TV Recap

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 9 Review – XXXVII

Silver and his men hunt for Flint on Skeleton Island.  Madi is made an offer.  Rogers struggles to hear Eleanor.  Billy casts his lot.

(Summary provided by


I don’t WANT to be the sort of person who is aroused by Flint singlehandedly murdering three people at once, but.  Here we are.


The man is unstoppable.


Madi!  She isn’t given a lot of screen time, but what she has is incandescent.  She refuses to play Woodes Rogers’s game, confident that her fight for her people is more important than any personal desire she might have.  And just so he’s very clear, she refuses to play the bad guy, insisting that he alone is responsible for his wife’s death, not her, not Flint, not the war.  I LOVE HER.


“He just dropped.”
*foot nudge*
“Should we…”

LOL, poor Jack.  He was so close to living in a drama, but life keeps insisting that he’s in a comedy.



I am far less invested in Flint and Silver’s relationship during this rewatch than I was the first time through, but WOW did this episode bring all the feelings back.  Their flashbacks remind us of their early season 4 friendship while simultaneously framing their central conflict of the season (“What are you looking at?”  “Nassau.  Can’t you see it?”)

Throughout the series, we have built their partnership into something supernatural, something that, when united, can accomplish anything.  The crew members of the Walrus also believe in this supernatural relationship, assuming that Silver can intuitively divine which way Flint went in the forest.  But theirs is a relationship as human as any other, and these flashbacks reveal the cracks that will eventually split their trust in each other.  Not all of the supernaturalism is removed, however, since the breaking of their partnership really does have catastrophic effects upon their world (RIP Walrus).

Flint can never fully trust Silver’s lack of a backstory.  Not only is he saddened that Silver would continue to lie to him, he realizes that Silver sees the world in a fundamentally different way than he does.  Silver wants to remake himself as though the past has no influence, and for Flint, the future he is trying to will into existence is entirely influenced by the past.  They are both storytellers, but only one believes in the power of story.

Silver can never fully trust that Flint will see beyond his war.  He is the more subtly emotional man, desperate for attention and affection.  His greatest betrayal by Flint is from his captain’s “arrogance” and “indifference” when he thought they’d been equals.  He, more than Flint, values individual relationships, and while he mostly talks about his fear of losing Madi, it is clear that some part of him is hurt that Flint will always choose the war over him, too.

No matter how close they were, no matter what they accomplished together, Flint and Silver’s partnership was always doomed to falter at some point.  Their complementary skills (visionary/practical, idealist/realist) are what made them so powerful together, but under the strain of war and lost lives, these differences prove to create mistrust between them.

Despite how dark this is, there is hope.  Flint still believes in reconciling with Silver, seeing in Silver’s grief and desperation an echo of his own season 3 rage.  He knows it can pass, and he believes that if Madi is saved, his partnership with Silver can be restored.  In fact, he believes this so strongly that he kills Dooley, a man wholly committed to Flint, so as not to lose Silver, who is actively trying to kill him.  One side of the partnership is committed – we have one final episode to determine if this feeling will be reciprocated.


  • These are filmed surreally, both in lighting and music.  It’s almost dreamlike, but everything in the episode encourages us to read them as true memories.

“The men, I have to manage how they see me.  I understand that’s part of my job.  But for pride to be an issue between you and I, well, I think we’re plain past that by now, don’t you?”

  • Silver shows more vulnerability in front of Flint (by taking off his artificial leg) than anyone else, but future flashbacks will force him to take that vulnerability to uncomfortable levels.
  • Flint’s enemies talking about how unkillable he is is very erotic.

Rogers:  Which one of them is going to prevail?
Billy:  Silver has the men, and Flint is on his own out there and disadvantaged.  That said, Flint’s been on his own and disadvantaged countless times since I’ve known him.  And here we are.

  • Silver knowingly sends three men to their deaths solely to discover Flint’s whereabouts.  The apprentice has truly matched the master, huh?
  • Flint trusts Silver so much that he forgot he doesn’t know Silver’s past!!  And the annoyance and heartbreak that flashes across his face when he realizes that Silver is STILL lying to him!!
  • In the midst of this emotionalism, I have to admire Flint’s ability to subtly throw shade by saying, “I assumed if you ever became someone worth knowing…”  But isn’t that the whole thing?  Silver tried so desperately to be a person worth catching Flint’s attention.  Now that he has it, he doesn’t want to risk it by revealing anything Flint might dislike.
  • Flint takes down the first three men in a scene that VERY MUCH sets up the ominous Flint Ghost of Treasure Island.
  • I have to imagine that Flint was rolling his eyes and muttering, “oh, come ON” at having to pretend not to hear these bungling idiots snap tree branches as they sneak up on him.
  • Madi, a captive, utterly showing up Woodes Rogers, a governor, is BEAUTIFUL.  She is unimpressed by his White Man Pain, giving one of the best speeches of the series that is, tellingly, audibly punctuated by Eleanor’s ghost.

