TV Recap

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 8 Review – XXXVI

A rescue plan threatens to divide Flint and Silver.  Max learns the true price of freedom.  Rackham seeks his prey.  The Walrus enters uncharted territory.

(Summary provided by


Oh MAN is it rewarding to get back to basics – Flint telling a story and earning himself an ally.  It’s fitting that here at the end of the show, Flint gets explicit about his storytelling habit.  By spinning a story, fictional or true, the storyteller can control a situation while being above the influence of the story itself.  This is Flint at his best, controlling the narrative and getting shit done!


Max!  She gets everything she has wanted – a partnership with a powerful woman that guarantees her control of Nassau.  But she rejects it, realizing that it isn’t, in fact, everything that she wants.  Power without love turns out to be more hollow than she expected, and she gives up the most powerful position in her world on the off chance that she might someday reconnect with Anne.  I can’t think of anything more romantic, and it’s no wonder that Anne extends her hand to Max, both symbolically and physically.



Grandma Guthrie asks Max, “How well did you know my granddaughter?” and you can literally see the panic cross Max’s face as she imagines their more elicit activities being made known to Eleanor’s grandmother.


Israel Hands explicitly tells Silver that “the crown cannot be shared.”  Although Silver initially denies this, the episode itself seems to support this claim.  We’ve been led to believe that Flint and Silver are equal partners, but until this point, they’ve never really disagreed.  Now that their goals are diametrically opposed to each other, it seems that their partnership was just another iteration of Flint as captain and Silver as quartermaster.

The deeper question is this:  does the show want us to believe that this is inevitable?  Can any partnership truly be equal?  To be sure, the most reliable relational characteristic of this show is that partners will betray one another.  There is, however, one glaring exception to this pattern:  Jack and Anne.  Every time one of them “betrays” the other (Anne sleeping with Max, Jack accepting a captaincy without Anne on the crew), they forgive each other, accept their new reality, and recommit themselves to the other.  But this kind of partnership is extremely rare, both in Black Sailsand in real life.


  • Billy told Woodes Rogers that he would find Avery’s journals in Flint’s cellar.  How in the world did Billy know they were there?  Never mind, I can imagine that the MOMENT Billy had control of Flint’s house as a home base, he scoured through every single one of his possessions.
  • I do admire Rogers for making his ambivalent feelings for Billy very clear by almost shooting him in the head.
  • Silver asks Flint what lies beyond the war, afraid that, “What if the result of this war isn’t beyond the horror?  What if it is the horror itself?”  The answer Flint gives is one of the most beautiful lines in the show.

“If we are to truly reach a moment where we might be finished with England, cleared away to make room for something else, there most certainly lies a dark moment between here and there.  A moment of terror where everything appears to be without hope.  I know this.  But I cannot believe that that is all there is.  I cannot believe we are so poorly made as that, incapable of surviving in the state to which we are born, grown so used to the yoke that there can be no progress without it.”

  • Flint is, at heart, an optimist.  This is why he is so compelling a protagonist.  Even when he’s doing horrible things, even when he loses his hope, we know that it’s there – a belief that something better than what currently exists can be attained.  God, I love him.
  • Flint has no aspirations to be king, making explicit his apparent lack of concern about Silver’s new title.  He sees Silver and Madi as leaders of the New Nassau, leaving us to understand that perhaps he is once more dreaming of walking inland to a place in which oars are mistaken for shovels…or dying in the process of getting them their power.
  • Which, okay.  Is Silver the best of them?  Really?  I’ve never really been a huge Silver stan, so…am I missing something?  The Madi love I entirely agree with (“She’s as wise as her father, she’s as strong as her mother”), but this statement about Silver seems hyperbolic.

“Why are you doing this?  Talking about us like it’s a thing?  A future?  I don’t know who broke it first, but it broke.  And there ain’t no putting it back together again.”

  • I love Anne’s honesty, and later we learn that Max does too!
  • “The defense of civilization is not your responsibility, sir!” shouts government lackey, which made me realize that Woodes Rogers and Flint are fighting a war of ideals, while people like this dude and Max are all, “Okay, but what about making money and just staying alive?”
  • I love Flint’s eye twitches as he evaluates Billy’s survival and what this means for him.
  • By openly defying Flint’s orders, Silver is testing whether or not Flint actually trusts Silver the way Silver has trusted Flint.  Based upon Flint’s infinitesimal head shake and body scan of disgust, things don’t look good.  Kudos to Silver, I guess, for really believing that Flint will eventually come to see his side of things because of their partnership and friendship.
  • The minor characters are getting some extra time!  We’ve got Mrs. Mapleton, Mrs. Hudson, Ben Gunn, Mr. DeGroot, Idelle, and even a mention of Charlotte!
  • Anne being unable to slice bread on her own is such a perfect scene of a powerful person made weak.

“Despite the world reminding her every day of her life that she’s undeserving of being given anything by it, that she was unworthy of what little she’d managed to take from it – despite all that, she never believed a word of it.  That woman has been fighting the whole goddamn world since the day she was born.  She’s a breath away from winning that fight.  For whatever reason, she wants to share the spoils with you, and you’d walk away.”

  • Idelle puts her hatred of Anne away because of her love of Max.
  • Grandma Guthrie and Max have the same conversation James and Thomas once did about civilization needing the pirates.
  • Max has officially replaced Eleanor, even if this is “the wrong river, the wrong woman.”  She has everything Eleanor fought for.  How lovely that later, Max doesn’t boast of this to Anne, but admits that Eleanor tried to teach her one final lesson – that all the power in the world isn’t worth anything if there is no love.
  • Grandma Guthrie lays out the profound limitations of a woman’s power in this world, that even the most intelligent woman has to hide herself behind a man in order to wield it.  But being reminded of all “the humiliations and the sacrifices and the defeats and the illusions maintained at so great a cost to your sense of self” inspires Max to make a bold decision – she says no, because she doesn’t want to risk being unable to be with Anne.

“You are the bravest person I have ever known.  The truest person I have ever known.  And I betrayed you, and it sickens me.  I am so sorry for working so hard to protect the wrong things, for failing to see that there is nothing important that does not include you.”

  • Now THAT is an apology.  Every episode makes me like Max more and more!
  • When Anne extends her brutalized hand toward Max, she is offering her the most vulnerable part of herself.  Reminds me of season 2, when she bares her scarred back to both Max and Jack when asking them to join in a new relationship with her.  She leads with vulnerability, which is amazing for such a taciturn, gruff woman.
  • TREASURE ISLAND!!  It’s getting piratey up in here!
  • I love that Silver tells Israel Hands that there is no hidden message about not killing Flint – he learned his lesson from season 2 when he accidentally ordered his fellow plotters to murder someone.
  • And Israel Hands obeys, even saving Flint and Dooley when they steal the cache, because he wants Silver to see Flint for what he is.  What he is is a mastermind, WHY DOES ANYONE STILL QUESTION HIM?  He’s made it clear that he will save both the cache and Madi, and why does Silver feels this is so unlikely?  C’mon, keep up your blind trust!
  • I’ll give Silver this, though.  He’s brave to offer himself to Woodes Rogers in order to protect Madi.  Even if I hate that his admission that he’s sent men to kill Flint must make Billy feel so smug.
Flint the storyteller is back, and I’m shrieking with delight at my laptop again!

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

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