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A lot of big things happen this week on Black Sails. Eleanor’s trip to Philadelphia is interrupted. Berringer had a spy follow Max the night before, and now knows she met with Silver. And Blackbeard and company catch up to Rogers’ ship. Flint and Silver reunite. If you have not seen this episode yet, I advise that you stop right here, watch it, and then come back here.

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD! TURN BACK NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN EPISODE 403 YET!

Woodes Rogers and Captain Berringer have one last talk before Rogers takes off to be pursued by Blackbeard and his men. It’s a bit of a flachback/flashforward scene that reveals to us what the governor intends to do once the pirates catch up to them. In the legendary words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a trap!” They don’t go through the details here — we’ll get to see it soon enough — but when there’s ominous music playing in the background while the season’s main antagonist puts on the darkest expression you’ve ever seen from him, then you know their intentions aren’t all rainbows and butterflies. Hmm, maybe it would have been wiser to go after Eleanor. More on this later.

Speaking of people who should have been on her way to Philadelphia by now, Eleanor finds that her trip is being delayed because the soldiers accompanying her are needed elsewhere for the moment. Berringer had a spy follow Max the night before; he knows that she met with Silver. When Max further points out that four of her six men were killed in an attempt to arrest Silver, Berringer immediately counters with the argument that if she was truly loyal, then she would have notified him of the meeting and would have provided proper aid. Since Max decided to do things on her own (as she usually does), Berringer can’t help but condemn her actions as treasonous and holds her in contempt until she can provide information that can help him snuff out the pirate rebellion once and for all. If she does not disclose help, it’s off to the gallows for her.

At the same time, Berringer reveals that his spy trailed Silver and Hands before losing them in the Wrecks. Soldiers are now searching for them as they speak.

Elsewhere on the island, Madi and Flint make plans to see what support they have left inside Nassau. Madi goes into town alone and speaks with one of her contacts. It is then that she discovers that Silver is still alive and in danger of being caught. I suspect that she sent word right away because Flint and his men arrive at the Wrecks just in time to find Silver and Hands nearly caught by the Redcoats. The dynamic duo is reunited once again.

In Berringer’s office, Eleanor visits Max in hopes to appeal to her good senses so that a trip to the gallows may be avoided. When Eleanor asked Max why she refused to adhere to the law and not inform Berringer of the meet with Silver, Max vehemently recounts a series of events that happened the last time the law got its hands on an influential pirate: “Anger. Hostility. Resentment.” There were purges to combat those sentiments which only yielded more hostility and amplified the influence of the resistance that has reached every part of the island outside of Nassau. Knowing this could happen all over again with the capture of the dreaded Long John Silver, who is said to become the next pirate king, Max wanted to his capture to be more discreet rather than become spectacle. Still, Eleanor urges Max to at least give her something so she can get Berrginer off her back.

Immediately after, Berringer’s men return with news that Silver escaped. With them was a note (labeled with a giant black spot that will soon become an integral part of Long John Silver’s legend) urging the pirates still residing in Nassau to rise up and help them retake their home from the English. Angered by this, Berringer goads the people in the square to take action now. He’s only met with silence, which then compels him to call them all cowards.

Speaking of Silver, Flint catches him up on what’s happened with Billy and Madi to which Silver answers “Why aren’t we mad about this? I feel like we should be mad.” Flint is angry, but he’s more concerned about what they need to do next with the people they have left. There’s no doubt in Flint’s mind that since he has Silver by his side once again, his chances of retaking Nassau has gone up. With Silver and Madi also reunited, however, Flint may be concerned about an inevitable betrayal as well. After all, the pirates, including Billy’s men, are looking to Long John Silver to be the Pirate King. Their fearless leader who will drive the English away. There’s no doubt Flint will want to stay as relevant as has been for years.

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Madi’s contact in Nassau informs them that Barringer plans to execute all of the pirate prisoners today. The captain declared that if Silver had a problem with this, he’s more than welcome to come show himself and confront him about it. The problem, however, is how will they be able to even penetrate the town’s outer defenses? It would help if the residents of Nassau knew he was coming. Madi and her contact will see to the preparations.

Meanwhile, Featherstone and Idelle are scrambling to find a way to help Max. Featherstone tries to appeal to one of the members (former pirate) council who might be able to put up a resistance against Max’s death sentence, but the man refuses to be involved. Then Idelle enters with Madi….

