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Black Sails Starts Splitting Characters Apart For the Last Time

This was another hard week to watch Black Sails, but for vastly different reasons than the previous episode. This is the curse of having such a large cast of compelling characters; once the final episodes start putting them in danger, you can’t help but feel it. We’re here, everyone. Endgame time. We’ve hit the moments where all these characters end up in position for their final moments.

Some will split from each other. Some will dive into final desperate acts. Others are left to watch and hope for the best. Hey, just like me! I hope they’re as enthralled with the drama as I am.

Spoilers for 4×07 “XXXV” below

Recap

The episode begins with Madi’s mother grieving and John Silver struggling to find words for her. He tries his best to comfort her about Madi dying for a cause she believed in. He also says that he and Madi loved each other. Meanwhile, the gathered pirates and slaves gather to discuss strategy. To Silver’s surprise, they do so peacefully. They fight for the same goal and no one wants to ruin it.

Flint tries to comfort Silver in return but two pirates interrupt. Together everyone realizes they have the numbers and ability for real, large scale success throughout the Americas, especially if they can recruit freed slaves along the way. Julius interrupts to try and talk sense. He knows the pirate/slave alliance is determined to split and turn on itself.

Silver tells him he can leave then, because the war will happen. Madi’s mother interrupts and asks Julius to talk with her.

We get our first look at Jack and Anne as he changes the dressings on her hands. Max tells them they will arrive in Philadelphia soon. After she leaves, Anne and Jack talk about Max not seeing Anne since her first visit, and how Anne is still conflicted about her. I just want all of them to be happy. I know I ask too much.

Back in Nassau, Woodes Rogers sits in a broken office grieving until Ms. Hudson arrives. He reveals that the Spanish never wanted Jack along with the missing treasure; Ms. Hudson made up that part of the deal to help herself. He then accuses her of planting treachery in Eleanor’s head. She denies it, and they are interrupted by a man telling them Eleanor’s body is ready for a funeral. Woodes learns that she was pregnant.

The episode returns to Jack while his ship docks. There’s a funny bit about all the fees he has to pay. Jack decides to visit Eleanor’s grandfather without Max because he does not trust her not to betray him. Featherstone defends Jack as they walk through the city. Jack sends him to find a surgeon for Anne while he talks to the Guthries. He also gives a nice recap of the stakes of his success or failure.

Next, the episode revisits the Maroon Queen and Julius as they talk about their chances of success. The queen tries to convince him to support the war, but Julius believes the war pushes for too much, too quickly. He thinks they should use the treasure cache to purchase what they need for the maroon island and forget the war. When Flint checks on Silver, Silver argues that they have to keep fighting for Madi, or her death means nothing.

Flint says he will repay Silver helping him through Miranda’s death by doing the same now. However, he needs to trust Flint’s judgment without question. He assures Silver that the war will happen.

Meanwhile, Jack waits for his meeting with Eleanor’s grandfather. A young woman recognizes him as a pirate and wants to hear exaggerated stories about famous pirates. When asked about Charles Vane, Jack talks highly about him, but the girl just wants to hear the villain stories. His meeting with Grandfather Guthrie goes badly and Jack is dismissed. As he leaves, Olenna Tyrell Grandmother Guthrie asks about Eleanor and takes an interest.

The episode returns to Rogers while he grieves beside Eleanor’s body. Ms. Hudson assures him that Eleanor only wanted to be happy with him and their baby. He takes a moment alone to mourn which is interrupted by news that Billy Bones has surrendered and wants to make a deal. Jack continues his efforts to find help to fight Rogers by meeting with Olenna Tyrell Grandma Guthrie.

She tells him his mistake of meeting her husband in front of his partners. She also makes clear her involvement in the family enterprise and interest in his proposal. Jack makes his case to her and tells Max about earning a meeting with her. He asks her to come along this time so Grandma Guthrie will see a woman in charge.

