An unlikely ally comes to Flint’s aid. Vane’s crew wants a change. Silver makes a sacrifice.
(Summary provided by starz.com)
BEST FLINT MOMENT
In the midst of escaping Charles Town, Flint stops to free some caged slaves who help him kill an attacker.
I love this as Free the Slaves! Flint, but I like it even more for how it’s presented in context. Flint is a revolutionary, and he’s more open to those society ostracizes than most white men, but he is still a man of his time. He probably wouldn’t have gone out of his way to free those slaves if they hadn’t helped him. It’s also worth mentioning that his strategic mind assumed they would cause further chaos and violence which would help Vane and himself escape. BUT, I do think he recognizes the humanity and the shared Otherness of the slaves, and that this makes him pause for a crucial few seconds to free them and let them make of freedom what they can.
Basically, I don’t want to give Flint TOO much credit, but also, it’s hella satisfying to watch.
TODAY’S RUNNER UP
For the first time ever, I have to give TWO characters this coveted position: Vane and Silver.
This is really the first time I whole-heartedly love Vane. I liked him before, but was always wary of him. Now that he sees the larger war and is able to put his personal squabbles with Flint to the side, he is electric! THEY ARE SUCH A GOOD TEAM. Their banter while sitting in chains! The way they run together, fight together, escape together! So good!
But definitely my favorite Vane moment of this episode, the most Quintessential Vane Moment, is when, in the midst of the trial, he stands and starts addressing the crowd. A stodgy dude in a white wig insists “It’s not your turn to talk” and Vane is all “Uh, Imma talk anyway, because I believe in claiming your own freedom and couldn’t care less about your ideas of order or law,” and I’m all <3.
It felt like a disservice to ignore Silver, though, so he gets space here too! Although honestly, I want to give this award specifically to Luke Arnold, who makes the most phenomenally painful expressions while having his leg pulverized and later cut off. The agony he shows through expression and voice is doubly gut-wrenching because of how completely vulnerable he is in those moments. You see his every emotion: his fear, his regret, his confusion.
I didn’t realize until this watch through that he LET his leg be pulverized, knowing that the keys had been stolen back when he was dragged away from the Walrus crew, trusting that they would escape their chains and rescue him. That is such an act of trust and camaraderie, and it is this first step toward community that you can see he immediately regrets. I might be reading future plotlines into the present, but when he’s told, “The crew will look out for you, don’t worry about that,” his face flashes with this emotion of “but I don’t want that, I don’t want this.” Oh, Silver!
I want to pause and take a moment to think through what Flint’s plan originally was, and how it has changed. This is something that caused me a lot of confusion on my first time watching the show, especially with what happens in season 3, so I want to clarify as much as possible here at the center of it all.
In 209, we learn that his plan was for Nassau to “return to colonial rule with existing power structure in place.” The existing power structure is Eleanor, which is why he allied with her and supported her business endeavors. He sought the Urca gold because he thought that would give her a secure financial base from which to work (and as backup in case their plan fell through and England retaliated). But he did want colonial rule, a return to “legitimacy” to use Eleanor’s oft-repeated word. He wants to remove the cloud of fear that hangs over everything, allowing pirates to become tradesmen, farmers, and soldiers. With this plan, there will be compromises, but Flint believes they are worth making.
In 210, everything has changed. Despite the corruption in England that led to Thomas’s death and James and Miranda’s exile, Flint believed that there was still good in civilization. This hope is personified in Peter Ashe. Despite being an avid pirate-killer, Flint believes he can convince Ashe to see a bigger picture of humanity and hope that will influence a change in civilization. But in Peter Ashe, Flint realizes that civilization doesn’t change, it just reveals deeper corruptions than previously imagined.
When Miranda screams at Ashe for his actions in betraying her loved ones, he insists he betrayed them for the safety of his own family. He says, and I think this is the crucial quote that changes Flint’s mind, “You wish to return to civilization, THAT is what civilization is.” This is only confirmed when Miranda is shot for…being an unarmed woman moving toward an unarmed man, and to cover up the mess, an innocent Flint is tried for piracy to divert attention. Civilization is, above all, concerned with appearances, and in order to uphold those appearances, all manner of evil is considered justified.
