Black Sails Review Episode (1×02) “II”



Starz’ Black Sails Kicks It Into High Gear This Week With “II”

Last week may have been a bit slow due to much needed character development, but Black Sails more than made up for it this week with “II.” While Flint and his men continued the race to find the sheet missing from the captain’s log, Capt. Vane caught wind of the fabled treasure and decided to get into the game. Meanwhile, Eleanor Guthrie continued with her plans to turn New Providence into a prosperous city, but her ambition caused a rift in her relationship with Max. “II” continued to give insight into the complicated lives of these characters while showing how easily loyalties can shift with the Island breeze.

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“When my father lived here people just fucked in tents. Threw shit everywhere. I wonder if he noticed everyone living like animals, or if he just didn’t care.” Despite all the good Eleanor has done to make New Providence profitable, she still remains and her father’s shadow. While her father lives it up in the lap of luxury, Eleanor has been The one overseeing Richard’s day-to-day business. Thanks to her the inhabitants of New Providence now live in an orderly society. One of the things Eleanor has done is to solidify her business relationship with Capt. Flint. Many of the Pirates may feel that Flint’s heyday is over and that Capt. Vane is the new star but Eleanor remains his staunch supporter. In “II,” Capt. Vane and Eleanor butt heads because he discovers Rackham’s bid to buy the missing Capt.’s log page that contains the shipping schedule for the fabled treasure aboard the Spanish Galleon. While we don’t know the exact details of Vane and Eleanor’s failed romance, there’s obviously a lot of hurt that remains on both sides. Vane struggles between acting fiercely towards Eleanor like he would act towards anyone else, and showing the soft side only she seemed privy to during their courtship. Mistrust, anger, and hurt causes Eleanor to side with Flint even to the detriment of her love affair with Max.

Mr. Scott: Eleanor, you can never forget who these men are. They’re not our friends. They’re not our subjects. They want your father’s business and that’s the only reason why we don’t end up with a knife to our throats.

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“How long before Flint finds out I was in this? When a man’s being fucked, he wants to know who’s cock is in him.” Max and John continue their quest to sell the missing captain’s log. While Max wants the money so she and Eleanor will be able to live together the way they want to live, John’s motives are still unknown, aside from the fact that he just does things for the sake of doing them. John doubted Max’s ability to be a good partner in this endeavor, but when he saw Max hold up to Vane’s interrogations, he knew he had grossly underestimated Max’s resolve and gumption. These scenes also allowed the audience to see just how cutthroat Vane is, and also made one wonder if Max’s relationship to Eleanor was part of the reason Vane was so brutal towards her. If so, this adds an even more complicated layer to these scenes then they’d otherwise have. Vane makes it seem that he’s over Eleanor and only interested in pursuing their business relationship, but maybe Eleanor’s indifference towards him feels more personal than it should. Last episode, Eleanor looked fearful of Vane, but this week she proved herself to be one BAMF. But if she is, then Vane is a scary one.

Rackham: It’s unclear what’s more appealing: Your beauty or your intelligence.
Max: You are so kind, monsieur.
Rackham: Now, et’s not get carried away.

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“If he’s wrong about this, he’ll answer to our crew. If you’re lying, you’ll answer to me.” The other great thing about these scenes was that we got a chance to see more of Rackham and how his personality compliments Vane’s. While Vane tends towards a stoic, silently menacing demeanor, Rackham appears gallant, intelligent, and kind of a lady’s man. Rackham has all of the personality that Vane lacks, and uses his silver tongue to make and mend Vane’s business dealings. Their relationship is very similar to the one Flint shares with Gates. While Flint and Gates are grooming Billy Bones to a higher position, Vane already has Anne Bonny standing on his left side. Though we got an opportunity to see more of how Rackham operates this week, viewers only got a glimpse of Bonny’s skill. Since the episode ended with Bonny trailing a fleeing Max, viewers will undoubtedly learn more about Anne next week.

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“If the page isn’t delivered to vane, he’ll kill me.” Max and John’s deal went south. At least for Max. While Flint and Vane both chased John over the rocks in a desperate grab for the ship schedule, John one upped them by memorizing the paper and burning it. Now that he’s the map, John can’t be killed. In “I,” viewers learned how crafty John Silver can be, so this move should not have come as a surprise. It was the smart play, after all. What will be entertaining is watching what Flint does with John now that he’s captured him, and how Vane will react. Especially to the added detail that Rackham lost the bag of pearls he was going to pay for the log after he slipped and fell into the sea. John may have saved his own hide, but Max’s is still in danger of getting tanned.

Max: Leave with me.
Eleanor: What?
Max: I have a boat waiting. I will have enough money for us to start new.
Eleanor: But I can’t leave here.
Max: Why not?
Eleanor: Because I’ve spent my life trying to build something here. It’s all I have. I just can’t walk away.
Max: It is not all you have. Eleanor this place is just sand. It cannot love you back. You know this. You must know this. Your father left you, your mother was taken from you. Everyone you have ever loved you have lost, and it terrifies you. but not me. I will never, ever leave you. I love you.
Gates: Mistress Guthrie?
Max: You brought them here? Come with me. Right now, the boat is waiting. We can be free of this place. We can have a life here together, and it can start this very minute. All you have to say is yes. Set us both free!
Eleanor: Come in! Max, I need you to tell them where the page is.
Max: And if I don’t, then what?
Gates: This doesn’t have to go badly.
Max: I want her to say it. I want her to say that she will sit there and watch you beat the answer out of me to save this place. Say it! Say it! … The rocks at sundown.
Eleanor: Max please!
Max: Get the fuck out!
Eleanor: I meant what said. I can protect you.
Max: Get the fuck out!

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Max risked her life just so she could be free of her pimp Noonan, and could begin a new life with Eleanor. Instead of coming to Max to see if there was some way to work everything out, Eleanor betrayed her to Flint so she could solidify their business partnership and she could continue her plans to build New Providence into its own island nation. Eleanor is so fearful to allow herself to love and be loved, that she threw it all away for money, power and position. I’m not sure what was worse for Max. The fact that Eleanor would betray her to Flint, or the fact Eleanor probably would have let Gates beat the information out of her. Though it never came to that, like Max , we all probably realize Eleanor would have allowed it to happen. Now that these two have broken up, Max is without an ally and has Anne Bonny on her tail ready to deliver Max to Vane for retribution.

“II” quickly dispelled any fears that Black Sails wouldn’t live up to the hype, and sucked viewers into the perilous lives of these fascinatingly violent characters. Filled with a broad cast of characters, Black Sails is a very realistic look at life during these times, and shows how diverse the lives of these people (real and imagined) were. Elsewhere in Europe, women were living by different social standards than the women on New Providence. Eleanor, Max and Anne are all strong women living in a man’s world and playing by their rules. By doing so, these women haven’t given up any of their femininity, despite who they love or how they dress. As for the men, Vane and Flint are as different as night and day. While Flint runs his ship as a democracy, Vane must run his as an empire based on Eleanor’s comments. Flint is captain of his ship because his men have elected him. He rules at their pleasure. Vane, on the other hand, is the sole ruler. His word is final. He rules with his strength and by the fear of his men. Even though they are all different, I have to say that I like all of the characters so far. Which is rare. These characters are as rich and colorful as the land they’ve claimed, and I, for one, can’t wait to set sail next week on an all new adventure. Besides, I’m sure we all want to know, who was that mystery woman?