Billy gets his meeting as well, and tells Rogers about building the pirate resistance on Nassau and Silver’s betrayal. He wants to ruin the pirate resistance in return. Splitting Silver and Flint will do this, and he knows how. Turns out Madi’s alive (no surprise here) and in chains.

Time for a third meeting! There are a lot of meetings in this episode. Jack and Max meet with Grandma Guthrie to make their case. They show her the ledgers for Max’s business to prove their capability running Nassau. Good job having Idelle grab that, Featherstone. However, Grandma Guthrie uses an anecdote about her son to ask they will stop the violence cycle of Nassau. Max gives her a satisfactory answer.

Back on the maroon island, news is delivered of Madi’s survival along with a ransom note: hand over the cache or Madi dies. Silver immediately agrees to the terms. Surprisingly, Madi’s mother sides with Flint and disagrees. They think the war is worth more than Madi. Flint recognizes the attempt to divide them and tries to convince Silver. He promises they will rescue Madi.

While they argue, Rogers visits Madi and asks if Eleanor died fighting. He also hands her an envelope promising she and the other maroons will be emancipated so long as they turn over any future escaped slaves or pirates over to the law. Complete with a threat, of course, this is Woodes Rogers after all. As he leaves, Madi tells him she will die fighting, just like Eleanor did.

Guess what? Anne actually makes a second appearance for the first time in a while! Jack tells her that Grandma Guthrie agreed to everything they wanted. First, though, he must personally kill Flint. He recognizes the need but, like Anne, recognizes the difficulty. Anne also wonders if he can live with betraying his fellow pirates. Jack says he can do it for the two of them.

He says his goodbyes to Anne, who will stay behind in Philadelphia to recover. Max will stay with her, and promises to take care of her. I’m so torn right now.

Jack’s not the only setting sail, as we see when the episode returns to Silver and Flint aboard a ship. Silver claims confidence in Flint’s plan, but Israel Hands correctly guesses that his confidence comes from having a backup plan. We see that Silver had the treasure dug up and stashed on the ship. The episode ends with Hands asking Silver if he can kill Flint when the time comes.

Everybody haaaates Flint.

Review

This one kind of lowkey hurt. It was an episode full of goodbyes, betrayal, and impossible missions that has put just about every character I love in a terrible position.

Most obvious among those characters is James Flint, who now has everyone and their mother gunning for him. Rogers and Billy are cooperating towards that end, and their scheme has probably turned Silver. The Guthries want him dead and have employed Jack to do the deed. He’s walking into a lose-lose situation.

No surprise, of course, considering what he will eventually do with the treasure in his ship’s hold.  In fact, this was kind of a clever way to get that treasure on a ship to begin with.

Flint’s single-mindedness has run him into trouble throughout the series and now looks to have done so one final time. I’ll be honest, no matter how much I rooted for him the man sounded absurd in this episode. Sacking Boston? Did he really say that without a hint of humor? Taking Nassau has proved difficult enough and just like that he is ready to spread his war throughout the entire Americas.

He is once again lost in the war, and it will cost him everything. It has already led to the inevitable split with John Silver, it has Jack Rackham out to kill him, and even if they both fail, he’ll have Rogers and Billy Bones ready to hunt him down to the ends of the Earth. Flint’s screwed. Not entirely by his own doing, but screwed all the same. I wonder if Flint believed Eleanor’s deal to be his last chance to walk away peacefully. Now there’s nothing but the war.

Flint was right; when he and Silver are of the same mind, they accomplish everything they set out to do. This has been true since the day Silver burned those journal pages and forced himself onto Flint’s crew. With Silver’s help, Flint would not have defeated the British Empire but he may have found some way to strike a permanent blow against them. Now Silver is not of the same mind, and Flint’s efforts are doomed.

Speaking of which, I greatly enjoyed the comparisons between Silver and Julius in this episode. Julius has burst on the scene in these past two episodes and quickly established himself as a solid character. Funnily enough, he and Silver both have highly personal motivations driving them. The difference is the ends those motivations inspire them towards.

