Topping the last two episodes of season 2 of Black Sails was a high bar to approach. XXVIII. did so but couldn’t surmount it. It was impossible for XXVIII. to do so. The emotional content of last season’s final two episodes were as momentous as its action set pieces. XXVIII., on the other hand, was half play, half escalating action drama, not a bad mixture and it was pulled off effectively.
The play in XXVIII. was between Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens) and Quartermaster John Silver (Luke Arnold). Surrounded by darkness, so as to focus the viewer’s eyes on the scene’s two inhabitants, under the guise of it being night time or earlier morning, resembled the jail scene between The Joker and Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight.
Darkness now played a key role in both characters’ lives and thus was chosen appropriately for the scene.
During the play, Captain Flint finally felt comfortable enough with Quartermaster Silver to confide in him and share the birth of his darkness with him. That confidence moment illustrated that their relationship had come a long way. What was absolutely strange about their exchange is that it was one-sided and Flint was oblivious to it. Flint told Silver about his past but Silver divulged nothing about his past. Like Governor Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts), Flint only knows about Silver what he wants him to know.
What Flint did learn about Silver should have troubled him but as he alluded to at the episode’s conclusion, he had been through and survived too much to be afraid of one man or the future event that person prophesied.
What Flint didn’t know, couldn’t have known, was that Billy Bones (Tom Hopper) was engineering that very future for Silver on Nassau by writing and taking criminal actions in Silver’s name. Bones was effectively creating a mystique around Quartermaster Silver and his name, dubbing him Long John Silver, which I believe refers to Silver’s reach, his memory, or his influence, perhaps all three.
Flint also learned during their conversation that Silver had achieved something that Flint never had. Silver had acquired the crew of the Walrus’ love and hate. Silver had evolved in the minds of the crew. Flint had the men’s respect and fear. Silver had all of those plus their admiration, the need to be in good standing with him, exemplified in XXVIII. by the excellent Dobbs (Richard Lothian) sub-plot. That should have troubled Flint and on some level it did, the viewer seeing Flint taking in this information and processing it.
There is no question that in a sword fight, who the victor would be. Flint was trained in swordplay at the British Naval Academy. Silver previously found physical confrontation abhorrent and displayed little if any ability to defend himself before part of his leg was amputated. When the time comes for a changing of the Walrus command structure, it will not be a physical confrontation like the one between Blackbeard and Flint. Silver is too smart for that. Silver will have the crew behind him at that point. They will be his sword. They will be his appendages. They will get rid of Flint for Silver by a vote…or by other means.
Blackbeard (Ray Stevenson)’s personality was also given room to breathe and be explored in XXVIII. He said much more with his facial expressions and by what he didn’t say then with the words that he spoke. Blackbeard’s interactions with Captain Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) were excellent, with Blackbeard’s comments to Captain Rackham laced with contempt. Like with Captain Charles Vane in the past off-screen, Captain Rackham instantly began trying to rise in esteem with Blackbeard, who initially saw nothing in him. The presumed lickspittle proved himself, between hilarious moments, with his brainpower, ideas, and power of perception. The viewer can see the same or a version of the same relationship burgeoning between Blackbeard and Rackham that once existed between Rackham and Vane. Rackham measures himself by the regard other people have for him, especially those that he looks up to. If Rackham can get Blackbeard to trust him like Captain Vane did, Rackham will see that as a victory, a validation. From this season of Black Sails, the viewer has learned that facile validations are one of the driving forces within Rackham.
Like the season finale of Season 2, XXVIII. featured action on a grand scale with a trick by the crafty pirates. The swim moment in XXVIII. was very good, not quite as good as Captain Vane’s cannon stratagem in XVIII. but highly effective and entertaining to view.
The battle on the beach and in the forest was good as well with Dobbs’ subterfuge being its crescendo. The look on Dobbs’ face as the betrayal was about to happen spoke volumes (“You idiot. You fool. I played you.”) but only Captain Benjamin Hornigold (Patrick Lyster) had the wits to read its meaning.
Now that Woodes has lost the gold for good, what will Spain do? Will they send their ships to Nassau to “raise” it as promised? Will they send ships to aid Woodes? Woodes’ failure begs a response from Spain. In some way, shape, or form, Spain will play a large role in next season of Black Sails.
Seeing the pirate / former slave / maroon counsel formed will also have repercussions next season, coordinated, discussed, well-thought out, and agreed upon repercussions. Woodes, Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New), Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy), and rest of the forces on Nassau against the pirates have a big problem on their hands.
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