TV Recap

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 3 Review – XXXI

Max runs afoul of the law.  Rogers reckons with his past.  Flint and Madi reach an understanding.  Long John Silver makes his return.

(Summary provided by


Season Four, while incredibly dark and depressing, gifted us with Toby Stephens frequently saying “Yep,” and we get two of them in this episode in quick succession.

“Tried to kill you?”
“And Madi?”
“Her too.”

It’s the small things.


Teach!  It is fitting that this pirate of pirates is only taken down once surrounded by 5+ men with guns.  It is excruciating to see the pain on his face when he realizes that Jack has ruined his reputation by surrendering, but um, he more than makes up for his badass-ness by refusing to let his death bolster an Englishman’s ego.

RIP, Edward Teach.



Teach:  Ever captained a ship of this size before?
Jack:  God, no.
Teach:  Have you captained a ship this size before?
Jack:  …Sure.


I love this show for refusing to allow viewers to make monsters out of any of our characters, despite HOW MUCH I want to villainize Berringer.  First we get him looking at pictures of his wife and child, and honestly, that doesn’t move me.  He could be reunited with them if he wanted.  He’s only stayed in Nassau to pursue a course of revenge, committing treason even to do so.

What DOES bother me is his speech about dark men doing dark deeds, and how easily I can imagine the same words coming from Flint’s mouth.

“You’ve given me good men to lead.  I’ll do my best by them.”
“There isn’t a good man among them.  Not anymore.  Some of them may have been, before all this.  Some of them may be again on the other side of it.  But right now, good men are not what the moment requires.  Right now, the time calls for dark men to do dark things.  Do not be afraid to lead them to it.”

When Flint uses theater and leads his men into horrific atrocities, I support him because I support his end goal – overturning a corrupt empire and establishing a free world.  But when Berringer uses theater and leads HIS men into horrific atrocities, I am livid.  Granted, this is because he’s supporting that corrupt empire.  And in some ways, the ends definitely do justify the means.  But if we look beneath their political worldviews, in actuality they keep fighting because the world keeps fighting them.  It’s the cycle of vengeance I’ve been talking about.  The truth is, I support Flint because I like him, because I’m invested in his story.  If we’d had three seasons of Berringer’s story, would I emotionally support him in this moment?  Probably.

I do think the show wants us to support Flint, and I do think that Flint’s motivations are deepening beyond revenge to a more genuine desire to create something new.  BUT it is unquestionable that the showrunners want us to remember the power of narrative in shaping our allegiances, and to question why we see some people as good and others as bad, when really, they might not be so different.


  • Berringer basically tells Woodes Rogers that darkness is inevitable, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use it.  It is SO hard not to think Flint would agree with him.
  • Mrs. Hudson asks to go home after they’re done in Philadelphia.  Eleanor says yes and they’re both super happy before IMMEDIATELY finding out they aren’t going to Philadelphia.  This is about how everyone’s happiness goes in this show, huh?
  • Max is losing her power, exemplified by how men can burst into her room while she’s lounging naked in bed.

Maroon:  Whatever slaves are still alive on this island will never fight alongside a pirate again.  Not after last night.
Madi:  Last night, there were also pirates who fought alongside us, against terrible odds and at great cost.  Billy and his men are our enemies now, but these men are not.

  • #TriumverateWatch:  Madi defends Flint!!  And as if the show doesn’t realize that my heart has already burst, the two proceed to have an inspiring conversation as equals and I loooooove them!!!

Madi:  You truly believe it is possible?  That as disadvantaged and disabled as we are, that anything we do here is going to make the least bit of difference to the men in London?
Flint:  Well, that’s the trick, isn’t it?  If no one remembers a time before there was an England, then no one can imagine a time after it.  The empire survives in part because we believe its survival to be inevitable.  But it isn’t, and they know that.  That’s why they’re so terrified of you and I.  If we are able to take Nassau, if we are able to expose the illusion that England is not inevitable, if we are able to incite a revolt that spreads across the New World then, yeah, I imagine people are gonna notice.
Madi:  “Too much sanity may be madness, and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.”

