TV Recap

Black Sails Season 3 Episode 5 Review – XXIII

Facing certain death, Silver pushes Flint to take action.  Teach shows Vane a way forward.  A new threat puts Eleanor and Rogers on notice.  Max makes her play.

(Summary provided by


The amount of times I shouted “I LOVE YOU” and cursed at my TV screen in overwhelmed emotion during Flint’s “I got my groove back” speech is innumerable.  But by far the most spine-tingling moment was when, lit beautifully from the side, he said this:

“They pledged to follow me when they thought I was alive.  They turned when they thought I was gone.  So I will come back from the dead and lay claim to what I am owed.”

AGH.  His reclaiming of his mythic status is SO. FUCKING. HOT.


Vane!  In this episode, our simple guy gets everything he wants (and I do mean simple, because Mr. Concrete cannot understand the symbolism of Teach’s story about the power of women leaving a mark on a man until it is explained to him, lol). He is a proper pirate!  Fighting men of skill and proving his worth, honoring his victims with last drinks and final conversations.  He also speaks Spanish, which is surprising and lovely!

But maybe having everything he’s wanted isn’t actually satisfying.  After all, he is shaken by the dying Spaniard’s comment that “Money makes sheep of us all.”  You can almost see his mind begin to turn, wondering if his pursuit of treasure isn’t freedom after all, but a different kind of prison.  When Teach says the discovered papers are only useful to someone who wants to retake Nassau, we are left wondering…does Vane actually want to fight for something more than a proper pirate life?


Featherstone receives his pardon, bemoans his returned status to a “humble bookkeeper,” then turns to Idelle.  He delicately touches her arm and says,

“I sincerely hope this doesn’t diminish your attraction to me.”

Idelle gives the BEST expression of “um, WHAT” and I love them both even more.


In my recap of 210 – XVII, I tried to navigate Flint’s changing goals concerning Nassau and England.  With the introduction of a colonized Nassau and after Flint’s speech to the Maroon Queen, it’s time for an update.

  1. Initially, Thomas and James planned to restore colonial rule to Nassau from the inside.  They wanted to remake civilization there by offering pardons and forgiveness to the pirates in a bid to create a new world of freedom from past sins.  This is now contrasted with Woodes Rogers, who is working to establish colonial rule to Nassau from the inside by offering pardons as a means of control.  The threats underlying his goodwill have been subtle but steady so far, and his motivation being profit rather than reformation has already been admitted.
  2. After his exile from London, James took on the mantle Flint in an effort to restore colonial rule to Nassau from the outside.  He planned to make Nassau so powerful and so self-sufficient that it could negotiate a partnership with England.
  3. After Miranda’s death, Flint’s opinion largely becomes “screw England.”  Now he wants Nassau to become powerful in a bid to scare England away from ever returning.
  4. On Maroon Island, Flint sees his grief and rage reflected in the Queen and her people, and he shifts his defensive plan into something offensive.  He now wants to unite oppressed people throughout the West Indies to “lay down their shovels, take up swords, and say ‘No more.’”  In some ways this is a return to Thomas’s dream of creating a new world based on freedom.  In other ways, it’s very different, since it has broader implications for more people and admittedly, far more violence (swords now, not shovels).


  • Our last hallucination.  Anyone have thoughts on why this time, Flint’s lips don’t move but we hear his voice?
  • Flint is still preoccupied with death, but Miranda attempts to dissuade him with two tactics:  1) he is close to achieving something great, and 2) he is not alone.

Miranda:  James, you resented me because we were so close, and I threw it all away.  If you join me now, what if I resented you for the same reason?
James:  What would I be throwing away?
Miranda:  You can’t see it yet, can you?  You are not alone.

  • It is so rewarding to hear Mr. Scott say, “Give us the room.”  Finally the man is given the deference that his power has always deserved.  SUPER kudos to Flint for recognizing that Mr. Scott is even more impressive than he’d realized, and he’d already given Mr. Scott a lot of praise.
  • “I wonder if ever a war so loudly anticipated ended so quietly” is such a beautiful line.
  • Despite saying he was all out of lies in the last episode, Flint steals a tiny knife and reveals his backup plan should his conversation with the Queen go badly – he’ll hold her hostage so that his crew can escape, despite knowing he cannot survive that scenario.  When Silver points out that the plan is suicidal, Flint’s look is all, “I know, that’s why I chose it.”
  • Eleanor is back in Nassau!!  And I adore her forcing Hornigold to report to her.

“I suppose I should have seen this, that somehow your grip on this place would be too strong to be denied by a king, his laws, or even your death.”

  • When told the governor’s mansion is “home to a smuggler, den to opium fiends, salon to a pirate king,” Woodes Rogers jokes, “Suppose I’ll fit right in.”  #jokes, or is Rogers hinting at something darker?
  • Max and Eleanor reunite, and I am so thrilled to be watching a show in which two powerful women arguing about their influence and legitimacy!  I love even more that their posturing fades away as they question how deeply they’ve betrayed each other and the answer turns out to be NOT AT ALL.  Forever crying!!
  • Eleanor appeals to Max’s desire for safety, but when she doesn’t bite, Eleanor says, “He can make life very difficult for you.”  Hmmm, civilization doesn’t seem so healthy if it only exists thanks to threats of punishment.  Not to mention that Rogers knows Max is important enough that he needs her blessing of the governing council, but she cannot be a part of it (because she’s a woman/not white).  Not making a great case for the preferability of English rule!
  • But Max knows her worth, even if no one else does.  I LOVE HER.

