This Black Sails review contains spoilers.
Black Sails Season 4 Episode 8
Woodes Rogers is now an Official Bad Guy (he’s wearing a black coat, and a black leather baldric that shines in the candlelight). And he’s going to learn, from no less of a stand-up guy than Billy Bones.
And Flint is finally talking sense. I’ve got to admit; Black Sails does a tremendous job of letting people talk together in the dark. It’s amazing to see Flint admit that he’s not the person to lead a free Nassau. Unfortunately, I see the writer’s machinations to raise the stakes and having them hinge on Madi’s life. I don’t mind, but I see it.
I had wondered if the show meant to kill off Anne Bonny, but instead it meant to leave her with Max and the Guthrie family, as a person to deliver exposition to. We have to see her helpless to believe it. But Anne’s old history in Nassau comes back to her. It’s good to have us reminded of the links between Anne and Max – not just the physicality they have shared, but the fact that they are both women who have fought desperately for what little they have in the world.
Max can speak truth, and she does so admirably. Max, last time, pointed out that someone needed to strangle the damned cat. And this time she points out that pirates will exist as for as long as rich men profit form their existence.
Madame Guthrie claims to be able to achieve a marriage for Max. So at last we see Max’s love for Anne, and the opening up of the wheels within wheels in Max’s head. Jessica Parker Kennedy really gets to show her acting chops here. If you’ve recorded the show, play it back and just watch her eyes.
I’ve always liked the Madame. She’s the only woman in the show with her hair worn correctly. It’s also fun to come back to the whorehouse, and see the original players in it. Here at the end, we get a little tribute. Jack, thank God, is back in his pirate coat. It would seem that he’s actually going to act like a pirate.
The Legend of Skeleton Island makes a lovely tale. We need the tale of Avery – of mist, and skeletons, cannibalism, and the Voice of God, to bring us back to the old piratical horror that we felt when we were first excited by pirate lore. It’s not the real story, of course. The real Avery lived in the light. He’s the fellow who took the biggest haul in the world, and taught his men to share equally. But you can’t have pirates without Avery. It’s dreadfully convenient that Flint has had “Avery’s journals” all this time, and that they appear right now.
This was as good an episode as this show has produced. The callbacks to previous events that we see are well-placed, even if the machinations used to get everyone converging on the “Isle de Esqueleto” may be a little contrived, but our belief doesn’t have to be stretched too thin.
We end with the forces arrayed thusly – Rogers wants to take the money (supposedly in exchange for the island, or Madi’s life) and then turn traitor and kill everyone. Flint wants to keep the treasure. He’s willing to do anything for it, including lie to Silver (his honeyed words, all in praise of Silver’s true love, are one of the few things guaranteed to beguile the slippery Silver).
Silver, buoyed up by Flint’s offer to let him and his love be king and queen of Nassau, just wanted Mati back. His realization that Flint was lying, and has stolen the chest and made off to the island with it, has changed him. Finally, someone really plans to kill Flint.
Jack is headed toward Skeleton Island, in company of Avery’s man, and I imagine that Anne and Max will meet him on his way. How, exactly, I’m not sure, but I believe it will happen. There’s even speculation that Max will “become” Mary Read at the end of the show. I’d like to see that happen. Mary Read might be a bit of a stretch, but Max would make a great pirate.
So far, so good. I hope that quality holds up. Black Sails could still go out on a high note.