Flint is done with this. Fueled by personal pain, he has no more interest in helping Nassau return to colonial rule. He wants nothing more to do with England or legitimacy. I’m not sure if he has a vision of what he WANTS for Nassau yet, but he definitely has a vision of what he does NOT want. Thanks to Colonel Rhett’s 208 statement that “the moment you stop fearing [piracy], it loses all its power,” Flint knows the way forward. Make Nassau powerful by making England very, very afraid.
- POOR ABIGAIL. Nowhere is safe for her, no one is safe for her, what a horrible way to come into adulthood. Although the repeated piano note hints at the ways in which the actions of this season have broken her, she shows that she is still fierce in her confrontation of her father’s hypocrisy. I love her!
- I think I solved the mystery of how Billy was changed by torture (my question from 207)! Silver thinks they’re going to be okay, but Billy points out all the ways in which Vane and his men could still double-cross and kill them. Silver responds, “Well, that was dark,” and THAT’S IT. Billy now sees the worst in people. His innocence is gone.
- When Flint is shown on display for the people of Charles Town, my first thought was “God, his boots are sexy.”
- Ashe is awful because while he’s hurting you, he asks for your forgiveness. Then maybe he’ll hurt you a little less and in private, but you’re still definitely gonna be killed.
Ashe: Let her go to her rest peacefully. You cannot tell me that isn’t what she would have wanted.
Flint: She was clear about what she wanted, and I don’t think it had anything to do with begging your forgiveness. What she wanted was the truth to be known. What was the truth of it, my lord? Why did you betray those closest to you all those years ago? Was it really so small and vile as a bribe? The promise of lording over other men in this place? Or were you simply too weak to say no? Too cowardly to do the harder thing and preserve your decency? Tell me it was the latter. Tell me this is all happening because of your cowardice. I could accept that. I might forgive that.
- Flint is asking Ashe to do the exact thing Ashe suggested he do in 209: make yourself weak so that I might forgive you. But while Flint was willing to submit himself to that humiliation, Ashe cannot. Which only goes to show how weak he really is.
- I honestly cannot handle the desecration of Miranda’s corpse. It is this moment that I return to when the sacking of Charles Town feels excessive, because THERE ARE NO INNOCENTS. I hate everyone in that crowd.
- While Featherstone tells the story of a Spaniard named Vasquez, Jack and Anne finish their conversation from 209. Anne has done some significant soul-searching, and she now knows who she is and what she wants from Jack, who is super grateful to know that she wants anything from him at all.
Anne: You saved me from something awful, Jack, and I owe you my life for it. Maybe there’s some part of that you just can’t owe.
Jack: But you can owe it to Max?
Anne: I don’t feel that way with her. I was in every tavern in that town trying to find us spies, build out this thing we started. And every time I said my name, they knew my name. The first thing they said every time was your name, like we was two halves of the same thing. I can’t be your wife, Jack, but you and I are gonna be partners till they put us in the fucking ground.
- It’s super emotional when Vane’s quartermaster takes Silver and all the Walrus men stand and fight for him. He is loved! He is wanted!
- When Flint is on trial, the purposefully limited way that Civilization views those they have Othered is put on display. The prosecutor says Flint’s actions were “with malice and without regret,” when we know that he is eaten up with regret! But no one wants to take the time to know Flint the Person – this mob just wants to judge him as Flint the Pirate, which leads to one of the best quotes in the whole damn show!
Prosecutor: Will you say nothing in your own defense? You see? These crimes are so vile that even their perpetrator is struck dumb when given a chance to speak.
Flint: I have one regret. I regret ever coming to this place with the assumption that a reconciliation could be found, that reason could be a bridge between us. Everyone is a monster to someone. Since you are so convinced that I am yours, I will be it.
- And then Vane appears!! With Abigail’s testimony, which is hella embarrassing for Ashe, but not dangerous because the prosecutor admits that the jury is rigged. Because this is Civilization and “law.”
