TV Recap

Black Sails Season 4 Episode 10 Review – XXXVIII

Flint makes one last push to topple England.  Silver seals his fate.  Rackham confronts Rogers.  Nassau is changed forever.

(Summary provided by


Literally EVERYTHING.  This is Top Flint, from his insistence upon healing his relationship with Silver, to fighting giant Billy and winning, to seeing through Jack and Silver’s betrayal, to THAT SPEECH THOUGH.  And then, either in truth or in fiction, his absolutely beautiful reunion with Thomas.  God.  This rewatch has only confirmed without question that I love Captain James Flint beyond anything.


Madi!  She outsmarts a man who would murder her, she is thrilled to see that the revolution she risked death for has survived and even defeated the man who kept her captive, and then…she dresses up like a pirate when her lover betrays her and tries to tell her a story to make it all better.  MY LIFE FOR A STORY WHERE MADI RE-STARTS A REVOLUTION.



Max, about to lockdown a deal with Grandma Guthrie, interrupted by:

Jack: Just one more thing.
Max: *eyeroll*


I love this show for presenting two endings and letting its viewers decide which is true, while at the same time telling us that they are both true, though in different ways.  It is my personal reading that Silver killed Flint, but it is my personal belief that Silver sent Flint to reunite with Thomas (and my favorite fanfiction involves James and Thomas either escaping or reforming the prison farm together).  Obviously, both events cannot exist simultaneously…but in story, they can.  That is the beauty of art, that it can create and sustain paradoxes that are somehow bigger and more beautiful in their contradictions than in either version told separately.


  • The opening at the Nice Farm Prison opens up SO MANY things to think about, especially that civilization defines itself by the things it excludes, but that it is JUDGED by how it treats those that are excluded.
  • It’s incredibly sad that their idea of “protection” is that a man “must cease to be in order to find peace.”  Silver bought this line of reasoning in his attempt to unmake Captain Flint.  Season 2 Flint would have agreed.  Now, at the end of all things, do we?
  • Billy sees Flint trying to save someone, and shoots the Someone.  Honorable Billy would have shot Flint regardless of the consequences from Woodes Rogers.
  • Sulky Featherstone, pissed that Jack’s drive might be compromised, is so cute.
  • In telling a version of the story to Jack, Flint is protecting Silver (by not saying that Silver was willing to give up the cache) and Madi (by not saying where the cache is until she’s safe).
  • Flint refuses to use the ship’s guns because it puts Madi’s life at greater risk, and only NOW does Silver realize Flint was never betraying him.  The difference between them is that Silver cannot stop being a pirate – betraying and assuming betrayal.  The irony is that Captain Flint, Pirate of Pirates, really means his offer of friendship to people that he has decided to love and trust.
  • After twelves minutes of silence, Silver’s first sullen words are, “He’s right, and you know it.”  That’s the show!

Please know I was so conflicted about all this when it began.  I knew it would be difficult to separate them, Flint and Silver.  They’d grown so close, it was hard to know where one ended and the other began.  I worried that the act of separating them might destroy them both when what I wanted was to remove Flint.  And I saw no other way.  But the things I’ve done in the pursuit of it were intended to honor my oath.  But somehow, here I am now.  What I’ve just done, there’s no coming back from that.

  • Poor Billy.  He got caught up in something much bigger than himself, and he wasn’t emotionally strong enough to either fully adapt or to keep himself away from it all.
  • Madi’s dead stare as she is forced to listen to her would-be murderer monologue about his problems is haunting.  But in the midst of it, she’s thinking faster than he is.  

“I do not wish to board her.  I wish to cause confusion and terror amongst her men.  I wish to shatter their spirits.  I wish to break them.  And then I wish to board her.”

  • Just in case we needed one last reminder of how evil civilization can be when it decides to use its power against its enemies!
  • Flint using the mast and sails as cover and giving just enough information to others to prove how brilliant he is EXCELLENT.
  • Flint knowing ships so intimately that he can cut one rope and change the battle entirely is EXCELLENT.
  • Flint fighting giant Billy after four seasons of build up and kicking him off the bottom of his shoe like an nuisance is EXCELLENT.
  • I loved seeing Silver use his crutch as both shield and weapon.
  • When Silver is confronted with his past self/persona in the form of a cowardly cook, he chooses NOT to kill the man.  That feels important.
  • MADI’S ALIVE, and the twist in the music from tragic to romantic is stunning!
  • I love Jack, but I’m glad Flint had to help him defeat Woodes Rogers.  There’s no way it would have been realistic otherwise, and anyway, Jack’s strength has never been in his physicality.
  • Madi comes out of the hold and immediately sees Flint.  Silver sees Madi’s helpless smile at Flint’s victory.
  • Jack and Silver are partnering against Flint, and watching Flint’s sad expressions is heartbreaking.  He knows, but he goes along with them.

“This war.  Your war.  Her war…As long as you and she stand for it, as long as the treasure powers it, nothing can stop it from beginning now…This is what it would be.  Time after time after time.  Endlessly.  The measuring of lives and loves and spirits so that they may be wagered in a grand game.  How much ransom can be afforded for the cause?  How many casualties can be tolerated for the cause?  How much loss?  That isn’t a war.  That is a fucking nightmare.”

