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Black Sails recap: Silver’s identity, Flint’s steel and Rackham’s race to Skeleton Island on XXXVII

Long John Silver’s hair has been let loose over time, but not his secrets it seems

The three alpha pirates left, Calico Jack Rackham, Captain Flint, and Long John Silver had their moments on last night’s penultimate episode of Black Sails.

Even Eleanor was back from the grave in a haunting out of focus image as Woodes Rogers was quietly read the riot act by Madi, who brought home the fact his wife’s demise sat squarely on his shoulders for blame. The look on his face reveals this man knows the truth and guilt is reinforcing his cruel nature too.

This episode was shrouded in fog, a portent as various parties are all over the storied Skeleton Island. Flint and his man trying to hide the gold chest from Silver and several of his parties searching for them.

The traitorous actions of Billy Bones whose hatred for Flint has squarely made him Rogers’ boy are also sealed in. He counsels Rogers on the catlike survivor qualities of Flint:

The overarching mood is established by Ben Gunn, who tells his captain on the ship as they wait about the voices he hears, women’s voices, curling through the mist. Skeleton Island is playing with everyone’s mind.

This episode is also framed in brightly lit flashbacks as we see Flint schooling Silver on how to effectively sword fight, given his unbalanced stance. It also underscores the love Flint has offered to Silver and the deep levels of trust and love that cannot be erased for Silver too.

You may disagree but skipping ahead to the end of the episode when Flint shoots (and kills) his partner in crime Dooley, is that Silver’s life instinctively is the one he cares (loves, actually) most about, regardless of the clear and present danger of that decision.

Silver, it seems, in our sunny day sword fight lessons on the dunes, has a backstory that just isn’t sitting squarely with Flint who can eerily read people. The boys’ home origins tale is stripped away as Flint tells him point blank, I don’t believe any of it, and who the hell are you?

Silver’s lack of transparency and any quantifiable CV or traceable lineage to anything has us wondering who is this nothing that rose in the ranks of such lofty sea men, good and bad? Flint’s ability to see through bulls*** has Silver under his control despite all the poisoned well pep talks from one Israel Hands.

Back with Woodes Rogers, as you can see the physical effects of guilt eating him up.

Dark circles, teary eyes and a look like he’s haunted (he is) — emphasised all the more by a collected and calm Madi, who tells him to his face that she was not the reason Eleanor no longer lives.

Instead she says it was the insanity of Rogers inviting the Spanish to Nassau to run over the island and have their blood revenge here and there, the “there” being the Spanish soldier’s murder of Eleanor.

You cannot argue with the truth, but you can demand the truth teller be put back in the ship’s hold.

Madi’s earnest convictions are much more crystalline than Silver’s game plans, and despite their lovers’ status, she will pick the cause over the man any day, whereas the reverse is simply not true.

Comedy and tragedy exist in every scene it seems for our Calico Jack Rackham

The comic relief, if any, is firmly with Rackham, and Featherstone at his arm as they race to the gold with the one man who knows where this enigmatic haunted archipelago lay in the sea. Uh oh. Man down.

Our philosophical old sailor drops dead and Jack, who should be used to this sort of thing by now, turns to Featherstone and says essentially he better have taken notes with the geezer or there will be hell to pay. Featherstone gives him a barely believable ‘Yep. I studied for the test’ reply and retreats inside to the cabin. To be continued.

Unexplainable deep love between Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham, one of many complex relationships

As fluid as the vast ocean they all sail upon, the love that exists between Flint and Silver is not like what Flint had with Thomas, it is a fraternal love and tinged perhaps with a bit of want, but more rooted in shared experiences and complete trust.

So much so that Flint will kill his own men for Silver’s survival.

Complex, adult and nuanced relationships are this series’ calling card and modus operandi.

Miranda knew James (Flint) complicated heart and loved him, as did her husband Thomas

Whether it was Miranda’s unique relationship with James (Flint) and Thomas’ intense lovers’ dynamic, Eleanor’s fluid all over the board desires, the insanely connected Rackham and Anne, the writers continually have effectively given us a proper novel with richly fleshed out characters more than a standard pirate period teleplay.

The ending will surprise us all we imagine. Sad to see it sail off.

Flotsam and jetsam:

  • Kudos to the crew once again, the scenes are framed to perfection in both flashback and present day at the Island. Also interesting to note that Silver’s look became much more Edward Teach like than the neatly pulled back lad he was. His power grew and his hair was unleashed a bit as well.
  • The use of Eleanor in scenes, the haunting imagery kept in soft focus, that was a brilliant touch. Made it all the more chilling.
  • Skeleton island’s effect on the lads on ship. More could made, but the restraint of not “going there” with any supernatural distractions made the underscore of how psychology works over men’s minds demonstrates our imagination run amuck is often times our biggest enemy in life.
  • A moment of humanity for Billy Bones who recognizes one poor sailor bobbing in the water facing death, he turns his gun away and our man is spared for the moment.
  • Silver’s backstory itself, something horrific or utterly nondescript, now our imagination is getting the better of us! His telling remark to Flint: “Events of the kind no one can divine any meaning from, other than the world is a place of unending horrors. You know of me all I can bear to be known.”
  • Who knows Madi best? Flint! Who sees the beauty of her plan and wants to make it happen, and is smart enough to actually make her vision a reality.

Black Sails aired on Sunday, March 29, 2017 on Starz

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April is an accredited entertainment writer, interviewer and television critic. She is a current member of the Television Critics Association (TCA), Gay and Lesbian Entertainment... read more
April Neale
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