise without all three.

Gates: What the hell just happened?

Flint: It looks like she just gave us a ship.

Gate: A ship with no captain.

Worth the Watch?

One thing I have to give Starz is that their shows are chock-full of great dialogue, and Black Sails is no exception. So brilliant was episode 103, “III,” that it took me 2 whole hours to get through the episode due to all the times I re-watched particular scenes. Episode 101 may have been slow, but it introduced us to many new great characters. Episode 102 has more action and gifted us with a few memorable scenes as well as got the ball rolling on the season’s story arc. If this is true, the episode 103 will be remembered as the episode that brought all of these excitingly horrifying characters into one main story. In “III,” every character got a moment to shine, and every scene seemed better than the last. There may not have been shootouts, murders, or much mayhem afoot, but “III” was one of the most exciting episodes I’ve seen on television all winter from any network.

Questions… Comments….Wonderings…

  • Now that Max has joined Vane’s crew, has she saved her life or made it worse?
  • WTF is Mrs. Barlow?!?
  • How soon before Flint and Eleanor realize they need Vane after all?
  • Will Anne Bonney find a way to betray Vane and save her own hide, or will she remain loyal?
  • When Vane rises from the ashes like the Phoenix, will his revenge be as terrible as I’m anticipating? ‘Cause, you know he will get back on top. He’s feared for a reason.

Silver: I can’t but notice that you don’t seem to like me very much. Do you mind if I ask why?

Randall: I can cook!

Silver: I see. You’re upset because they gave me your job. In my own defense, I’m still trying to figure out how this whole place works myself. I mean, I came aboard the ship two days ago and I hear Mr. Singleton making, what sounds to me, a whole lot of sense. Than less than half a day he’s dead, Flint’s still captain and everyone seems to have forgotten that any of it every happened. What? Do you know of any people that still harbor any anger towards the captain?

Randall: I’m not supposed to talk about that.

Silver: Well that’s a shame. If you knew anyone like that, I’d be curious as to what they had to say.

Rackham: They need to yell every now and again. It’s good for their self-esteem.

Vane: Are you surprised as I am that I’m the only one behaving myself?

Vane: You’re too clever for your own good, Jack.