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SpoilerTV - TV Spoilers


Black Sails - XIX - Review: "Facing The Unknown"

Black Sails Season 3 Episode Guide
3.01. XIX - Review
3.02. XX - Review Coming Soon
3.03. XXI - Review Coming Soon

3.01 XIX - Review

Black Sails is one of my favourite period dramas. The first season may have not gotten off to the best of starts, preferring to remain landlocked, but once it reached the end of the season things really increased in quality, with the pacing, action and plot all being a significant improvement, and by the end of Season 2, things had taken a roller-coaster ride that left the audience eager for more. So when Season 3 returned on Saturday night, it did so with a bang, introducing us to a new status quo and a powerful new rival for the group to face in the form of none other than Edward Teach himself, who might be more famously known as the legendary pirate Blackbeard (Ray Stevenson). The cold opening added another potential threat that the pirates of Nassau have to face, as now that they've established their island, they have to deal with the threat of resistance from the British Crown who will do anything to claim it back. Benjamin Hornigold and Dufrense have switched sides, now becoming pirate hunters, and Eleanor Guthrie lies in England, captive and about to be hanged unless Woodes Rogers can convince her to support him in his quest to reclaim Nassau for his country.

It's dark days ahead, and Flint is hoping to keep Nassau safe by making his legend as scary and as frightening as possible. A bloody opening sees him and his crew slaughter his way through a community where a magistrate, not wanting to be swayed by fear and intimidation, has executed pirates despite Flint's comment that he will kill anyone who does it. He's begged to see reason but Flint coldly executes both him and the woman, presumably his wife, with him. It reminds us of the new status quo now and just how much more like Vane Flint is becoming, unhinged and daring. Silver recognises this and learns that the English are starting to better reinforce their towns, putting Flint's men at risk and advises Flint not to be on the advance party. Silver says that their legend has grown so great that some raids they've been attributed to didn't even have their involvement. The crew are gaining a reputation, but he says that the reputation might be so great now that they can let others do the job for them. Flint however, denies this, wanting to be involved close and personal with the piracy and the murder, objecting to any comments by Silver. Silver himself is having issues with his wooden leg, and has to watch himself as he grows closer and closer to becoming the character in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. However, there's still some way to go before we reach that point as the show continues its gameplan to establish everyone across the board. It isn't until roughly 3/4s of the way through the premiere that we are reintroduced to Eleanor in her new situation, but first off, let's look at how Nassau is fairing without her.

The answer is, not well. There are plays being performed of a mock Guthrie trial, where Eleanor is being played by a man, and she's being jeered at. Rackham and Max are in charge having captured the Spanish Gold and now have it holed up in the Fort, but following last season's defence of the building, it is now destroyed and an attack from the British could see Nassau easily conquered given the state that their island is in. If they want to stand any chance in resisting the British Empire then they need to repair the fort, but Rackham's workers are just asking for more wages and increasing the time to complete it, so he's come up with a potentially dangerous situation given Vane's history. Rackham lied to Vane about a shipment that he could easily capture and so Vane ends up bringing back a boatload of slaves to Nassau. Understandably, Vane is pissed, executing harsher punishment than normal to the slave Captain, and takes his anger out on Jack. However, Jack eventually manages to get Vane to come around, as Vane realises that they need the manpower to build the fort. He tells Jack that what Slaves fear most is the unknown, what happens without a clear set of law and order, and right now, that's what Vane and Nassau are facing, sitting on a British Island with Spanish Gold, attacks could come from pretty much anywhere and at any time.

Meanwhile, back with Flint, he's running into some trouble of his own when he and his crew stumble across a ghost ship, with no crew on board and a dead Captain at the helm, with mysterious writing written on the pages of the dead Captain's book, "We die alone, we die alone," over and over again. Suspicions are starting to be raised that it might be a trap, and that's confirmed when Silver spots a sail on the horizon, a ship bearing 50 guns, and in the right wind, would easily slaughter Flint and his crew. The attacking ship belongs to Hornigold and the former Quartermaster Dufresne, who along with Hornigold, offers Flint one last chance to surrender to a pardon, but Hornigold doesn't care whether he takes it or not and prepares to fire the guns, now working for the British having turned on his former allies. However, Flint comes up with a way out, an escape plan, albeit a risky one when he learns that none of his crew were willing to take the pardon. He takes his ship into an oncoming storm, believing that because his ship is smaller than Hornigold's it'll stand a better chance, as the storm itself, Flint believes, will spell doom to vessels bigger than his.

Meanwhile, Eleanor Guthrie has eventually broke in captivity, in England. Her trial and reputation was growing so big that even the King himself was said to be interested, and as a result, Woodes Rogers, the Newly Appointed Governor of the Bahamas, decides to try and convince her to change sides and help reconquer Nassau, arguing that the result was already heavily stacked against her as all of the persecutors would want to say that they were involved in the proceedings that led to her death. She eventually relented and now appears to be heading back to the Island that hates her, having been smuggled in secret to the docks, where several ships under the English Banner are set to sail for Nassau. This no doubt sets the stage for a greater conflict to come, and will the pirates ever be able to hold their island the full might of the British Empire? Only time will tell. One thing's for sure though that Eleanor isn't above seemingly betraying Vane to do so, singling out her onetime lover as the one person that needs to be killed to topple Nassau.

We only got two scenes with Edward Teach aka Blackbeard this episode but they were intimidating and effective. Ray Stevenson portrays Blackbeard as a ruthless figure who's heading to Nassau to no doubt cause some trouble, and it's clear that he has some past history with Vane. However, we'll have to wait until next week to find out what it is.

XIX was a fantastic premiere to what has become a fantastic show, introducing new threats and setting the stage for the rest of the season to come in a bold move. Max and Jack now have to ask the question what good is the Spanish Gold to them if they can't spend it, and more importantly, look at how they intend to repair the fort with the threat of invasion looming from all sides. You never quite know who's going to have a crack at the island next and it'll be interesting to see how this show plays out overtime with plenty of potential left to come. The action was great and the hour moved along at a swift pace indeed, leaving the audience only wanting more.

What did you think of XIX? Did you enjoy the series' premiere or were you not too keen on it? Let me know in the comments below and catch the next episode of Black Sails next Saturday at 9pm on Starz.

Overall Episode Verdict: A-
+The Threat of the Unknown.
+Eleanor betraying Vane to Rogers.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The 100, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, Hell on Wheels, The Knick, Manhattan, Murder in the First, Narcos, The Shannara Chronicles and Veep for Spoiler TV as well as books, films and games for his own blog The Fictional Hangout and contributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic.
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