Episode 408 – XXXVI

A rescue plan threatens to divide Flint and Silver.  Max learns the true price of freedom.  Rackham seeks his prey.  The Walrus enters uncharted territory.

(Summary provided by starz.com)

WATCH NOW AT Starz | Hulu


BEST FLINT MOMENT

Oh MAN is it rewarding to get back to basics – Flint telling a story and earning himself an ally.  It’s fitting that here at the end of the show, Flint gets explicit about his storytelling habit.  By spinning a story, fictional or true, the storyteller can control a situation while being above the influence of the story itself.  This is Flint at his best, controlling the narrative and getting shit done!

TODAY’S RUNNER UP

Max!  She gets everything she has wanted – a partnership with a powerful woman that guarantees her control of Nassau.  But she rejects it, realizing that it isn’t, in fact, everything that she wants.  Power without love turns out to be more hollow than she expected, and she gives up the most powerful position in her world on the off chance that she might someday reconnect with Anne.  I can’t think of anything more romantic, and it’s no wonder that Anne extends her hand to Max, both symbolically and physically.

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LOL MOMENT

Grandma Guthrie asks Max, “How well did you know my granddaughter?” and you can literally see the panic cross Max’s face as she imagines their more elicit activities being made known to Eleanor’s grandmother.

WELL-FORMED THOUGHTS

Israel Hands explicitly tells Silver that “the crown cannot be shared.”  Although Silver initially denies this, the episode itself seems to support this claim.  We’ve been led to believe that Flint and Silver are equal partners, but until this point, they’ve never really disagreed.  Now that their goals are diametrically opposed to each other, it seems that their partnership was just another iteration of Flint as captain and Silver as quartermaster.

The deeper question is this:  does the show want us to believe that this is inevitable?  Can any partnership truly be equal?  To be sure, the most reliable relational characteristic of this show is that partners will betray one another.  There is, however, one glaring exception to this pattern:  Jack and Anne.  Every time one of them “betrays” the other (Anne sleeping with Max, Jack accepting a captaincy without Anne on the crew), they forgive each other, accept their new reality, and recommit themselves to the other.  But this kind of partnership is extremely rare, both in Black Sails and in real life.

FRAGMENTED THOUGHTS

  • Billy told Woodes Rogers that he would find Avery’s journals in Flint’s cellar.  How in the world did Billy know they were there?  Never mind, I can imagine that the MOMENT Billy had control of Flint’s house as a home base, he scoured through every single one of his possessions.
  • I do admire Rogers for making his ambivalent feelings for Billy very clear by almost shooting him in the head.
  • Silver asks Flint what lies beyond the war, afraid that, “What if the result of this war isn’t beyond the horror?  What if it is the horror itself?”  The answer Flint gives is one of the most beautiful lines in the show.

“If we are to truly reach a moment where we might be finished with England, cleared away to make room for something else, there most certainly lies a dark moment between here and there.  A moment of terror where everything appears to be without hope.  I know this.  But I cannot believe that that is all there is.  I cannot believe we are so poorly made as that, incapable of surviving in the state to which we are born, grown so used to the yoke that there can be no progress without it.”

  • Flint is, at heart, an optimist.  This is why he is so compelling a protagonist.  Even when he’s doing horrible things, even when he loses his hope, we know that it’s there – a belief that something better than what currently exists can be attained.  God, I love him.
  • Flint has no aspirations to be king, making explicit his apparent lack of concern about Silver’s new title.  He sees Silver and Madi as leaders of the New Nassau, leaving us to understand that perhaps he is once more dreaming of walking inland to a place in which oars are mistaken for shovels…or dying in the process of getting them their power.
  • Which, okay.  Is Silver the best of them?  Really?  I’ve never really been a huge Silver stan, so…am I missing something?  The Madi love I entirely agree with (“She’s as wise as her father, she’s as strong as her mother”), but this statement about Silver seems hyperbolic.

“Why are you doing this?  Talking about us like it’s a thing?  A future?  I don’t know who broke it first, but it broke.  And there ain’t no putting it back together again.”

