Alright, everyone! This review is gonna be comprised of two episodes of Black Sails, including episodes XXXIV and XXXV. Both were excellent episodes (in their own rights); one had plenty of action and big shock and one advance the plot and saw the division between many of the characters, which is driving the narrative forward towards the series finale.
For starters, Woodes Rogers, with the aid of Spanish’s forces, unleashed a chaos he couldn’t control, seeing Spanish soldiers destroy the port city of Nassau (via cannon fire from their ships) and then on the ground (even taking the women and the innocence). It’s interesting that Rogers wanted to see it through, but that’s the kind of man he is (i.e. steely, determined, and stubborn to the bitter end). Of course, it was pretty cool to see (the Spanish soldiers overtaking Nassau), along with the action scenes in the Flint and Silver storyline (more on that below).
Of course, the most savage twist of all (and perhaps the most shocking) was the fact that Rogers’s plan of involving the Spanish forces got his wife killed. Yes, in this episode, we (the viewers) say goodbye to Hannah New’s character Eleanor Guthrie. Attacked by a wounded Spanish soldier (as she and Madi were hiding out in a abandoned house), Eleanor, try as she might, defended herself to the bitter end. However, her attacker was too vicious, mortally wounding her as she (Eleanor) she the man ablaze with fire, which set the entire structure on fire. I’m not going to lie…. this final stance of Eleanor’s death was pretty ferocious and harsh to watch. As I said, it’s kind of a horrible twist of fate, seeing a Spanish soldier kill her, which was a direct “cause and effect” motif from her husband’s plan; a notion that Roger must bear and live with that knowledge for the remainder of his life.
As Eleanor, much like Zach McGowan’s Charles Vane, she will be missed on the show. While she’s been a sort of “wishy-washy” character (always flipping sides), she been an instrumental character for the show’s narrative, one that played paramount importance towards all events. So…to Hannah New’s Eleanor Guthrie…I say farewell to you.
Then there’s the Spanish soldiers attack on the Underhill plantation where Silver (and most of their pirate / slave forces are stationed). This was where the bulk of the episode took place and it was great, with plenty of action scenes of guns, swords, and pirates fighting. With retreats and victories going on both sides, it was excellent to see the two sides go back and forth, but what changed the tide was the fact the Julius, the renegade slave leader separatist group appears and joins Silver in the fight to push the Spanish marauders out of the Underhill planation. So, victory is won for the pirates, but they suffered heavy losses in the process, which prompts Flint and Sliver to flee back to Madi’s village to regroup their forces. However, upon arriving, we see that word has spread of the news Nassau has fallen, which acts as a catalyst to other pirates and slaves in the area to gather and join their forces to overthrow Roger’s regime. Now, with more allies on their side, the rebellion that Flint promised (under the guise of Silver’ “Long John Silver” premise is about to beginning (a notion that I have a feeling that will prompt the ending events of the season).
Now…did Madi die? We (as viewers) never see her body, so I assume she’s alive (more on that in the paragraphs below about the other episode). Naturally, this news hits Silver towards the end of episode (after the onslaught attack on the plantation) and he’s pretty shaking up about it, which is to be expected. I think the presence of Madi (whether she’s alive or dead) will probably serve as the wedge between him and Flint, especially since Flint feels somewhat responsible for her death (since he left her and Eleanor in the abandoned house.
Lastly, Max, seeing danger on the horizon from the oncoming Spanish forces, flees the confines the Nassau fort and comes across Jack Rackham, who begrudgingly takes her in (he still a bit angry over past events) as they wait onboard the Walrus (their ship) for the outcome on Roger’s Spanish attack and word from either Flint or Silver. Naturally, this prompts for Max to see Anne (thank god that Anne Bonny is alive), who is horribly battered and bruised from her fight from a few episodes ago and, despite Max’s pleas to ask for forgiveness, Anne (being Anne) dismiss her, which somewhat mortally wounds Max. With word reaching them about Eleanor’s death, Max, feeling heartbroken over that and of Anne’s pain, confronts Jack and seizes the moment to share with him and plan to help end Woodes Rogers rule in Nassau, a plan that involves them venturing far north to Philadelphia to seek aid from Eleanor’s grandmother (Eleanor’s original plan). Lastly, before I forget, Billy Bones (bound and chained in Silver’s care as punishment for trying to turn Silver against Flint) most likely survived the attack on the Underhill estate as we see him being freed by a fellow crew members. This means that Billy is still a part of the story and will probably cause mischief in future episode (hint: the next episode).
