“III” moves the plot forward nicely, even without any real action. We find out who the mystery woman is that Flint visited at the end of the last episode. It seems that there is a long relationship between Miranda Barlow (Louise Barnes) and Captain Flint, but it still isn’t quite clear as to what that relationship is. But it is deep enough that she knows about Flint’s quest to take the Urca d’Lima and for Flint to entrust Richard Guthrie into her care. She appears to have medical training and hold some sway over the island’s inhabitants, and has the interest of Pastor Lambrick (Mark Elderkin). It seems as she is yet another player in the political machinations of New Providence Island.
This episode seemed to focus on the various plots and schemes centering around the island and Flint as Flint tried to gather support to seize the Spanish galleon. Things conspire to make Flint seek aid from unlikely allies, including Captain Ben Hornigold (Patrick Lyster) and even Captain Vane. Gates provides a fair amount of humor being the go-between, negotiating for his captain trying to gain him extra ships to pursue the prize. A lot of deals are made, and not all go well. Sliver negotiates being made part of Flint’s crew, holding back some information from the schedule to keep himself alive a bit longer. Rackham needs to convince Vane to join Flint so that he can possibly recover the loss of the 5,000 pesos in pearls that he lost when he fell into the sea. Flint makes a deal with Eleanor, who tries to in turn get help from her father, Richard. Silver tries to get information out of Randall, and in turn goes to Billy with news that some crew members of the Walrus still have mutiny on their minds.
It all seems like things are getting a bit complex, and yet the writers and director Neil Marshall (The Descent, Doomsday) make it work. In lesser hands all of the talk could have gotten boring and made the hour drag. Instead, things moved along at a nice, entertaining pace, making you wonder what deal would be made next. The lively negotiations involving Flint, Gates, Rackham, Vane, and Eleanor was especially well done, with Gates trying to get Flint to keep his temper in check, and leading to an amusing comment from Vane. “Be honest. Are you as surprised as I am that I’m the only one behaving himself?” he says to Eleanor. Vane even surprises Eleanor with being reasonable, even when Rackham insists that her father approve the terms of the deal with Flint and Vane intercedes, saying that Eleanor’s guarantee is good enough for him. That briefly gets Vane back into Eleanor’s good graces (and her into his bed), but things go south when a scream interrupts their intimate moment.
That scream comes from Max. Poor Max. She didn’t quite make her getaway, and ended up Vane’s captive. It looked for a moment that she might be let go, as Vane tells Rackham to put her on a boat after dark. Unfortunately for Max, the crew of the Ranger wants her for their use first, and is raped before Eleanor can storm in and save her. Eleanor’s fury is taken out on Vane, and she threatens to banish his crew unless they vote to choose a new captain. Even Anne Bonny considers siding against Vane (though a threat from him puts a stop to that), moving at first to follow the rest of the crew. Flint gains a ship, and Gates wonders who will be her captain. A gesture from Flint gives Gates the promotion. And while things turned out in Flint’s favor, things still aren’t so good between Max and Eleanor, as Max blames Eleanor for what has happened to her. Just as we saw the hurt in Max’s eyes when Eleanor betrayed her in last episode, we now see the tables turned. With Max now in Vane’s camp, and both being former lovers that have had a falling out with Eleanor, it will be interesting going forward in seeing how problematic that will become for Miss Guthrie.
And in the background of Flint’s pursuit of the treasure galleon, the rumblings of politics back home have citizens of the island worried. Hornigold speaks of James going into hiding in France (a reference to James Edward Stuart, who the Spanish attempted to help to take the throne from King George I), and Pastor Lambrick brings up concerns of his “flock” about the British returning and reasserting rule over the island. And the Scarborough from the first episode is mentioned again, and it’s nice to see the show setting up the ramifications of what happens on the island and in Nassau possibly having on the larger world stage. Things are quite clear that no one wants the British to return, for as Hornigold gravely observes, “We’re all just thieves awaiting the noose.”
Black Sails continues to be a solid series after three episodes, and it shows a willingness to develop a deeper plot than just be a shallow action series with lots of swordplay and ship battles. The characters are being well defined by the cast, even as that list grows larger with the new faces introduced in “III”. There’s still the threat of mutiny hanging over Flint’s head, and the mystery remains: Just who is Miranda Barlow? And what is her relationship to Flint? Hopefully we’ll get some answers next episode, and with the show being as well done and entertaining as it is, there certainly is no problem in getting us to return for more.
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