Everyone has passed the point of no return in “XXXVI.” Rogers, Silver, Flint, Rackham, even Max have all staked their claims and are all-in with the plans they each see fit. Never have all the players been so disconnected than in this critical episode of Black Sails. Tempers flare, vengeance is carried out, yet there’s a slight glimmer of hope as at least one bridge is mended. This eighth episode of the final season takes us to a new location and despite the meandering path characters have taken to reach this point, it feels very much like returning to the time when these characters first appeared on screen. Is it truly every man for himself going forward, or can this rebellion right the ship before it’s too late?
Flint and Silver are miles apart. Silver will stop at nothing to have Madi back, but Flint refuses to let go of the bigger picture. Israel Hands has some astute observations about this two-leader dynamic and the once powerful man begins to set his own plan into motion. As an outsider (and a cynic), he can see both player’s cards though neither has shown their hand yet. This deep into the season is when it becomes necessary to watch episodes several times to ensure that every nuance and whispered word is understood. If the series has taught viewers anything over the past four years, it’s that nothing is as it seems.
As the pirates tear themselves apart, Governor Rogers appears to have lost sight of his original duty. Politics do not stop to allow time to set right a personal tragedy, and the Governor risks losing his career in addition to everything else he’s given up. He’s so determined to carry out both Eleanor and Billy’s plans that he appears to have pushed all other though for Nassau out of his mind. Is his quest to “save civilization” too broad in scope? Or has his plan simply become to mired in revenge that he has confused the two sentiments? This unraveling of such an upstanding character is both magnificently played out and serves as proof that Nassau has a way of perverting people’s best intentions.
Amid all the violence and backstabbing, Max and Ann are working through their issues in Pennsylvania. Their journey has been fraught with anger and heartbreak, yet despite all the poor decisions, there’s something subtle but powerful about their relationship. To have pulled each other out of their darkest and deepest pits of despair, to have survived betrayals, and to finally be at a point where honesty above all else wins out has been endearing to see. Max, the daughter of a plantation owner and a slave, who was bought and sold, held captive, raped, and tortured is now a woman who has risen to the pinnacle of power in a male dominated space; and Ann, who was an abused child bride before she and Jack ended the threat and set sail for a life of plunder. These two women have found something worth holding onto within each other, and because of that connection, Max is finally able to make a decision because it is what she wants as opposed to what is best for everyone else.
Will anyone get a happy ending? Black Sails is a hurricane tearing through its audience with such force that it lingers for days after each episode, raising more and more questions as it spins toward its inevitable end.
Black Sails “XXXVI” airs Sunday, March 19, at 9/8c on Starz.