Silver’s motivations are single-mindedly selfish. He wanted the war to avenge Madi, and is ready to toss it aside to get her back. Every decision he makes tends to focus on what’s best for him above all else. On the other hand, Julius resembles what Mr. Scott and his wife must have been like all those years ago when they first fled. He has the same mindset Madi’s mother did when we first saw her. Hiding and protecting Nassau’s escaped slaves matters above all else.

For now, their separate selfish desires will probably ally them both against Flint. And they’re not alone. Of course, they all have a much better chance than Jack Rackham. Oh, Jack. I hate to say it, but my OT3 is dead, and I’ll be stunned if Jack and Anne ever see each other again.

Don’t take Jack and his fabulous coat away from me.

Besides the obvious difficulty of him killing Flint, I simply don’t trust Olenna Tyrell (sorry, last time) Grandma Guthrie. In an episode so focused on secret agendas and betrayals, why should she be any different? What benefit exists to fulfill her end of the bargain? Just because Max did a good job running Nassau before? I see no reason why Grandma Guthrie would trust her to do so again.

Even if she does leave Nassau to Max, Jack is nothing more than a tool to take advantage of. Whether Max realizes it or not, the cat in Guthrie’s story about her husband, her son, and the tomcat is not James Flint. It is piracy, and both Anne and Jack are pirates. When the time comes Guthrie will drown them. Max will have to decide whether to drown along with them.

Either way, Jack is screwed. Damn it, Black Sails, why? Why do you know how to hurt me so good? I hope Jack has some plan. He usually does.

I’m also kind of disappointed that Anne will seemingly play little role in this conclusion to her and Jack’s story. Hopefully she and Max maintain a strong presence in these final episodes. And not because Jack fails and Max has to betray Anne again to save her own skin. I don’t think Max would do that, but I worry.

Please don’t.

Flint, Silver, Jack, Anne, Max, Madi…everyone I love is splitting apart, and probably for the last time as we enter the final 3 episodes of this final season. The maroons are splitting with each other and the pirates. Everything is breaking apart. This wasn’t unexpected but it still hurts.

At least Black Sails knows how to hurt me in fascinating ways, because this episode was quite good all throughout.

Even Rogers kept me engaged all throughout, which I didn’t expect. Watching him cry over Eleanor wasn’t anything I cared to see, but the deal with Billy and subsequent offer to Madi were both strong scenes. I’m still not sold on the necessity of Eleanor’s death, but I think this episode mostly handled it well.

I may not want it, but Rogers was always going to get his mourning scenes. Thankfully they were brief, and I liked the accusatory tone of his time in the room with her body. Letting Ms. Hudson have her time to mourn with him was also a good choice. I don’t have any problem with Rogers mourning his wife. I just don’t want those scenes or Rogers to dominate the show. Black Sails hit a good balance this week.

(Also, Rogers apparently knows nothing about Eleanor Fucking Guthrie if he didn’t think her capable of making the deal with Flint and chasing him off to protect it without someone manipulating her.)

Surprisingly, my biggest problem with Woodes Rogers this week had nothing to do with Eleanor. Rather I’m left wondering just where the Spanish went. Did they just leave Nassau after sacking the town? They’ve completely written off the treasure despite the treasure seemingly being their main motivation to invade? Now they only wanted some measure of petty revenge?

I hope this isn’t the case, and that the Spanish still occupy Nassau. I hope we just didn’t see them this week since everything in Nassau took place in closed offices or jail cells with Woodes Rogers. Having the Spanish leave just like that would be a bit of sloppy hand-waving atypical of Black Sails.

This is far from a big problem, though, and I loved this episode. Much more than I feared I would last week. This week Black Sails made me sad for all the right reasons.

Only 3 episodes remain and any separation will probably be permanent. Black Sails seemed to throw it all at us this week. Now we’re left to see how the final resolutions for all these characters shake out. I’m sure this will involve a bit more making and breaking of alliances. I know it will break the hearts of many fans.

If Black Sails maintains this level over these concluding episodes, I think we’ll still be happy. Even as we feel sad.


Images Courtesy of Starz

Bo
Written By

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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