TV Recap

Black Sails Season 1 Episode 2 – II

"They're not animals. They're men starved of hope. If you give them that back, who's to say what could happen?"

Flint unmasks a thief on his crew.  Rackham chases a score over Vane’s objection.  Silver hides with Max in the brothel.  Eleanor faces an impossible choice.

(Summary provided by


Q:  When did I fall in love with Charles Vane?

A:  NOT THIS EPISODE, that’s for sure.  Despite the intriguing hints of his past with Eleanor, he is AWFUL here:  nearly murdering Max and actually murdering his second innocent black man in as many episodes.  Booooo!


“They’re not animals.  They’re men starved of hope.  If you give them that back, who’s to say what could happen?”

Idealistic Flint is my favorite Flint!


Eleanor!  During my first time through the show, I was too annoyed by her male-gazey big dick energy to pay attention to her character (this is why exploitative nudity and poor writing for women is so damaging), but this time I finally noticed how amazing she is.

Her first scene finds her comparing herself to her father, who saw the pirates as animals.  She, on the other hand, saw more in them and did more for them when she took over the island’s business.  Of course, she does later calls Vane’s men animals, so there’s also some interesting hypocrisy going on.

I also really like her conflicting motives about siding with Flint to pursue the Urca gold and remake Nassau – I’d wager she’s about equally motivated by communal good (Flint’s dream) and personal good (reassuring herself that her work there is not in vain).  I like a character with conflicted motives!


Silver’s belly flop, and especially the groan-scream he makes when he resurfaces.


The conversation between Flint, Eleanor, and Mr. Scott is the most important of the episode, the season, and perhaps even the entire show.  As such, I want to quote it in full!

Eleanor:  Why return at all to Nassau?  With money like that and my father out of business, why not run?  What’s coming our way can’t be outrun.

Flint:  But with the money I strip from the Hulk, we could add fifty guns to the fort.  We could build ships to defend our shores and train new men to sail them. We could work the land, grow crops and raise cattle.  Then whoever arrives on our shores first, be it England or Spain, will be in for a most unwelcome surprise.  A nation of thieves. …You have your doubts?

Mr. Scott:  Of turning pirates into farmers and soldiers?  Of fighting a war against Whitehall from a sliver in the Atlantic?  Doubt, Captain Flint, does not begin to describe how I am feeling.

Flint:  They’re not animals, Mr. Scott.  They’re men starved of hope.  Give that back to them, who’s to say what could happen?

Eleanor:  Why do this?  Why here?

Flint:  Odysseus, on his journey home to Ithaca, was visited by a ghost.  The ghost tells him that once he reaches his home, once he slays all his enemies and sets his house in order, he must do one last thing before he can rest.  The ghost tells him to pick up an oar and walk inland and keep walking until somebody mistakes that oar for a shovel, for that would be the place that no man had ever been troubled by the sea.  And that’s where he’d find peace.  In the end, that’s all I want.  To walk away from the sea and find some peace.

This is the moment when Flint gets Eleanor on board with his plan for a stronger, securer Nassau.  A Nassau so strong and secure that pirates can settle down and become farmers.  All Flint wants is to be free enough and secure enough that he can leave the sea behind him, and he assumes that everyone else feels the same way.  It will be fun to see whether or not he is correct!

I had a hard time believing that the pirates of these first few episodes weren’t animals and did, in fact, deserve Flint’s vision for them.  After all, in just this episode we see them pissing on corpses, beating prostitutes, and murdering innocent men.  I think we’re meant to have this visceral reaction to the crudeness of the pirates we’ve seen so far, because that is how “civilization” sees them.  It’s only as our story continues and we get various characters’ backstories that we understand what pain, trauma, and abuse led them to a life of debauchery and cruelty.  A good reminder that first impressions are often only part of the story.


