Episode Title: “III”
Writers: Robert Levine & Jonathan E. Steinberg
Director: Neil Marshall
Previously on Black Sails:
The first two episodes of “Black Sails” do a fine job of pulling you into the story. “III,” however, treads water like you wouldn't believe, wasting your time and the time of everyone involved in making this show. When are these pirates going to take to the sea? So far they've been primarily hanging out on this island, talking about politics and acting extremely civilized for, you know, pirates. How's about we see some bloody pirating!
The mysterious woman we saw at the end of “II” remains equally mysterious throughout “III.” The episode flirts with giving us information about her, but other than learning that her name is Flint and that she seems to care about Flint since she bandages him up, we don't find out much of anything. Some of the crew talks about there being a Mrs. Barlow, but we don't actually know if this is his wife, sister, or someone one else. And with how not-particularly-intimate their interactions have been, there are few clues to go on.
The main focus of “III” is on Captain Flint trying to find another ship to help him track down this magical treasure ship because he knows it will require way more manpower and guns than he currently has. Smee (Gates) wastes our time like Everquest, wandering around bragging that he'll be the Captain of this new ship and then deciding he's too old to do it, only to decide to actually do it in the end. My God, man, make up your mind!
If you're looking for help, wouldn't the last person you turn to be your arch nemesis? Not these guys. Flint, Smee, Eleanor, Vane, and Rackham all sit down to negotiate the terms of having Vane using his crew and ship to help them seize the booty. This doesn't make much sense, and seems like it's only happening because Vane is a main character and the story needs it to happen this way. Apparently, Vane's main motivation to do this isn't the money, but to look good in Eleanor's eyes. Okay. Since when did this pirate care so much about winning over a lady?
That's not as bad as Eleanor letting it win her over, though. It's not very becoming of her to see that she'll jump Vane's bones after he pretends to do one act of “kindness” and gives her a soft smile. However, she regains her backbone immediately after they engage in rather graphic sexual relations. When she finds out that Vane has been hiding Max, and that his crew are gang-raping her, she goes into a righteous rage and beats them down, swearing that she'll ruin their whole crew unless they leave Vane to join Captain Flint. Eleanor sticking up for her former lover is easily the highlight of this episode, but it also kind of undoes everything that had been accomplished already, so it's not without its drawbacks.
After her rescue, Max shows us that, once she's been scorned by someone, she'd rather be someone else's slave than go back to the person that scorned her. It's a bold move from Max, and requires great strength of character, but it's not exactly the wisest decision. Even though Eleanor stopped the gang rape and promises to protect her, she chooses to join Vane since her actions cost him the pearls. Until that debt is paid, she is his to use as he pleases. Well, at least now it's her choice, I suppose. Still, this whole storyline is pretty damn squicky; I know it's a pirate show, but sheesh.
After all the treading water and floundering around, Vane ends up without a ship and a crew – only Rackham, Bonny and Max stuck with him. When the hell is Bonny going to do something other than lurk in the dark beside Vane's side? She has been useless thus far, and it feels like wasted potential.
Flint ends up with a new crew and ship, just like he wanted, but no captain, so Smee decides he'll be the Captain after all… you know, the decision he spent half the episode trying to avoid. Eleanor ends up mad at Vane again, too, which seems par for the course with them.
We do get to know Vane a bit better, seeing that he's not entirely cold-hearted when he's willing to let Max go instead of killing her like Rackham suggested. Rackham, however, proves that he's a manipulative, ruthless, greasy, sleazy and easy kind of man. And what was up with his ridiculous sunglasses? Are they so bad they're funny, or just plain bad?
While all this goes on, Silver gets very little screen time, but still gains likability points by being smart and underhanded. He flat out tells Flint that torture won't work on him because he has a very low tolerance for pain and will say anything to make it stop. He convinces Flint that he belongs on his boat, then immediately puts things into motion that will cause a mutiny. He also plays on Billy's concerns over whether Singleton died an innocent man, and puts him together with like-minded crew in hopes that they'll plan to overthrow Flint. His only motivation in everything that he does is survival, which is the most entertaining (and believable) motivation we've seen so far.
Now that all this political crap is figured out, let's hope that “IV” will put these guys out on the sea. They are becoming far too sophisticated with all of their wheeling and dealing-it's time to put some hats on and go pirating!