Starz‘s Black Sails XXIII. TV Show Review. Black Sails: Season 3, Episode 5: XXIII. showed that Quartermaster John Silver (Luke Arnold) knew Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens) far better than even he realized. Quartermaster Silver knew that the meeting Captain Flint was going to have with The Maroon Queen (Moshidi Motshegwa) was the crew’s last chance at survival and that melancholy Flint needed to go into that meeting in the right frame of mind. From the Captain’s proposed suicide plan, Silver knew that he was not in that mindset. Silver showed Flint that there was a third option, one between suicide and his crew’s death. The Captain simply had to be willing to find it and talk the Queen into it, as he had done with the crew before plunging them into the depths of a sea storm. Silver manipulated him, in a positive way, in the same way Flint manipulated his crew: knowing his audience and telling them what they wanted to hear, didn’t want to hear, and what they needed to hear.
The plan that Flint came up with in XXIII. was something no one else would have thought of but Flint. The plan surprised all those assembled by its scope, vision, and the truths within it. He crystallized The Maroon Queen’s fears and threw logs onto the fire. He also did something clever. He gave the Queen hope through him and his plan. When the maroons placed Flint’s jacket back on his shoulders after the meeting, the cage dwellers were flabbergasted, none more so than Billy Bones (Tom Hopper).
When Flint said “Thank you” to Silver after the meeting, it was clear the two were becoming allies. I believe Flint will begin to value Silver’s counsel on decisions major and minor. Flint will most-likely delegate minor decisions entirely to Silver’s purview in the future.
Seeing former slaves and pirates working together to occupy and defend Nassau should be interesting as will the pirate / former slave government that springs up to oversee it, if Great Britain (or Spain) allows such a government and occupation to exist.
Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) using the pearls to secure herself a seat on the Nassau governing counsel was brilliant. She simultaneously used the pearls as leverage to buy herself more power and to make herself indispensable to the criminal element on Nassau. When she was initially told she wouldn’t be on that counsel, her high-powered intellect must have immediately begun to work on a solution to that problem. With her legitimate businesses, she can amass more wealth over time. She has achieved more in a short span of time than Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) had during her entire criminal career, a fact that Max positioned right in front of Guthrie’s face.
In XXIII., Captain Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) showed himself to be the smartest, most well-educated fool on Nassau and in the entire Black Sails series. Captain Rackham risked: a.) being with Anne Bonny (Clara Paget) for the rest of his life, b.) never having to pull another pirate job (crime) for the rest of his life, c.) being rich, d.) having won, having reached the mountain top with something to show for his efforts – all for the sake of retaining his name. Rackham’s decision to go back was pure ego at play, not intelligence, not thinking long-term. He was risking a Childhood’s End-like Golden Age with Anne over a moniker associated with privacy and Nassau. It was lunacy. Then there was the question of Anne’s pardon. He gets one but she doesn’t (since she has to physically be there to get the pardon)? In this situation, Anne showed herself to be the smartest of the two. She couldn’t have cared less about her name or a pardon. She wanted the money.
Rackham’s decision was that moment in horror movies where the hero can walk out the front door to safety but instead, inexplicably, walks back into the house where the killer lurks.
Let me project what will happen in the next episode (XXIV.) based on all of the episodes of Black Sails I have seen (I have seen all of them): Jack walks back into Max’s bar awaiting his turn at the pardon signers. He is recognized by Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New). He is seized before he can get the pardon. He is questioned. He tells them that he doesn’t knew anything about the missing money. They bring in Max. They threaten her seat on the counsel if she doesn’t tell the truth. She tells them that Jack and Anne have the missing portion. Jack wouldn’t talk. They torture hin to get him to talk. Anne comes back looking for Jack when he doesn’t return, having hidden the treasure first. She is captured. Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) threatens to hang one of them in front of the other (of torture one of them in front of the other) unless the other talks. One of them talks and the treasure is recovered. Anne and Jack are paupers again (possibly pardoned) looking for their next pay day again.
I would be surprised, yet overjoyed, if something similar to this does not transpire in XXIV.
Mrs. Hudson (Anna-Louise Plowman)’s disclosure in XXIII. was one of the best moments of the episode (that and Eleanor Guthrie’s effective pass at Rogers). Once perceived as nosy and a busy-body, Mrs. Hudson revealed herself to be far more nuanced and a harbinger of things to come in the very near future for Rogers if all the Spanish gold was not recovered. I have to admit, Mrs. Hudson’s revelations were completely unforeseen (an example of good writing by Robert Levine and Jonathan E. Steinberg) and added a sense of urgency to Rogers’ new Nassau administration and the deal he made with Spain. That plus Captain Rackham’s impressive stupidity should make for a good next episode.
Quartermaster Featherstone (Craig Jackson) was a complete fool in XXIII., even more so than Captain Rackham. Featherstone heard that the British were coming days before they arrived and apparently didn’t hide or bury his share of the Urca gold. Featherstone let his share and his crew’s share just sit in The Fort vault, knowing the British were coming to take the island, and took no steps to secure any portion of it (just in case his crew wasn’t allowed to keep it).
As a viewer with common sense, I can not understand the thinking or naiveté of these career criminals who don’t think like criminals. They thought the British government would let them keep something they had stolen from the Spanish government? Some of Featherstone’s crew were morons (especially one of them) but Featherstone never presented himself as being amongst their number until XXIII.
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