This Black Sails review contains spoilers.
Black Sails Season 4 Episode 5
Money, money. It all comes down to money.
Eleanor needs it, because her husband needs it (because he’s an entitled ass who blew a fortune, if he’s anything like the historic man). The pirates need it – to finance their rebellion (powder, cannonballs, and rum don’t come cheap). And by the end of this episode, we’ve got one more player in the game after the money.
Why should the 18th century be any different from today?
The pirates, of course, have not been making a great case for themselves. Billy and Flint are at odds, they’ve managed to blow their alliance with the island’s slaves from mutual support to a hostile state. And now, somehow, Flint has claimed the authority to give away the pirate’s gold – the gold and gems from the wreck of the Spanish ship Urca – to secure the island from Elanor Guthrie.
Let’s go with it. Let’s pretend this all makes sense. After all, the actors and actresses seem committed. The ships are still beautiful, and the special effects are beyond wonderful. So let’s pretend that the plot is progressing normally.
Heaven only knows how a woman like Eleanor ever found a man in the 18th century. Her constant commitment to following her own plans, and only her own plans, while totally disregarding the feelings and ideas of everyone around her, should chase off men faster than a musket ball could travel in 1717. If this is the only sort of “strong woman” that men see in fiction, no wonder they get pissed off when real women want to be treated as equals. Flint, as we well know, has always been a fanatic (and an idiot). So it makes perfect sense that he’d broker this deal and she’d take him up on it.
The only person who is talking sense here is Madi. She has a lot of blather about what Billy Bones did to upset the slave population (a matter that I still believe could have been solved by providing the slaves with guns and powder in a show of trust). But Madi notices the fact that Billy and Flint don’t seem to get along very well. My answer would be to encourage Flint to take a long walk off a short pier. Everyone else seems to decide that the answer is to take Billy out. Silver’s now-legendary popularity is the modus operandi. We’re going to pretend that this makes sense.
The episode has a few moments where we don’t need to pretend. Eleanor’s talk with Flint about Mr. Scot comes to mind. It’s plain here that she cares for him, and is moved by his concern for his wife and child – a love and concern that he could never share with his owner. Eleanor has a chance to see, here, what real devotion looks like. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come to her. Her lie hasn’t gone that way.
Another nice soliloquy is Silver talking to himself as he decides who to back and who to betray in the pirate alliance. Not so much his decision making process. But it’s Israel Hands’ response that gets me. “Worry ain’t a good look for a king. Not in a kingdom such as this, where loyalty’s in short supply.” That’s possibly the best line in this entire series.
Rogers, meanwhile, is completely devoted to his madness. Upon learning that his wife has found a way to get him the cash he needs to straighten his life out, and at the same time reached some kind of closure with the pirates (one that accepts defeat, but still one that guarantees safety for Roger’s group) he goes screaming off to Cuba to enlist the help of the Spanish.
Okay, I can no longer pretend that this makes any sense at all. Rogers is “the most recognizable governor in the Caribbean”? What? He’s been on the island for a matter of weeks. And Nassau is hardly a center of information or society. In all likelihood, no one else in the Caribbean even knows Nassau has a new Royal Governor. Also, you know, Spain and England are at war (and have been, off and on, for years). And it’s a religious war, in addition to an economic one. And the Spanish, who are “right” by virtue of God’s Grace, are the aggrieved parties.
I have some hope, however, that things will get better. Clearly, though the writers are creating some incredibly stupid scenarios to move the plot forward, there are other, more subtle (and hopefully not so idiotic) devices in the future.
For one thing, the Cuban governor is brother to one of the men Woodes Rogers has supposedly tortured to death. This came out, and was then passed up. Was this because, in the last season, the show didn’t have time to explore this conflict? Or (hopefully) is there a chance that the Spanish will turn on Rogers at some opportune moment? We can certainly hope for the latter, even as we watch the Spanish warships converge on Nassau.
The other detail is the fact that the pirates still have a (wrecked) ship on the island. “In spite of all we’ve put her through, she’s still there.” Now, I admit that I’ve lost track of what ship it is, but I believe that it’s the dear old Walrus. I’ve had a great fondness for this ship, And the act of patching together a wrecked vessel for use in either war or escape is a very piratical act, one that I hope we’ll see in the future. For war, I hope. For flight, if necessary. Despite it all, I’m still rooting for the pirates.
TS Rhodes is the author of The Pirate Empire series. Her work is available on Amazon.