“But I hear other voices, a chorus of voices.  Multitudes.  They reach back centuries.  Men and women and children who lost their lives to men like you.  Men and women and children forced to wear your chains.  I must answer to them, and this war, their war, Flint’s war, my war – it will not be bargained away to avoid a fight, to save John Silver’s life or his men’s or mine.  And you believe what you will, but it was neither Flint nor the Spanish raider who killed your wife.  That, you did.”

  • Madi is put in the exact same situation Silver was in, but her decision is the exact opposite.  She has a vision of a world that is worth fighting for, even at the cost of the person she most loves.  Silver has only followed that vision because the people he loved believed in it; once they are threatened, his true loyalty to individuals rather than a hoped-for future is revealed.  Just as this difference between Flint and Silver is exposed in this episode, we are led to question how Madi and Silver’s relationship can survive such differing values.

“”The truth is there is no story to tell.”
“No one’s past is that unremarkable.”
“Not unremarkable, just without relevance.  A long time ago, I absolved myself from the obligation of finding any.  No need to account for all my life’s events in the context of a story that somehow defines me.  Events, some of which no one could divine any meaning from other than that the world is a place of unending horrors.  I’ve come to peace with the knowledge that there is no storyteller imposing any coherence, nor sense, nor grace upon those events.  Therefore, there’s no duty on my part to search for it.  You know of me all I can bear to be known.  All that is relevant to be known.  That is to say, you know my genuine friendship and loyalty.  Can that be enough and there still be trust between us?”

  • Silver believes that his past is “without relevance,” which just sounds to me like the hope of a hurting man.  Much has been made of his comment about the world being full of “unending horrors,” and I lean toward the camp that believes he perpetuated many of those horrors (remember his 105 comment to Eleanor:  “Guilt is natural.  It also goes away if you let it.”).  As much as he wants to be who he is right now without acknowledging the past, Flint and I agree that the past will exert its influence, with or without his consent.
  • Jack is SO CLOSE to having everything he’s ever wanted, a “true victory, freedom in every sense of the word.”  But because he is our only bastion of comic relief in a very emotional episode, his beautiful speech is cut short by the death of the only man who can get him his victory.
  • Ben Gunn looks at his future island prison.  Mr. DeGroot gets a really beautiful line before all hell breaks loose: the Walrus is set on fire, he calls for the men to abandon ship, and then he’s shot in the head while trying to escape.  Dangers in the dark, indeed. 

“There are no monsters in the dark, though there are dangers.  Let’s take care to tell the difference.”

  • Nooooooo Joji!!  Flint’s facial twitches reveal that he too is saddened by the fact that he has to kill him.  I love that their fight is so close, and then Israel Hands comes in, and Flint takes him down with very little effort.  RIP Joji.  You were amazing.
  • Flint is so confident that if Silver will just trust him, they can both save Madi and continue the war.  Silver is still annoyed with the same thing that frustrated him in 201, that “right now it matters far less to you whether she lives or dies than it happens your way, on your terms.”  They’re both right, and that is why this can only get worse.

“Even if you could kill me, even if that somehow helped you see her alive again, how are you going to explain it to her?  She believes in this as much as I do.  You know this.  If it costs the war to save her, you’ll have lost her anyway.  Even you cannot construct a story to make her forgive you that.”

  • If this were another show, Silver would have immediately replied, “Challenge accepted!”
  • But it’s a horribly depressing show, because instead Flint kills Dooley to prevent his loyal crew member from killing the partner who is trying to murder him!!  AHHHH, why can’t Silver see that Flint really values him??
  • And oh shit, DOOLEY IS THE SIXTH MAN.  We know from Treasure Island that Flint killed six men, but in the last episode Israel Hands was one of the six going ashore.  We know he has to live because he’s in the book, and I thought it was just a little hand-wavey, but NO, IT’S DOOLEY!!!  Agh, this is so sad.
  • Flint and Silver fight, and the Walrus explodes!  And DeGroot dies!! And Billy spares Ben Gunn but shoots another former brother.  THIS IS TOO MUCH.
  • Silver tries to convince Madi to trust Flint, and it’s so crazy to remember how skeptical she used to be of the pirate alliance.  Now the triumvirate has switched, and no matter how much Silver believes he’s helping Madi, we know she is very much on Flint’s side.

“Can’t you see it?  It isn’t utility that’s behind his investment in me nor necessity, nor dependency.  I understand you fear a false motive.  But this much is clear to me now:  I have earn his respect.  And after all the tragedies that man has suffered, the loss of Thomas, the events of Charles Town, I have earned his trust.  I have his true friendship, and so he’s going to have mine.  As long as that is true, I cannot imagine what is possible.”


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

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