TV Recap

Black Sails Season 1 Episode 3 – III

Flint and Gates seek a partner to hunt the Urca d’Lima.  Silver helps Billy with a morale problem.  Vane impressed Eleanor by being reasonable.  Gates gets a promotion.

(Summary provided by


Q:  Now that I know the characters and plot, does the rape scene serve any real narrative purpose?

A:  I’m going to have to say yes, even though I still truly hate this scene.  On rewatch, without the shock value, I can even appreciate that they made clear what was happening without lingering on Max’s pain or turning it into rape porn.

But the thing that really stood out to me this time was how much this was of Max’s choosing, and what this reveals about women’s options during this time period.  Eleanor keeps trying to save her, but Max’s relationship with Eleanor has always had skewed power dynamics.  First Eleanor is paying for the privilege of sleeping with Max, and it seems that also being rescued is too much for Max.  By saying, “My actions cost you your pearls.  Until my debt is paid, I am yours,” Max is asserting what little control of the situation that she can claim.  I really think the show is trying to highlight just how shitty it was to be a woman at that time while allowing her some agency.


We are introduced to Unreasonable Rage Monster Flint in this epsiode!  We saw him rage in episode 1 when he fought Singleton, but that was strategic.  Here he is just pouty and furious and I love it!  It is also a wonderful glimpse of Flint’s relationship with Gates (father and emo teenager), and honestly, the comedy in this moment is just delightful.


Gates!  He is a first-class quartermaster in this episode, conferring with Hornigold and Jack, negotiating, appeasing Billy, and ultimately being handed captaincy of Ship #2.  He really is the only reasonable person in the show right now who’s focused on doing his job.  I love Gates!


Randall’s scream!!  “That’s what I’ll do if he should wander.”


Let’s talk pirate alliances!

It’s clear now that although each pirate captain is fiercely ego-centric, they must rely on each other in order for Nassau to survive.  There’s so much that must be navigated: captains, crews, ships, supplies.  As Flint, Gates, and Eleanor plan to take the Urca gold, they must form alliances with first Hornigold and then Charles Vane in order to have everything necessary.  It is fascinating to watch their negotiations, and to take note of whose decisions are based in reason, whose are based in emotion, and whose have a little bit of both.  I love watching these fundamentally different people try to find a way to work together…at least until it all falls apart.


  • We see a lot of Miranda Barlow this episode, though we don’t actually learn all that much about her yet.  She’s clearly very intelligent, and she seems rather sad.  Her relationship with Flint is a Mystery:  she’s comfortable seeing him half-naked and bleeding, he’s making intense eye contact, and she seems very familiar with his plans to take the Urca gold.  Just when she starts to open up and admit she’d hoped to spend more time with him, they’re interrupted and we must wait for more information until another episode!
  • Silver is still being smart, revealing only part of the schedule and helping Billy ferret out potential mutineers.
  • Flint:  And when the Urca’s ours?  What’s to stop me from killing you anyway?
    Silver:  Well, it’s a few weeks from now.  We might be friends by then!
    Flint:  *smirk*
    Silver:  *face falls*
    Me:  Hehehehehe!
  • Speaking of Silver’s attempts to win people over, his trying to charm Randall is so rewarding.
  • Pirate fashion includes:  billowing shirts, earrings, necklaces, ponytails and braids.  ❤
  • More statements on women’s roles during this time period when Eleanor talks to her dad:  “We made you into the man you always insisted to us that you were.”
  • Hornigold wants so badly to be important, but he’s just, like, sitting in a tent.
  • “No matter how many lies we tell ourselves or how many stories we convince ourselves we’re part of, we’re all just thieves awaiting a noose.”  (Callback to previous episode when Flint says the pirates are men in need of hope.)
  • FLINT’S LAUGH WHEN GATES SUGGEST THEY WORK WITH VANE!  I tried very hard to find a video clip of this, but failed.  Anyone who can will earn major brownie points with me!
  • This is the episode I started to like Vane, first with his “Be honest.  Are you as surprised as I am that I’m the only one here behaving myself?” and then with his empathetic talk with Max.  Although I don’t love his assertion that he had no choice in letting his men assault her while she’s chained up.  YOU HAD A CHOICE, VANE.  Sexual assault should never be a form of debt payment.
  • “You’re too clever for your own good, Jack.”  Truer words.
  • There’s a lot going on with Miranda and Pastor Lambrick, but I’ll stick with this:   Lambrick’s assertion that “It is Christ’s love of sinners that gave him strength to endure his agony” sounds a lot like Flint, and it’s telling that Miranda takes issue with this!
  • Eleanor rewards Vane’s good behavior with sex.  Vane continues to grow on me as he makes it clear that he wants to cuddle with her afterwards.

“How should you be?  You should be like a rocky promontory against which the restless surf continually pouds.  It stands fast while the churning sea is lulled to sleep at its feet.  I hear you say, ‘How unlucky that this should happen to me.’  But not at all.  Perhaps say instead, ‘How lucky I am that I am not broken by what has happened, and I’m not afraid of what is about to happen.  For the same blow might have struck anyone, but not many who would have absorbed it without capitulation or complaint.”


