Episode 7 of season 1 begins with Pastor Lambrick practicing his Easter sermon to an empty field before he is interrupted by a messenger on horseback tearing through his oration.
“Easter is upon us, an opportunity for renewal and rebirth both in spirit and the flesh. And yet we may also ask ourselves, ‘When the spirit is renewed and the body resurrected, what becomes of the sin?’ Will not a trace of it linger to mock and torment us, to remind us of the roiling pit of despair that awaits the unrepentant beyond this life? And yet does it not often feel as if life itself is the pit?”
It’s a short bit of preaching, but it’s fitting in an episode focused on Captain Flint’s plan for Nassau and the partners who fail to support his vision.
For what is Flint’s plan if not one of renewal and rebirth, one in which a wealthy Nassau can allow pirates to become soldiers and farmers? But Lambrick’s sermon asks us to consider this rebirth – can pirates-turned-farmers truly leave behind their old ways? Is a renewed Nassau possible, or will it forever be marred with the sins of corruption, greed, and violence?
Flint believes that, in the words of Lambrick, Nassau can be reborn without sin. But he is very much caught in the “roiling pit of despair” that Lambrick worries is a hellish current existence. He tells Miranda that he has made enormous sacrifices for his cause, some of which he is experiencing in this episode as Gates and Miranda abandon his vision. (*Other spoiler-filled examples at the end of this post.) Life for Flint is a kind of hell on earth, but he continues to hope for a hell-free future.
This is one of the strongest theological themes of the series: hoping for a better future even when the present seems like hell. It is fitting that this theme is explicitly addressed by a pastor preaching to no one in an episode in which Flint pursues his dream as everyone closest to him abandons him.
*We later learn that James McGraw created the persona of Flint to accomplish Thomas’s plan, and that he hated this persona (aka himself) a little more every day. For ten years. In pursuit of the dream of a renewed Nassau, he lost Thomas and then Miranda. He murdered Gates, his closest friend. He endured mutinies and sent his crew to their deaths on innumerable occasions. He partnered with men he despised and attacked innocent men. His life truly is a hell on earth.