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Black Sails - XX - Review: "Battling The Shipkiller"

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

Black Sails 3.01. XX
Picking up from where we left off in the premiere, Black Sails continued to further the storyline of the third season as it looks likely to built towards a conflict between the pirates of Nassau and Woodes Rogers' fleet. Rogers has captured Eleanor Guthrie and now has former Pirates Benjamin Hornigold and ex-Qautermaster of the Walrus Dufrense now working under his command. Hornigold and Dufrense have chased Flint into a ship-killing storm, where they must now not only battle each other, but also the elements. And Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, is back in a Guthrie-free Nassau, looking to be reunited with Charles Vane who's struggling to see the fort rebuilt in time. It's a tense, exciting episode that really works, offering some fantastic thrills and keeping the action tense all the way through. Long gone are the days when the show's sluggish pace and landlocked attitude kept it from being interesting. Now it's a fully blown pirate epic.

The show opens this episode with a dream sequence which is running throughout the course of XX as it follows Miranda Barlow, who is dead, climbing out of the sea and trying to talk to Flint but not actually able to say anything at all. It's eerie and haunting and not unlike when the crew of the Walrus stumbled across the deserted ship in the premiere, that lead them to the situation that they are in now, battling against a storm that Flint decided to lead them into. Flint, as Silver observes, is still determined as ever and could have taken Hornigold's offer of a pardon and then simply returned to pirating once he was away from Hornigold, after all, it would have been what he'd have done. Flint doesn't want to show weakness however, and you can't expect him to lie down so easily. This allows us for one of the most intense episodes that the show has given us all season, with some brilliant storm effects that really help make the show feel all the more engaging, especially as this was the first time that we've come into conflict with extreme weather elements. It was breathtaking, and seeing Flint's journey as we watched him sacrifice his own men for the survival of their vessel, really made this episode effective and emphasised his cold-natured character. But that said, it didn't stop him from tying himself to the wheel whilst the rest of the crew were below decks, and this also showed that he wasn't afraid to get hands on in the experience himself.

Eleanor Guthrie also got one of the most badass scenes this week as she told Rogers how she brought Nassau under their control by making deals with various pirates and convincing Vane to abandon loyalty to Blackbeard, one of the deadliest pirates alive. Eleanor has really turned into an incredibly interesting character this season with just two episodes and it was great watching Rogers look surprised at her success. This was effective, and even when Rogers brought a reluctant Hornigold in to keep an eye on Eleanor, you still get the feeling that she will be capable of outwitting both of them. For now though she has agreed a partnership with Rogers, after convincing him not to send her back to England when he learned that Vane and Eleanor were former lovers.

Meanwhile, back in Nassau, Max and Rackham are discussing their futures in Nassau when either the English or Spanish come calling. Rackham believes that Max is putting a choice between him or her for Anne, but Max suggests that they start swapping their gold for goods and therefore make it easier for themselves when the invasion inevitably arrives, as everyone pretty much knows by this point that it's only a matter of time before a substantial force attacks them. The only question is which Empire will get there first. Meanwhile, Teach revealed himself to Vane and has come out of hiding following Eleanor's departure from Nassau. Vane eventually sees that Teach has actually arrived as an ally and not as a rival, and learns of the alliance between the various Captains, including Flint and Vane, to protect Nassau with the help of the Man-o-War. Teach says that most of the Captains here aren't up to scratch, and shows his displeasure at what Nassau has become following a meeting with Rackham, where he is suspicious about his intentions for keeping Nassau free.

Hornigold meanwhile has returned to Rogers with proof of Flint's supposed death in the harsh weather conditions, presenting his fallen flag. Of course we know that Flint has survived but it is a less than ideal situation that he has found himself in, as they have lost the wind and are sitting motionless in uncharted waters, with no way of getting back to civilization before their three weeks worth of food expires. It's a difficult situation that they've found themselves in, and the crew have losses of their own, with Muldoon's death being one of the more tragic ones to happen to minor characters on this series, following all the effort that he did to help Silver below decks, going some way to change his character, who has already grown so much, like pretty much everyone here, since the show has begun.

What did you think of XX? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? What are your predictions for the rest of the season? Let me know in the comments below and check out the next episode this Saturday on Starz. And for fans of The Shannara Chronicles, don't forget to check out my weekly recaps with the latest episode being covered on Friday!

Overall Episode Verdict: A
+Eleanor vs. Rogers
+Battling the elements.

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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