Episode 202 – X

Flint gives Dufresne some advice.  Silver must make himself indispensable.  Eleanor is asked to depose a captain.  Rackham gets ambitious.

(Summary provided by starz.com)

WATCH NOW AT Starz | Hulu


BEST FLINT MOMENT

This episode IS Flint.  We see him at his most brilliant and most ruthless, and we learn from the flashbacks that he has always held these two traits.  It’s hard to remember that his actions intentionally resulted in the death of a LOT of innocent men when it is so damn satisfying to watch this play out:

DeGroot:  What are we waiting for?  Why aren’t we moving?  Give the order, Mr. Dufresne.
Logan:  Why the fuck are we waiting for him?
DeGroot:  Because he’s in charge here.
Logan:  No one is in fucking charge here!
Flint, coming from nowhere:  You have to sink her.

It is GLORIOUS to watch him step into command, bringing order to the chaos.  The men hesitate only a moment before obeying.  Captain Flint is back!

TODAY’S RUNNER UP

Jack!!!  This is one of my all-time favorite moments of his, and honestly, favorite moments of the whole show.  It is our first real glimpse at how complexly Black Sails is going to handle love, sex, and romance, and my first time through I was completely blown away.  In a lesser show, Anne’s confusion, Jack’s insecurity, and Max’s ambition would have led to a power struggle that would destroy them all.  Instead, Jack defuses the situation and basically says, “Alright, if there’s to be a threesome, let’s make this threesome legitimate and profitable to all of us.”

Not just profit, though.  His love for Anne runs deeper than sex or jealousy, and it’s so so beautiful.

“Darling, I can understand why you wouldn’t want to tell me about this, but please know that all I have ever wanted for you is to be happy.  Come to bed when you’re through.”

My heart.  ❤

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LOL MOMENT

I didn’t laugh at loud in this episode, but I did find Silver’s first failed attempts at ingratiating himself into the crew, and Flint’s subsequent confusion/concern, quite amusing.

WELL-FORMED THOUGHTS

The theme of the episode (and show, really) is “strange pairs” that can “achieve the most unexpected things.”  Thomas is the one who says this, referring to himself and James.  Thomas sees their vastly different worldviews as an asset, something that will make their combined efforts stronger.

We cut immediately from this flashback conversation to Flint and Silver.  Silver reveals that his only interest is in the gold, and that he doesn’t like being on the crew or being at sea even.  His motivations are selfish, but his goal of walking away from piracy is exactly Flint’s dream of leaving the sea behind until he finds someone who thinks an oar is a shovel.  Flint sees this, and pushes Silver to be better, to prove his usefulness to the crew.  Throughout the episode we see their differences – Silver explicitly says he doesn’t care if people hate him so long as they need him, whereas Flint desperately cares what others think of him (this will be revealed even more fully in future episodes).  Silver will put up with being ridiculed, but FlashbackFlint gave men a beatdown for insinuating an insult.  They are very different men, but strange pairs can achieve unexpected things.

I also think we see in this episode how “strange pairs” applies to Eleanor and Vane (though they share characteristics and have different goals, which makes me skeptical of their partnership), Silver and Randall (same goal of surviving, different ways of doing so), and Jack/Anne/Max (same goal of profit, confusing sexuality issues to be navigated).

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FRAGMENTED THOUGHTS

  • Billy is alive!  And being tortured very dispassionately by a British officer.  Civilization hurts you with a polite smile on their face.  This is, I think, more cruel.
  • Thomas is a dreamboat, insisting that the pirates of Nassau are merely a symptom of systemic problems in the British empire.  He is a man of deeply held values, and I love him.  He’s also clearly impressed by Flint’s ability to immediately list the numerous changes necessary to make Nassau a healthy colony.  And Flint, in turn, is stunned by Thomas refusing to be intimidated by this list (“Are you sure three ships would be enough?”)
  • We’ve long known that Flint is brilliant when it comes to manipulating battles, but we see in this episode that he is equally as good at manipulating people.  When he asks if Dufresne has read any of the books in the captain’s quarters, I think this is his last attempt to see if there is any reason to respect the man.  Dufresne fails, and Flint takes him out.  It is so satisfying to watch Flint tell him how “lettered men are harder to keep in line and more resistant to persuasion” WHILE he is manipulating and persuading him.  He uses flattery, vulnerability, and subtle criticism (they’ve been losing wind for hours and Dufresne hasn’t noticed) to thoroughly ensnare Dufresne’s pride.
  • The best thing is, Flint’s advice is sound.  Dufresne SHOULDN’T have attempted to take a prize.  If he’d gone back to Nassau to regroup as Flint suggested, he would still be captain.  But Flint knows that Dufresne’s pride will win over his good advice.  God, he’s brilliant.
  • In the tavern flashback, we learn that no matter how far James has fought his way up the ranks, his Navy peers still see him as a social climbing son of a carpenter.  It’s especially ironic to hear them talk about his supposed selfish motivations for keeping his assignment when we’ve just seen him try to talk Thomas into firing him.
  • It’s very interesting to me that Max implies that Jack has long known that Anne is attracted to women.  I didn’t notice this the first time through, and it helps explain why his later acceptance of their being in bed together, though still difficult for him, is not quite as shocking as it might have been.