Eleanor echoes Max when she warns Berringer of what making a spectacle of the executions might breed. She gives him an alternative (provided by Max), routes that Silver and his men are most likely to take as they approach Nassau. With this information, Berringer has a better chance of overwhelming the resistance quickly and quietly and without the unnecessary theater. Whether it was due to pride or mistrust, Berringer ignores Eleanor’s advice and waits for Silver to enter the town unimpeded.

Silver and Flint do make it into town. They’re accompanied by a good number of strategically placed men as well as a few more emboldened enough to rise up against Berringer. An epic fight breaks out, but it looks like the English still outnumber the pirates. That is until Billy and his merry band join in on the fight just in time. It’s good to know that Billy is willing to set aside his hatred for Flint so they all can achieve the next crucial step in retaking Nassau. Although, I’m pretty sure his coming to save the day at all has to do with Silver leading this fight.

The pirates gain the upper hand. Hands spots an opportunity to go after Berringer. They fight it out on the gallows. Watching this particular fight brought to mind all the warnings not to turn this conflict into a spectacle. And here we are now, on a makeshift stage where the final decision of this battle might take place for all to see. Hands severely wounds Berringer and holds a blade against his throat, waiting for either Flint or Silver to give the word. Silver nods and Hands slits Berringer’s throat. The episode ends with the dying captain holding a locket with his family’s pictures inside. Nassau falls to pirates.

Now onto the most devastating scene of the episode.

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Blackbeard and company catch up to Rogers’ ship and attack. Rackham stays behind on the to provide support while Blackbeard and Anne lead the vanguard. Things seemingly go well, killing everyone on deck, but they’re caught by surprise when the rest of Rogers’ forces spring into action from below decks. Both Anne and Blackbeard are captured, prompting Rackham to immediately strike their ship’s colors and surrender.

In an earlier scene, we catch a little more of what Rogers intends to do. In the same conversation he had with Berringer before departing, he sort of talks about the last time he unleashed his wrath on a pirate and his crew. For the sake of building up the audience’s dread, the details are conveniently left out until the actual showdown with Blackbeard arrives. What we do know is the line of succession in which Rogers intends to dispatch his captives: first the captain, then the first mate, and so on until one crew member is left to tell the story of Rogers’ cruelty.

With all the pirates rounded up, Rogers takes Blackbeard and prepares him for the worst punishment I’ve ever seen on television. The method he uses on Blackbeard is called keelhauling, which is where you drag someone underwater against the keel (or underside) of a ship, either across the width or from bow to stern. If you’ve ever seen the underside of a ship, it’s usually covered in barnacles which can be sharp as hell. No amount of words can accurately describe how brutal it is to see in action. Probably the most gut-wrenching part of it all was hearing Blackbeard’s body being dragged underneath the first time, when you realize what they’re doing to him. You don’t see it at first. Instead you see everyone else hearing and silently reacting to the sound. Blackbeard absolutely refuses to die. He endures keelhaul after keelhaul until Rogers finally decides to shoot him in the head.

Blackbeard’s refusal to die definitely unsettled some nerves. That may have been why Rogers decides not to continue his rampage on the rest of the crew. Instead he has his men secure Jack, Anne, and the rest of the prisoners and sets a course back to Nassau.

FINAL THOUGHTS: 

  • I got a chance to speak with executive producer Jonathan Steinberg about this episode where we talk extensively about Blackbeard’s death and how they managed to recreate a real-life form of punishment.
  • I’ve been sitting on this information for almost two weeks. It was torture. TORTURE!
  • Poor Anne Bonny. All she wanted to do was walk away from this life of piracy with Jack, and it looks less and less likely now. Some of blame falls on Jack’s incessant need to stand next to giants like Charles Vane and Edward “Blackbeard” Teach and be seen as their equal. The ultimate, yet subversive lesson here is to always listen to the women. You might live longer.
  • This is only episode three, you guys. Out of TEN. It’s only going to get more brutal from here on. I suggest you start keeping a box of tissues close by.
  • This week’s episode goes out of its way to humanize Captain Berringer a little bit. The parts where we see him missing his family reminds us that not every villain in a story is necessarily a bad guy. In Berringer’s case, he’s only doing what he thinks is right. Thrust a man into a world as chaotic and deadly as this one, and they’re bound to lead with a heavy hand. Especially if it’s against outside forces that want to undermine and kill you.

About author View all posts

Christina E. Janke

Christina is the co-host of “Intro to Geek” on Shauncastic and Editor-in-Chief at Agents of Geek. Her love of all things Mass Effect knows no bounds. She also carries an obsession with comic books, video games, and quirky television shows. Her heroes are Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Gail Simone. She hopes to be just like them when she grows up.

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