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Black Sails - XXXI. - Review: "Retaking Nassau"

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Black Sails Season 4 Episode Guide:
4.01 XXIX. - Review!
4.02 XXX. - Review!
4.03 XXXI. - Review!
4.04 XXXII. - Airs February 19
4.05 XXXIII. - Airs February 26
4.06 XXXIV. - Airs March 6
4.07 XXXV. - Airs March 12
4.08 XXXVI. - Airs March 19
4.09 XXXVII. - Airs March 26
4.10 XXXVIII. - Airs April 2

Black Sails 4.03 "XXXI." - Review:
Directed by Roel Reiné & Written by Jonathan E. Steinberg & Brad Caleb Kane

Well, it was coming. We all knew that the pirates wouldn't make it out alive and for Edward Teach, it seemed a question of if, not when that we'd get to see his death. It was pretty powerful, bloody and brutal as well, with the show not holding back on showing his torture to Rackham and his crew. But before we talk a bit more about his death, let's get on with the rest of the episode, which was a pretty action packed and awesome one that contained plenty of costly decisions on both sides.

The alliance between Billy and Flint's forces has pretty much vanished after the previous episode's showdown, but Flint still backed the wishes of the freed slaves even though he'd lose Billy's support in the process. He was always much more of a long term thinker than Billy, who was more concerned with the situation at hand, so when Flint believes that there's still a chance that Nassau could be taken despite the significant loss of manpower, everyone listens. The first task of the day is to find Silver before the British do and while they arrive a little too late, as Sliver and Hands are both captured, Flint is able to rescue both of them with the help of his own few remaining loyal soldiers who haven't yet been captured. Flint's crew has certainly suffered heavily losses but Silver believes that there is still a chance that they can encourage the people of Nassau to rise up against the British once they attack the town themselves. Its a risky bet as otherwise they would be outnumbered by Captain Berringer's soldiers, but Silver has faith in the people of Nassau. Madi and Silver were also reunited this episode after not knowing each other's fate, and you have to wonder just what lies in store for Madi going forward especially given where Silver ends up in Treasure Island. There's still a big question mark over the fate of anyone who isn't in the book at this point as to whether they'll see out the final season alive. Even Flint's fate could be up for grabs this season given that he's dead by the time Treasure Island starts, so there still could be a lot more deaths to come especially given that we're only in episode three.

Meanwhile Captain Berringer is up to his own activities and despite being warned of hanging pirates loyal to Flint on a mass public scale by Eleanor as this would encourage a response, he seemed satisfied by the initial lack of response by them after calling them all cowards and even going so far as to offering them to take a free shot at him. This is proof to him that they are so beaten and subdued that they will not respond, but as we later learn they're only biding their time. Berringer is more interested in going after who he believes is the ringleader of the pirate resistance on Nassau and that's Max, who he notices is getting away with more suspicious activities by the day. Berringer has also held back Eleanor from going to her father because he believes that he needs the troops assigned to her protection to deal with any potential rebellion on Nassau, and as a result Woodes Rogers is now their best chance at getting any reinforcements.

And Rogers has just been caught by Teach, Rackham and Anne Bonny, who have launched a raid on two smaller longboats with Teach leading one and Anne leading the other. It turns out to be a trap as soldiers spring up from below decks during the battle taking both Teach and Anne by surprise, nearly killing Anne and capturing Teach in the process as Rackham can only watch on, not wanting to open fire as he'll risk killing both of them. When Rogers captures Teach Rackham is forced to raise the white flag and surrender, meaning that the British now have possession of the Man-of-War and one of the most infamous pirates in history, Blackbeard. Of course Rogers is going to gloat and drags Teach several times through the water as punishment from one end of the ship to the other, in one of the bloodiest and goriest, and hardest to watch moments of Black Sails so far. Despite using the keelhaul however Teach still managed to survive much to Rogers' surprise, so he promptly decides to shoot Blackbeard in the head, seeing him dead.

Back in Nassau, Berringer is proceeding with the public executions and killing pirates in full view despite Eleanor's advice to send his soldiers to the routes where the rebels normally use and ambushing them there. Berringer wants a more public conflict believing he lure Silver and Flint into a trap. Eleanor, sensing danger, decides to head to head to the Fort with supplies, believing that it won't be long before Flint and his men attack. And she's right, because in full view of everyone, Silver and Flint lead their small assault through the streets of Nassau towards the square where the executions are present. This scene reminded me a lot of The Dark Knight Rises where Batman freed Gotham's police for a march on Bane's headquaters, but that didn't stop this scene from being incredibly awesome in the process. Seeing all those men rise up to answer Silver and Flint's call was fantastic, and especially when Billy showed up as well to help Flint and Silver was a real highlight, and another awesome moment in the season, and the battle that followed was probably one of the series' best. It seems fitting that Hands be the one to kill Berringer as well, because aside from Max, Berringer wasn't really connected to anyone on the side of the pirates and it was great to see Hands unleashed properly.

We may have lost Blackbeard and Vane, but Hands' character is certainly going for some way to make up for them both. Berringer's death certainly leaves the fate of the rest of Nassau up for grabs and you have to wonder just what will come next. Had Berringer stuck to Elenaor's plan maybe they would have won out but he hadn't putting both her and Rogers in an awkward position. At this point the only leverage Rogers has is the Man-of-War, Jack and Anne, and it will no doubt lead to an interesting standoff in the future depending on where Rogers stands with his reinforcements because presumably barriaded inside the fort, Eleanor isn't going to be able to win the support of her men.

There's certainly a lot that could happen in the near future now even with Teach and Berringer out of the way, which just shows you how good Black Sails' characters are and how far they've come since the start of Season 1. There's a lot of potential for the status quo to change pretty rapidly over the course of the next few episodes - there's still seven to go, remember, and there's more questions that are going to be raised about Billy's return because presumably he still won't be on the best of terms with Flint. So for now although Flint and Silver have reclaimed at least part of Nassau (they still need to take the Fort), it may not stay in their possession for long.

What did you think of "XXXI.?" Who do you see making it to the end of the series alive? Let me know in the comments section below and check out the next episode of Black Sails this Sunday at 9pm on Starz.

About the Author - Milo MJ
Milo is an Arsenal FC supporter and loves TV shows like Battlestar Galactica, Justified, The Wire, Breaking Bad, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, The Americans and Person of Interest. He reviews Black Sails, The Magicians, Narcos, Preacher, Star Trek Discovery, Star Wars Rebels, The Shannara Chronicles, Silicon Valley and Veep for Spoiler TV. He also occasionaly writes book reviews at his own site, The Fictional Hangout and ontributes to comic reviews on a weekly basis for All-Comic. He also regularly watches and reviews films on Letterboxd, and you can find his ever-changing list of 250 favourite movies here.
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