  • I love Anne’s honesty, and later we learn that Max does too!
  • “The defense of civilization is not your responsibility, sir!” shouts government lackey, which made me realize that Woodes Rogers and Flint are fighting a war of ideals, while people like this dude and Max are all, “Okay, but what about making money and just staying alive?”
  • I love Flint’s eye twitches as he evaluates Billy’s survival and what this means for him.
  • By openly defying Flint’s orders, Silver is testing whether or not Flint actually trusts Silver the way Silver has trusted Flint.  Based upon Flint’s infinitesimal head shake and body scan of disgust, things don’t look good.  Kudos to Silver, I guess, for really believing that Flint will eventually come to see his side of things because of their partnership and friendship.
  • The minor characters are getting some extra time!  We’ve got Mrs. Mapleton, Mrs. Hudson, Ben Gunn, Mr. DeGroot, Idelle, and even a mention of Charlotte!
  • Anne being unable to slice bread on her own is such a perfect scene of a powerful person made weak.

“Despite the world reminding her every day of her life that she’s undeserving of being given anything by it, that she was unworthy of what little she’d managed to take from it – despite all that, she never believed a word of it.  That woman has been fighting the whole goddamn world since the day she was born.  She’s a breath away from winning that fight.  For whatever reason, she wants to share the spoils with you, and you’d walk away.”

  • Idelle puts her hatred of Anne away because of her love of Max.
  • Grandma Guthrie and Max have the same conversation James and Thomas once did about civilization needing the pirates.
  • Max has officially replaced Eleanor, even if this is “the wrong river, the wrong woman.”  She has everything Eleanor fought for.  How lovely that later, Max doesn’t boast of this to Anne, but admits that Eleanor tried to teach her one final lesson – that all the power in the world isn’t worth anything if there is no love.
  • Grandma Guthrie lays out the profound limitations of a woman’s power in this world, that even the most intelligent woman has to hide herself behind a man in order to wield it.  But being reminded of all “the humiliations and the sacrifices and the defeats and the illusions maintained at so great a cost to your sense of self” inspires Max to make a bold decision – she says no, because she doesn’t want to risk being unable to be with Anne.

“You are the bravest person I have ever known.  The truest person I have ever known.  And I betrayed you, and it sickens me.  I am so sorry for working so hard to protect the wrong things, for failing to see that there is nothing important that does not include you.”

  • Now THAT is an apology.  Every episode makes me like Max more and more!
  • When Anne extends her brutalized hand toward Max, she is offering her the most vulnerable part of herself.  Reminds me of season 2, when she bares her scarred back to both Max and Jack when asking them to join in a new relationship with her.  She leads with vulnerability, which is amazing for such a taciturn, gruff woman.
  • TREASURE ISLAND!!  It’s getting piratey up in here!
  • I love that Silver tells Israel Hands that there is no hidden message about not killing Flint – he learned his lesson from season 2 when he accidentally ordered his fellow plotters to murder someone.
  • And Israel Hands obeys, even saving Flint and Dooley when they steal the cache, because he wants Silver to see Flint for what he is.  What he is is a mastermind, WHY DOES ANYONE STILL QUESTION HIM?  He’s made it clear that he will save both the cache and Madi, and why does Silver feels this is so unlikely?  C’mon, keep up your blind trust!
  • I’ll give Silver this, though.  He’s brave to offer himself to Woodes Rogers in order to protect Madi.  Even if I hate that his admission that he’s sent men to kill Flint must make Billy feel so smug.
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Flint the storyteller is back, and I’m shrieking with delight at my laptop again!

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

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Tarasque says:

    This quote, that you put in your disjointed thoughts section:

    “If we are to truly reach a moment where we might be finished with England, cleared away to make room for something else, there most certainly lies a dark moment between here and there. A moment of terror where everything appears to be without hope. I know this. But I cannot believe that that is all there is. I cannot believe we are so poorly made as that, incapable of surviving in the state to which we are born, grown so used to the yoke that there can be no progress without it.”

    I really LOVE it! This was my own Best Flint Moment of the episode (I love watching with this purpose in mind, and wondering whether our BFM will match!)

    Flint believes in humanity, and my god this is what makes me love him. He’s really so well matched with Thomas. And that he thinks he can be the one to destroy the old world but not the one to build something new shows how hard he judges himself and is such an echo of his conversation with Miranda at the end of season 2. That he doesn’t believe in his own goodness makes his faith in a better future purer, in a way, since it doesn’t stem from thinking he’s the chosen one to guide the others.
    I don’t think he’s still at the oar for shovel stage, though. This was largely brought by his hope of a future with Miranda. So yeah, he sees his own future as pretty bleak, for as much as he sees one.

