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Black Sails recap: Madi and Berringer’s influence grows, Bones and Flint at loggerheads in XXX

Chris Larkin as Captain Berringer, who threatens Max in Episode 2

The second episode of Black Sails Season 4 sees Eleanor Guthrie a most wanted woman.

Despite this, she and her husband Woodes Rogers cook up a plan to get him out of debt and raise her family’s rank in society as Nassau has become ground zero for the conveyor belt of doomed pirates destined to be hanged by Captain Berringer.

Meanwhile, on more remote parts of the island an insurgency builds, fueled by the legend of its exiled leader, whose name keeps grown men awake at night…the one Billy Bones built up as Pirate King “Long John Silver”.

Bones, Captain Flint, Madi and their assorted loyal men and woman are at an uneasy stance with each other as they strategize on how to take over the island.

Before we get there, our story begins once again with Luke Arnold’s “Long John Silver” alive but in a pickle, his fate once again seeming sewn up.

The opening scene sees John dragged unceremoniously on the sand to a pile of wreckage on the beach, strung up by a bounty hunter (who we come to know later as Israel Hands, played by David Wilmot) who wants 500 pieces for the turning in of Long John Silver — who the Royal Navy and especially Captain Berringer (Chris Larkin) wants to make an example of to teach these heathens a lesson.

“I seen ya, before. Before you was ‘Long’,”says the bounty hunter. He says: “You’ve returned, you’re angry and you just killed one of the Governor’s men.”

Seeing a man, alive, hogtied and trussed up to the wreckage, John says: “I killed who?” He is completely confused.  The bounty hunter slits this man’s neck in a gruesome display in front of a terrified John explaining he will blame John for it and in turn make more money from the Royal Navy for his efforts.

Meanwhile, our new baddie Captain Berringer surveys the building of the gallows of Nassau. From a dim window afar, Max says: “I am told it will begin soon, the execution of the men captured on the beaches yesterday.”

In the boudoir, Eleanor tells Woodes her grandfather was a pirate of another stripe. She shared how her scandalous grandfather became a titan of commerce and wealth.

Woodes is assured her grandfather’s money could pay his debts. Scandal plagues Eleanor in London and may hinder her family’s willingness to help, but Woodes could elevate her reputation and save their family name in American and London’s society circles.

Back in Nassau’s port, a ship festooned with hanged men arrives in port as a horrified Rogers and Eleanor learn from Berringer that Teach (Blackbeard) holds them hostage in Nassau and demands Eleanor’s capture.

In a separate moment, Jack Rackham counsels Teach that Woodes will never release Eleanor, and a plan B is arranged. They will attempt to kidnap Eleanor under Rogers’ nose in a covert operation.

On a separate part of the island, the slaves overseen by Madi and Flint are preparing for a fight. Flint gently accused Madi of countering his leverage with Billy lying about the Urqa gold whereabouts.

Madi says to Flint: “The moment we arrived, it was instantly clear to me. He [Billy] is the one who is keeping this place together, his men look up to him, rely on him. Trust him. Many of your men even trust him as well.

“He is going to be relevant to what happens next here, that much is painfully obvious. And your first instinct is to dismiss him. Had I not stepped in, who knows how destructive that could have become for everyone.”

Now that Teach’s intentions for Eleanor are known by Nassau, the plan to get money for Woodes’ debts is changed.

Woodes proposed a Port Royal run to lure Teach to follow him as Eleanor heads out to Philadelphia to make the case for a debt relieving loan from her family.

In Nassau, the court of the damned is created. The long line of men are systematically brought before a judge and sentenced to hang. Berringer has a heart-to-heart with Max, who decries the spectacle of a public hanging.

Not Berringer, whose contempt for the pirates is epic and cruel. “I believe our current war is not over, I believe there are radicals yet amongst us still and I believe there is more you could do to be ferreting out the radicals,” Berringer says as he threatens Max directly about routing out Long John Silver.

Then he tells Max that Eleanor heads to Philadephia and the Governor to Port Royal. And as designated acting leader he will be in charge. A not-so-veiled threat.

Cue Max’s meeting with Eleanor who shared why she is going to Philadelphia. Eleanor sings Captain Berringer’s praises for his loyalty and his tough reputation.

Back at the wreckage on the beach with the bounty hunter, John asks him about the lies he referenced. John puts it together that the bounty hunter is, in fact, the legendary Israel Hands, who became jealous of Teach’s affections for Charles Vane. John works a plan to have Hands turn him loose.

Now Flint, Madi, and Billy’s plan is underway. They have a roaring gun and sword fight sacking their way through a plantation towards Nassau.

During this, we see Ruth — a slave of the plantation owner who is tending a sick wife and child quickly killed by Flint — greeted by Madi. “I heard you might be coming to set us free,” Ruth says to Madi.

Back on Teach’s ship, Anne Bonny is torn. She hates Max for nearly taking Rackham away, yet doesn’t want to see her or Eleanor hurt. “F***ing island, makes you do things you don’t want to do,” she tells Jack.

Rackham informs Teach of the governor’s plans. he also counsels teach about Vane and Anne’s mistrust of sentimentality.

This elicits the anecdotal backstory of Vane with Teach showing Vane’s pragmatic side. Rackham doubts if Eleanor’s demise would have even mattered to Vane if he were around to see the spectacle of it.

Back on the island, Billy learns from Madi that families were afraid to rise up as plantation owners deliberately pulled families apart and threatened their lives if any insurrection occurred. The slaves will not come with Bones and Flint.

Simultaneous revolts are what Madi suggests. Flint is on her side, Billy is angry. Flint says: “We came here to make a statement, and now that requires a painful but necessary tactical retreat. This was never going to be easy, it just is what it is.”

Cue a retreat as Bones defies Flint. “I’m through following you down a path only you are able to see towards a victory only you can define.”

This turns those loyal to Madi and Flint against Bones and his men. “Stand your men down, and follow me away from here,” says Flint.

Bones yells “fire” and a civil war erupts between their camps.

The commotion of this and of Woodes leaving the port of Nassau alerts Teach and Rackham to head to the deck. They command the crew to set sail to overtake him.

As we began the episode, it also ends with John and Israel Hands meeting Max while Berringer, of course, is spying on her and is aware of her every move.

And under the cloak of the night, she meets John and Hands to hear the proposed barter his release.

“Long John Silver. So big a name for so small a man,” she says to John.

“You owe me,” says John. She has cleverly alerted Berringer and has brought along some of his men to capture him.

Long John Silver is reeling as Hands fights back. John is set free in the skirmish. Max escapes and now John, armed with a pistol, realizes his dilemma has grown but may have a new ally with Hands.

Episode observations of note:

  • Max is both under Berringer’s watchful eye and despite his threats, he seems drawn to her physically; will this be his undoing in Nassau?
  • Is Eleanor really the reason Teach is holed up in the harbor and causing Nassau a headache?
  • The slaves playing nice with the pirates, do we think this could actually work or will there be a mutiny inside the ranks of Flint and Bones crews with Madi’s people?
  • Huge shout outs to the production designer Wolf Kroeger, Louise Coles’ hair and makeup design, prop master Egbert Kruger, and costume designer Tim Aslam whose hard work draws us into this gorgeously dressed cast and humid, salty and perfectly sea air rotted interiors and lush exteriors.

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 2, aired Sunday, January 29th at 9 PM ET/PT on STARZ


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