Black Sails – 4×08: ‘XXXVI’ or Treasure Island, Ahoy!

When I’m wrong I say I’m wrong, but I wasn’t wrong about the last two episodes of Black Sails. When I see plot lines hastily drawn together and sloppily executed, I know what I’m seeing. In contrast, when I see beautifully carried out story-lines and character motivations that make perfect sense, I know that as well. This week’s Black Sails put the two episodes before it to shame. The episode itself in its entirety felt almost like an apology for the the two that aired prior to it. As if the show was saying, “We’re sorry. We got the news the show was ending and we have to scramble to put ourselves into a semblance of order, but please, forgive us. Here is a perfect episode in exchange.” The show righted the ship and just in time too as they’ve entered the last sprint towards the end of its run.

It’s a testament to how easily coherent plot lines can be shunted aside for convenience sake in this industry, which in turn makes me appreciate what Black Sails has been able to do over the last three seasons. I’d likely have been more willing to forgive the character assassination of Billy Bones had he not been my favorite character and I’ll forever be bitter of what happened to Eleanor Guthrie over the last season until her untimely end, but beyond that, this week’s episode solidified that the Man Pain episodes were a blip rather than a trend meant to play out over the rest of the season.

The best part? Max. For so long Max seemed to be a secondary character embroiled in parts of other character’s stories, but little by little over the course of the show, she’s created a story all her own and that finally came to a head this week. In meeting Eleanor Guthrie’s grandmother and becoming something of her protégeé, it establishes Max as our main female lead. Even with just a few episodes still left to air, her rise is remarkable and unexpected. Mrs. Guthrie even comments upon it during their walk on the docks, that she had a fantasy of one day Eleanor showing up seeking her advice and in her stead, Max is there to receive it. It’s a tacit acknowledgment that perhaps the show knows that the viewer was craving that as well (I know that I was), but that things don’t always work out as planned and Max’s journey being lifted into prominence this way is a fitting near end to her story. Add to that the beauty of her choice in the end, being offered a suitable husband as a front to the power she would wield in Nassau, but giving it up for Anne. Their connection was wonderful to see unfold last season and to see the writer’s bring it full circle was awesome. Jessica Parker Kennedy was stunning in her portrayal of a woman begging forgiveness of, perhaps, her true love. With just two episodes remaining, I’m holding out hope for a happy ending for them.

And speaking of the end of the road, perhaps the most important part of the show’s plot is playing out on Skeleton Island. Flint is off, burying the treasure that will remain so for decades leading up to Treasure Island and the crack that Billy told Woodes Rogers about that could form a wedge between Silver and Flint has been exposed. The six men of legend who Flint kills have been dispatched to the jungle to stop him (whether the show sticks to canon or not, we’ll see!). In another move that felt like the show apologizing for how the last two episodes went down, it was amazing to see Flint acknowledge that Billy’s plan was the best one, to have Silver and Madi at the head of their revolution, leading the new world into a new era, but as nice as those sentiments were, they weren’t enough to stop Silver betraying the cause – and Flint – to save Madi’s life. Flint steals the cache and Silver orders the cache to be returned and for Flint to die.

There’s just one thing that can throw a wrench into all of these plans – Jack Rackham’s arrival back in Nassau and the information that was passed along to him about the whereabouts of Flint, Silver and Rogers. It’s unlikely that the uneasy truce between Silver and Woodes would survive an attack from Rackham’s crew, especially with Rogers still reeling from Eleanor’s death.

There are just two episodes left and thanks to the show redeeming itself in this episode, I cannot wait to see how it all plays out.

Jennifer Iacopelli is a New York based writer who watches way too much genre TV, reads way too many Pride and Prejudice retellings and obsesses over way too many sports. She is most happy when she's doing all three at once.