“I own title to more of the street than you ever did.  I earn as much legitimate income as you ever did.  I have no enemies and strong friends.  I am the one they all come to here to make peace between them when no one else can.”

  • Mr. and Mrs. Scott are so cute!!  “Do you trust me to make this decision?”  “Of course I do.”  He knows she’s the one with all the power, and I’m forever dying from strong men admiring stronger women.
  • Billy’s “uh DUH” expression when Silver points out that he’s awfully eager to be rid of Flint, lol.  These two constantly circling Flint and missing each other in the process is super fascinating.  I would love someone else to parse their relationships with the captain and each other throughout the entirety of the series.
  • Max bribes Woodes Rogers with her share of the Urca gold, hidden from Spain because of its new form as black pearls etc.  Only it turns out Mrs. Hudson is a spy for Spain and they know about the double dealing!!  (How great is it that this show refuses to let women be anything other than complex and amazing??)
  • Eleanor didn’t tell Woodes Rogers about her relationship with Max, huh?  Sex with a pirate is one thing, but sex with another woman?  Civilization couldn’t stomach that.
  • Silver doesn’t want Flint to die!!  I realize that this is an incredibly low bar to clear, but, um.  It’s so sweet??

“I understand the allure of ensuring that no one will ever think you the villain you fear you are.  What a waste, it seems to me, knowing it doesn’t have to be this way, knowing the man who talked me into giving a shit about this crew, why, he could talk those people out there into anything.  If he wanted to.”

  • I know that Silver is calling back to his 205 realization that Flint doesn’t want to be a villain, but I think he also now understands this from his own experience.  Based on how ashamed he was to tell Flint of his betrayal re: the Urca gold, I think he’s afraid he’d be a villain to the crew if they found out.  Extra sad, knowing his eventual role in Treasure Island.
  • Silver knows Flint, and this is EXACTLY what he needs to hear to leave the knife (Plan B) behind and trust fully in his ability to sell a dream to someone by giving SUCH A GOOD SPEECH.

“Let us assume that I can offer you something better.  You have hidden in this place for a lifetime, hidden from the harsh realities that lie beyond this veil that you have constructed here, but the moment that that shot entered his belly, that veil began to unravel.  Sooner or later, you are going to have to confront these realities, chief among them being that England takes whatever, whenever, however it wants:  lives, loves, labor, spirits, homes.  It has taken them from me. I imagine that it has taken it from you.  And when that veil drops altogether, they will come for more.”

  • Revolutionary Flint is SUCH A GOOD FLINT.
  • This is just, FULL FLINT.  A culmination of his pursuit of freedom from oppression (now extended to more people), his rage (now turned into righteous fervor), and his military prowess (now turned against an empire).  He wants to bring it all down, and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.
  • Woodes Rogers and Eleanor kiss for half a second before being interrupted.  Even though Rogers realizes he can’t accept Max’s bribe, problems are complicated because Spain knows there’s another portion missing!
  • Cut to:  Jack, Anne, and an enormous treasure chest.  Jack goes back to Nassau because he won’t give up his name.  He knows it’s dumb, but he cares.  She knows it’s dumb, but she loves him.  He kisses her on the hat, and it’s so cute, but SERIOUSLY.  People should listen to Anne!!  “We did it.  We beat the fucking game.  Walk another half mile, we get in that boat, and we win.”
  • The Walrus crew is let out of their cages, and we see Flint putting on his captain’s coat because symbolism is delicious.

Silver:  I’m going to admit something to you.  Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I didn’t think there was a chance in hell that was actually going to work.
Flint:  Me neither.  Thank you…for opening that door.

  • They are SO CUTE, but Flint is all, “Now we go find Charles Vane,” because that is his City Sacking Buddy.

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

2 comments on “Black Sails Season 3 Episode 5 Review – XXIII

  1. Tracy Estabrook Boal

    I just wanted to tell you how much I’m enjoying your recaps.

    My husband and I are watching the series for the first time almost in exact parallel to your postings. We originally dipped a toe in b/c 1) pirates; and 2) Toby Stephens’ awesomeness in Jane Eyre (though we’d been aware of him since liking him a lot in the difficult role of Duke Orsino in Twelfth Night back in the ’90s when all of us were MUCH younger).

    We feel like this show is weirdly under-seen, under-discussed, and under-valued critically, and that Captain Flint is one of the greatest fictional characters we’ve ever seen/read. Lots of other great stuff in the show as well. Much like with the slate of terrific performances and interesting writing on e.g., Penny Dreadful, it seems like certain genre shows get frustratingly overlooked for awards.

    Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so awesome, Tracy! I’m thrilled that you’re watching Black Sails alongside my reviews. You’re right; it’s such an under-valued show. I want everyone in the world to know and love Captain James Flint and literally every other character. I’d love to know more of your thoughts on each episode!

      Liked by 1 person

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