There is always a moment when attempting to achieve the impossible, when you cross the point of no return. Where you must make a decision that will permanently alter your life. On this weeks Black Sails, the show elevates itself once gain by refusing to play it safe and instead delivering more jaw dropping moments that one can take in an hour.
The pirates of Nassau prepare to hold the beach against Rogers and the Navy under the command of Billy Bones. This is the fight he has been preparing them for and they are ready for what comes next, ready for anything. Ready for anything but this, John Silver telling them that the fight is over. The deal is simple, the pirates are buying Nassau from Rogers in exchange for the cache of stolen Urca gold. Flint has given himself to Eleanor as collateral. Ms. Hudson is to row to Rogers incoming ship and persuade him to head to Port Royal and await her arrival. If Billy isn’t thrilled about this then you can guess how Rogers feels. It takes several warning shots fired from the fort to get him to leave the area…but not to Port Royal!
Bold and determined as Rogers is, he heads to Cuba, to Governor Raja. Rogers is betting on his reputation to keep him alive when England and Spain are at war and his ship could be blown outta the water at any minute. Met by soldiers at the dock, he asks for a meeting with the governor, his business card; Blackbeard’s head. Now if you’ve been following the show since the beginning, you know where this is going…the Urca gold. Rogers tells them that they want to destroy the pirate problem because they are funding their war with stolen Spanish gold (even though it’s Eleanor who asked for it).
On Nassau, Long John Silver takes a moment to reflect on the possibilities. Billy Bones is making sense and he knows it. But he feels he NEEDS Flint. Sitting in the Nassau seat of power, he struggles with the responsibilities of being crowned King. Responsibilities of a position created for him by Billy and to an extent, Jacob Garrett. Israel Hands walks in and instead of offering friendly advice, smacks the crap outta him. Make a decision he says. Soon after, Billy gets bold and offers to kill Flint and Silver appears to agree. When Flint surfaces with Eleanor, Billy will take him out.
What follows is one of the hardest scenes ever to watch. Billy thinks he is waiting for Flint when Jacob Garrett comes up and tells him that this isn’t right. At first it seems he may be talking about Flint, but it soon becomes obvious that he is talking about Billy. Jacob has been charged with killing him but refuses. Instead, the storyteller turns to the men, including Joji, Featherstone, and Dooley, and tells them that they have forgotten who they should be following. That they were given to Billy when John Silver was just a fiction. With a look, John sends in Israel to silence him. The fight is quick, and Jacob Garrett, former carpenter’s mate of the Intrepid, the gifted purveyor of bullshit and the man who helped great the legend of Long John Silver, falls.
So with that set up taking place elsewhere, Flint emerges on the beach to find Rackham landing with a small crew. Flint informs him of the deal, which for obvious reasons, visibly upsets him. But more importantly, he relays to Flint that the deal is null and void. Rogers will not accept it and he will return. There is a fear in Rackham’s eyes that we’ve not seen in reference to Rogers before. That alone is terrifying. We only get a brief appearance by Jack this week but as usual, he delivers the best and most haunting dialogue. At this same time, in the fort, Max and one of Eleanor’s men see something out on the horizon that instills a look of dread and fear…
This episode was about cutting ties. Some figuratively, some temporarily and some permanently. Eleanor decides to cut ties with Rogers. This is figuratively. She shifts her allegiance to Flint for a greater good. Supposedly for a better tomorrow with Rogers, but is it really just for the money? Vane’s words echo strongly because whether or not you believe in her intentions, she is betraying Rogers in this moment. Cutting ties with what represents his entire mission in life…the taming of Nassau and destruction of piracy.
Woodes Rogers cut ties with England’s interests. This is more of a temporary thing but a ballsy move non the less. Rogers is self-obsessed with taking Nassau and stamping out piracy that he will do ANYTHING to accomplish it. To go to Cuba as a Government appointed official and say that you have no stake in your own county’s war and also make a deal to lead Spain’s soldiers safely onto English territory (where they certainly have the manpower to seize control of it) is an act of treason. Not to mention the fact that his wife is the one who made the deal for a chest of stolen gold.
Then you have the pirate resistance cutting ties with Billy. He created the movement but has lost control of it to the very thing that created it. In turn, Jacob cut ties with them to stand alongside Billy. And of course John cuts ties with Billy. He chose Flint and at that moment cut ties with as he put it, his closest friend. There is something at that moment. Why choose Flint when he knows Billy’s right, even with the possibility that Madi could be the next casualty? Flint is the ONLY person that John can still be himself with. He can express doubt and concern with Flint. He can’t do that with anyone else. He tried to with Israel and got slapped in the face for it. He won’t do it with Madi, perhaps because she is a woman and he feels he must be strong. Perhaps because she cannot fully understand the conflicts he faces. In any case, I believe Flint won out of a need to have the one person near him that he can confide in and ultimately, understand what he is going through internally. Such a layered performance by Luke Arnold that continues to reveal new notes every episode.
Finally, I want to give a shout out to Aidan Whytock who portrayed Jacob Garrett. Whytock took a seemingly throw away character and made him memorable. We were waiting to hear stories of “Captain” Jacob Garrett and when he showed up again in season 3, he felt as if he’d been there the whole time. Jacob Garrett is a character that will be missed and certainly when out with honor, even for a thief.