Black Sails Ep. 408 Recap & Review – ‘XXXVI’
I have been saying this for weeks now, but it bears repeating: Black Sails is full of compelling and non-compliant women. This comes into full view when Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) is faced with a tough decision that could secure her alliance with Madame Guthrie as well as her power over Nassau’s commerce. However, the expense may be too high. Meanwhile, Flint’s plan to save Madi fails upon arrival and Silver is forced to show his hand. Jack returns to Nassau with a mission to find Flint, and kill him — if Woodes doesn’t do it first.
“XXXVI” is where we really start lying down the groundwork for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Billy leads Woodes Rogers to one of Captain Avery’s diaries, once kept away by former subordinate Mr. Gates, whom Flint killed in Season 1. In the diary is a map to an island otherwise not recorded on traditional maps — Skeleton Island. A perfect place to hide out and bury treasure, don’t you think? Billy and Woodes use this island to lure Flint and Silver so that they might make the whole Walrus crew “disappear,” but not without securing the cache first.
Silver and Flint are already on their way to save Madi, but quickly discover that Woodes is already waiting for them thanks to Billy’s insight. In fact, he’s already captured the forward party they sent out just before making their move. Woodes executes Flint’s men and then moves on to Madi. Seeing no other option, Silver orders his men to reveal the cache. Woodes spares Madi (for now) and leads them to the island.
This whole exchange makes Flint furious with Silver, mostly because he didn’t tell Flint of his alternative plans. The trust between them has been betrayed, the first major wedge between these two influential men has been firmly placed. It’s rather heartbreaking to see Flint react so angrily at this, especially after he more or less confesses that he doesn’t see himself as the one who will stand by Silver’s side as co-leader of the new pirate order. Instead he sees Silver and Madi as the ultimate balance in the world as they know it; that they together are the best their world has to offer. This admission sort of takes Silver by surprise since he’s been led to believe that Flint had no desire to give up his status. But it also drives home the point that Madi’s survival is vital to their plans for the future and that they must get her back.
It seems that Silver makes Flint see reason in his treachery, but the damage is already done. Earlier in the episode, Anne remarks to Max that she’s not sure who betrayed whom’s trust first. The point is that whatever they shared between them is broken and nothing can put it back together. The same is happening between Silver and Flint. The trust that bonds their friendship, that relationship that made them of one mind, is broken. There’s no fixing it at this point. More on this a little later.
Max and Madame Guthrie talk more about their future dealings should Nassau return to order and creates commerce. It’s here that Max shows her adept insight into how pirates and the businessmen who enable them think, proving her worthiness to acquire, reform, and run all of Nassau. But there’s a catch. In order to operate unencumbered by the businessmen who won’t even consider speaking to a woman about business, Max must marry a wealthy idiot. He’d be the face of Max’s business, but she’d be the one running it. A tempting offer that seemed to have worked fairly well for Madame Guthrie, but Max sees a fundamental flaw in that route. Her “husband” may be dull and have no real interest in business, but soon he’ll have a mind to interfere in Max’s plans. She has seen it done before, and Madame Guthrie has all but said it outright in the previous episode. Nearly every man, at least on this show, has laid waste to even the best laid plans thought up by Eleanor or Max. Madame Guthrie has even said her herself that her husband and son have often given into their baser emotions when it comes to business decisions. If Max is to have total autonomy over Nassau and its economy, she can’t be held back by a man who falsely assumes he outranks her. Especially if he’s led to believe that he’s the true head of their little enterprise.
Not only that, but Max couldn’t possibly abandon the possibility of repairing things with Anne. She still loves Anne, and she can not fathom a future without her in it somehow. As I said before, Max betraying Anne drove a wedge between the two of them. The differences between what’s happening between them and what’s happening with Flint and Silver is that Max has had time to reflect upon her actions. She was able to learn from Eleanor’s successes and failures. Most of all, she was able to realize that she was protecting the wrong things. No amount of success achieved from ruling over Nassau could yield a kind of happiness she could have gotten had she made her relationship with Anne a priority. Eleanor realized it too late and the chaos consumed her. Hopefully, Max has time to refocus her goals.
As for Flint and Silver, both of them are too raw to be truthful to one another about who the other feels. Flint lies to Silver when he says that trusts his judgement. We see a subtle hint that he’s already resolved in a plan of his own. He tells Dooley, his new right hand man, that Silver is no longer to be trusted. That his mind has been compromised due to his eagerness to get Madi back. While that may be true, Flint is already too far gone in his paranoia to make sound decisions himself. Flint is committed to continuing his revolution with the cache. Silver is committed to continuing the revolution without it as long as Madi is by his side. While the ultimate goal is the same, both men are unmovable in their approach.
Silver stubbornly tells himself (and Hands) that Flint will not betray him or do anything to undermine him. Given Flint’s track record with the men he has trusted in the past, Silver should have known better. Perhaps Silver thought that he was somehow different or better than the likes of Mr. Gates? That their goals are much too important for the either of them to betray the other? Whatever the reason, Hands definitely knows better than to continue trusting Flint after all that’s happened. And he was right.
Both parties arrive at Skeleton Island. While the men trade spooky ghost stories about the tragic fate of a missing Spanish crew, Dooley and Flint make a move to steal the cache off of the Walrus and hide it somewhere on the island. Hands catches them in the act, but lets them go. Instead he resolves to make Silver see Flint’s true nature. It’s here that Silver sees no other way in dealing with Flint. He must die.
- The governor’s council on Nassau is losing faith in Rogers’ ability to ever bring order to the island. Mr. Soames seems to be the only one who knows that Rogers is still pursuing the pirates for their cache despite their immediate threat being gone. He reminds Rogers that it is not his responsibility to defend civilization but to restore stable profits to Nassau for the British Empire. It’s so easy to forget what brought Rogers to Nassau in the first place. His initial plan was so dependent upon turning the pirates and getting them to end their illegal operations in exchange for something more palatable for proper civilization. But then he got so tangled up in the conflicts with a resistant group of upstarts that he’s lost sight of that. After Eleanor’s death, he’s spiraling down to a point of no return. Soames warns that if he causes another incident with the pirates that leads them (and another devastating skirmish) back to Nassau, the men under his command are sure to mutiny. Of course…given his pride and wrathful anger, Woodes is likely not to give this any heed.
- Mrs. Hudson finds Eleanor’s diary and gains insight to the who’s who of Nassau. As a result, she strikes a bargain with Mrs. Mapleton (Fiona Ramsay), the madame of brothel: information that will put her on the council in exchange for safe passage back to London.
- After her conversation with Mrs. Hudson, Mrs. Mapleton learns about where Woodes’ ship is headed. She then relays this information to Jack, who had already come to her.
- Featherstone and Jack seek out the last remaining man who once sailed with Captain Avery. He’s their only chance to find Skeleton Island where they can kill Flint (or at least make sure Woodes does it for them) and steal back the cache so they can oust Rogers from Nassau for good. This is a rather humorous scene because the man they’re looking to help them is old and drunk off his ass. And probably not all there in his thinking abilities.
- Benjamin Gunn (Chris Fisher), who has returned to the foreground, gets a lesson in finding things that aren’t on a map. If you’ve read Treasure Island, then you know Ben should have paid closer attention to Mr. De Groot’s lessons.
- ONLY TWO EPISODES LEFT UNTIL THE SERIES FINALE!!