BLACK SAILS 1.06 ‘VI’
Episode Title: “VI”
Writers: Robert Levine, Jonathan E. Steinberg and Heather Bellson
Director: T.J. Scott
Previously on "Black Sails":
Episode 1.05 “V”
“VI” lacks the excitement and action that made the previous episode so great, but it manages to deliver a nice dose of tension while falling back to the soap opera-esque formula of gossiping, lies, deceit, and sex shenanigans. Yes, it's possible to have both nail-biting scenes and soapy crap in one episode, thanks to “VI” focusing partly on pirates and partly on the townsfolk.
Eleanor, feeling like she's cornered, finally decides to lift the ban on Vane and his crew, but it doesn't come without consequences for them. This situation provides a really interesting look into her character; she'll take a blow to her pride if it will help her business and/or allow her to stick it to her father, but any abuse she takes will find its way out of her when she lashes out in other ways.
Still, Eleanor has her fury set on eight of Vane's crew, the ones who are abusing Max to the fullest. She may have lifted their ban, but then she goes and devises a plan with Bonny that will send them to their graves. All of them. And all at the same time and in a way that she won't be implicated. Bravo! She goes big or not at all! Bonny was suggesting just killing Hamund, but Eleanor retorts by asking "Why stop there?" Silver, always the one to see everything for what it is, points out that she lashed out at them just because this whole situation made her feel weak. Hmm… it seems like an Eleanor with something to prove is a very dangerous Eleanor.
Elsewhere, one important question keeps plaguing me: when the hell did Rackham and Bonny start a relationship? Sure, in the first episode there's a quick line of Bonny asking Rackham if he wants to screw, but that is all we've seen of that until this episode. Now, suddenly, they're in such a tight relationship, Bonny believes that Rackham will choose her over Vane and his crew (a crucial component of Eleanor's revenge plan), and the whole thing feels like it came out of nowhere. It would've been nice to see some kind of hints about this. I'm not talking about moonlight boat rides or anything romantic, because that wouldn't be true to their nature, but at least another mention of them sleeping together to remind us every now and then. Also, on a side note, Bonny without her hat looks like a completely different woman, and it took me a minute to realize it was her.
Eleanor's Operation: Enduring Vengeance is interesting to watch unfold, but we don't get to see the big payoff of the plan going into action (outside of Bonny killing Hamund pretty ruthlessly, which is a small plus), so the whole thing is highly disappointing. Yes, it's great and about freakin' time we get to see Bonny do something, but it's still not enough. Give us more!
As always, "Black Sails'" best scenes are the ones oriented around the pirates being piratey. Captain Flint and crew scramble to come up with a plan to reach the guns and take off before the sun rises and then the military ship Scarborough finds them. Eleanor's ex-right-hand man, Mr. Scott, surprises me with his adamant loyalty and love for Eleanor. He refuses his own freedom just so that he can protect Eleanor. Of course, Scott goes back on that decision later, but his love for that woman runs a lot deeper than expected.
It would be nice to see Flint being more proactive in coming up with his own plans instead of barking orders for his crew to do it for him. In the end, however, he is the one with the guile to free the slaves so that they can kill Bryson from within. The boys making noise up top to hide the fact that the slaves are breaking their chains is great. No side has to tell the other what to do, everyone just uses their brains to figure it out. It adds depth to our pirates when a well thought out plan comes together!
So far we've just been dealing with the side dishes, but the real meat of "VI" is the fallout between Captain Flint and Billy, one that leads to Billy accidentally slipping/possibly being shoved overboard by Flint. The end result? Billy's gone (for now) and Flint takes a hit in trustworthiness but gets a skyrocketing boost in how interesting he is as a character. Up until now, he's been extremely loyal to his crew; he may lie to them, but it's supposedly for the greater good. Now, he possibly killed one of his best crewmen because Billy found some letters indicating Flint betrayed them all. A man that desperate must have something to hide right? Or maybe Billy really did slip. And maybe my butt is made of gold doubloons. Either way, hopefully we'll get to the bottom of all this soon, and in the meantime we'll be keeping a close watchful eye on good ol' Flint, as will Smee ("Gates" as portrayed by Mark Ryan).
There are only two episodes left in season one, so the "Black Sails" creative team needs to jump to it. I'm guessing Captain Flint taking off after the magical treasure ship will be saved for another season. Here are a few things I'd like to see in the next few episodes: Mrs. Barlow engage in passionate sex that lasts more than two seconds (it looks like she could stand to get hers), Billy's return with a vengeance, and the Scarborough rain fiery chaos onto the "Black Sails" crew. After all, it's a massive ship so well-armed and well-run that Flint runs from it, so let's see that bad boy in action already!