Black Sails: XX Review

New coats for old pirates. Here's our review of the latest episode of Black Sails...

This Black Sails review contains spoilers.

Black Sails Season 3 Episode 2

Black Sails opens this week with a nice dream sequence in which Miranda Barlow climbs out of the sea and tries to talk to Flint. The eerie lighting, inexplicable action, and slow movement made for a great dream. I tried to read her lips, but could not. Whatever she’s saying will either be a cleaver revelation or impossibly obvious. I’m hoping for the former.

Of course, being me, I was also looking at Flint’s shirt. It’s a nice shirt, though I think it was cotton, not linen. It’s one of the more accurate pieces of male fashion on the show. (I also spent a certain amount of time looking at Captain Jack Sparrow’s shirt, back in the day. That one WAS real linen. Yum.)

I just want to say it again – the pirate fashions on this show are sexy as hell, but they bear little to no resemblance to what these guys really wore. Actual shirts of the day came in white, or possibly red checked (for working class guys.) Black shirts are an invention of pirate costumers. Yes, it looks tough, but guys back in the day didn’t want to look tough. They wanted to look gentlemanly. Pirates wanted to have pale skin and lace shirt fronts and white shirts because that’s what rich people wore.

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They also didn’t wear black because black is HOT. I once went to a Renaissance Faire wearing a tunic that was half black, half red. The black side felt like a freakin’ toaster oven. People who work outside in the summer don’t wear black. They also don’t wear leather pants. (I love you Charles Vane, but your pants are wrong.)

That said, there are some lovely clothes in this episode. Silver looks very plush in his new coat.

Silver also has an interesting observation about the pardons that Hornigold was offering last week. Why DIDN’T Flint’s crew take the pardons, and then just go right back on the account? Well, it being Flint, we know why. Flint is still trying to nation-build in Nassau, and he wasn’t going to show weakness to Hornigold by surrendering. He isn’t going to buy into the pardons that were his idea in the first place. And the Ghost of Miranda is a great reminder why.

It’s ironic that the historical Hornigold was the guy who had the idea of taking pardons whenever they were offered and then going right back to robbing folk.

I dig Flint’s reasoning, and I dig his trip into the storm. At first I had hoped that the two ships would battle each other and the elements, but that’s an end-of-season type of event. It’s a good storm, with some great effects, and a real proper buildup. It also shows off the ship rather well.

One thing that always bugs me though is how empty the ships always seem to be. No cargo, no people. We were just told that there are 80 men on Flint’s ship. Where are they? Sure, a few are on the deck, and a few more are in the rigging (not enough, but several) but where are the rest? They aren’t on the crew deck. Bones chased them out of there. They had better not be in the captain’s quarters. And they sure as hell aren’t in the Orlop deck helping Silver and his friend to plug the holes in the ship.

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Now, I don’t want to be too hard on the show. What happens to Silver is beautifully done and heart wrenching. But there should have been more guys working to make the ship watertight. I mean, that’s kind of important. And, by the way, that’s why ships have carpenters.

I had a bad feeling about Woods Rogers. He looked so… square jawed and clean in the opener. This episode, in a really nice piece of makeup/camera work, his scars (physical and/or spiritual) are showing. It’s one of the best, most interesting scars I’ve ever seen. Bravo on that

They even got the names of Roger’s ships right. Another bravo.

Also bravo to the unfolding story of Eleanor and Vane. It’s all plausible, in this world. They’re trying to make Rogers and Eleanor look like they’re going to be worthy adversaries, but she’ll eat him alive. The revelation of his weakness are well played, and I’ll enjoy watching him go down.

Back in Nassau, things go along in the piratey chaos they always have. Jack, who’s trying to defend his money, is getting more and more nervous about this, but he should be used to it by now. He’s got a great quote when arguing with Max about Anne, “She’s got a long future with you or a short one with me.” It’s the pirate creed – a short life but a happy one.

More and more I like this non-historical Jack Rackham (though he, man of the mustache, is also letting his chin bristle more than usual. More Blackbeard’s disease?)

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Clothes-loving me also loves Jack’s new coat. I’ve been digging a lot of Jack’s clothing. His former coat, pale, limp linen, not only mirrored his limp prospects, it was historically accurate.

Now he’s got a new coat and it’s gorgeous. A fop’s take on a military coat, it has embroidery in all the wrong places and tassels – dammit, tassels decorating the button holes. It’s flashy and wild and impossible and delicious. And another hint that Jack isn’t going to fit in well with this military stuff.

(Generally, the women’s clothes are much more accurate than the men’s, possibly because it shows of so much bosom. I love Max’s dress in this scene so much I’m thinking of making a copy for myself.)

Lastly, after flirting with a Vane/Blackbeard showdown, we got a buddy reunion. Love Blackbeard’s entrance. The man – the historic man as well as this incarnation – had style. Vane has abs to die for, and he has menace to spare, but Blackbeard has style.

He also speaks truth when he talks about what made the pirates great. It was the desperation of men who were against the wall. You become a pirate when you have nothing left to lose, and men who have nothing to lose fight like demons.

Now the pirates have cash to spare, and they’ve been living a little soft – for pirates. Will they come together and fight? Will Black Sails defy history and let the pirates win? Or will Rogers and his offers win their hearts?

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I’m ready and eager for the next shot.

Courtesy of Starz, we have a behind the scenes look at the episode’s big storm, too!


4 out of 5