  • That’s a lot of nudity.  As I mentioned earlier, it still feels exploitative and cheap.
  • I would love to know more about the history of Flint and Vane’s rivalry!
  • I don’t know how to feel about Eleanor’s relationship with Max.  Apparently, she only recently split from Vane, so they can’t have been together long.  And can someone truly be together when one party is paying for the company of the other?  I do believe Max loves Eleanor, but I don’t really believe it’s fully reciprocated.
  • Silver is seriously so smart, both with his misdirection on the beach and with his memorizing the contents of the page.
  • Max is also so smart, making the evaluator inspect every single pearl.
  • Flint:  “I never much liked your father; too caught up in appearances.”  LOL, okay, James.
  • Silver:  “Do you have a candlestick or…perhaps a heavy shoe?
    Idelle:  *pulls out sword*
  • I think that might be our first hint that background prostitutes are also real people with lives and intelligence (and not just Max as the token Special Prostitute).  Also, hello Idelle!  I didn’t realize you were a part of the show since the beginning!
  • It’s only episode two and we already have lovers being torn apart by the consequences of their own choices.  Friendly reminder that this show is a tragedy 😀  This is one of my favorite things, though, that relationships are rarely broken because of outside influence or lack of interest, but because of fundamentally different worldviews and goals.  Far more nuanced and interesting!
  • Honestly, what even is Jack’s hair?
  • Ninja!Flint makes his first appearance when he goes to the house of a Mysterious Woman and collapses.  He’s so tired!  If I hadn’t already fallen in love with him before, I would now.  
Let me take care of you!!


  • What is Mr. Scott’s plan for Nassau if he’s opposed to Flint seeking the Urca gold?

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

2 comments on “Black Sails Season 1 Episode 2 – II

  1. Re: Eleanor: “I also really like her conflicting motives about siding with Flint to pursue the Urca gold and remake Nassau – I’d wager she’s about equally motivated by communal good (Flint’s dream) and personal good (reassuring herself that her work there is not in vain). I like a character with conflicted motives!”

    I agree with your assessment here. Her character arc seems to be greatly about clarifying exactly what her own motives are, but my impression early on is that she was fairly self-oriented. She’s apparently been a rough and tumble fearless type since childhood, and has molded herself in the image of traditionally ‘male’ versions of toughness, possibly initially to win admiration from people like her father (sexist, racist, patriarchal) but also Vane in particular and types like him in general. Vane seems, if not overtly sexist, is at least more so than Flint (who seems gender-blind when evaluating and dealing with people); but Vane admires anti-authoritarianism, independence, and basic toughness. So he has (I presume) always encouraged her to rebel against her father, but he seems to not support the parts of her personality that teem with ambition to be in authority over a stable power structure. And he can’t understand her susceptibility to Flint Syphilis aka The Big Romantic Ideal b/c it involves establishing a stable society and power structure. Plus her father likely disapproves of her less ‘ladylike’ exercises of power (manipulation, deploying sex as politics, etc) even though they sometimes benefit him and the Guthrie position on the island. I’m not at all sure Eleanor knows what her own core ideals or identity are at this stage. With benefit of hindsight, I find myself really kinda wishing she’d just run off with Max to a bohemian corner of Paris and set up some sort of business. But at this stage, I’m not convinced she loves Max, nor that she’s really capable of it b/c she seems somewhat lacking a core identity.

    My husband and I didn’t really like Silver during Season 1 and we wondered if the actor, let alone the writers, would be able to pull off the character transformation (no worries, in retrospect). So it’s been a shock to me how all thoughts are so positive on rewatch. Look at how smart he is, how funny he is, how incredibly cute and innocent he is. His hair is so pretty! His eyes are so pretty! He’s so snarky! I even find his total amorality super-charming LOL.

    Max is someone I grew to admire rather than have intense emotional investment in, but she was certainly sharp as hell right from the jump. And Idelle! I share your surprise that she’s there already (I was so charmed by her later in the show).

    Not only did Eleanor catch Flint Syphilis during the Odysseus speech scene, but so did my husband and I. As my husband said many times over the course of the series as we discussed whatever insanity Flint was subjecting us all (tv characters and viewers) to, “I’m Team Flint. It might be a fucked up team, but I bought into his big ideas from the beginning, and also now [any time he’s suffering] I just want him to get whatever he wants so he can be happy!”

    And so say all of us.



    • All we want is Flint to be happy!

      “But at this stage, I’m not convinced she loves Max, nor that she’s really capable of it b/c she seems somewhat lacking a core identity.” YES. I’m a queer lady, so I’m very invested in the queer lady relationships in the show, but when I watch with objective eyes, they’re just as complicated as the hetero relationships. There is affection there, but also use and power dynamics at play.

      LOL at your reactions to Silver. It’s true – when he first shows up, it seems impossible that he will become THE Long John Silver. But boy, does he!! Which makes his snarky little adorable season 1 self all the more satisfying.


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