  • Madi just used Don Quixote to describe Flint, AND THAT IS THE BOOK MIRANDA USED TO DESCRIBE THOMAS, byyyyyyye.
  • It is impossible to be reminded of the amazing partnership between James and Thomas and not see Flint and Madi having equally amazing potential.
  • Poor Anne.  She just wants to get away from all of this and have a boring life, but she’s chosen to partner herself to a man who can’t stop following giants in hopes of influencing them and thus feeling meaningful.
  • I love Idelle being the level-headed one to Featherstone’s panic.  She trusts in Max’s loyalty and stubbornness before saying they have to help her from the outside.  Eleanor then bursts in to help Max – are we to assume that Idelle told Eleanor what was going on?
  • THAT REUNION THOUGH.  Silver is about to die, but Flint comes to the rescue!!  There is so much contained emotion going on in these two men, and I can’t even.
  • Jack has to watch Teach and Anne lead the vanguard onto a spookily “empty” ship.  Why did no one notice that everyone hid themselves?  I’m so upset about everything here, I hate it, stop please.

Max:  You think you can control him.  And by the time you realize he has been controlling you, it is going to be too late.

  • Max is talking to Eleanor about Berringer, but it’s hard not to imagine she’s also talking about Woodes Rogers.
  • We know Eleanor is cultured now, because she says, “I beg your pardon, but what the fuck have you got to lose?”
  • THAT OTHER REUNION THOUGH.  Silver and Madi running to each other, kissing, staring into each other’s eyes!!
  • Flint is happy for them, but there’s a definite flicker of sadness in his expression.  Whether he’s sad because he loves Silver or because he wishes he had someone like they have each other, I honestly don’t care.  It’s compelling either way!
  • Eleanor now agrees with Max that the theater of power only exacerbates problems.  I like this questioning whether power exists to uphold order or to boost someone’s ego.
  • Berringer’s power play of reading the black spot aloud is actually VERY good, and I love how he becomes an interesting villain just before dying.  Because he’s too obvious.  The REAL villain is revealed in this episode to be:  Nice Guy Rogers.
  • Reader, I HATE HIM.
  • In flashback, he reveals his dark side to Berringer, telling the story he didn’t share in his book because he didn’t want the world to know what he is capable of.
  • The real evil here is not what he did in the past, because as despicable as it is, I can forgive a lot that is done in grief (see: my enduring love of James Flint).  What is horrible is that he is committed, rationally, a day before it happens, to doing the exact same thing to Teach and his crew, simply to prove a point.  I HATE HIM.
  • An admission:  I’ve never actually watched the keelhauling.  The first time I saw this episode, Rogers’ creepy voiceover and the music cued me in that something truly horrible was about to go down, so I Googled what happened to Teach and promptly skipped ahead.  Having listened to other people’s reactions to the scene, I’m super glad I did, and so I did the same again.  I’m so glad Teach stuck it to Rogers by refusing to die, but I do not need to let those images exist in my brain, thanks ever so much.
  • Berringer refuses to use Eleanor as an ally.  He ignores her suggestion to ambush Silver, thus ensuring his own death!!  What an idiot!
  • But also thank God.
  • BECAUSE HERE COME SILVER AND FLINT.  I love the look Flint gives Silver when the guns come out.  This is Silver’s first time fighting on the front line, and as a target, and Flint is concerned.
  • They seem alone in a small group, but suddenly slaves and maroons and pirates join them!  And there’s a fight!  And soldiers appear on the roofs but they are killed by Billy’s men!  I temporarily forgive Billy, but I’m glad Flint gives him a look during the battle because this isn’t over yet!!
  • Israel Hands takes out Berringer, which is fitting because he doesn’t deserve a death by one of our heroes.  What purpose does Hands’ long look at Silver/Flint serve?  Is it like, look at me, see my value?
  • Our last shot is of Berringer’s wife and child, and while I don’t have empathy for HIM, I do for those two.  It’s a good reminder that in all the passion and righteous anger that creates and perpetuates violence, the real victims are civilians.  But…I don’t want the fighting to stop until Flint and Madi’s vision of a free Nassau is realized.
I have a type and it is: Intellectual Revolutionaries!

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

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