It was yet another powerfully dark hour, with high drama, tension and suspense. The action was fast, furious and fun on Black Sails Season 4 Episode 3 with tons of these surprising, “Oh SNAP!” moments:
Flint and company knifing Redcoats just when it looked like Silver was cornered; Rogers (with help) out-dueling Blackbeard; Rackham raising the white flag; Billy Bones saving Flint and Silver when all appeared lost; and finally, Israel Hand whacking Berringer.
But the biggest lesson, if you watch Black Sails online or on TV?
Don’t write checks with your mouth that your ass can’t cash.
Bet on Gov. Goodes Rogers learning that one soon. As in, probably-next-episode soon. Oh yeah, Rogers puffed his chest to Capt. Berringer, about how back in the day as a privateer, he killed 73 Spanish sailors and let one live to tell about it, after they killed his brother with a cheap shot in battle.
But after Rogers took down mighty Blackbeard, humiliated him, tortured him to a bloody pulp, and then blew his brains out in front of a captive audience, Rogers went soft.
With Rackham practically peeing in his pirate pants knowing he was next up for a Rogers special, last thing anyone might’ve expected was for Rogers to tell his men, “secure them all,” as he walked away from Rackham and his captured army.
Didn’t Rogers tell Berringer his story to boost his rep, after Berringer gave him a pep talk on what to do if he caught Blackbeard?
Berringer: When the dread moment arrives, your true nature will assert itself. The confusion will lift and all will appear as it should be.
Rogers: You’ve given me good men to lead. I’ll do my best by them.
Berringer: There isn’t a good man among them. Not anymore...right now, good men is not what the moment requires. Right now, the time calls for dark men to do dark things. Do not be afraid to lead them to it.
It’s hard to imagine how Rogers’ mercy move not coming back to bite him. As a pirate, Rackham is more elegant Errol Flynn than fearsome Charles Vane, but he’s crafty.
If he actually won’t do the dirty deed of beheading Rogers, Rackham can easily get someone in his captured army to do it — maybe his part-time lover Anne Bonny?
Here’s why Rogers leaving Rackham alive was a huge mistake: Rackham badly (very badly) wants the pirates — and in the future, anyone reading a history book — to see him as much of a legend as Blackbeard.
If the story of the pirate Jack Rackham is to end with him standing alongside Blackbeard as an equal, together defeating the governor, who hanged Charles Vane and in so doing, restoring pirate rule over Nassau...that is an ending I can live with.Capt. Jack Rackham
Rackham now has nothing to lose and everything to gain by avenging Blackbeard’s death by killing Rogers. Think Berringer would’ve let Rackham live?
No way. Berringer does NOT play.
Oops. Make that, didn’t play.
But Berringer’s problem was essentially the same as Rogers' is now, about his mouth writing a check. How entertaining was it to watch Berringer write one worth seven figures in his epic tirade in the town square?
Chris Larkin, who so convincingly brought Berringer to life — if, sadly, only for a while — deserves major props for his skills. His character was as memorable a villain as there ever was in the show’s history.
You can feel Berringer’s blood boiling and the intensity of his growl with every word he reads of Silver’s latest letter, retrieved from the body of Berringer’s latest dead soldier. You can feel Berringer’s raw ire when he dares folks to fight him then and there, and when no one did, to call them all cowards.
You can see the fire in Berringer’s eyes as he’s scaring the bejeezus out of Max, when he indicted her for treason, telling her that cooperating with him was her only chance to save her life.
Speaking of eyes, how powerful were those of the characters?
Let’s start with Rackham’s.
Eraly on, he looked gleeful, full of buccaneer swagger, telling Anne that he was actually able to convince Blackbeard, the man he put on a pedestal, to do anything he suggested.
Then, how quickly did Rackham’s expression turn to desperation and despair, after he realized his idol and his lover were captured and their lives hanged by a thread?
Rackham’s eyes were even sadder when he realized, in his humiliation, he had no choice but to do the unthinkable — raise the white flag.
But even those moments didn’t produce the look of utter psychological terror Rackham showed while watching Blackbeard be repeatedly lowered by rope into the sea and then winched back up.
Each time Blackbeard would be bloodier — from his body scraping the side of the ship — and Rackham knew his turn was coming.
If you caught the looks between Madi and Silver when the two lovers were finally reunited, you saw not just passion and relief, but also an expression of defiance; that no matter what could possibly happen in this war, even the British Empire could never tear them apart.
But did you catch Flint’s eyes in that moment, watching Silver and Madi embrace? He expressed the pained and fairly envious look of a man who hasn’t felt love in an awfully long time. It was as if Flint was questioning whether this whole "war with the British" thing was still worth it.
To him, it is and can never be anything else. That much was clear when Flint and Silver realized it was time to ride — time go into Nassau and take on the Redcoats with swords swinging and guns blazing.
Flint: The threats have been made, the story’s been told, everybody in Nassau knows what Long John Silver’s return means, what’s expected of them when he does return...all that remains to do is for him to return.
Silver: It would help if Nassau knew I was coming.
Hand bounced Berringer’s verbal check by slitting his throat — its aftermath is powerfully captured by a shot of the upside-down-hanging captain’s family portrait slipping through one set of fingers and blood cascading down over the other.
If only the stubborn Berringer had listened when he had the chance, to Eleanor Guthrie, who knows the people of Nassau better than anyone else. She told him not to publicly hang the pirates.
Eleanor: ...I’m asking you to cancel the theater around them. You intend to lure Silver in. Force him to appear in the square to save his men, so that you might defeat him in full view of all of Nassau, demonstrate your fearsomeness to them. Don’t.
Berringer: Why not?
Eleanor: Because you don’t need to. They know it already. And because at a certain point there is only a certain amount of fear a man can endure. And what you are doing is antagonizing them.
Still, Berringer’s bad karma wouldn’t have happened if not for pirate resistance MVP Billy Bones and his posse, again, riding in just in time to save the day.
When Bones’s and Flint’s eyes locked this time, they express a silent, mutual respect, as if to say, “Good lookin’ out, partner. I got your back.”
How long, though, will Flint and Bones continue to play nice? Eleanor could see Berringer’s downfall coming, but how long will she and Max be safe, holed up in the fort — if they make it there?
How soon until Gov. Rogers regrets his decision not to do to the pirates what he did to the Spanish crew? How soon until Rackham avenges Blackbeard’s death?
What do you say? Post your comments now!
Gil Griffin is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.