Black Sails Season 4 Episode 9 Review: XXXVII

Black Sails sets up its endgame in an excellent episode, with echoes of Treasure Island.

This Black Sails review contains spoilers.

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 9

It’s all about how to fight and not die. Staying alive under these circumstances would be quite a feat, although maybe not the best one to use in starting a revolution.

Or is that still what Flint wants? For quite a while, I’ve wondered it Flint just wants to win, no matter what the contest. I have hopes that he’ll be distracted by the reappearance of Thomas. Will Thomas return? Will Flint return from his current madness, or will that madness only worsen?

Silver, though, we know. Silver survives. If the best way to do that is to be beaten half to death by his own crew, then he’ll do it. If it’s removing his false leg and making himself helpless, he’ll do that. Silver is, and always has been, not silver (shining, hard, useful) but quicksilver (mobile, ever changing, and dangerous.)

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Madi, however, is a queen. She’s braver than the men, and has the interests of her people firmly in mind and heart. She not only refuses to betray, in the manner of Black Sails pirates who are only too foolish to betray when the time is right. She refuses to betray because she is playing the long game. In this case, the centuries long game.

The show is finally together (thank goodness!) Perhaps some of the stupidity of this season’s beginning was only the necessary plot-movement of a show with limited time. The show is in its best parts now – misty mornings in a jungle; long, sunlit minutes on a windy shore; spinning our exposition and backstory.

(A note, though. It is the ultimate irony that Silver, who is one of the most famous fictional characters of all time, says that there is no story to tell about him, requiring him to be consistent.)

In the beginning, I saw Treasure Island in every movement of the cast and crew. Now – well, the stands of story are coming together. The Walrus has carried her crew for the last time. The island is populated by pirates, ghosts, and the recent dead. The treasure is reduced to a single chest, firmly in play. Silver’s true love from the novel waits for him. Billy Bones and his former friends are as completely estranged as men can be. Even poor Ben Gunn is present, ready to be marooned.

The book, as written, can go forward from here.

(Just an aside folks – real pirates didn’t have epic sword fights. The classic pirate sword is a battering weapons as much as anything – meant to batter the life out of another man at close quarters on a crowded deck. Not saying that learning to use a sword is bad. Just pointing out that it isn’t usually necessary.)

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The show still isn’t perfect, of course. Besides the huge amount of sword fighting, I find it annoying that Black Sails continues to allow ships to go about their business without ever placing a watch. Launches full of men appear out of nowhere, with no one giving any warning. I know this kind of thing has been happening from the beginning, but it’s still nonsense. 

And I would love to know how a bunch of men in the water, with what is supposed to be a cask of gunpowder, were somehow able to set a wet ship on fire. Especially that burning post right in the middle of the vessel. But, whatever. It’s TV. The ship is on fire. We get it.

And then they redeem themselves by having the cannon firing themselves. This really would happen…. As the environment around the loaded cannons heats up, the gunpowder inside it reaches the critical point and explodes. Why must we have these wonderful details?

I do like the idea that the pirates can still win this. If they manage to defeat that the crazed Woodes Rogers, it will mean something. Well, as if they could win, and England wouldn’t throw a lot more at them. The powers of Monarchy didn’t ever go down easily. And the powers of the wealthy elite… Well those battles are still being fought, aren’t they?

I don’t see how anything good can come out of the Flint/Silver thing. But I love (as I have always loved) Jack Rackham’s mad optimism. Something good could yet show up on the Black Sails horizon.

Jack is still in play. Max and Anne are coming back to the Caribbean, though how they’ll connect with the others I can’t see from here. I’d love it if Ben Gunn could still do something. And I really, really hope that the hope that Flint’s old lover Thomas shows up in the end. Yes, Flint’s a maniac, and yes I’ve wanted to put a pistol to his head a hundred times, but if he is going to survive all this, I want him to have something. As Silver himself points out, the man has suffered terribly. And I’m a sucker for a happy ending.

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Next week is the grand finale. I can hardly wait.


4 out of 5