TV Recap

Black Sails Season 1 Episode 7 Review – VII

Flint tells Gates the truth.  Randall puts Silver in a bind.  Eleanor suffers a loss.  Max comes to Rackham’s aid.  Vane enters the fight of his life.

(Summary provided by starz.com)


BEST FLINT MOMENT

This whole episode is Best Flint Moment!!  I’m going to discuss what we learn about Flint in more depth in the Well-Formed Thoughts section, but his conversation with Miranda deserves to be here.  He is at his most vulnerable with Miranda (consider this scene compared to his tightly-wound conversation with Gates), and it’s beautiful to watch him fall apart.  

Flint:  What was your intent?  What was it?  To destroy everything we have tried to build here for the last ten years?  Or was it just to embarrass me?
Miranda:  To show you a way out of all this.  To free you.
F:  A way out?  Have you no memory of how we got in?  Of what they took from us?
M:  What does it matter now?
F:  What does it matter?  (Sidenote, HIS FACE HERE)
M:  What does it matter what happened then if we have no life now?  Because there is no life here, there is no joy here, there is no love here.
F:  WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?  What do you think I’m out there fighting for but to make all those things possible here?
M:  You’ll fight a war so we can make a life?
F:  You don’t get one without the other, my sweet.
M:  No.  You’re wrong.  I sent that letter to show you that you’re wrong.  There is a life in Boston.  There is joy there, and music, and peace.  The door is open.  I’ve opened it for you, and it requires no war, no blood, and no sacrifice.
F:  It requires an intolerable sacrifice!
M:  To accept a pardon?
F:  To apologize!
M:  Apologize?  Who will you be apologizing to?
F:  TO ENGLAND.  They took everything from us, and then they call ME a monster?  The moment I sign that pardon, the moment I ask for one, I proclaim that they were right.  This ends when I grant them MY forgiveness, not the other way around.
M:  This path you’re on, it doesn’t lead where you think it does.  If he were here, he’d agree with me.

Oh my GOD, this scene is devastating.  It was beautiful the first time I saw it, intriguing with all my confusion, but now that I know what Flint is talking about, WOW.  Wow wow wow.

Wow.

TODAY’S RUNNER UP

Silver!  From his reunion with Flint (coughing to Eleanor to remind her to be his defender) throughout his almost-accusal by Randall, he is scrambling to stay alive.  I continue to enjoy his unsuccessful attempts to charm Randall, and it is very telling that it is only when Silver is vulnerable, honest, and thinking of someone else’s benefit that Randall sides with Silver and takes back his accusation.  This is Silver’s first opportunity to grow past his compulsive selfishness!

LOL MOMENT

Definitely Silver’s wondering aloud at whether Randall is a half-wit or a genius, only to be answered with…a massive fart.  LOL, Randall.  I love you.

WELL-FORMED THOUGHTS

We get so much good Flint material here, both in revelations as to his motivations and in revealing his vulnerabilities.  In three scenes (with Gates, Miranda, and Eleanor), we see him searching for a partner who shares his vision.

First, with Gates:

Flint has kept many secrets from Gates, and now that Billy is a casualty of those secrets, Gates is done.  It’s telling that for as close of friends as they seem, Flint hasn’t told Gates much of his story.  In a last ditch attempt to win Gates to his vision, Flint tells him of his plan to sequester part of the Urca gold so that Nassau can be stable.

Flint:  I’m quite serious.  Who loses?  Absent their worst instincts: their pride, their greed, their suspicion, in the light of pure reason, who says no to this?  They’ll be rich men in a safe place rather than dead thieves on a long rope.

But it’s too late.  Flint opening up about a piece of his grander plan is just one more secret Gates doesn’t want to hear.

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Second, with Miranda:

I quoted the whole scene above, and I love it all.  Contrasted with Gates, Miranda KNOWS all of Flint’s plan (though we still don’t), and apparently shared it at one time.  The fact that she has given it up and wants to move with him to Boston is therefore a much bigger betrayal.  While Miranda has emotionally moved on to the point that she can say, “What does it matter?”, Flint is still living in the trauma of what happened ten years ago.  This too feels like abandonment and betrayal to him.  Flint is overwhelmed by all this, so he goes to the tavern to get drunk.  It is there that he finds a new visionary partner.

