Episode Title: “V”

Writers: Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg and Doris Egan

Director: Marc Munden

Previously on “Black Sails”: 

Episode 1.04 “IV”


What once seemed like it would never come has finally happened on “Black Sails”. In “V”- the pirates took to the sea to do some piratey things. The previous episodes are seriously lacking in pirate activity and intrigue, and often seemed more soap opera than pirate adventure. This week, “Black Sails” found a way to satisfy the audience’s hunger for action by giving us its best episode to date. 

Before we get to the exciting out-to-sea stuff, let’s talk about the boring political stuff that takes place in New Providence. For someone who is so concerned about saving their daughter from misfortunate events, Mr. Guthrie certainly did screw her offspring over royally. He announces that he’s now a fugitive, and, as a result, his family in Boston has cut off his business supply line. What that means for New Providence is that once Eleanor’s current stock of supplies runs out, abee-abee-abee-ah that’s all, folks! Understandably, this makes the town of pirates very upset since they need the stuff she sells, and she owes a lot of them credit/money.

Mr. Guthrie drops this bomb on the town without even giving Eleanor a heads-up first, essentially feeding her to a pack of wild pirates before retreating and letting her deal with them herself. What the hell, man? This is your idea of taking care of your kid?

More of Guthrie’s selfish and backstabbing actions come out later when we find out he has betrayed Mr. Scott, too, who had teamed up with him to “save” Eleanor. Guthrie saves his own skin by selling Scott to Bryson as the most mistreated kind of slave. One very far off light at the end of the tunnel is that Scott is on the ship that Flint seeks to overcome in order to get his guns back, so here’s hoping that Scott gets a better ending than a life of servitude.

Eleanor proves that she is somewhat business savvy as she scrambles to bring together a group of powerful men in order to make a new arrangement for her business. She proposes that they all work together, without Mr. Guthrie, and share the profits equally. One tells her she only has a deal if she lifts the ban on Vane to show that she is capable of being reasonable and recognizing a mistake. To her credit, she sticks to her guns and refuses to unban Vane. Once Eleanor drops the banhammer, it’s dropped… for now, at least. Before it’s all said and done, I’d bet a pirate’s doubloon that she’ll let Vane return.

It may not make much of a difference for Vane though, because after Rackham bought their crew a brothel to have some income while they aren’t sailing, Vane takes off in a small boat to who-knows-where to do who-knows-what. At least he’s on the water now, so now we get to see what kind of pirate he is with the wind in his sails and a crew by his side. Bonny and Vane have farted around far too long for my taste, and now that Flint’s crew is getting in on the action, maybe Vane and company will follow suit soon.

Captain Flint and crew take off to chase down Bryson in order to get the guns that were promised to him before Mr. Guthrie screwed it all up. Flint’s story in “V” is easily the highlight of the episode; it’s all just so fast-paced, exciting and freaking piratey. They throw up all of their sails to go full speed, and risk breaking the mast just to gain a couple extra knots of speed in order to catch Bryson before nightfall. Flint’s scurvy scoundrels know a thing or two about boarding vessels, and they plan ahead so they can take Bryson’s ship down with minimal fuss.

Billy impresses viewers, Flint, and Smee (“Gates” as portrayed by Mark Ryan) alike with his quick thinking, intelligence, and people skills. The crew has very little ammunition for this fight, so they have to make the best of it, and to help keep morale high Billy weaves a tale about how no first-time fighters have ever died.  You can see he’s shoveling out some great tasting crap, but he gets the book keeper, Dufresne, to eat it up, calm down, and fight since they need every man they can get. Then, when he starts naming off the people who have indeed died, we get a good sense of how much he does care about his crew. Aww, what a softie.

Billy’s story could have very well saved Dufresne’s life. He fights hard to survive and succeeds after going full-on berserker and tearing out a man’s throat with his teeth! Sick! Nasty! To keep things feeling tense, most of our view of the battle is from this noobie’s eyes, and it’s a smart move to help the audience stay tense.

The whole fight is fascinating in that both sides have come up with clever plans, so it’s not just a battle of brawn vs brawn. Flint deploys a sniper to keep the other boat’s wheel unused, turning it so that Flint’s men can get in position to board. Bryson’s no dummy, either, so he hides in a well-fortified bunker under the ship and sends out an SOS call to the Royal Navy’s Scarborough matches Flint’s cleverness. Now, Bryson, the guns, and his stock of slaves are all untouchable, and the Scarborough is in sight. Flint is going to have to come up with another plan, and do it fast.

And that’s where “V” ends! Next week we’ll see how Flint gets out of this sticky situation. “V” showed us that “Black Sails” can be capable of great stuff, so let’s hope it finally got its sea legs and will build on this momentum.