Black Sails Season 2 Episode 9 Review
All the plotting and sneaking that has made Black Sails Season 2 so good comes to a head as the schemes unravel in the penultimate episode.
The rope unravels.
As we saw at the end of the last episode of Black Sails, Vane has a plan. He intends to take Flint’s ship and stop Flint’s efforts to bring Nassau under the wing of the British Empire.
Rackham has a plan. He has the location of the Spanish wreck, a ship, and the ability to take the gold off the shore and become rich beyond his wildest dreams.
Flint and Miranda have a plan. Having returned Abigail to her father, they intend to come clean, go honest, and retire, as Nassau once again comes under the wing of England.
John Silver has a plan. He’s the guy who gave Rackham the secrets about the Spanish gold, and if he can just hold things together, he’ll take his cut and retire someplace to live as a rich man.
Of course, it’s not possible for all these plans to work out. In a good TV show, we’d see a massive clash of egos and tactics, setting us up for the grand climactic fight in the last episode.
Black Sails, however, isn’t just a good TV show. It’s a great show. As proven by tonight’s episode, which doesn’t give us the clash of two lumbering plotlines in epic confrontation, but a complete re-structure of who-does-what-to-whom just in time for the season finale.
I have never been fond of Flint’s plan. That’s pretty obvious. I’m not watching a pirate show in order to see the pirates all get pardons and go back to being honest sailors. And Flint has proven himself an idiot on several occasions. I know that sometimes characters have to take one for the team and do stuff for the sake of the overall plot. But Flint constantly forgets how to pirate, and it just drives me nuts.
In this episode, however, he seems to also have forgotten how to act like the naval officer he used to be. He shows up in the home of the governor of South Carolina wearing that blasted black leather pirate coat. In the first place, this coat should have caused him to die of heatstroke long ago. In the second place, trying to sell yourself as an honest man helps when you’re dressed like an honest man.
The decay of the governor is cleverly hinted at…his disheveled appearance…no wig, and a shirt undone. The wall behind him is also decayed, with paint rubbed off. Also, his military bodyguard is out of uniform. When it’s revealed that he’s the ultimate cause of Miranda and Flint’s betrayal and disgrace, it’s just a neat close to a good storyline.
A new one is starting, however. There’s a reason why Abigail shows up to provide a private room for the two visitors. I think we’ll be seeing her again, and that she’ll matter a great deal in the final episode and perhaps into next season.
Flint, in spite of what we see, is not dead. Flint can’t be dead. He’s needed to make Treasure Island work 20 years from now.
Eleanor Guthrie buries her father by night…Not in secret, but in darkness. I suspect that this was intended as a hint to her state of mind. She’s wearing her pirate captain’s coat when she explains her intention to end the expedition for the Spanish gold. It’s needlessly violent – she must have got that from Vane – but would have been effective.
How ironic that it’s Anne Bonny who thwarts her ultimate success. Eleanor had thought that Jack Rackham’s enforcer was out of the picture. But Anne is back. Though she didn’t hear Jack’s musings about the nature of their relationship, those musings echo in the atmosphere. Also, Anne has realized that she can pretty much have one of two choices…without the support of Jack, she can be a whore. That’s been a viable option for Max, but not for Anne. So she’s back, and Jack will appreciate her.
Eleanor’s plot fails, the ship goes out. Rackham may actually be running the island in the near future.
We get to see some cool stuff on Flint’s ship, including the proper use of a capstan and an explanation of what it’s for, and a nice view of evening on a pirate ship… A fiddle player, liquor, talk, tobacco smoke.
But in the earlier part of the day, I do not get why anyone would fix the mess that Silver’s accomplice made (bad luck isn’t nearly such a potent problem as having a ship that won’t sail). And I have no idea why it took Billy Bones several hours to fix the problem, even all by himself. Silver’s shenanigans with the forestay kind of makes up for it, though. I don’t know what he intends, quite, but they’ve got their ship parts right.
Vane’s move on Flint’s ship is as bloody-handed as we’ve come to expect. I really hated to see Randal go. I liked him a lot. Silver’s in his element here, however. He’s got a lot to live for, most of it in coin.
I truly love the discussion between Billy Bones and Vane. Vane states his point of view as “Flint stole from me, and I got him back.” Bones replies with a detailed description of the forces against them. If Vane is going to survive, and I think he will, he’s going to have to start thinking of the future. Vane, who has never forgotten how to pirate, just might hold the island.
It’s not historical. This show has surprised me by sticking much closer to history that I ever suspected it would. There is not now a pirate nation in Nassau. And yet I want there to be one. I want Vane to win.
One of the things we see in this episode is the difference between the pirates and the lawful governors. The governors are sneakers and plotters who steal behind people’s backs. The pirates rob people in the light of day.
Historically, Hornigold was pardoned and lived out the rest of his life as a pirate hunter. Historically, Vane refused to be pardoned and went down fighting, one of the last of the big-time pirate captains. Hornigold has his pardon. Vane has Flint’s warship.
I wish the last line had been, “You’re right. They can’t tell the difference between us.”
There’s a reason, of course, why Hornigold’s pardon is thrown in the dirt.