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Lastly, with Eleanor:

These two betrayals by his closest friends has led Flint to doubt himself, and it must be bad because he opens up about it with Eleanor.

Flint:  Tell me we’re not crazy, you and I.
Eleanor:  Crazy?
Flint:  To put ourselves through all of this, when the outcome’s so uncertain.
Eleanor:  The outcome is only uncertain for those who disbelieve.  I believe in this place, and I believe if there’s anyone who can do what’s necessary to make it something better, it’s you.

This is exactly what Flint needs to hear.  He needs someone to believe in him and to stand beside him.  His reliance upon a partner is his greatest weakness and greatest strength, and I’m so excited to watch the series while tracking Flint’s highs and lows as compared to the state of his partnerships.

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FRAGMENTED THOUGHTS

  • So far we have seen people question Flint’s loyalty (as it pertains to his crew), but he’s clearly VERY loyal to Miranda at least.  He consistently defends her against those who want her to answer for her letter.  She wasn’t wrong in a previous episode when she assured Lambrick that Flint would never hurt her.
  • My favorite sex scenes in this show are the ones with really bad sex!  Love the mundane relationship sex between Anne and Jack, who can’t keep it up because he’s busy worrying and thinking.
  • Dufresne was elected quartermaster by the crew, and it was so cute watching Gates and Flint giggle together about Dufresne “chewing a man’s throat out.”
  • Mr. Scott and Eleanor reuniting was bittersweet.  Eleanor is so self-focused on what seems like his betrayal that she doesn’t even show concern that he was sold as a slave.  When he points out his true relationship to her family, she is touched.  So much so that she manages to free all of the slaves from the Andromache and find them paid work.  Yay Eleanor!  It is tragic that now, when they best understand and support each other, they must part ways.  Eleanor is pissed, but I think Mr. Scott is right.  They can’t sustain this healthy relationship if they continue to work together.
  • Flint does NOT handle being accused by Gates very well.  It was totally uncalled for when he, in turn, accused Gates of being a bad father to Billy.  It was a low blow to hurt Gates, though I also think he was displacing the blame he feels himself.
  • Flint really is shocked that his crew would think he sees them as expendable.  This makes what will happen in the next episode extra heartbreaking.
  • Also re: Flint’s lack of self-awareness, he extols “the light of pure reason” with Gates, but his conversation with Miranda reveals that he operates almost entirely upon emotion.  I don’t think he realizes that about himself.
  • Flint kisses Eleanor on the forehead, just like he did to Miranda a couple episodes ago.  Hm!
  • Um, also, while Flint is being accused of keeping secrets “for the good of the crew,” Dufresne, DeGroot, and Other Guy are doing the exact same thing!  They know that if they brought Silver before the crew, he would be hung and the Urca location would be lost.  So instead they act alone!  Which is, I think, the right decision.  So why are they all so hard on Flint?  Because they don’t trust him.  😦  TRUST HIM, YOU FOOLS.
  • Jack is really bad at running a brothel, so Max steps in to show him how it’s done.  While this ought to feel empowering and awesome, I don’t love how she goes about it.  In an attempt to distance herself from her past and her shame, Max 1) slaps a coworker and 2) says, “In my experience, if you do not discipline a whore she will always take advantage.”  Which is just…very dehumanizing?  I’m all for Max rising in station, but I don’t love that it comes at the expense of others.
  • There’s a mutiny against Flint, not just to oust him as captain, but to kill him!!  NOOO.
  • Finally, Vane!  This episode gives us a fascinating glimpse into his past, and while I don’t fully understand it, it’s clear that he’s conquered his demons and literally risen from the grave a stronger man.  It was bizarre to see him stutter and avoid eye contact, and I love the vulnerability that returning to the place where he was a child slave brought out of him.
  • This is the first we see of Vane’s lack of self-preservation in the face of a cause he believes in.  Even when the slave master knows Vane was a slave, he gives him the men Vane needs to take Nassau.  This could be enough, but a “good” slave master is still a slave master to Vane, so he gives a rousing speech of freedom to the men and is “killed” as a result.  But not for long.
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He looks really good for a recently dead guy.

