Black Sails: IV review

Black Sails episode 4 is about the jobs. Men scrub the ship, women run the whorehouses and Silver cooks up a storm.

So the answer to the question of Mrs. Barlow leads us down a path of deeper mystery and shows us a little more passion in the nominally bookish and reserved Flint. This is how I like my pirates, gentlemen of fortune with love and murder in their pasts.

It’s also a pleasure to see the real details of pirate life. If you want your ship to go faster, scrape all the crud off the bottom of her. I’m not conversant with the tradition of the “fuck tent,” being under the impression that the men would be too busy with the aforementioned crud, but what can I say? I guess every ship has its little traditions, as Black Sails likes to point out.

An excuse to see Max again, if only for a moment. I found Max’s situation unclear, and wasn’t happy about that. Rackham, still loyal to Vane, says “We” are holding her, but she appears to be working for Flint, at his encampment. Whatever is going on exactly, I hope it gets a straightened out pretty soon.

I also hope that Anne Bonny does something. It’s clear she feels some solidarity with Max, and I’m waiting for her to take on the men. The historical Bonny never took shite from anyone, and she wasn’t nearly so good with a sword, let alone two of them.

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I’m liking Rackham more now. Desperation suits him, as does the disintegration of his Wayne Newton mustache. I love him standing in the middle of the street screaming that “Life is too God-damned short!” It’s a very piratical sentiment.

The setup with Max’s pimp is well done, but once again, the modern perception of prostitution has strongly influenced what happens to Max and her workplace. Men just didn’t run whorehouses in the 18th century. It was women’s work. The few men involved in the trade were either “muscle” in the houses, or were married to (or otherwise connected with) the woman running the house.

Of course, that’s not what modern viewers expect, so that’s what we saw. And I suppose that the pimp shown here was enough of a wussy little creep to be doing a woman’s work. He’d clearly bought his prostitutes, not being able to seduce them, surely.

Vane’s little story arc was, by this time, predictable, but nicely played out for all of that. We knew Vane was too mean to die, and it’s satisfying to see him stand up and fight dirty. The detail of the pistol that doesn’t fire was the best part. When you pulled the trigger on those things, there was only an 85% chance that the gun would go off. Seeing that could lead us to future tension… Will the next gun fire, or won’t it?

(And yes, to answer a recent question from a friend, they did only fire one shot, and then you dropped them or threw them away. That’s why Blackbeard wore a bandolier of six pistols… the original six-shooter.)

Flint’s careening (ship cleaning) made a great set. We actually get to see some interesting equipment, and watch the pirates actually removing crud from the underside of the Walrus. Of course, everyone has much more free time than a real work crew would have, due to the fact that this is TV, and watching people scrape barnacles for 10 hours straight would be pretty dull.

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I’ve been wondering what would happen when Silver finally tried to cook, and now we know…  Food poisoning, possibly followed by trichinosis.  But he’s stepping up in the intrigue department, finally breaking through Flint’s reserve, and he can learn to cook any time.

I said before that I love Randall, and its’ too bad what happened to him. The set up for this took a little too long, and kind of felt like the worst of Michael Bey: loud noises, lots of alarmed people, and then a THING, in this case a rather small thing, as the ship rolls a matter of ten degrees, back toward an upright position.  Anticlimax. Well, we can’t win them all.

I had kind of hoped to pull out the mystery of Mrs. Barlow a little longer, but I think the audience is more inclined toward shirtless men and naked women. So we got the information dump, nicely played out. For a minute, I was afraid the minister was there to marry the Barlow and Guthrie. I could certainly see her doing almost anything to get the hell out of there.

But the end, ah, the end. Flint’s at last going to do what he should have done at first… Take to the sea and steal some cannons. Next week we get a sea battle in Black Sails. Finally.

And that’s worth looking forward to….

Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

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3.5 out of 5