In comparison to episode 6, episode 7 was more compact with character moments and narrative complexities rather than action shocked events. Much like in classic TV narrative story arcs, this episode follows the immediate aftermath of what happened in the last episode, seeing many of the characters in disarray and trying to figure out their next move (whether their move is right one or not).
The Flint and Silver narrative story got a new twist, seeing their division flare back up once again. With Silver somewhat silenced it in the last episode (with Billy), it seems that this one is gonna stick, seeing the pair of pirate leaders (as a unit) begin to crumble, especially with the news of Madi’s death. For us, of course, we know that Madi is still alive (something that gets revealed later in this episode) and is Roger’s prisoner. Much like how Flint’s was driven mad with grief over Miranda’s death in season 2, Silver is so blinded with passion and feelings over Madi that he’ll risk the entire “pirate rebellion” plan to rescue her. However, Flint, seeing the bigger picture at hand with the recent additions of pirate / slave allies, thinks that this is a bad idea. This, of course, draws ire from Silver, which acts as the “McGuffin” to see the pair spilt apart and drive a wedge between their alliance. It looks like this is going to be the “final straw” to see Flint and Silver as enemies in each other eyes. Can’t wait to see happens next with these two characters….
Perhaps the most interesting narrative thread in this episode was Jack Rackham’s story, which saw him (as well as Max and Anne) arriving in a very cold and dreary Philadelphia (a very different setting from Caribbean atmosphere on Nassau). To be honest, I was pretty surprised to see the show go to Philadelphia, which is pretty cool that they did, further displaying the world of Black Sails beyond Nassau (i.e. Charleston and London from season 2). Anyways, Jack, while waiting to see Eleanor’s grandfather, gets have a curious moment with an eager young lady, who badgers Rackham with various questions about the pirates of Nassau (including himself, Flint, Blackbeard, and Charles Vane) and their barbaric ways (according to the local newspapers). Toby Schmitz’s Rackham has always been a favorite of mine on the show and this little exchange with the young lady was great, especially when she mentions Charles Vane. After that, Rackham meets with Eleanor’s grandfather and (after saying what he comes to say) gets quickly dismissed by the powerful man, despite bringing word of his granddaughter’s death
Luckily, Jack meets Eleanor’s grandmother, who is the true mastermind of the Guthrie fortune. Comes to find out, she finds value in Rackham’s plan, but needs some convincing to make her stake is solid and not so folly endeavor. Fortunately for Rackham, Max is there and brings the young woman to meet with Eleanor’s grandmother, using her vast life experience and persuasive words to lure the powerful lady to their side. This, of course, was great scene in this episode, showcasing the back and forth conversation between Max and Eleanor’s grandmother, with the occasion of Rackham’s words. In the end, it works, with the grandmother promising all the supplies and provisions to see Woodes Rogers’s rule over Nassau removed, but with one final task that Jack must perform. Kill Flint. So, there it is. Jack’s dreams of eliminating Roger’s occupation of Nassau is within reach, but it all hinges on him removing Flint from the picture (and to be killed by his own hands). With everything else going on (from Flint and Sliver’s storyline to Woodes Roger’s story arc), it will be interesting to see where Jack’s narrative fits into the grand scheme. As a side note (from what I could gather) is that Anne is going to be stay and Philadelphia and seek surgery for her wounds.
Woodes Rogers moments with Eleanor’s body were powerful. Fragile and in mourning for the loss of his wife, it was nice to see him this way (something other than stubborn antagonist enemy, allowing him to add layers to his character. However, in his time of grief, Rogers is even more dangerous, seeing Eleanor’s death as fuel his resolve to defeat and overthrow the pirates and all who ally themselves with them. This includes the reappearance of a bloodied Billy Bones, who escape the recent attack and turned himself into Roger’s men, exclaiming to seek vengeance against Flint and Sliver and (through a bargain) will aid Woodes in order to do so. So it looks like that the pair have a somewhat alliance to see Flint and Sliver torn asunder…. I wonder how this is going to make the character of Billy Bones appear on the series finale episode.
Essentially, Black Sails episodes 6 and 7 were the “best of both worlds” for the show, complementing each other and showcasing two very different aspects of what makes the show great. One displayed plenty of action and propelling events forward (including the death of Eleanor Guthrie), while the other dealt with the aftermath and saw many of the characters dealing with very decisive decisions that they must soon make and overcome. With only three more episodes left in the season (and in the series), it will be interesting to see where the show goes from here. It’s definitely going to exciting and probably filled with some great moments in backstabbing and pirate action.
Episode 6 Score: 9.0 / 10
Episode 7 Score 8.5 / 10
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