Every episode is stronger than the one before it, but this is where I get REALLY emotionally involved in this show.  It’s full-blown obsession from here on out, and I can’t WAIT to rewatch it all again, though hopefully at a slower pace than my first time through!


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

5 comments on “Black Sails Season 1 Episode 7 Review – VII

  1. Thanks for a thought-provoking post. About the Flint/Eleanor non-kiss: it may reveal something about him but it may also reveal something about her. If he had, she looked as if she would have kissed him right back. Was she attracted to him or his power?

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    • Thank you for the comment, Tina!

      I agree with you-the scene reads as though Eleanor would have kissed him if he’d tried. I think this is partly because she tends to combine her sexuality with business, so it wouldn’t feel unusual. But more than that, she and Flint share a vision, an intimacy, that is in the process of being categorized. I think they are attracted to each other, but this show allows for nuanced attraction – from platonic to sexual and stages in between. He is also one of the first men to treat her as an adult, as someone worthy of collaborating with, and that has to be a heady feeling. There is so much in this little moment-thank you for encouraging me to dig deeper! What do you think?

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      • I like the idea that when it comes to her male partners she combines sex with business, as if their power is a turn on for her. The show indeed treats attraction as fluid—Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Love is love is love” refrain at the Tony Awards ran through my head repeatedly as I watched the show. And I hadn’t thought about it but he treated her as an equal as you noted. Sigh. I could think about this show often.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You sum up all the great stuff so well that I actually don’t have a lot to add apart from nodding agreement.

    Argh! I hate the separation of Mr. Scott from Eleanor, even though it is logical, given what’s been happening. Loved their scene, though.

    Poor Silver, so desperately trying to reason with stubborn Randall LOL

    Vane’s libertarian-like ‘don’t tread on me/no rules’ type of personality makes a lot of sense coming from a slave background, but when he tries to lead/sell a dream to other men, the way Flint would, he’s killed for it. Hmmm.

    Poor Anne, who just wants to take her mind off their troubles with a decent orgasm; and poor Jack, who can’t even concentrate long enough to be a passive tool providing one b/c of said troubles. Love this scene. All of Jack’s troubles are pretty much why I only run a business of one (me), and don’t ever again want to supervise multiple employees. Yes, I’m relating to a pirate trying to run a whorehouse! What?

    The slow build-up of Flint’s unease, starting a couple eps ago with the Troubles About the Book, followed by him starting to worry about Billy’s loyalty, to the scene with Gates rejecting him…it just masterfully sets up the scene with Miranda and it is gut-wrenching on a rewatch. You can see the foundations of his emotional world erode out from under him in the course of one day. First he hears upsetting details about what Miranda’s been up to. Then Gates wants to have A Talk. Despite Flint’s compelling argument to Gates, you can see his dawning desperation in the return of the ‘crazy-eye’ and the nasty way he lashes out; and by the time he confronts Miranda, he’s in full psychological meltdown (Stephens is always great, but he’s goddamn phenomenal in this episode). Meanwhile, Miranda remains fixed in her conviction that her path is the correct one. It’s all very upsetting. I think you are correct that for all his intelligence and cunning, Flint is mostly motivated by instinct and emotion (though he builds stories about himself that provide logical frameworks for his motives) and he likely needs partners to keep him stable.

