Mar 21 2017

Black Sails – “XXXVI” Review. Until the Bitter End.

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Woodes is determined to claim Nassau at any cost

Season 4, Episode 8

Air Date: Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 9PM E/P on Starz

Rating:

 

“XXXVI” signals the beginning of the final story arc for Black Sails, and if it’s any indication of what to expect for the series finale, I might have to get a bottle of wine to calm me down. After watching “XXXVI,” I have a feeling that the core story lines will result in some insane scenes that will leave a lasting impression. That said, although there are aspects of the episode I thoroughly enjoyed, there are parts I found troublesome. 

Broken Inside and Out

I never imagined after all the carnage, double dealings, and mayhem that has occurred on Black Sails that the definitive breaking point in “Long” John Silver (Luke Arnold) and Captain Flint’s (Toby Stephens) partnership would be about a woman. I preferred the concept of the treasure being the source of evil, influencing men and women alike, to do horrible things because it represents power. And though the treasure is an important element of the episode, it took a bit of a backseat to what Silver deems more important: Madi (Zethu Dlomo). For that reason, I found it a bit cliché. I would have preferred Madi remain dead, and that Silver’s undeniable turn towards his heart of darkness be triggered by personal loss. I loved seeing the different ways Silver and Governor Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) respond to losing their loved ones. “XXXVI” illustrates how obsessive and determined Woodes is to reign in control of Nassau. I can’t help but wonder how Silver would pursue his own agenda without Madi; I guess we’ll never know.

Silver keeps his eyes on Madi!

Speaking of Madi, I was shocked at the events leading to her capture, and by Billy Bones (Tom Hopper) of all people! Billy is quite the expert kidnapper; he managed to take Madi captive without anyone being the wiser. Remember when he apprehended Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) earlier this season? I realize Billy has influential connections around the island but considering the beaten physical state that he is in, I’m stunned he managed to know of Madi’s whereabouts let alone capture her at the perfect moment to save her life. The dramatic change in Billy’s behavior reflects how fighting a war can change a person. As if to reinforce this idea, there’s a scene where Billy explains to Woodes that Flint betrayed a close friend, Mr. Gates (Mark Ryan). It’s at that moment I remember how Gates was like a father to Billy, and that perhaps his journey has been as grim as Silver.

But Flint isn’t the only one with problems. Anne Bonny (Clara Paget) and Max have a difficult time making amends. I love how Black Sails represents LGBT relationships. Anne and Max’s relationship has never appeared to be the kind of story where their love is exploited for shock value. The dynamics in Anne and Max’s relationship, as well as Max’s relationship with Eleanor Guthrie-Rogers (Hannah New), are no exception to other couples on the series.  “XXXVI” shows the continuing complex and evolving relationship Anne and Max have which adds a bit of levity to the other serious story lines at play. Their scenes are primarily in the New World, I believe in Philadelphia. I love how the cold and snowy weather is a contrast to the tropical climate of Nassau. The scene where Max explains why she rejected a lucrative business offer to be with Anne, it is one of the better poignant moments of the episode. Sure, there are no happy endings in Black Sails but doesn’t mean we can’t hope for it.

X Marks the Spot

My absolute favorite parts of “XXXVI” revolve around the references to “Treasure Island.” When I heard one of Flint’s crew talk about heading towards “Skeleton Island,” I had to pause and re-wind my DVR. In a way, I’m not surprised that more of Robert Louis Stevenson’s book has started to overlap with events from the TV show, but I get excited every time. I love the spooky ambiance of Skeleton Island—the real name for “Treasure Island”—and the fact that we’re going to get more of a context as to why some of the events in the book take place. The story by Jennifer Castillo and Jillian Molin with Tyler Van Patten who scripts the teleplay achieve a great balance in tone and pacing for all the story lines.

Overall

I still can’t believe the series is coming to a close soon, but if it’s any consolation, the performances from the entire cast are amazing. I really enjoy the moments where references to characters in past seasons arise as if in tribute somehow. Also, I appreciate that Flint’s storyline hasn’t taken a backseat to all the craziness with the war in Nassau. I love that we see more of Flint’s egomania resurface as he does what he does best in every alliance—screw people over.  Unfortunately, it appears that Flint is living on borrowed time, but it’s not a question of when or how but of who will be the one to put an end to him.

In the end, “XXXVI” has more good than bad this week.  The last few minutes of the episode make up for any issues I had early on. I cannot wait until we finally get the Silver of legend.

 

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.

 

 

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© 2017, Connie Allen. All rights reserved.

Connie Allen

I'm a writer, cinephile, avid reader, and pop culture enthusiast. I love historical dramas, and fantasy/sci-fi series. Currently living in SoCal.

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