Season 4, Episode 7
Air Date: Sunday, March 12, 2017 at 9PM E/P on Starz
Black Sails easily has one of the best written story lines for women and it thoroughly shines in the latest episode, “XXXV.” Wow, I am so impressed with the way the series has been dedicated to creating well-rounded female characters. “XXXV” uses the fate of Madi (Zethu Dlomo) and Eleanor (Hannah New) to illustrate the power they wield over the men in their lives. What adds even more excitement for me is seeing more of the Guthrie family, whose members are very critical in influencing the events towards the end of the episode. Meanwhile, amid the war raging on in Nassau, Captain Flint (Tobey Stephens) continues to be the thorn in everyone’s side, particularly Billy Bones (Tom Hopper). If you’ve read “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson, the endgame for Flint is very straightforward. But, as with most things in Black Sails, it’s not what transpires among the characters but how their choices impact the show, which remains the most significant element of the episode.
“XXXV” has some major revelations that didn’t really surprise me, and its tone remains very even keeled from start to finish. Essentially, “Long” John Silver and Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) continue to hate each other, but it’s their reactions to the death of their loved ones that steer the course of “XXXV.” Earlier in the season, Silver spoke about vulnerabilities and how they can cloud one’s judgment. The women in their lives are essential to them, not just as love interests but as partners. I love that Madi and Eleanor, despite standing by their men, have their own opinions and speak freely. It’s the 18th century and to see characters like Eleanor and Madi crafted to be so empowered and not merely a damsel is impressive. I didn’t think I could be more surprised after watching “XXXIV” but “XXXV” proves me wrong.
The Nine Lives of Max
I’ll be the first to confess I didn’t like how Max’s (Jessica Parker Kennedy) story line started in season one; I hated how excessively she was abused. Now, as the series sails off into the sunset, the same appears to be true for Max. “XXXV” is not only a character study about the roles women play in Black Sails, but in the case of Max, it reveals just how critical she is to major events going on in Nassau. Max’s interaction with Marion Guthrie (Harriet Walter), Eleanor’s grandmother, is my favorite moment. As the matriarch of the powerful Guthrie family, Marion’s mannerisms and behavior mirror Eleanor in many ways, except where compassion is concerned. There’s an intense moment where Marion tests Max’s worthiness, and the results do not disappoint. All the sacrifices Max has made are brought into question after her encounter with Marion. I appreciate that Max’s goal is not just surviving, but calling it quits. None of the major characters on Black Sails know how to do that when the going gets good. I hope Max makes it to the season end.
I am torn as to what aspects about “XXXV” are the best; it was that riveting. The girl power vibe makes the story lines more dynamic and exciting. As to the overall production, director Lukas Ettlin’s style, although at times very visually dramatic, is equally as powerful in the subtle moments where what is expressed through double entendre is more revealing than what is spoken aloud. The script, written by creator Robert Levine and producer Brad Caleb Kane, is excellent. Yet, it’s not just the story lines themselves. The performances are stellar and I am continually impressed by what a scene stealer Max is this season. With one steely glance, Kennedy does an amazing job of expressing so much about Max’s feelings. I also must commend Hopper, who, despite having very limited scenes in the episode, manages to show the complex sides of Billy that make him stand out. I loved the loyal and charismatic nature of Billy to unite his fellow pirates for a common cause. But Billy is equally as addicted as Rogers to the bloodlust that accompanies war. That said, it’s interesting to observe Billy’s nature taking a darker turn. I can’t wait to see how Silver and Flint respond to Billy’s new alliances.
“XXXV” is a solid episode that leaves a great impression and is worthy of a second viewing. I can’t believe this is the final season but if “XXXV” is any indication, Black Sails will go out with a shot heard round the world.
Tune in to the final episodes of Black Sails, Sundays at 9PM E/P, only on Starz.
For more on the show, go to http://www.starz.com/originals/blacksails/
Follow Black Sails on its official twitter: @BlkSails_Starz, and don’t forget the cast and crew: @BlkSailsCreatrs (Black Sails Creators), @TobyStephensInV (Toby Stephens / Captain James Flint) @LongLukeArnold (Luke Arnold/John Silver), @ClaraPaget (Clara Paget/Anne Bonny), @hannahnewuk (Hannah New/Eleanor Guthrie), @JParkerK (Jessica P Kennedy/Max), @fallofasparrow (Toby Schmitz/Jack Rackham), and @luke_j_roberts (Luke Roberts/Woodes Rogers).
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Photos ©2017 Starz Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
© 2017, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.
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