    The scene with Eleanor is very interesting b/c throughout the series we only get a few glimpses for each character as to how they engage with sex in their relationships (or in general), and those scenes are all meaningful. I have rough hypotheses for most of the main characters, and the supporting evidence comes along at various points, often later in the show, and so I won’t delve too deeply here. But generally, I think Vane seems mostly driven by casual appetite for all fleshly pleasure, but probably doesn’t attach much emotional meaning to sex except notably with Eleanor. Eleanor seems, if not casual, certainly a bit more transactional when it comes to sex; and at this point it’s unclear how much emotional weight she puts on it (she acts against Charles and Max despite strong sexual connections with them). I agree with your comments above that she’s also likely somewhat attracted to power, and to sex as a form of power play. Anne seems (at this point) casual and appetite-driven (more like Vane), but clearly concerned with sexual violence. Jack seems casual and/or transactional about sex, though clearly somewhat loyal to Anne. Silver seems quite unmotivated by sex (though I must assume he regards it as one tool among many to help him get what he wants, and as such I’m surprised the show doesn’t show him trying to use it). We are told that Miranda was (is?) promiscuous, and then we see her seduce a priest (I already gave my thoughts on that). At the very least, she appears thoroughly uninhibited, which is out of the ordinary from the stereotype of an upper class Englishwoman of the era.

    Flint to this point is a puzzle. He seems almost asexual (he’s uninterested in whoring and seems to not even register gender or attractiveness of people) or possibly just intensely sexually loyal, but the sex we saw him have with Miranda was soooo depressing (more on that in a later episode). This scene with Eleanor seemed to support my idea that Flint’s sex drive is very much tied to his sense of identity and vulnerability, and my theory is it strongly fires up only when he feels truly ‘seen’ and understood.

    On first viewing, my husband and I unequivocally read his ‘moment’ with Eleanor as a step-back-from-the-brink situation, and on rewatch I’m surer than the first time. Flint’s just flopped miserably on his cot, clearly about to pass out in a self-pitying, drunken stupor, but when Eleanor offers strong affirmation of his identity and goals, it’s like a switch flips in an instant. He focuses on her sharply, stands up, and approaches right into her personal space. She doesn’t defuse things or step back, she appears to invite him, and he looks at her lips…the situation seemed so clear that my husband and I both made loud exclamations of alarm (though, character drama aside, it would have been hot as hell to watch them go at it :#shallow:). Then Flint seems to get a grip on himself and opts for the forehead kiss. I think he perceives it as a promise/seal of loyalty both in this scene and with Miranda, so perhaps he’s symbolically transferring loyalty?

    As for Eleanor, I read her as also DTF, though one has to ponder whether Flint would in fact be too drunk to literally fuck…LOL…maybe he just thought better of his impulse b/c he didn’t want to embarrass himself. At any rate, though there’s a number of layers in the relationship between Flint and Eleanor, I read that scene between them as having a clear sexual element.

    Random side note: Flint’s horse…Heavy crest, low slung tail, and it almost looks like it has feathered feet, is it a Friesian? If so, what a weird place for one to end up…maybe it was imported from Holland as a carriage horse for some rich landowner? Huh.

    Other random side note: I’m sort of confused about Miranda’s house. How many rooms are there? How many bedrooms? Are there 3 beds? There’s a 4 poster in Miranda’s bedroom, and there’s a bed that Mr. Guthrie was in, which I think was in a different bedroom. But why is there a 4 poster bed right in the main living area? Or is that the bed Mr. Guthrie was in? Also, this homestead is much bigger than I realized on first view. There are outbuildings (some presumably for staff, of whom there are also more than I realized), extensive gardens, and there’s a fair few animals (multiple horses, chickens, other livestock?, at least a couple dogs). The size of the operation makes sense though, b/c growing crops in the Caribbean is not easy. The soil tends to be poor b/c a lot of the nutrients get leached by the regular rain (the lack of torrential downpours is one clear indicator the show actually is not shot in the Caribbean LOL) and there isn’t a long-day, summer growing season, as there is in temperate U.S. and Europe. There’s no cold season to kill off pests. So yeah, even a basic subsistence homestead would need to be bigger scale.

    Tracy

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    • Yes, sex in this show is always important and reveals something about a character – I can’t actually think of a sex scene that is purely entertainment?

      YES YES YES re: Stephen’s masterful performance in this episode. It blew me away the first time I watched it, but on rewatch when you understand the background and gravity of these scenes, it’s even more impressive.

      Like

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