Black Sails Episode (1×04) Review – “IV”


Black Sails Review

Black Sails: Backstabbing, Fuck Tents and Boat Cleaning

This week’s episode of Black Sails unraveled the mystery of Mrs. Barlow just as Eleanor and Flint believed they’d found the extra guns and men they need to go after the Orca de Lima. While Rackham tried to hold what’s left of Vane’s crew together, Vane drowned his sorrow’s in drink and opium. With Vane out of commission, Max plied her trade in payment for the 500 pesos she cost Vane’s men, but suffered violence at the hands of one crewmen who felt Max’s offerings fell short of the debt owed. “IV” answered many questions and solved a few problems, but in the end fell short of the bar last week’s entry set for this new series. All aboard, Mates! Time to set sail as we discuss this week’s episode, “IV.”

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“If he finds out what you’ve done not I, not your father, not anyone will be able to protect you from the consequences.” Eleanor again tried to prove that she, too, wears Big Boy pants as she used her father Richard to acquire another captain’s guns for her and Flint’s plan to overtake the Spanish Galleon, the Orca de Lima. What Eleanor didn’t know is that her father had plans of his own. Eleanor pissed me off two week’s ago when she betrayed Max over a few pieces of fabled gold, and her hard-ass stance against her father did nothing to win my favor this week. It’s great to see a strong woman trying to navigate this world of men, but Eleanor’s willingness to stab anyone in the back, even her own kin, makes her more of a villain then the pirates around her. When it turned out by episode’s end that Mr. Scott had joined Team Richard and helped keep Eleanor from getting the guns she needed, my first thoughts were how Mr. Scott would end up regretting his choice. Now that I’ve thought about it, this betrayal is exactly what Eleanor needs. Maybe once she realizes that the person she trusts most in the world has stabbed her in the back, Eleanor may learn the errors of her ways and learn to take better care of how she treats those who love her. However, considering Vane’s newfound desire to seek retribution against Eleanor, Eleanor may learn a more costly lesson than truly needed.

Richard: Help me save her Mr. Scott. Please, help me save her from herself.

Black Sails 2014

“I thought when that lackey Gates stepped aside we might finally get a Quartermaster that wasn’t stuck in the captain’s pocket. I guess not.” Now that Gates has taken over Vane’s ship, Billy Bones has been promoted as Flint’s new Quartermaster. This promotion should have been a boon for Billy, but as Billy begins to get warnings whispered into his ear by Morely, Billy begins doubting his allegiance to Flint. What Billy didn’t know was that while Morely was whispering in his ear, Silver was whispering in Flint’s. Morely’s intentions are clear, but what isn’t at this time is Silver’s. We already know enough about him at this point to realize that Silver always does what’s in his best interest. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what Silver feel is in his best interest this time. Interestingly enough, Morely wasn’t having much luck swaying Billy until he got crushed by Flint’s ship. Now that Morely has perished trying to help Flint save Randall, Billy’s ears are wide open. Sadly, so are Flint’s eyes. Flint’s enemies have a way of dying around him. If Billy’s smart, he’ll watch his back.

“It seems to me that something terribly wrong has gone on here, and you and your daughter are scrambling to save yourselves.”

Black Sails 2014

Thanks to Morely’s whisperings and Richard’s confrontation of Mrs. Barlow, we learn the truth about her and Flint’s relationship. Morely doesn’t like Flint, because years ago he witnessed Flint killing a man who didn’t deserve to die at the behest of Mrs. Barlow. When Richard confronted the widow at the beginning of the episode, it was revealed that Mrs. Barlow’s real name is Mrs. Hamilton, and she had an adulterous affair with her husband’s best friend. A captain in His Majesty’s Royal Navy named, (you’ve guessed it) Flint. When her husband discovered their affair, he went mad and killed himself. Barlow and Flint ran off together to escape the scandal and retribution from Lord Hamilton’s father who happened to be The Lord Proprietor of the Bahamas. Barlow is now a fallen woman, and Flint had to resort to becoming a pirate in order to survive. This revelation wasn’t much of a surprise. The clues have been there all along. The desperate way Flint and Barlow seem to cling together. The way Flint acted around the Naval officer who came to arrest Richard in “I,” suggested Flint had a history with the Royal Navy. Even the sad sex scene between Flint and Barlow at the beginning of this episode reeked of two people forced to be together through circumstances. The pathetic way Flint laid in bed while sexing it up with Barlow suggests Flint’s none too sure he got a good deal for what he paid for. Something tells me Barlow and Flint desperately want the Orca’s gold to buy their way back home and out of this treacherous life they’re currently living.

“Places like this aren’t meant to last.” As wonderful as it was to finally learn the truth about Flint and Barlow’s relationship, I wish the episode featured more of Vane and Max. Both were too busy self-destructing to have a part in this week’s Pirate Politics, but I have a feeling it won’t be long before these two join forces. While Vane spent most of the episode high out of his gourd, Rackham and Anne Bonny tried to repair their current circumstances. Over the past four episodes we’ve learned a bit about who Jack Rackham is, but Anne Bonny remains a bit of a mystery. This week she continued to give side-eye and lurk around town, but we did learn she’s unhappy with Max’s current situation. So unhappy, in fact, that her big mouth almost got Vane killed by a furious Noonan. As understandable it was for Noonan to be out of sorts that he’s losing money on Max while she services Vane’s crew in repayment of her debt to them, Noonan was incredibly stupid to try and retaliate against Vane. Now that Vane has vengeance in his heart and ready to take Eleanor out with some sort of Achille’s heel only he’s privy to, I hope the next episodes are a lot more exciting than this one.

Black Sails 1x04

I have to say that out of the four episode we’ve seen so far, “IV” is my least favorite. The episode did reveal some mysteries like Mrs. Barlow’s true identity, and set up some new ones like what Vane has on Eleanor that can destroy her, but it was way too slow. Not only that, but the episode spent too much time on Flint’s crew removing barnacles on the ship’s hull and Silver’s shitty cooking. I think we all figured out in the first episode that Silver lied about his cooking ability. Was it really necessary to underscore that point with the crew getting diarrhea?  As far as I can tell, the only point to ship business was to crush Morely and get him out of Flint’s way in a manner that would cause Billy to doubt his allegiance. This episode makes me feel Black Sails is dragging its heels, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why. Whatever climax the writers are heading for, I hope they begin to ascend towards it pretty soon, because the show can’t afford anymore snoozefests this season.

Straight from the Orca…

  • Will Vane enlist Max in his plans against Eleanor?
  • What’s Anne’s deal? Was her mother a prostitute, or has she fallen for Max?
  • Now that Flint’s lost the extra guns, will he ask for Vane’s assistance?
  • How long before Flint and Billy are at each other’s throats?