This week’s Black Sails was another example of why this show is a television game changer. So rarely are characters given the opportunity to live and breathe in such a real way. There’s a real sense of life and death on the show Every episode holds you to the edge of your seat because at any time, anybody is expendable. No other show does that. We know in our hearts that Daenerys is not going to die on Game of Thrones, neither is Tyrion. We know for all of the Walking Dead’s cheap deaths, Rick will walk out at the end of the day along with his stupid kid. But in Black Sails, anyone is fair game and if they do go it will not be in a cheap way, it’ll be in a way that matters to us, there’s an emotion connection that makes us dread the next episode.
This week opens up with the Spanish knocking on the doors and then some, Eleanor taking Flint as collateral to await the cache of gems along with Madi and a handful of men. Jack, frustrated, prepares for battle. That is, until Max shows up on the beach informing Jack of the Spanish Armada. She joins him, his crew, Featherstone, Idelle, and the rest aboard their ship and the Walrus and head to the far side of the island. After all, what chance do they have against Spain?
The Spanish invasion is devastating and unlike anything ever committed to film. A fleet of ships, twelve to be exact, unleash hell fire upon the shores of Nassau, killing everything in its path. The Spanish have been built up as such an enemy over the past three seasons that it was hard to imagine what the invasion would be like when it came and I’m happy to say that it does not disappoint. The devastation to the town we know and love is intense. Woodes Rogers leads the men on shore but quickly realizes that he is not in control of the situation. As the Spaniards ravage the town, sparing no one man or woman, Woodes begins to realize that he has made a deal with the devil. His disgust and frustration is however turned to fear as Mr. Frazier and the governing heads of Nassau emerge from the fort without Eleanor. Realizing nothing is under control, he heads out to look for her.
Meanwhile, Flint, Eleanor, Madi and company are holed up at Mrs. Barlow’s house. On the other side of the island Silver attempts to repair the damage done by Billy. He offers him up to the slaves with one condition, that he survives their retribution. He also attempts to create a partnership with renegade slave leader Julius. Our heroes are separated to the four corners of the island and things are only getting worse.
Aboard the ship, Max demands to see Anne (who is bed ridden from her fight with the Navy brute. That doesn’t go the way it’s expected and Max is turned away. Standing alone on deck, it’s Featherstone that tries to console her. She says that how can you have nothing left when you’ve sacrificed so much? The state she finds herself in is the consequence of her actions, of everyone’s actions. That is the line that runs through the episode. Everything has its consequences. Black Sails has never shied away from dealing with what comes next but never has it been so visceral as it was tonight. Everything that has been building since season 3 has finally come to fruition.
Let’s start with Billy and Silver. I can’t defend Billy’s actions at the Plantation. He pushed the situation and let his hatred of Flint force him to do something I don’t think he would have done otherwise. He had been pushing for Flint’s removal for a long time, but when he finally presents Silver with the ultimatum, it’s too late. Silver and Flint have been alone together for months, bonding. He is warned but still pushes. He is already on thin ice because of trying to kill Madi. All these things come back to haunt him, leaving him chained up inside the barn and beaten by several slaves. No friends, no army, just his pride.
Max’s consequences are perhaps even more severe. She focused on Nassau and aligned herself with the Governor because she was in power. She certainly didn’t want to lose it. I understand that. But she turned on everyone that were her partners. She chose a better life instead of friendship and it cost her. She really had no friends. Even Idelle had distanced herself from her. So she turns to Eleanor and rekindles that relationship. And that is taken away. This is also a consequence (though twice removed) of her actions. Her desire to be queen has resulted in her having nothing. The scene between her and Anne is the most heart breaking because there was real love there and now there is hatred and regret.
O.K. SPOILER LINE. THE REST OF THE ARTICLE WILL CONTAIN HEAVY SPOILERS – YE BE WARNED
Flint faced the consequences of his war. As the saying goes, If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was. Flint held on to Nassau too tight and as a result, he lost everything. I really feel that returning to Miranda, Madi and his house, finding it in flames and seeing that death was everywhere, that he was reliving her death. Not only that but he lost all that was left of her. His actions have gotten every woman close to him killed. He may have been separated from Eleanor for some time but once they were together you could see that there was still love.
Eleanor betrayed Woodes Rogers by making the deal with Flint and probably thought the most she would have to deal with was an angry Woodes. But she underestimated him and as a result, signed her death warrant. Her actions forced his hand and he responded by leading in the Spanish. Ironically, it was the negligence of a single solider that got her killed. The crew cut redcoat that is left behind to guard the Barlow house as Flint and the others pursue three Spaniards. He was the one that knocked out the final Spanish regular but failed to stab him after. Well the Spaniard wasn’t dead and the string of events went like this: Crew cut knocks out Spaniard, Spaniard wakes and kills crew cut and Madi’s man that she had sent outside so she and Eleanor could talk. Spaniard then confronts Eleanor and Madi with deadly results. She turned on all her lovers so it is poetic justice that her lover turned on her. For those who are questioning that notion, Rogers did indeed turn on her. He knew what she wanted and he did what he wanted instead. R.I.P. Eleanor Guthrie. Thank you Hannah New for an incredible character that made us feel every thing under the rainbow.
Madi has really only one consequence that results in her death. Her dropping her guard and allowing Eleanor back into her heart as it were. She sent her man outside and as a result, was undefended when the Spaniard came in. Her death was tragic and painful, but never lingered on. I do believe she is dead and for that, I am saddened. She was an anchor for Silver and now he has nothing to hold his heart together. R.I.P. Madi and thank you Zethu Dlomo. You were a force to be reckoned with. NOTE: Yes there is a possibility that she lives but I’m not too sure. I will go with her dead until proven otherwise. If she does resurface, she will basically mirror Silver at the beginning of the season and show that she is truly his unkillable counterpart.
Silver’s consequence seems to also be tied to Madi’s death. He chose Flint over Billy even though he was told that it could lead to Madi’s death. It did. SO is Flint to blame? He is the one who made the deal for the cache and offered himself as collateral. He was the one who had them hole up at the Barlow house. He was the one who made the decision to chase down the remaining Spaniards. I’m not saying that these weren’t valid decisions just that he made every choice that resulted in, however indirectly, Madi’s death.
Woodes Rogers may be the most destroyed. At the beginning of the episode, aboard the Spanish ship, he realizes that he is not giving the orders. He let his desperation get the best of him and unleashed hell that he has no control over. His wake up call is simple. He now has a dead wife and unknown to him, a dead unborn child as well. What will he do next? Will he recover? We’ll have to wait and see but he has done one last thing that he is unaware of, incited the wrath of Max, and she will have her revenge.
Black Sails has done an incredible job of making a character accountable for their actions. This week saw so much tragedy that it is hard to shake off. The question is, what now? Where is Flint off to? What is there left to fight for? This week’s episode leaves us with an island full of pirates and maroons from all over the Caribbean who want to fight. Jack, Max and crew are on their way to Philadelphia. And Woodes is on Nassau, broken. And in a sense, we all are after this episode. This had to happen and was executed perfectly. This may be Black Sails most brilliant episode to date. Until next week, easy on the rum.