  • Silver is tired, of this version of himself he’s created, of this life of pain and struggle.  But he’s tired because he’s seen this as a “grand game” rather than a life or death situation in which the only hope for a better future where black or queer men and women can live without shame and without abuse is by fighting this war.
  • The thing is, Silver CHOSE to align himself with revolutionaries, he is clearly drawn to friends and lovers who are passionate and dangerous.  He could have avoided all this long ago and let them have their war without him.  But he inserted himself into their narrative and then took it apart around them. I love that he is not made villainous in this moment, but he IS made complex and pitiable and small.

“This is how they survive.  They paint the world full of shadows, and then tell their children to stay close to the light.  Their light.  Their reasons, their judgments.  Because in the darkness, there be dragons.  But it isn’t true.  We can prove that it isn’t true.  In the dark, there is discovery, there is possibility.  There is freedom in the dark once someone has illuminated it.  And who has been so close to doing it as we are right now?”

  • GOD, THIS SPEECH.  Everyone (rightfully) loves it, but I am continually struck by the beauty of Flint’s hope.  He has now fully abandoned his shame, confident that the worst of him, whether that be the love society condemned or the rage inspired by their punishment, is all part of a greater story that can illuminate the darkness.  Stunning.
  • Both Flint and Silver had no real vision of a better world, but they both fell in love with people who were Visionaries.  James was changed by Thomas, but Silver was not changed by Madi.  Another fundamental difference between the two men.

“All this will have been for nothing.  We will have been for nothing.  Defined by their histories, distorted to fit into their narratives until all that is left of us are the monsters in the stories they tell their children.”

  • Is there a more tragic moment in this episode than when Mrs. Hudson reads “General History of Pirates” to her children, thus confirming Flint’s greatest fear?
  • Framing Treasure Island Long John Silver as a man haunted by regret is masterful.  “Someday, you will [care].  The comfort will grow stale, and casting about in the dark for some proof that you mattered and finding none, you’ll know that you gave it away in this moment on this island.”
  • Jack says, “Captain Flint is gone,” as a candle is extinguished.  WOW THE METAPHOR, because Flint was a light to illuminate civilization’s created darknesses, but no more.  It is very hard not to see Jack and Silver as the bad guys here!!
  • The show makes it explicit that it is the former slaves who would have been emboldened to fight for freedom by a story of Flint’s death, and Jack and Silver took even that away from them.  They are…super selfish.
  • And then Madi is reduced to being “a few scattered objections” to the treaty with England that she repeatedly felt was worth dying to oppose, and UGH.  I’m very unhappy with Jack and Silver (and to a lesser extent, though it’s very much in her characterization to do so, Max) taking the easy way out.
  • After the emotional devastation of the showdown between Flint and Silver, it is such a palate cleanser to experience uninhibited joy at Anne and Jack’s reunion.
  • And it is lovely to see that Jack’s victory comes by writing Woodes Roger’s story.
  • How much of Silver’s story about Flint’s fate for Madi, and how much is him trying to make himself feel better?
  • You can see Madi want to believe him, and hating herself for wanting to believe him.
  • However you see the ending, as truth or fiction, watching James realize he is seeing Thomas is So Fucking Beautiful.
  • AGGGHGHHHHH.  I always cry at their reunion.  It’s just stunning.

“You didn’t just betray my trust.  You have planned to betray it all that time.  Get out.”

  • Silver’s final story is ineffective.  The show ends with the unmaking of both Flint and Silver.
  • Madi returning to Silver, albeit at a significant distance, says a lot about love overcoming pain and betrayal.  But clearly their relationship can never be what it might have been, and I like to think this is also the regret that motivates Silver to return to his past in Treasure Island.
  • Jack, interviewing a new pirate:  And that’s my whole life story!  Wait, what did you ask?
  • The fact that the pirates are allowed to continue because their existence lines the pockets of civilization is…super disappointing.  They’ve given up their power and their honor.  Can’t help thinking Charles Vane would be super disappointed in Jack…
  • Anne’s look from “Mark” to Jack is 100% “Are you shitting me?  You don’t realize you just invited another woman on our ship?”

“What’s it all for if it goes unremembered?  It’s the art that leaves the mark.  But to leave it, it must transcend.”

  • Black Sails definitely transcended.  I’m so grateful for the True stories it tells, and I can’t wait to rewatch it a third time.

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

1 comment on “Black Sails Season 4 Episode 10 Review – XXXVIII

  1. Silver is tired, of this version of himself he’s created, of this life of pain and struggle. But he’s tired because he’s seen this as a “grand game” rather than a life or death situation in which the only hope for a better future where black or queer men and women can live without shame and without abuse is by fighting this war.

    They would have never accomplished what they wanted. Even if they had completely won Nassau, their victory would not have lasted. Humanity is too fickle and selfish for that to happen.

    Liked by 1 person

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