  • Are men ever forced to repay their debts through sexual favors?
    I thought not.
A rare Smiling!Flint appears ❤

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

2 comments on “Black Sails Season 1 Episode 3 – III

  1. I really appreciate seeing more of Gates’ and Jack’s roles here…and how tough their job is dealing with so many issues and personalities.

    There are so many laughs in this episode. I particularly love Flint’s rueful agreement with Miranda that the guy who patched him up probably was BOTH drunk and blind (or whatever that exact line was). Vane’s smugness at being the well-behaved one while Gates is visible screaming at Flint in the background. Jack’s long suffering patience. God, Flint and Vane would be so tiring to deal with.

    Smiling/laughingFlint! kills me b/c it’s so rare (my husband and I used to whoop with excitement when he’d even smirk later on in the show as Things Got So Upsetting).

    I agree with you that the rape scene was handled quite well, and re: the purpose it served. In retrospect, this show handles extreme violence pretty strategically…they deploy it to hit you viscerally and be very upsetting and also be important for plot or character. I didn’t know that on first watch so I wasn’t sure if the rape was just a throwaway scene to be edgy and a foretaste of future shock value stuff. I don’t feel that at all on second watch.

    I actually DO suspect that men in this culture were sometimes expected to use sexual favors as currency, and I’m honestly a bit surprised the show never hinted at that.

    This is the episode I started to like Charles, and really started to register his vulnerability when it came to Eleanor.

    Miranda!!! has occupied so much of my musings on the show since finishing it, and those thoughts increased even more upon rewatch b/c 1) I had forgotten most of the details about her and Flint that were shown in the first season; 2) I didn’t understand her AT ALL that season (my husband actively disliked her in S1); 3) I have such a strong head-canon for her/Flint’s backstory in my head after finishing the series that all their interactions seem crystal clear to me now; 4) I identify with her in strange way (for reasons too long and personal to get into but that sadly don’t involve big romantic drama LOL). It’s been fun to listen to my mom’s confused and intrigued response: WHO IS THAT WOMAN? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON WITH HER/THEM?

    But that first scene between them is so great, and actually SO revealing. I’d completely forgotten that Miranda lives on a whole working homestead with staff (which duh…more thoughts on this at some later date) and that Gates and a few other people in the area know to find Flint here so he must be here pretty regularly, but his crew strangely isn’t as clued in. He clearly goes to her when he’s vulnerable and weak, and this is an established pattern. Flint is clearly comfortable and familiar with her and the house, going undressed straight to the tea jar, but she notes that he is dripping blood on HER floor, not ‘our floor’ or even ‘the floor’ (:oof, my heart:) They act SUPER intimate, and he seems to be subtly seeking her approval. His face when he gives her the book is so open and pleased with himself, and his whole demeanor throughout is clearly a little crushed and confused that she isn’t as pleased with it or with him and his news as he clearly expects (though at least he looks properly embarrassed to be dumping an invalid/political prisoner) on her doorstep.

    SO, what is so clever about this show (and it’s a cleverness that didn’t occur to me on first viewing) is that we are actually jumping into the story when Flint is in the early stages of a huge emotional transition/crisis. The show doesn’t establish his desires, relationships, motivations, and then create obstacles for him. Instead, when we meet him, not only is he already on the hunt for the big score and driven by a Mysterious Backstory, but he’s been at it long enough with poor success that he’s dealing with a crew mutiny at sea and requiring a lot of political maneuvering to secure support on land. On top of that, we are introduced to a strange domestic arrangement that is clearly well-established but is immediately shown to include a subtle tension.

    At this point, we don’t know exactly how long these two points of tension with crew and Mrs. Barlowe have existed, and given later revelations in the show I think a lot of viewers jumped to the conclusion that Flint and Miranda’s relationship has always been tense, unsatisfying in various ways (yes, that one too), and characterized by her odd restlessness and apparent undermining of him, and his strange combo of passive-aggressiveness and submissiveness. And that the reason for that is the big shared past tragedy. But I don’t think that’s entirely correct. Not to get too deep into details until pertinent eps, but my clear impression on this viewing was that it’s mostly Flint’s recent-ish fixation on the Urca that is leading to the problems we as viewers are dumped into mid-stream. More on that later.

    Good times!



    • “God, Flint and Vane would be so tiring to deal with.” LOL truer words!

      I agree with your thoughts on the rape scene so much. On first watch it’s primarily upsetting because you’re left wondering, “Is this something the show is going to do often? Will women pay for their decisions with sexual assault?” But then never again!! So once you know that, you can watch the scene and see it for the (still upsetting) event that it is and all it reveals about Max and others. I’m so glad Black Sails only did it once.

      Re: Flint and Miranda. YES, the decision to drop us into the middle of tension rather than establish it on screen is BRILLIANT. It’s frustrating and confusing but so engaging. And very rewarding for rewatching. I completely agree with you about their relationship. I don’t at all think that they’ve been tense for a long time – if that were the case, I don’t think there would be the moments of tenderness. I think they’ve definitely struggled, but probably from a place of teamwork. It’s only recently that Miranda’s passion for the project has been waning (as we learn later), which has introduced a new disparity to their relationship.

      I love reading these comments, Tracy! Keep ’em coming!


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