The time calls for dark men to do dark things”. These words ring truth and echo across the Black Sails Episode XXXI. The winds of changed shifted in this episode, which showed the fall one of pirate leader and the rise of another. Overall, it was very enticing episode that was poignant just as it was brutal.
The first major part of this episode was what was happening in Nassau as Captain Berringer, now in control of the port in Woodes’s absence, asserts his authority, confronting and accusing Max on her involvement with Silver (their secretive meeting at the end of the last episode) and then giving “go ahead” to begin executing the pirate prisoners. However, while his smuggle attitude towards Max (and Eleanor) as he asserts his “stewardship” authority over Nassau, his attempts to seize the day victorious are cut short with the arrival of Silver and Flint (FYI…. Flint and his surviving forces save Silver from some of Berringer’s men earlier on in this episode). To make matter worse (for Berringer), the appearance of Silver (and his whole image of being the revered “Pirate King”) sends the freed people of Nassau to rise up against the British forces as they take up against Berringer and his men. In the end, a battle skirmish takes place and Captain Berringer meets his end (in quite a fashionable way) by Israel Hands. Pretty fitting and satisfying for a such a villain.
So now Captain Berringer is dead and, while I knew he was going to die in this season, it came to quick (in my opinion). Much like season two’s short-lived bad guy Ned Low (played by Tadhg Murphy), Captain Berringer was being set-up to be a major villain during this season, only to make it to episode 3 before meeting his end. I kind of wished they didn’t killing him off so soon (my only negative point of this episode).
Before I forget to mention, Billy Bones and his forces show up to help takedown Captain Berringer, aiding in Flint and Sliver. It will be interesting to see where this will go in the next episode. Will Billy side with Flint and Silver or, with his disagreement with Flint, interfere with the overall plan of Silver’s “Pirate King” status.
However, while Flint and Silver scored a big win for the pirates in killing Captain Berringer and (assuming) seizing the port of Nassau, Woodes Rogers scored his own victory and in his own dark and twisted way. While Teach’s ship caught up to Woodes’s ship, with an on-board battle of swords and guns, it was Woodes who came up on top, gaining the upper hand by capturing Edward Teach and Jack Rackham signaling the white flag of surrender. From here, rather than just simply shooting Teach or have him “run through”, Woodes chooses a more darker fate for the legendary Blackbeard, choosing his prisoner to die by keelhaul.
For those who don’t know what it is (yeah, it’s a really thing), performing a keelhaul is when someone is dragged through the water under the keel of a ship (scraping his body against it), either across the width or from bow to stern. For those who didn’t know about this old nautical punishment, it becomes quickly apparent when we (the viewers) see it done to Teach the first time around. It was gruesome and almost horrific to watch. Unfortunately, it was a shock that Teach actually survived the punishment, making Woodes infuriated with the revere pirate as he performs the keelhaul on Teach not just a second time, but a third as well. Yes, it gets even more brutal to watch with each keelhauled, seeing Teach being ripped and scraped by the wood and barnacles of the ship, and being deposited back on-board, looking bloody and battered, and barely hanging on. However, despite all that, Teach survived all three keelhaul attempts (although barely hanging on after the third keelhaul), ruining Woodes grand moment. Angered by his defiance to not die, Woodes quickly ends Teach’s life by shooting him in the back of the head.
In short, it was a well-executed (albeit gruesome) scene that showed the death of revered pirate character. Personally, I’m sad that Teach was killed off. I liked the character in the show and I liked the actor (Ray Stevenson) would played him. On the other hand, Teach’s death had to done as it will fuel the fire for the pirate resistance in Nassau. All in all, Stevenson’s Teach will be missed in Black Sails.
In the end, Woodes has finally scored a victory against the pirates by killing Teach and now has his ship and his crew, including Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny. However, Eleanor never got to sail off to Philadelphia (to see persuade her uncle’s help), so she’s stuck in Nassau, with the Flint, Sliver (and presumably Bones’s) forces now occupying the port. At the end of the episode, we see her quickly making a plan to gather food, supplies, and several loyal men to head to the fort, but will that be enough? Will she fall back in her “old ways” and side with the pirates or will she wait for Woodes’s to come to her aid?
All in all, Episode XXXI of Blacks Sails was terrific and well-crafted installment that was filled with some great scenes; a marriage of some honestly brutal moments as well as ending moment of triumph. With both sides scored a victory, it will be interesting to see where show (and the characters) will go from next. How will they deal with their losses and handle their triumphs from their opposing sides is definitely going to be interesting to see play out in the next episode. For now, we say goodbye to Edward “Blackbeard” Teach and Captain Berringer. The first was great and revered character on the show, while the other a great villain that was killed off too soon.
Score: 9.0 / 10
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