tv review – Starz’s Black Sails, episode 1.6

‘VI.’ continued exactly where last week’s episode left off: Flint’s crew was still trying to figure out a way to get to the other ship’s bunker in order to secure the cargo they were after. But like we learned last week, apart from guns and cannons, the rival captain’s ship was also carrying human cargo, and these slaves proved essential in Flint’s success. While ‘VI.’ wasn’t last week’s action spectacle, it was an episode filled with tension that kept you on the edge of your seat throughout.

There were three key components responsible for the suspense: the attempts at taking over the Andromache, Billy Bones’ continued search for the truth, and, back on the island, Anne Bonny’s scheme to get rid of the terrible pirate Hamund and, eventually, his entire band of misfits. Black Sails trademark strength of using a seemingly fractured but tight narrative to tell something interesting about all of its characters was at the forefront once again, the only weakness a by comparison uninteresting side plot about Mrs. Barlow who, to throw off the local pastor, used her body as a tool to manipulate him. The other storylines fared better.

Following a conversation with a slave girl, Mr. Scott took action against their captors and through this helped Flint take over the Andromache. This guaranteed his survival and that of his fellow captives, but there’s more to it: the talk with the girl he was shackled next to was about not blindly following orders and obeying a master, about self-worth. After being betrayed by Guthrie and leading this revolt, it will be interesting to see where the writers take Mr. Scott’s character. Will he remain as selflessly loyal to Eleanor, a woman he was willing to protect at any cost, or is he going to expect something more from her now and want things back?

Another man seemingly blindly following orders is Gates, but that might change from this episode forward. Following the victory over the Andromache’s crew, a couple of Flint’s men accidentally blew up part of that ship, which caught the attention of rival fregate the Scarborough. A couple of cannon shots followed and during the chaos Flint confronted Billy Bones. Billy had read a letter from Mrs. Barlow in which she wrote about Flint betraying “wicked men”, a phrase Billy took as a confirmation of Flint’s shadowy intentions regarding the crew. He had shared his doubts with Gates, who wouldn’t give it any thought. But now, after the attack by the Scarborough, Billy’s gone, because he fell into sea, according to Flint. Billy’s the second man to disappear after doubting Flint, which will prove food for thought for Gates.

Anne Bonny’s ploy to kill Hamund to save Max worked: Eleanor helped her achieve her goals to let everyone on the island know, as John Silver less politely put it, she’s not someone they want to mess with. While the outcome here was quite predictable, it functioned wonderfully to flesh out Anne and Eleanor, two powerful women who have to keep themselves standing in a world predominantly ruled and shaped by men. While this was an act of kindness, there certainly were selfish motives at play.

‘VI.’ was another solid Black Sails episode that pushed the plot forward and gave more depth to the characters and relationships already established. The cliffhanger promised we’ll see more of Charles Vane next week. 8/10

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