TV Recap

Black Sails Season 1 Episode 5 Review – V

Flint and the Walrus crew play a deadly chess match on the open sea.  Richard forces Eleanor’s hand.  Rackham makes a career change.  Bonny confesses to Max.

(Summary provided by


Q:  Why is Mr. Scott on the Andromache?
A:  Because Mr. Guthrie betrayed him!! How did I not understand this the first time through??


The show starts out VERY strong with a conversation between Flint and Billy discussing both trust and leadership.  They walk such an interesting and fine line between admiration and suspicion!

Billy:  How can you pretend you don’t have any doubts about this?
Flint:  Years of practice.  There’s always doubt, Billy.  No sane man would deny that.  No good captain would acknowledge it.

And then Flint proceeds to lay out every possible outcome of their chase, assuring both Billy and us that yes, he is in fact a tactical genius.


I would give this to Billy for his brilliant turn as quartermaster (especially in using Positive Manipulation to empower Dufresne), but I’ve got more to say about Eleanor, so I’m going to give it to her.

When her father cuts his ties with their business in Nassau and runs, Eleanor refuses to let her life’s work go to waste.  She forms a consortium, choosing the exact right people who are low enough on the pirate totem pole to be grateful for the chance to serve her.  And in diffusing power, she also diffuses responsibility the next time a mob appears on her doorstep.

I also adore her defense of Max.  Everyone insists it was Max’s choice to stay with the Ranger crew, and I earlier defended this viewpoint, but Eleanor is totally right when she says, “She chose it.  She chose it.  I’ve been repeating those words to myself for well over a week and I find them wanting.”  Who expected Eleanor to be the voice of morality on this show, huh??

Finally, in the wonderful words of Jack Rackham, “To assume we’ve seen the last of Eleanor Guthrie is, well, not to know her.”


There was no true laugh-out-loud moment in this episode for me, but I do love Jack’s conversation with Mrs. Mapleton and especially the camera-pan to his scruffy puppy friends lounging in the background.


This is our first real look at pirate boarding strategy, and BOY IS IT GOOD.  Even better on rewatch when I could finally understand everything that was going on.  There’s so much!  It’s wonderful to see the roles of every crew member, from Captain Flint, who plans the strategy, to Quartermaster Billy, who explains it to the crew, who carry it out.  AND WHAT A STRATEGY.  Using a sharpshooter to make the Andromache’s helmsman lose grip on their wheel so that the current will bring their ship alongside theirs so that they can board?  IT’S BEAUTIFUL.

Alongside the strategy, we get to see the crew up close as they prepare, putting on their Pirate Outfits and Paint, looking fierce but hiding from gunshot until the time to board has come.  We see how they psych themselves, and others, up, whether that means lying about being invincible or kissing their sword for good luck.  And then, WOW, is it such a good move to have us board the Andromache with Dufresne.  It’s his first time experiencing the fear and the chaos and the bloodlust, and we truly get a sense of how kill-or-be-killed the experience is.

After all that…the quiet aftermath, and PART TWO because this is secretly a two-parter and we have to wait until next episode to find out how Flint will finish taking over the Andromache!


  • “Who’s Mrs. Barlow?”
    “You’ve heard the stories, haven’t you?  She’s a witch who pledged my soul to the devil, and anoints me with the blood of infants to keep me safe in battle.”
    “Come on, I’m not stupid.”
    “No, you’re not.  So you can probably guess it isn’t as much fun to tell stories about how your captain makes a home with a nice Puritan woman who shares his love of books.”
  • Jack Rackham now owns a brothel!  This is problematic, but less so than Noonan, who was AWFUL.  Also, Jack is either a terrible or a genius negotiator, giving Mrs. Mapleton a raise from 3% to 40%.
  • It is SO REWARDING to see Billy and Flint working together successfully and nodding in happiness at each other.
  • The Asshole Pirate is truly reaching new heights of Assholery, and I hate him.  MAJOR PROPS to Eleanor for powerfully walking towards him as he threatens her.
  • This is the episode when Anne becomes a fully-fledged character!  First she and Jack have a lovely moment where she wants to kill her problems and Jack is all, “darling, no,” and then we get her coming to help Max.  When she takes the horrific 1700s abortion machine away from Mrs. Mapleton and does it herself, we see a gentle Anne for the first time.  When she shares with Max a story of her own reaction to sexual assault (cutting off a dude’s balls), you see just how brutal you have to be to survive as a woman during this time period.  And WOW, the sadness of this:
    “You were the one who threw me to them in the first place.”
    “I only thought they’d kill you.”
  • Flint and Gates are Billy’s dads.
  • Vane loves that Eleanor is stronger than him, and this will never not be attractive to me.
  • And now we get to see “civilization”s true face:  the respectable Andromache is actually a slave ship.  As if that weren’t dehumanizing enough, Captain Bryson is willing to kill women in order to force a man to go above decks on a suicide mission.  Grossness on top of grossness.
  • Speaking of grossness.  Mr. Guthrie SOLD MR. SCOTT INTO SLAVERY because he sided with Eleanor, and this is The Worst.
  • Before realizing there are slaves aboard, Flint wonders why Captain Bryson wouldn’t fear them burning the ship and killing everyone aboard.  It’s because Bryson (who represents Civilization and England) knows that Flint (who represents Piracy and Self-Rule) would never massacre slaves.  😦 I am dead now, RIP me.
  • Silver does not know how to shut up, even when cuffed to a couch, to everyone’s benefit.
  • I’m not sure what to do with this:  “Guilt is natural.  It also goes away if you let it.  But losing your life’s work, that doesn’t go away.”  It is definitely a very Silver thing to say, but I can’t tell if the show wants us to agree with him.  What do you think?


  • Is it TRULY so important to have an extra pair of (unskilled) hands boarding an enemy ship that they’d risk their only crewman who is good at maths?  Hmm.

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

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