Black Sails Season 4 Episode 6 Review: XXXIV

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For all you gentlemen who just watched Black Sails Season 4 Episode 6 in real time with your strong, independent wives, how long did it take for her to tell you: "You see that? That's what he gets for not listening to his wife."

Gov. Woodes Rogers missed that memo — but it's not too late for you, gentlemen.

All Rogers had to do was listen to his better half, Eleanor Guthrie and right now he'd be laying back in Port Royal, sipping a piña colada, under British protection, away from the war with the pirates and waiting for her to show up with a ton of loot.

Silver's last stand - Black Sails Season 4 Episode 6

But no. Instead, the Spanish navy and its ornery sailors — which he invited into Nassau to burn down and rape and pillage as they pleased — killed Eleanor at a supposed safe house.

Rogers rolled up on horseback, hoping to be her savior and instead was left holding her dead body in his arms and his head in his hands.

This strong hour, chock full of action and high drama, dropped the biggest surprise yet — the seemingly invincible Eleanor Guthrie is dead.

Madi also perished at the hand of a Spanish sword, but considering the desperate lives she and other Maroons lived and the colonial powers' contempt for them, it was less surprising.

Props out to the writers and director of "XXXIV," who recognized and clearly and accurately laid out the differences between the two strong women.

They each yearned for their own kind of independence, but for very different reasons, were denied it. Arguably, the best dialogue and dramatic moments were reserved for them.

Eleanor and Madi had history — linked by Madi's father, Mr. Scott. While he played the role of Eleanor's right-hand man in running Nassau, he was under no illusion she had his people's best interests at heart.

Eleanor: You trust him? Flint? Cast your lot with him?
Madi: What does it matter to you?
Eleanor: Before this war began, before everyone’s roles changed, your father mistrusted Flint as much as anyone in Nassau did. I assume you were in some contact with him all that time...and I’m surprised his feelings didn’t influence you.
Madi: You were my sister. There is very little I remember from when I was young, but I remember this — you were older, you were beautiful. I revered you. When you were told that my mother and I were dead, I have to believe that it affected you. You had just lost your mother. But if things were as I remember, my mother and I were your family, too. And yet, through all the years thereafter that my father cared for you, counseled you, labored for you, he never told you that we were alive. It would have been so easy to lessen your suffering by divulging the secret...and yet he never did. Have you yet asked yourself why that is? My father didn’t mistrust Flint. My father mistrusted all of you.

The Maroons and liberated slaves come up big once again this hour. Without their numbers and hunger for freedom, the pirates can't possibly hold Nassau.

And without Long John Silver turning diplomat and delivering his brother-in-arms, Billy Bones up to them as a peace offering, Nassau will never be theirs.

That background makes an early scene with Silver and Billy brilliant. Battered, bloodied Billy lying shackled and pained gets to hear a Silver lecture, tempered by a sliver of hope — but, alas, stubborn Billy rejects it.

Long John Silver: I did not want this. Flint is my friend. But I’m not what he is. I have no illusions about it. But for all the dangers he presents...for all his offenses, the one thing he’s never done is force me to choose between him and you. That...you did. But it isn’t too late to find a way to remedy it...You made a terrible mistake...and you paid a terrible price. But we’re at war...and you’re an asset. In spite what’s goin’ on, you are my friend...and the men out there have had their pound of flesh and our men...Billy I could walk out there and tell them the sky is red and they’d believe me. That’s the power you’ve given me. But I have to know this is over... your vendetta against Flint...your need to see him dead or departed from our story. I have to know you’ll never put me to a choice between you again. Swear it and this all ends.
Billy Bones: You chose. Live with it.

Meanwhile, Capt. Jack Rackham gets the prize for the hour's best facial expressions and lines.

Capt. Jack's Priceless Expressions - Black Sails Season 4 Episode 6

The look he gives Eleanor after she steps to him while he's talking to Capt. Flint and she discusses the conditions of her deal of her safe passage, British surrender and control of Nassau for the Urca d'Lima treasure?

Priceless.

His verbal retort to her demand?

Epic.

Eleanor: ...I am leaving. And as my collateral to ensure that this deal is consummated, he’ll be coming with me to the fort.
Capt. Jack Rackham: This deal? As in the one in which you walk away with all my money? It seems the only means I have in registering any meaningful disapproval of this deal at this point is to kill one or the both of you.

But watch Black Sails online and you'll see Rackham's hardly done. 

The erudite pirate was even better after Max — who betrayed both him and their mutual lover, Ann Bonny — steps to him and instead of an apology greets him oh-so-matter-of-factly while announcing her intentions.

