Starz‘s Black Sails XVIII. TV Show Review. Black Sails: Season 2, Episode 10: XVIII. was the culmination of the most fulfilling season of the series so far. The episode had specks and dabs of romance, longing, things to come, and large proportions of action, destruction, and unabashed retribution.
Miranda Barlow (Louise Barnes)’s last, vengeful words in XVII. turned out to be prophetic utterances. How they occurred in XVIII. was the road less traveled in television dramas i.e. cinematic TV. Many attempt this feat (e.g. episode 9 of Game of Thrones: Season 4) but very few television programs accomplish it.
Ms. Barlow ‘seeing’ her wishes come true through the closed eyes of her corpse was exactingly fitting for a series as dark and morose as Black Sails.
The trial that transpired in the episode was memorable not because of its tribulations but because of what came out of it: if not a friendship, a new found respect between the two most unlikely people to hold such feelings for one another. Sacrifice and placing your life on the line changes things.
Two notable situations changed in XVIII. because of such actions (the former having just been described) but the most profound had nothing to do with the trial or its participants. That happened aboard a stolen Spanish war ship.
John Silver (Luke Arnold) had grown in crew influence during the season. More importantly (and more slowly), his perspective on the men he serviced with abroad Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens)’s ship had changed as well. No longer were they empty vessels, a means to an Urca gold end. These were people that mattered, that had come to mean something to him. At the very least, he did not want to see them murdered. The one crew member that Silver actually might have called ‘friend’ had already been killed below decks in XVII. Perhaps that murder awakened something or made something that was already there burst i.e. John Silver caring (about his slain ‘friend’ and about the family that man had belonged to).
When he gave voice to it during a perilous situation, Silver was admitting it to himself as well. His actions thereafter proved the point as he protected the crew with his own life. It was his most self-less act to date for men he had formerly cared nothing about.
The result: fidelity between Flint’s crew and John Silver. The viewer could see it in the crew’s eyes, in their looks of concern for Silver and his injuries. The resulting, parallel scenes between Silver and Charlestown were a screenplay gimmick seen numerous times in other television productions and films. What gave these two scenes in XVIII. their weight was that the viewer cared about Silver and about what was happening to Charlestown. They were not empty, Michael Bay action scenes (the dock cannon moment was fantastic, reminiscent of a similar, foggy scene in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World but far better). They had substance and the viewer was invested in their outcomes.
Captain Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) and Anne Bonny (Clara Paget)’s deck-top conversation was sweet, romantic, and honest. The last words Bonny spoke were hard words but true words, a reality that Rachkam had partially known and was now fully faced with. He handled the moment in the best way that he could, in a way that got him what he wanted the most: Anne’s continuous presence by his side.
Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy)’s “shiny” moment was infectious (the viewer felt happy for her). Now the question is: does she have the brains to handle what was shown to her in the final moments of the episode when her drunken, smiling astonishment wears off? Wherever she puts it, that location will become a target. Rachkam’s men can’t be trusted. Once they drink and start whoring, the secret will be out. Will Max place it in The Fort for protection? Then what? If she is really smart, she: keeps a nest egg for herself, somewhere close, renovates her bordello and tavern, bankrolls the endeavor she has on-going with Anne Bonny, and places the rest in multiple banks in England, France, and Spain under accounts only she knows (so that if she every leaves Nassau – and is forced to leave penniless – she will have funds waiting for her). She could even invest it in established companies and start-ups. Is she that smart? We’ll see.
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