TV Show Review

TV Review: BLACK SAILS: Season 4, Episode 4: XXXII. [Starz]

Toby Stephens Luke Arnold Winston Chong Zethu Dlomo Black Sails XXXII

Black Sails XXXII. Review

Starz‘s Black Sails: Season 4, Episode 4: XXXI. saw the beaten rise up on one knee while a leader and a tactician made a choice that was inexplicable.

Nothing is a straight line on Black Sails. That is one of the series strengths – the unexpected. For what was left of Blackbeard’s crew, that was a blessing in disguise during XXXII. Governor Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) was blinded by love and affection for his new bride. If he hadn’t been, he never would have left the pirates in the hands of fanatical, mutineer British soldiers. Leaving disenfranchised criminals in the hands of vengeful authorities was a recipe for disaster. If Governor Rogers had been thinking clearly, he would have recognized that fact.

I knew as soon as the first Red Coat descended the steps of the sloop where the pirates were being held, that violence would ensue. I had no idea, however, in which form. What followed was the action highlight of XXXII.  The first match was the most even of any of them, two large men duking it out. The unfair resolution to the match let everyone know that the British soldiers had no intention of letting a single pirate combatant be victorious.

Then stepped up the last opponent. Even a mediocre television script writer would have placed the last two opponents up against one another. It was a moment the viewer had been waiting for yet had thought would never happen because of the gender and extremely weight class difference. This differential made the match akin to David and Goliath’s confrontation in the Valley of Elah.

The pirate combatant, since the first moment they appeared on-screen in Black Sails four seasons back, had been heralded as a fighter, as someone with whom you did not mess with or you would face dire consequences. Those consequences were shown multiple times throughout the series.

All of that mystique was brought with the viewer into the fight in XXXII. and almost known of it mattered. The differential between the two fighters, and the weapon being used, were too great. The pirate combatant knew that but had done something that none of the previous pirate combatants had done. This pirate combatant had surveyed the battlefield and found a way to equalize the differential between them and their opponent. Like Ra’s al Ghul said in Batman Begins during Bruce Wayne’s combat training: “Always mind your surroundings.”

Watching the stuffing get beaten out of the pirate combatant was difficult viewing but it was also UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) exciting and entertaining.

From the amount of blood loss and damage sustained during the fight, it was a miracle that the pirate combatant survived. Survival might actually be the wrong choice of words as the camera showed that the unconscious pirate combatant was bleeding at a steady pace from deep lacerations in their hands (as if the hand wounds were wrist wounds). With no doctor on board the ship, things may be dire if haphazard stitching and cauterization do not work.

The running fight to the fort in Nassau during XXXII. was entertaining and the second action highlight of episode. It led up to what Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) was born to do – command. Like The Governor on The Walking Dead, Guthrie oozed authority, experience, and know-how when she spoke.

That experience came in handy when dealing with Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens). Her proposal to Flint during the third act of XXXII. was born out of being between a rock and a hard place. Other people may not have been able to think their way out of Guthrie’s predicament but Eleanor Guthrie had been in perilous and multifaceted situations her entire life. Finding a solution to an impossible situation was common to her. Her solution not only would keep her and Governor Rogers together, it would free Rogers of all of his financial debts and make Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy), who had lost everything, whole again.

Flint accepting Guthrie’s proposal was flabbergasting. Guthrie was surrounded by pirates and Woodes would not only have to land but cut through dug-in pirates to get to the fort, fighting every inch of the way. Guthrie had the fort cannons but the pirates had Nassau topography on their side. Guthrie didn’t know the real Flint but she knew what he wanted. She made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and wrapped it in a giant bow. It was surprising that Flint actually accepted it. Guthrie had obviously chosen her words and her offer with precision.

Now there was only the William “Billy Bones” Manderly (Tom Hopper) factor to deal with. Billy Bones would not be happy about the deal, the loss of the Urca de Lima gold, and would have to be managed delicately. Quartermaster “Long” John Silver (Luke Arnold) will somehow have to get back to the treasure island without a ship (all that is left of their pirate fleet is one sloop, a sloop far out at sea), get the gold, and deliver it in a timely fashion without interference from Billy or others. Those will be interesting operations to see conducted.

The union of power and decision-making between Captain Flint and Quartermaster Silver was made very clear throughout XXXII. Each of them spoke with the others authority. They shared and debated intel and made the best possible assessments based upon that intel. That is why it was so baffling that Flint would make such a rash decision without privately consulting with Silver. You can’t say you are partners then make a unilateral decision that effects every pirate in Nassau.

If Governor Rogers doesn’t see Guthrie’s point-of-view on the Flint / Nassau subject, Flint might by the next pirate captain to be keelhauled. Rogers will though. Guthrie will use her pregnancy as leverage at precisely the right moment to get her way (Quartermaster Silver will do the same with the camp that Thomas Hamilton may have been sent to). Like Flint, Guthrie is a tactician. Unlike Flint, Guthrie has fewer scruples.

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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 ProMovieBlogger.com and Trending Awards.com.

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