Max: I came to find Eleanor.
Capt. Jack Rackham: I betrayed you Jack...tried to trade your life for my own personal gain, lied to Ann to her face about it...please, Jack...I beg of you, is there any way you can forgive me? That’s was the general sense of what I thought I might hear, coming from your mouth, were I ever this close to you again.

Poor Max.

Max Makes Her Move - Black Sails Season 4 Episode 6

Like Bones, she's too stubborn to realize that there's a big price to pay for burning bridges and self-preservation.

Once on board the vessel fleeing New Providence Island and admitting to the barely alive Ann that she backstabbed her, did she really think she'd jump at her offer to take care of her?

Back to the stubbornness theme for a moment.

Fittingly, shortly before her death, Eleanor at least tosses it aside, while in deep conversation with Madi at a safe house while Spanish soldiers are tearing Nassau a new one.

In that thread, the two characters started on the beach at the beginning of the hour, Eleanor — as much as she can — all but admits that Mr. Scott had every reason not to trust her.

She feels some guilt for using the master-slave social order to prop up her de facto rule over Nassau and depriving Madi of growing up with a father.

But in doing so, in the fashion we've all come to know as "Eleanor's Two-Minute Self Reflection," Eleanor only gets her own misdeeds when she thinks of her own loss — in this case, what she might've had with Max, if she'd only chosen to have left Nassau when Max suggested it.

Eleanor: When Mrs. Scott — when your father told me that you and your mother had died...[it] affected me a great deal. Must’ve been hard...to live hidden away for so long.
Madi: It was hard to be away from him. The rest of it...a mama that did the best she could with the rest of it.
Eleanor: She must’ve done well. I found myself thinking about it. Of walking away from Nassau, from England, from civilization...one can be happy that way, can’t they? A life of isolation, uncertainty, as long as it is lived with someone you love...and who loves you back? It is possible isn’t it?
Madi: It is.

Eleanor and Madi went out like the "sisters" they were, with Madi dying to protect her from the Spanish soldier who eventually kills her. Of course, true to her spirit, Eleanor wasn't going out without a fight.

Eleanor preserves her humanity and dignity, staving off an attempted sexual assault by greatly wounding her attacker, before his sword does her — and her unborn child — in.

How odd is it that the show ventures ahead without Eleanor?

It wasn't the British Empire, the Spanish naval fleet or the pirates that held the real power, held all the cards or called all the shots regarding Nassau.

It was Eleanor.  

Eleanor was the bright star around which everything and everyone else, whether they admitted it, orbited — Flint, Charles Vane, Scott, Gov. Rogers, Max, Rackham, Bonny, Silver. 

Even in her death, Max's invoking her name keeps her alive on board the ship, when Flint wants to toss her overboard.

She's selling Rackham on a voyage north to Philadelphia to find Eleanor's rich grandfather to invest resources in their sailing back to Nassau to deliver to Gov. Rogers the ultimate comeuppance for his indirectly causing her death.

Max's influence may be waning, but she knows how to manipulate pirates' emotions to suit her needs.

While Eleanor is gone, the pirates are not. In a tender moment, Silver showed his unquestioning loyalty to Flint by telling him Madi's death wasn't his fault.

And with their buccaneer brothers coming from all corners to the Maroon colony, where the Urca cache was delivered, we know there's an even bigger fight coming soon. 

Were you shocked that Eleanor died? Should the writers have written her off? Was it worth it to have Eleanor and Madi find closure?

Will Rogers learn he Eleanor was pregnant with their unborn child when she died? What do you predict will happen next? 

Keep your comments coming!

XXXIV Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (8 Votes)

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

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Black Sails Season 4 Episode 6 Quotes

Eleanor: ...I am leaving. And as my collateral to ensure that this deal is consummated, he’ll be coming with me to the fort.
Capt. Jack Rackham: This deal? As in the one in which you walk away with all my money? It seems the only means I have in registering any meaningful disapproval of this deal at this point is to kill one or the both of you.

Eleanor: You trust him? Flint? Cast your lot with him?
Madi: What does it matter to you?
Eleanor: Before this war began, before everyone’s roles changed, your father mistrusted Flint as much as anyone in Nassau did. I assume you were in some contact with him all that time...and I’m surprised his feelings didn’t influence you.
Madi: You were my sister. There is very little I remember from when I was young, but I remember this — you were older, you were beautiful. I revered you. When you were told that my mother and I were dead, I have to believe that it affected you. You had just lost your mother. But if things were as I remember, my mother and I were your family, too. And yet, through all the years thereafter that my father cared for you, counseled you, labored for you, he never told you that we were alive. It would have been so easy to lessen your suffering by divulging the secret...and yet he never did. Have you yet asked yourself why that is? My father didn’t mistrust Flint. My father mistrusted all of you.