TV Recap

Black Sails Season 3 Episode 3 Review – XXI

Stranded at sea, Flint pushes Silver to his limit.  As Nassau prepares to repel an invasion, Rackham takes the reins, while Max gets her house in order.  To stave off defeat, Vane makes a difficult choice.

(Summary provided by


After killing the two crewmen accused of stealing rations (even after hallucinating one of them as Miranda), Flint retreats to his cabin and locks the door.  His breakdown, quiet because we know people can hear what goes on within, is heartbreaking.  Flint’s loneliness and self-hatred are so evident.  It’s beautifully acted and beautifully shot.  Just stunning.


Miranda!  This is an excellent hallucination that reveals so much of Flint’s relationship with Miranda.

Flint:  When I lost Thomas, I raged.  I was distraught.  I wept.  But with you, I’m ruined over you.
Miranda:  When I first met you, you were so unformed.  And then I spoke and bade you cast aside your shame, and Captain Flint was born into the world.  The part of you that always existed yet never were you willing to allow into the light of day.  I was mistress to you when you needed love.  I was wife to you when you needed understanding.  But first and before all I was mother.  I have known you like no other, so I love you like no other.

I am first and foremost a James/Thomas shipper, but I also ADORE James’s relationship with Miranda, and that the show gives so much weight to their partnership and subsequent loss.  After all, James was with Thomas for months, months in which he was at his best (respected, intelligent, productive).  James then spent ten years with Miranda, years in which he was at his worst (vengeful, resentful, villainous).  No wonder he misses her unconditional love so much.  They were everything to each other for so long, because they had no one else.

Oh God, THIS SCENE.  I miss you, Miranda!


Every time I watch the tension-filled scene of Flint and Silver teaming up to catch a shark, after which they both lay back panting, at which point Flint says, “Again?”, I break out in uncontrollable giggles.  I love these men!


In this episode in particular, Flint is punishing Silver for not being the partner he wants him to be.  Twice he lays the guilt on Silver VERY thick; first, by reminding him they are in this mess because Silver allowed the crew to choose to check out Hallendale’s abandoned ship, and second by killing the crewmen and then implying Silver is a burden when he says, “If you’re not strong enough to do what needs to be done, I’ll do it for you.”

Flint is recklessly lonely, and Silver knows the cause.  He explicitly remembers that pivotal conversation in 204 when he realized that Flint didn’t want people to think he was a villain, and he intuits that Flint’s death wish is the result of his increased villainous behaviors and therefore, increased self-hatred.  But that’s not the most important thing going on here.  In 204, during that conversation, Flint wanted Silver to defend his actions and remind him of his goodness.  We know this because it is during this episode that he remembers his famously sexy defense of Thomas Hamilton.  (I discuss this in my review of 204 here.)

Flint is punishing Silver for not being a good enough partner.  Silver makes bad decisions, yes, but more hurtful to Flint is how Silver villainizes Flint for the hard decisions he makes as leader (cutting rations).  He wants a partner who will understand the hard things he does and love him anyway (Miranda).  Because Silver is not doing this, Flint lashes out and attacks him for less vulnerable reasons (the bad decision-making as evidence that Silver is weak).

In the launch as they investigate the whale, Silver explicitly asks to be Flint’s partner.  He offers up the worst and best parts of himself (the cleverness of stealing Flint’s Urca gold, the betrayal of that same thing, the goodness of giving up his share, the vulnerability in admitting it was because he worries he is nothing but a cripple without the Walrus crew), and in this moment, Flint sees the possibility of the partnership he craves.  It is still not entirely settled, but in the most beautifully obvious symbolism, when they team up, food and fresh wind is returned to the crew.


  • Anne and Max are facilitating the conversion of gold to pearls with the help of the most disgusting, racist man on the show.  Max is SO magnanimous to put her professionalism above his “complimentary” racist comments, and I love Anne for pointing out the theme of the show:

“A world where he’s the civilized one and we’re the savages is a world I’m never gonna fucking understand.”

  • Woodes Rogers wants a peaceful transition of power in Nassau, which sounds really great.  Eleanor presses him to consider a show of force, which might take longer but she believes will ultimately be more effective.  This leads us to discover that Rogers’ desire for peace is less a moral position (like it was for Thomas) and is actually because he needs the transition to be quick so that he can pay back his creditors and appease Spain.
  • Twice we get Walrus crew members talking about Flint as though he’s God.  My favorite of the two is by a random crew member moaning about how God has abandoned them…until suddenly I realized, wait, is he talking about Flint?  It there even a difference between the two to this poor man?

