Black Sails: "XXIII" Review


Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Representing a crucial, meditative break in the action, Chapter XXIII eased up on some of the physical conflict (save for a short raid sequence and a victorious Vane sword fight) and upped the intrigue. Spain, and its nefarious plans for Nassau, took a giant step forward this week after it was revealed Woodes had a spy among his ranks. Along with, of course, the mysterious intelligence cargo aboard that ship Vane and Teach captured. The “treasure” that was designed to vanish regardless of whether or not the crew put up a fight or not.

So elements were at play here to – possibly – unite everyone against Spain. I mean, Flint saved his ass (and everyone else’s) by offering up a new world vision filled with a pirate/slave alliance against England, but perhaps England may have to become a temporary ally in that mix so that everyone can make sure Spain doesn’t charge in and massacre everyone. It’s all great stuff that really works to tie everything we’re seeing now back to the very beginnings of the series.

So let’s talk Flint’s plan. Again, as of last week, he still wasn’t in a good place. And this week he was all set to risk his own death for a chance at saving his crew (which was a perfectly fine idea in Billy’s eyes). So what brought Flint back around? What snapped him out of his defeatist malaise? Well, it’s Flint. So the idea of a giant new “go big or go home” world-changing alliance is what re-lit his inner fire. Because the big picture drives Flint. Not smaller ‘to-do” tasks or the specific details of plots. That’s Jack’s game. Flint is about the end promise of paradise for all who’ve been wronged. A group he now sees as including slaves.

And sure, some of Flint’s pitch may have been bulls***. Just a little. He was being a salesman, in some respects. His “stunt” was not begging and being truthful. Because, ultimately, he appeased the Queen’s need to rule by giving her a glimpse of a much larger land and citizenry. Saddled up to her ego a bit.

Black Sails Season 3

No, Scott didn’t die on the way to the island (I’m still fuzzy on how long it takes to get there via rowboats), but he’s basally a goner. Which I still accept. His role was made retroactively crucial with last week’s reveal and now, at least, the character gets to remain around a bit longer. To have conversations with Flint, his own daughter, etc. So we can actually hear his backstory from his own mouth. As mentioned last week, the Scott development was awesome and now to see it all leading toward the future of Caribbean nation development feels very gratifying.

Back in Nassau, the topic of gold became paramount. The Spanish spy (Mrs. Hudson?) basically let it drop that Spain knows – to the penny – how much gold there is. And so they’ll be having none of that “here’s what we found” deal. This means all the cash Max traded away, and that Jack and Anne now both share in, will have to come back. Making Jack’s decision to go back for a pardon all the more cringe-worthy. Uggggh. Look, I get it. This season, in particular, has been very focused on showing us how much Jack values his name. And how much he hopes to be remembered as one of the architects of a free Nassau. But Anne literally says to him “just a half mile farther and we’ve won.” It was definitely one of those “don’t be a fool!” moments.

Max and Eleanor had a their awkward reunion this week. One filled with surface resentment and unspoken heartache. And, much like Flint, Max wasn’t someone to choose either Option A or B. For those two, there’s always a C. A curveball to throw that still manages to benefit everyone involved. Here, she enticed Woodes with the prospect of mass wealth. Instant “found” money. Essentially bribing her way into the inner workings of the new government. Though now it seems that her ploy won’t work as Woodes will most likely need all those pearls for Spain.

The Verdict

“XXIII” gave us a nice brief rest from some of Season 3’s bigger action pieces so that chess pieces could move around and Spain could be built up as a much larger, shadowier enemy. Woodes and Eleanor almost kissed (though, is she playing him?), Vane had a great conversation with a dying Spaniard, and Max tried her best to ingratiate herself to the new governor. Plus, Flint is back in the “dreaming big” business.

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