    It’s moving, that he sees Silver as a potential saviour and leader of the new world. I agree that he sees something that isn’t there – but I think he projects a lot of himself into Silver, which is one of the elements that make me think he sees Madi as Thomas. Madi is the one who sees the path, Silver is the one with the talent to make it happen, like Flint was for Thomas. And Flint is their friend, which makes him trust them.

    Re: your own Best Flint Moment.
    Honestly, when I first watched the show (and even having been spoiled and knowing about Savannah) I really thought that the Flint + Dooley part was the beginning of Flint descending into madness or relapsing in the direction of his season 1 behaviour. Basically, I believed Billy’s predictions and thought that the two following episodes were going to be a tragedy of betrayal and destruction, brought by *Flint’s* choices. So this part still makes me supremely uncomfortable, because it does look like Flint is betraying everyone (and killing one of his men in cold blood) for a higher goal that he’s the only one to see – and that is largely a chimaera.
    That [SPOILER]

    it doesn’t turn out to be so is another of the numerous evidence of the writers’ genius.

    Israel Hands and his plotting against Flint: did it work like he wanted or not, in the end? (I’m a firm believer that the optimistic end of the show is the real one, so for me : not totally).
    Bur really, he’s got so much animosity against Flint that it makes me want to write fanfic of their previous interaction. What happened? Or is it that Hands is inherently wary about anyone with principles?

    Max:
    I don’t see her as just wanting to survive and make money. She wants to prove the world that she’s more than what it wanted to make of her, as Idelle says. And, as she shows here when refusing Grandma Guthrie’s plans (but as she also proved when she hid Anne’s crimes, and when her plan was to spare Silver’s life) this goal never strips her of her humanity, something rare in this show where everyone is ready to kill everyone else.

    (I guess I like her a lot! Even if I don’t agree with her reading of the situation, and feel, like Flint and Madi, that it’s only by believing in the impossible that you make it happen.)

    Also: are we sure that Grandma Guthrie didn’t guess about Max and Eleanor’s relationship? She seems very aware of Max lack of interest in marrying.

    The parts about Max and Silver in your review make me wonder: am I, or am I not a Silver fan? Like you, I can’t see him as a positive hero. But came into this show wanting to know how Silver had become the Long John Silver from Treasure Island, and I got what I wanted! Treasure Island Silver is a fascinating character, magnetic, lovable and absolutely without any kind of morals, and it’s great watching him emerge her. The amorality is here from the start, and doesn’t disappear. The ability for empathy and the understanding of people’s minds, I love how they built on it in the whole show, with Silver going back and forth between genuine feelings (for Madi, for Flint, for Billy, like he’ll display later for Jim Hawkins) and manipulation. The ability to inspire terror, second only to Flint: I loved how it came in gradually in seasons 3-4, and how Billy feels like an instrument of fate in this particular storyline – remembering how afraid Billy Bones is of Silver at the beginning of Treasure Island is very satisfying in the context of Black Sails, too.

    So I guess I’m a fan of the storytelling about Silver! Or that I even like him, like you’d like a complex, human, likeable villain.

    And lastly, because it needs to be said : your reviews are WONDERFUL! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    1. Tricia says:

      I love your comments! It lets me relive the story AGAIN.

      That quote is one of the all-time best, and honestly, it just gets better and better every time I read/hear it!

      I LOVE all discussions of the Flint/Thomas dynamic, and I think you are exactly correct that he sees Madi as the visionary idealistic Thomas and Silver in his “do the dirty work” role. I want to spend a lot of time over-analyzing what Flint’s new role is, and whether he’s aware of how much like Thomas he has become.

      I still don’t think Grandma Guthrie suspects the reality of Max and Eleanor’s relationship. PERHAPS she thinks they were close, which would have been scandalous at the time period because of race and class, but I think it’s unlikely that she would guess at a romantic relationship? Although if Grandma Guthrie ships them, I WILL LOVE HER ALL THE MORE.

      “Am I, or am I not, a Silver fan?” LOL I guess the fact that you are asking that means they are successful at creating his character! I like your intentional ambivalence, and I think I’m going to ease my own confusion by adopting it as well!

      Like

  2. Shona Silverman says:

    “By spinning a story, fictional or true, the storyteller can control a situation while being above the influence of the story itself.”

    Absolutely true. This is a sharp observation. The character telling the story takes control!

    Liked by 1 person

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