This week’s BLACK SAILS starts off with an important point. Who a man was is least as important as who he is. This is an undeniable truth because that past is the only insight into how that man might behave in any given situation. We all change, but our base motivations do not. As we come to the final two episodes of the series, one thing becomes abundantly clear to Flint as it does us…we do not know John Silver’s past.
XXXVII serves as both the destruction of the Flint/Silver partnership and an examination of it. Set against the backdrop of the search for Flint, there are flashbacks to a few weeks earlier, on the Maroon Island, where Flint teaches Silver how to properly sword fight. These are nicely crafted scenes that deepen the relationship but also set up the reasoning that will come to pass in the episode. We learn that Silvers youth in a boys home is a fabrication and we are now just in the dark as Flint. All we know is what we’ve seen. Silver is a complete mystery. In the present, Silver is ferried ashore by Rogers’ men to join Israel Hands in the search. That was nice of him. OK not really.
Woodes Rogers, the man who started out as someone we wanted to hate but couldn’t, has turned into a man we can’t hate enough. Not only is he hateful for the sake of being hateful, but he is half insane. He is unkempt, mad with vengeance, and sees his dead wife. As if that wasn’t bad enough though, Billy is feeding the fire. When asked which one will prevail, he leads Rogers to believe that it will most likely be Flint and he should make his move now. Taking a moment, he asks to see Madi again.
This is where things get very telling. Rogers seems to be at war with himself. He hates Madi and has no regard for “her kind” but also wishes to deal with her. This could be to assure he gets the cache and maybe it’s as a compliment to the memory of Eleanor. Either way, Madi refuses his “offer”. Interesting note here: Rogers despises the idea of compromise. He is an immovable object. So firm in his stance that it will be interesting to see what happens when the unstoppable force he faces (Piracy as a whole), doesn’t back down in its final hour. It is also interesting to note that as he sees Eleanor during his conversation with Madi, she is knitting. Something that is not representative of who she was, not even in his eyes. It says that he remembers an idealized version of her. Idealized by the society that he clings to. Woodes was much more progressive when he first arrived in Nassau and has further away from that the more desperate he has become. He and Flint are two sides of the same coin now. Their stories are mirrored and it is interesting to watch.
En route to Skeleton Island, Rackham speaks with his guide, an old man who once sailed with Henry Avery. The gist of the conversation is basically to hold on to piracy, hold off civilization as long as you can. Jack feels good and that they will be victorious. It’s a nice scene for Jack, who is kept mostly in the background this week. Later on, after he and Featherstone share a moment, one of the crewmen informs them that the old man has had a heart-attack. It’s a humorous scene but underscores the fact that for Jack, there will always be something that doesn’t go as planned.
On the Island, six men plus Silver, hunt Flint and Dooley. Flint’s superior strategy serves him well and he manages to fool the group into splitting up. He takes out three single handedly including poor Colin, a new Walrus member this season who is always in the background. This is just the warm up though. The real fight is about to begin.
We knew people were going to die tonight but this was a bloodbath. It begins with Rogers. He has a few of his men swim out and set The Walrus on fire. With it burning, the crew must abandon ship. DeGroot and Ben Gunn lead the men into the water but that is where the trap lies. Longboats in the water filled with Redcoats begin picking off pirates like fish in a barrel. In an instant, DeGroot is shot in the head. The man who has survived countless brushes with death and even Captain Berringer, is gone. Of course, the thing that hurts besides the obvious, is that Billy leads the men in the boats, shooting them in the head. When he locks eye with Ben, he lets him go. It looks like that is how he may come to be stranded here.
Now I have been wondering where Dooley’s head was this season. He still seemed to be leaning towards Flint and that question was answered tonight. Dooley sided with Flint all the way. He believed in the bigger picture. But as he was explaining his position to Flint, they are found by JoJi and the other pirate. This is the match up you were waiting for and yet so afraid of. It’s a hell of a fight. Flint takes out the one guy as Joji pins Dooley hand to the ground without killing him. I find that interesting. Joji was eying Flint from the get go, as if to say that he didn’t want to fight his brother. Plus, when he had won the fight and had the advantage, he didn’t kill Dooley. He simply took him out of the equation. The Flint/Joji fight is amazing and keeps you at the edge of your seat. Then Flint kills Joji.
After a skirmish with Hands in which Flint subdues him, the confrontation between Silver and Flint begins. It was a conversation that Flint may have indeed steered his way but enter Dooley. He had offered to kill Silver when necessary, in the name of what comes next and comes up behind Silver, pistol drawn. Flint doesn’t hesitate, he shoots Dooley who stands behind Silver. This seals it for Silver. Flint has killed another man, another friend in the name of his own cause, Silver attacks. The fight is short but intense. They seemed equals at this point. Silver so desperately wants to kill him while Flint so desperately wants to avoid this fight. The only thing that saves either one of them is the sound of explosions.
As Flint, Silver and Hands get to the cliff that overlooks the ships, they see the end of The Walrus. The ship that has lived on borrowed time since crashing on the shores by The Urca, is finally done in. It explodes. That’s where tonight ended. Three men watching everything go up in flames.
What a hell of an episode. It’s amazing that the show feels different on Skeleton Island and appropriately enough, it has changed forever here as well. RIP Joji, the silent and deadly pirate. Dooley, the loyal and ever vigilant, DeGroot, the salty old dog who we walked on glass around, and The Walrus, our home whether on land or Sea.