“We’re all dead men.  Smote by a storm, the product of his rage.  We are dead men.  Consigned to a place where we are no longer worthy even of the good lord’s anger and must endure his indifference.  We are dead men.  Left to suffer, knowing that he no longer hears our cries, because in this place he is absent.”

  • And of course, we later get Silver pondering the same kind of thoughts, saying to Billy, “Once again, he is able to conjure the reality he desires just as it was in Charles Town, and just as it was in that storm.  There is no denying a man with that kind of power.”  At Billy’s incredulity, Silver qualifies his statement by saying it doesn’t matter whether Flint conjured the storm or conjured the men into fighting it.  Either way he has a godlike will.
  • Jack and Vane try to convince the pirates of Nassau to unite in a show of force against the coming Navy fleet.  Despite his best efforts to be a leader, no one is giving Jack the time of day.  It isn’t until Teach arrives and supplants Flint (“Flint is dead…I’m prepared to step into Captain Flint’s shoes”) that the pirate captains agree to the plan.  This is not because he cares about Nassau, but because he cares about Vane.

Teach:  I do not seek your partnership because I am too weak to defend myself.  I don’t seek it to protect my things or to increase profit.
Vane:  Then why do you?  You’ve been gone eight years, and suddenly my partnership is this valuable to you?  Why?
Teach:  Eight years.  Nine wives.  No sons.  There is an instinct to leave behind something made in one’s own image.  Nature has denied me the ability, but not the need.

  • I really like that Vane immediately told Jack his plan to leave with Teach after the defense of Nassau.  It says a lot about the trust they have in each other.  I also adore Jack’s conversation with Anne, and how she teases him with truth, and he laughs and accepts it.

Jack:  It bothers me.  Why do you think that is?
Anne:  ‘Cause you give a shit what he thinks of you.  You always have.
Jack:  You think?
Anne:  Yeah.  You ain’t alone.  Plenty of men in this place have done plenty of stupid shit just to hear Charles Vane call him a proper pirate.  Though you might be the only one who actually made a career of it.

  • Billy teaches Silver to be a leader, how sometimes that means you accept the unfairness of greater rations because you need the strength to do your job well.
  • Max and Anne break up in the most loving way possible.  They are the healthy version of Eleanor/Vane – they have fundamentally different goals in life, but they discuss this openly and accept it without trying to change the other person.
  • We get Max’s backstory, beautifully and heartbreakingly delivered by Jessica Parker Kennedy.  I admire her very much for admitting what she wants and admitting that she will accept horrible things in order to get it:  “The things it took to make that room possible, they were awful things.  But inside that room was peace.  That is what home is to me.”  This helps me accept her habit of protecting herself and her people without much care for how it will affect the rest of Nassau.  Ignorant selfishness is repugnant to me, but self-aware selfishness is something I can understand.
  • ANNE KISSES MAX’S FOREHEAD which is Jack/Anne code for I Love You So Very Much.
  • Billy swings wildly between supporting Flint for the good of the crew to saying Flint has gone too far (in this episode and in the show at large).  He puts all the responsibility for fixing it on Silver, claiming that he’s next in line after Gates and Miranda to be a person who can reach Flint and change his mind.

Billy:  He listened to them, altered his plans when they told him to.  It’s possible.  The difference is he saw them as his equal.  He respected them that way, so he was willing to listen.  You need to find a way to do the same.
Silver:  Both those people ended up dead.
Billy:  *stares at Silver*

  • Flint’s hallucination of Miranda (discussed in depth in the Runner Up section) ends with her saying, “At its end is where you will find the peace that eludes you, and at its end lies the answer you refuse to see.”  As she says this, Flint envisions death standing before him on the Walrus deck.  Death is the only peaceful ending that Flint can imagine, but at that very moment, the whale is spotted and the possibility of food is discovered.  THIS SHOW and its beautiful symbolism!
  • Silver and Flint rowing the launch out to the whale, having Very Tense Conversations, and capturing a shark is one of my favorite scenes in the whole series!  I could watch and rewatch it forever.
  • As mentioned earlier, it is no small matter that once Flint and Silver learn to work together as partners, the Walrus escapes the doldrums!
  • I love Eleanor for how she simultaneously compliments and insults Hornigold in suggesting he be the one to read Rogers’ pardon to the people of Nassau.

“Whatever’s about to happen, there’s no stopping it now.”

  • At this point in the show, I am emotionally confused.  The pardons are extended, many people accept them, and…this seems like a successfully peaceful invasion.  Other than the bounty on Charles Vane’s head, it’s hard to figure out why exactly this isn’t a good thing.  Then again, going to Peter Ashe in Charles Town seemed like a good partnership with civilization too…

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

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