TV Show Review

TV Review: BLACK SAILS: Season 2, Episode 9: XVII. [Starz]

Hannah New Black Sails XVII.

Starz‘s Black Sails XVII. TV Show Review. Black Sails: Season 2, Episode 9: XVII. held two of the biggest surprise turn of events in its third act that the viewer will have seen in the entire series. This season has been one of reveals regarding Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens)’s fall from The Royal Navy (as James McGraw) into the embodiment of piracy during 1715. The viewer may have thought the most shattering of these revelations had already transpired but they would have been wrong. One of the largest, if not the largest, was saved for last.

When the last piece to the puzzle was sleuthed by one of the three people in the room, that person boiled over and raged. This was a rage born of: loss of reputation, lifestyle, friends, family, opulence, husband, happiness, and position-in-life. Living in exile because of your own actions is one thing but when it was perpetrated by another for self-aggrandizement, that is something else.

The surprise during this scene was Captain Flint. Of the three, he maintained his composure the longest. Perhaps he knew what was at stake in that room, perhaps he was in shock at the revelation, perhaps a little bit of both. Maybe in that moment, he was seeing the big picture, the realization of a dream long fostered. A dream he did not want to let go of over something that had happened years ago that couldn’t be changed.

When that enlightened moment ended with a musket shot, so did the self-governing dream of Nassau, forever. Captain Flint, once recused, is going to rage. He will be unhinged like never before. The last part of him that was still James McGraw will be gone for good, replaced by an unassailable fire fed by hate and loss. I don’t see him leaving Charlestown without: a.) burning it to the ground, b.) trying to burn it to the ground, or c.) killing his friend’s murderer. If he can’t accomplish any of the three during his flight to freedom, he may return with multiple ships, firing on the city from afar, attempting to level it.

There is no way Captain Flint lets the death that occurred in that room go unanswered for (especially since the dead person died talking about the death and destruction of Charlestown and wanting to see Governor Peter Ashe (Nick Boraine) hanged). Flint killed friends and shipmates to achieve his previous goals of killing Lord Hamilton, achieving possession of the Urca gold, and retaining his captaincy. He will have no compunction to slaying and destroying everything that Charlestown represents.

Miranda Barlow (Louise Barnes)’s death unleashed a monster.

What Captain Charles Vane (Zach McGowan) decided to do following receipt of an imminent hanging was surprising (inexplicable to some hearing it) but not so much upon reflection. The groundwork Captain Flint had laid out earlier in the season made Captain Vane’s decision more than plausible. Earlier in the season, Flint suggested sinking a ship his crew had just attacked, not because they were a threat, but because of fear. People fear pirates. If they had let that ship go with the news that they had just successfully repelled a pirate attack, it would have lessened the threat of pirates in the hearts of every other captain sailing the seas. By sinking her, they kept that threat and fear alive. That is why Vane made the decision that he made at the end of XVII.

John Silver (Luke Arnold) is evolving right before the viewer’s eyes. When questioned after the motive behind his sabotage attempt, he had no answer. Silver was not ready to admit to his inquisitor or to himself that he had begun to care about the welfare of the crew. Or it may have been that he was still self-centered but his goal, in this case self-preservation, aligned with preserving the lives of the crew. Whichever was his true motive, it was left deliciously ambiguous and the result was the same.

Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New)’s capture and exchange was completely unexpected (side query: how did the Royal Navy Captain know that the woman turned over to him was in fact Eleanor Guthrie? It could have been any woman. The Captain had never laid eyes on Eleanor before. It could have been some whore that the pirates had snatched off the streets and gagged. If XVII. writers Brad Kane, Dan Shotz, and Heather Bellson had written that character to be intelligent, the Captain would have sent three of his men in disguise to bring back three townspeople and asked them to identify the gagged woman. Only upon independent verification should the Captain have given over those pardons. For expediency sake, I guess, none of this happened and the Captain was written as a gullible imbecile.).

Neither Vane nor Flint will be notified that Eleanor is gone until she has been out to sea toward England for days if not weeks. There is no way that they are going to be able to travel from Charlestown to Nassau, resupply, and go after her in time for a rescue. She is gone.

This situation illustrates that the writers of Black Sails have not fallen in love with their characters (a stratagem of great benefit to George R.R. Martin‘s novels) and that something bad can behalf any of them as long as it pushes the story forward in a positive way.

That mindset would explain Eleanor trying to execute Captain Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) and his men. For a person declaring war, she prepared for that war in a slapstick manner. Did she really believe that two men could kill an entire ship’s crew in a single evening? That crew was made up of cutthroats, thieves, and murderers. Didn’t she anticipate that those two men would meet with opposition? Obviously not or she would have sent more than two people to deal with such a congress of louts.

It was another instance of Black Sails‘ writers penning a character with supposed intelligence yet having that character do something completely idiotic.

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About the author

Rollo Tomasi

A Political Science and MBA grad who started FilmBook during an eCommerce B-School course in 2008. Cinema and TV addict. Former writer at Empire Movies, Blogcritics, and Alternative Film Guide. In addition to writing for FilmBook, he also edits the copy published on the website, manages its writing staff, manages the back-end operations, site finances, its social network accounts, and works with publicists, actors, and companies on press coverage and promotions. He has also created and Trending

  • Alex Y. Kwan

    The review itself is okay; it went through all the relevant points. But how am I supposed to take it seriously when you can’t even spell Vane’s name right? And it’s exile, not excel. And numerous more mistakes.

  • Sorry about that. Corrected. I was in a rush and didn’t have time for the final two edits that I usually give reviews before publishing. It won’t happen again. Thank you for your understanding.

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