“XXXII” is the epitome of what it looks like when all hell breaks loose. The pirates were successful in taking back Nassau, but now the streets are overrun with men who have been cooped up too long under an oppressive regime. Flint’s plan includes reforming the Captain’s Council; however, many seem to think it’s a battle not worth fighting.
“All life beings in violence and wailing. It will pass.”
“A lot of things begin with violence and wailing. A lot of them end up that way too. Though I admire your optimism.”
This exchange between Flint and Silver highlights how easily these two have fallen back into step with each other. The reactions of both the pirates who had been on the island (listening to the stories of Long John Silver) and the men who have been sailing with Flint is quite telling. Islanders may still fear Flint, but they move at Silver’s request; while the opposite is true of the men who have been with Flint on the waters.
It hasn’t come to a head yet, but this tension, though subtle, is exactly the type of weak point that has the potential to crush their rebellion from the inside. The divide grows as the episode progresses.
“You told me once that the people he holds closest are most at risk of being consumed by him.”
“He and I have discussed it at length. So I thank you for your concern, but I’m going to be just fine.”
“I’m not talking about you. I understand that you’ve come to care for her, Madi.”
“Be very, very careful, Billy…”
“If anyone is at risk of being consumed by his need for this war, it’s her.”
Billy and Silver’s heart to heart doesn’t seem to have the intended impact; at least not right away. But the conversation strikes a cord that Silver can’t quite shake, and hours later he finally reveals the truth to Flint. While Billy tries to bring Silver back to his senses, Israel Hands has Flint’s attention when he reveals that though he’s new to their group, he’s not a fool.
“You’re counseling Long John Silver to be reasonable. To do what you want him to do instead of what he wants to do. Just wondering how long you think he’ll suffer it before he decides he can do better than you?”
Hands is speaking from experience as the once necessary right hand of Blackbeard before being tossed aside and effectively exiled. It’s a sentiment that is echoed from the same things that Billy once told Silver about himself. All signs point to an irreparable break between the “one mind” of Flint and Silver. Though it is painfully obvious (as several Black Sails characters seem to have taken to that phrase) that these two men do actually care for each other, foreshadowing is heavy with the idea that their true nature will win out in the end.
Neither really lets his guard down around the other, and the conversation they have after Silver comes clean is telling. Flint dodges question unlike anyone else in the series. And when asked whether he would give up certain victory to have Thomas back, he doesn’t hesitate to say no. “It is some kind of hell to be forced to choose one irreplaceable thing over another,” Silver admits; but the stalemate remains. Flint and Silver’s fates are intertwined until such a time as their will is carried out or they are both dead.
“The closer we get to the end of this journey, the more contradictions will accumulate, confusing issues we once thought were clear. I suppose the good news is that’s how we’ll know we’re finally getting somewhere interesting.”
That is how Flint ends the conversation between him and Silver; which is what makes his final move so jaw-dropping. Once the two see what Eleanor has to offer, Flint offers himself as the hostage to stay in place while this “truce” is carried out. It’s a bold move, right? Or is it pride?
What does Flint have up his sleeve that would make him confident enough to step into a hostile fort as a willing prisoner? Surely he’s not so tired that he, like Eleanor, just wants this war to be over. And the Urca gold that caused him so much grief and loss in the first season? It can’t be something he’s willing to give up so easily.
There could be some truth to what Eleanor has told them, but after betrayal she’s carried out since we first met her, can she be trusted? Has she come so far past the person she was before that she’s willing to throw everything away to pay her husband’s debts? Could this be her way of securing a future for herself and her unborn child? Love her or hate her, Eleanor is a force of nature who acts as she sees fit. Her brazen back room deals and scheming have saved her from death more times than I can count. Strong, intelligent women are one thing Black Sails is in no short supply of.
“Any man stood a chance against him is dead. If we don’t try something they ain’t expectin’, then we’re all f—ing dead.”
“If any of the men who stood a chance against him are dead, then what are you suggesting?”
Woe to the men who take one look at Anne Bonny and presume to know one her intent, her value, and her abilities. Having sat through nearly half of their remaining crew get slaughtered by a brute with a war hammer, Anne’s solution to the problem is to let her do what no man before her was capable of doing. Despite Jack’s vehement protests, he knows better than to tell her she can’t do something.
The brutality that ensues is hard to watch; but Anne’s dogged determination NOT to die make this one of the most intriguing match-ups we’ve ever seen her face. However, the uncertainty of her fate after the battle is won is troubling. She may have been able to do what no one else on the crew could, but at what cost? Anne Bonny, whose temperament at time can feel one dimensional, has proven time and time again that her motives are complex and her desire is always to secure a future that includes her and Jack.
With Jack back at the helm of a ship, and Flint out of the way to allow Silver and Billy to come to better terms, what happens next for this island under turmoil? Rogers has a gunship and the fire power of the fort while Julius and his army move toward the beach from inland. Beset on all sides, where do the pirates have to go to make it out of this alive?
“XXXII” threw every notion of a swift victory out the window. New threats, broken trust, and uncertainty provided an explosive episode that sets up a new act in this final season. Black Sails continues to shine as the culmination of well crafted exposition set amid cut-throat action. If there’s a better character driven action series on TV, I haven’t found it.
Black Sails returns next week with “XXXIII” at 9/8c on Starz.
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