Black Sails Season 4 Episode 2 Review: XXX

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Avast looking just on the surface or the horizon, landlubbers!

Look deep beneath the surface, into the complicated characters and complex plot, as you watch Black Sails online or on TV. That's where you'll find the real buried treasure.

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 2 is characteristically compelling, while still packing action punches. 

Eleanor and Woodes - Black Sails Season 4 Episode 2

On the surface, the passionate pirates battle the fuddy-duddy British Crown for control of Nassau.

Five key pirate honchos —  Captains Flint, Teach (aka Blackbeard), Jack Rackham and Flint's proteges Long John Silver and Billy Bones — battle to be the rogue king of Nassau and restore it to an unholy, hedonistic den of debauchery. And who wouldn't want that?

On the horizon, pirates could soon liberate thousands of slaves.

And European heavyweights Spain and England could soon throw down on the high seas.

Spain is still missing that bling pirates heisted from its vessel, the Urca de Lima. Spain has warned Goodes Rogers, the new British governor of Nassau to get it to Havana, ASAP.

But at depth, this episode lays out the essential truth: Whatever goes down in funky Nassau, everyone's fate revolves around Eleanor Guthrie, its bedeviling baroness.

Hannah New convincingly plays Guthrie. Since the show’s inception, Guthrie has been a slippery chameleon. Her true intentions while around paramours, pirates and politicians swing like a pendulum between damsel in distress and femme fatale.

Guthrie's confession to her new teetotaler husband, Rogers — whether she wed him out of self-preservation or sincerity remains to be seen — that her own origins aren’t as noble to him as they might appear, seems pretty sincere.

My grandfather was a pirate of another sort. When he was a young man he swindled a ship. Hired it to privateers. And earned a share of their spoils for his trouble. But he had an ambition for something fare greater than plunder — a desire to build something more permanent.

Eleanor Guthrie

Before getting hitched, Rogers seems to have she romanced half of Nassau. She and young, notoriously tough Capt. Charles Vane — who Teach mentored and loved like a son and who other pirates idolized — were once hot and heavy.

But Guthrie eventually sold him out to British forces — who, fairly, may have forced her —  who hanged him for piracy, treason and multiple murders. Guthrie's snitching on one of their own fires up the pirates to retake Nassau and snatch Guthrie.

Her betrayal also has alienated Max, her female former lover, whom she promoted to run the brothel she owns.

Jessica Parker Kennedy — who would be even lovelier on screen if the directors ever let her smile! — plays Max and she has more intel on Nassau residents and British invaders than anyone else.

Max, who also is in on the Urca de Lima loot — knows war is bad for business.

Guthrie annoys Max even more by deciding, with her husband, to flee, separately at night, in sloops, to escape Teach’s fittingly named ship, the Revenge.

Teach sent a derelict ship to Nassau's shores with dead Redcoats hanging in nooses from the sails and keeps his ship lurking in the bay. Message received. 

Nassau Beach - Black Sails Season 4 Episode 2

With Guthrie and Rogers gone, they plan to temporarily leave British officer Capt. Berringer, no fan of Max’s, because of her previous alliance with the pirates, in charge of Nassau. Berringer is bloodthirsty, has lost plenty of men to the pirates and his death stare and icy tone make Max visibly afraid. Very afraid.

Captain Berringer - Black Sails Season 4 Episode 2

Guthrie is trying to get to Philadelphia to find and hit up her super-wealthy grandfather to financially back a counter-attack on the pirates. Rogers wants to head to British-controlled Port Royal and appeal for help.

Max appeals, in vain, to dissuade Guthrie.

You and I both know that there are men on both sides of this war whose identities are so enmeshed in this conflict that they are more afraid of ending it than they are of losing it.

Max

Guthrie and Max, though, aren’t she show’s only headstrong women characters commanding this episode. Early on, we get a load of  Madi, leader of a community of Maroons — Africans who resisted and escaped New World slavery. She and Long John Silver have become lovers.

Madi plays two other major roles after she and Flint survive British bombardment and row to shore in a longboat.

She influences Flint and Bones to liberate slaves and enlist them to their cause and she convinces Bones, through deceit, that Bones needs Flint’s help.

[Bones] is the one keeping this place together. His men look up to him, rely on him, trust him. Many of your men trust him as well. He’s going to be relevant to what happens next here. That much is painfully obvious. And your first instinct is to dismiss him.

Madi

She lies to Bones, telling him that Silver — Flint’s executive officer — has told her the location of the Urca de Lima’s treasure. That move earns Flint leverage over Bones, who before his disappearance, was Flint’s confidant.

After Flint complains to Madi that she lied, Madi lowers the boom on him, firmly letting Flint know that in light of Bones's growing popularity, he should be grateful.

If Zethu Dlomo’s strong performance as Madi is any indication, we've gotta see more of her. Much more.

Madi shows both the sass on the battlefield to put Flint in his place and the tenderness in the bedroom to massage Silver's ego.

Silver has himself quite a rollercoaster episode. He goes from literally being up to his neck in seawater below deck on a sinking ship, to desperately crawling like a crab on the beach to survive.

On shore and handcuffed to a post, Silver is at his smooth-talking best. Remember when Silver first earned pirate sea cred conning Flint about being an experienced cook?

Silver's talking his captor Israel Hand — Teach's estranged friend — out of framing him for a Redcoat's murder and turning him in to British authorities for a big payday, is classic. 

Thousands of men in Nassau are living in fear of my return because I decreed it. Hundreds of dead Redcoats in a forest far from here because I made it so. I’m the reason grown men lie awake at night. I am a new beginning for Nassau.

Long John Silver

But not even Silver can hustle Max, when he and Hand try and win her back to team white-and-black. But in the fight afterwards, Silver appears to make a new best bud in Hand, after he saves his life.

Madi again is in another powerful moment. Role reversal takes center stage when Ruth, one of the newly freedpersons, physically disarms the wife of the plantation owner.

But how heartbreaking is it when Ruth reveals to Madi that the slaves' freedom isn't free — that six other plantation owners on New Providence Island split slave families up to hold men's wives and children hostage?

Madi and Ruth - Black Sails Season 4 Episode 2

We've witnessed for years the tension between Flint and Bones, who by this point are on each other's last nerve. It's thrilling then, to see these two settle things like pirates — with an epic sword fight.

But just when it gets good, of course it's rudely interrupted — maybe a little predictably so — by that pesky British militia firing on them.

Next week, will Bones and Flint play nice? If so, for how long? How much influence will Madi have?

Will either Guthrie and/or Rogers escape Blackbeard's wrath? If they do, how will Max operate with Berringer breathing down her neck?

Now that they're teammates, will Silver and Hand become a buccaneer version of Starsky and Hutch?

What do you think? Harrr! Stop reading and lob some comments!

XXX Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.6 / 5.0 (16 Votes)

Gil Griffin is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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