Flint:  What was that?
Silver:  I am convincing the crew to allow me to remain with them.  As we discussed.
Flint:  Is that what you’re doing?

  • In an interesting flip, it is Flint who assumes his crew are too adult to fall for Silver’s ploy, and it’s Silver who cynically assumes they’re little better than boys.
  • I skipped Mr. Meek’s beheading this time through.  It is one of two violent acts that are just too visceral for me to watch.
  • The Vane/Eleanor stuff is very interesting this episode!  He shows up to a meeting, and he constantly tells her that “If you aren’t strong enough to protect your own interests, then I urge you to stop behaving as though you are.”  I’m a little confused by this.  According to his role in the Consortium, isn’t he SUPPOSED to be the muscle?  Why does he keep acting as though he’s doing them a favor?  Or is it her personal power, as shown in her bodyguards, one of whom is murdered by Ned Lowe?
  • I did really love their last scene together in which Eleanor is vulnerable with Vane.  She admits that everything she has, personally and professionally, is very fragile.  “You want me to believe that you have some manner of concern for me.  Then show it.”  But along with the vulnerability, she also offers Vane the “mysterious asset” on Ned’s ship, thus insuring that she can never be sure if his actions are motivated by love for her or for profit.
  • “If you’re trying to impress me, it isn’t working.”  Liar!  Flint is attracted to nothing more than persistence.  Silver stands up for the fourth time, accepts a beating, and finally finds the line in the sand…the poor dairy goat.
  • In the moment of Silver’s triumph, he looks to Flint for validation.  Later, when the merchant ship strikes a flag of surrender, Dufresne also looks to Flint in his moment of triumph.  Whether positive or negative, everyone wants Flint’s approval.
  • I love Flint teaching Silver the intricacies of piracy.  It’s good exposition for us, but I think it also shows that he now sees Silver as someone deserving of instruction.

“My concern for you is over that which cannot be known.  That thing which arises in you when passions are aroused – good sense escapes you.  All men have it.  But yours is different.  Darker.  Wilder.  I imagine it’s what makes you so effective as an officer.  But when exposed to extremes, I could not imagine what it is capable of.  And of greater concern, I’m not sure you do either.”

  • Civilization sees darkness and wildness and says to suppress it.  Pirates (as embodied in Ned Lowe) say to embrace it.  Is there a middle way?  **
  • Dufresne realizes that he was played by Flint too late – he’s lost the captaincy.  As much as I enjoy Flint’s success (that jacket!), Dufresne isn’t wrong.  Flint chose to put his crew in danger, and he chose to slaughter an entire ship full of innocent merchants and sailors in order to retake control of his ship.  This is…not good.  Again and again, the show asks us this question:  “What level of loss is acceptable as you fight to achieve your dream?”
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Can you even imagine?  Being out in public and someone at the next table looking at you like this?  ❤

** SPOILERS FOR SEASON FOUR

Any character talking about darkness makes me think of Flint’s speech in 410: “In the dark there is discovery, there is possibility.  There is freedom in the dark when someone has illuminated it.”  I think this is the middle ground.  Avoiding the dark and wallowing in the dark are both unhealthy.  Wading into the darkness with the goal of illuminating it?  That is where change is possible.


Not done reliving the episode?  Listen to Daphne and Liz’s podcast at Fathoms Deep!

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