- I like the touch that when the prosecutor says Flint’s associate will be hung right beside him, referring to Vane, the camera cuts to Nassau where an effigy of Eleanor is hung. Flint’s true associate! ❤
- Max is buying up Nassau. She’s such an interesting character. She is self-protective in the way that both Silver and Vane are, though more like Vane since she has Her People that she protects as well. But I just don’t really admire characters like this. When confronted with the fact that her bringing the Urca gold into Nassau will cause chaos, she is silent. Does she not care? Or does she think she can manage it?
- Vincent believes Silver is still a survivor at the cost of everyone else, having said that “you have no real connection to this crew.” Silver proves him wrong, but his choice to protect his crew results in Vincent’s death. God, there are no easy choices in this show.
- The conversation between Flint and Vane is one of my favorite things in the whole world! I would NEVER have anticipated feeling this strongly about a F/V team up, which just goes to show that these showrunners are geniuses and I trust them entirely.
Flint: What the fuck are you doing here?
Vane: Came to take your ship. Stayed to get you out of all this. Figured if anyone was going to make a trophy of you, it really ought to be me.
Flint: So this is your plan? Walk in here and read a girl’s diary?
Vane: More or less.
Flint: I see. So now you have everyone’s eyes where you want them, on the two of us, what happens next? When it happens, once I’m free, whenever it is, you won’t want to get in my way.
Vane: When it happens, we will be moving to the jetty and out of this place. Didn’t come all this way to have them kill you steps from the gallows.
Flint: They’re all trying so hard to convince themselves that they have nothing to be afraid of. How is running going to change that?
Vane: What do you suggest?
Flint: That we remind them that they were right to be afraid.
- LOL, could Flint have said anything that would turn Vane on more? It’s so fascinating to see how they’ve come from opposite sides and met in the middle. Vane, who gloried in strength and selfishness has opened up to the big picture and a grander purpose. Flint, who gloried in self-sacrifice and ultimate good, has narrowed to a place of violence and vengeance. Here in this space, they are the same.
- “Her word will be the last word for this place.” I LOVE that Flint so obviously wants Miranda to be avenged for Miranda’s sake, and not for his. It is fitting that Ashe lives long enough to know that his decision to frame Flint resulted in the destruction of the city that he received for betraying Flint in the first place.
- Flint and Vane fighting together, shackled, carrying pistols and swords, is super super sexy. I am so excited about townspeople getting blown up. I am THRILLED when the Man O’ War destroys Colonel Rhett. This episode is one long forced self-observation that, oh yes, I have quite a bit of darkness in me too.
- Earlier in the episode, Vane said “men of Nassau” instead of separating men by Walrus or Ranger crew members. Here at the end, Flint repeats the same theme, insisting that “I know what happened and I don’t care,” because this is now pirates vs. civilization, full stop. The fact that he trusts Vane to keep his men in order because he knows Vane shares his vision is Doing Things To My Heart.
- Silver wakens in Flint’s room, looking super uneasy about a lack of leg and what has happened, which is that he’s now quartermaster! Flint is adorably pleased by this. But then there’s a huge emotional turn when Silver admits what happened with the Urca gold, and I find it interesting that Silver’s first act as quartermaster to “his” crew is to sell out his dead partner. Survivalist Silver is still VERY much alive and kicking.
- The Walrus is back!!
- “Would you like to see something shiny?”
Not done reliving the episode? Listen to Daphne and Liz’s podcast at Fathoms Deep!
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Why is it that when complicated characters come in the form of Max, people like you disapprove? You condemn Max for bringing the Urca gold into Nassau. Yet, you don’t condemn Jack and Anne ?
That’s a fair point. I compared Max to Silver and Vane in my review, and the three of them were the characters I had the hardest time connecting to. I think part of the reason why is that they (Max and Silver in particular) are cerebral plotters. Most of the people in Black Sails are emotional decision makers (like Jack and Anne), and I can relate to that and find that enjoyable to watch, so I probably give them passes that are undeserved. On my first watch, I didn’t connect with Max until her emotional choice at the end of season 4. Then I rewatched and had a greater appreciation for her, as she keeps her emotions close to the chest.