Listen up, Black Sails. I’m gonna hit you with some cannonballs of truth. I like you. I like how you take place in a universe where everyone has blue-green eyes that shine like the ocean reflected through a diamond filtered through a watercolor Instagram filter. I like how everyone on this show uses f-bombs as punctuation marks. But when one is watching a show about pirates, one might expect that said pirates will do pirate-y things at some point. One would not expect the pirates to spend whole episodes having long meetings about implementing a plan that will apparently not come to fruition until the season finale.
But treading water was the mission statement of the fourth episode of Black Sails. There was so little plot motion that they actually put the Walrus up on land for repairs. New quartermaster Billy Biceps controversially suggested that, due to the high-speed nature of this furlough, the crew forego the pleasures of the “F— Tent.” This motion was not carried. You get the sense that there aren’t a lot of perks to being a pirate, and taking away the “F— Tent” would be like taking away your employees’ healthcare plan.
For the first time, the show shook up its one-day-per-episode format. We leapt forward a week. Flint and the Lady Barlow were having a lover’s quarrel. He didn’t like to hear her reading that Marcus Aurelius book; apparently, it was something that she shared with her husband, long since dead. (In modern terms, this is like your significant other telling you that Love, Actually always reminds them of their first girlfriend/boyfriend.)
Flint had bigger problems. Some of the captains around Pirate Island were losing their faith in Pradha Mitchell. She shamed Captain Vane in front of his crew, leaving him an opium-addled piece of human wreckage. Captain Hornigold asked Scotty the question on everyone’s lips: Would she become a new tyrant, even worse than England? Pradha Mitchell had a carefully-worded response: “F— Hornigold. F— the Captains. F— anyone else who doesn’t like how I manage this place. F– you, f— you, f— you, you’re cool, and I’m out.”
Flint needed Pradha to focus. The Walrus needed guns, lots of guns. And it could only get guns from a ship commanded by Captain Beardsley, a straight-arrow seaman who works for Pradha’s Father’s Family. In order to convince Beardsley to part with the guns, they needed to get Pradha’s father onboard with this whole “Steal a kamillion dollars from a floating fortress and found a nation of thieves” idea.
It was a stressful situation. And to top it all off, Flint’s current cook is John Silver. A gigantic feast of roast pig was planned; Silver somehow managed to mess up the cooking, even though this was back in the days when “cooking” just meant “throw on the fire for a couple hours and don’t let the whole thing burn.” They had a nice bonding moment. It turns out Captain Flint is a bit of a foodie. (He cooks! He cleans! He kills big bald men with his bare hands! Flint would rock out on Match.com, is what I’m getting at.) Silver tried to befriend Flint. He warned the Captain that Billy Biceps was seen chatting late at night to one of the angry crewmen; the angry man said something about “The Widow Barlow.”
Still, if Flint thinks he has it bad, he should see Max. Poor Fifi LaRue, who seemed back in the premiere like she was going to be the show’s wheeler-dealing double-agent hustler, has now been reduced to trying to teach grungy pirates the pleasures of tantric sex, in the vain hope that they won’t abuse her. This whole plotline is depressing. The one hopeful point is that Zorra Two-Swords – a character who has yet to say more than three words in an episode – seems to feel some tiny amount of sympathy for Fifi’s plight. Could they team up and turn into a wild-card duo in the show’s power schema? Could this whole season just be setting up a spinoff where they set off on a whole series of adventures, basically just Xena: Warrior Princess with more boats? I’d watch that.
NEXT: Betrayal Most Foul