“Dead men tell no tales” may be a common pirate slogan, but it certainly isn’t true in episode 408, “XXXVI.” The dead are talking up a storm here, and their words are bringing about cataclysmic events. Logbooks from long-dead captains, diaries from newly-deceased wives, and ghosts of relationships past all come to light. Nearly every character has to face their past in this episode, and some fare much better than others.
Spoiler Warning: the rest of this review contains spoilers from Episode XXXVI. Do not read further if you wish to avoid spoilers. You’ve been warned.
The episode opens with Governor Rogers showing up the burnt-out Underhill Estate under the cover of darkness. He’s in search of a book recommended by Billy. That book turns out to be one of Captain Avery’s journals, and it contains a map to La Isla Del Esqueleto, aka Skeleton Island. Billy tells Rogers to lead Flint and Silver to that island to conduct the exchange of the cache for Madi. It’s a move that makes far more sense later on in the episode.
Over aboard the Walrus, Silver and Flint have a chat about their next steps. Silver is concerned that the result of the war won’t be the peace that they’re all hoping for, but continued chaos and horror. Flint launches into a speech about how he still believes that there’s hope for the pirates to achieve peace, but it’s his ending line that truly convinces Silver. Flint says that he believes Silver and Madi represent the balance of strength and goodness that the pirates need to build their new world, and that Madi is just as valuable to their efforts as the cache. Without either one, there is no chance at success.
Contrasting that lovely tone of unconditional support is the continued tension between Max and Anne. They’ve been left behind in Philadelphia while Jack sails off to find and kill Captain Flint. Max is ironing out the details of their deal with Madame Guthrie and Anne is focusing on regaining her knife skills and gathering important bits of intelligence. Anne is still very much not interested in playing nice with Max, even though it’s Max and one of her girls who are tending to Anne’s wounds. She’s healing quickly, but that only means that she’ll be strong enough for a confrontation sooner.
From here, the action of the episode focuses on everything that’s starting to fall apart. In Philadelphia, Max and Madame Guthrie are finishing up the details of their new partnership. It all looks good, until Madame Guthrie proposes a puppet husband for Max. She wants Max to rule New Providence Island, but only under the guise of a dutiful wife. She even has a candidate in mind, but Max refuses to play her part. As Max explains to Anne later on, Max looked up to Eleanor as a strong independent woman, but didn’t see that Eleanor was trying to show her the importance of love as well until it was too late. If Max agrees to play the part of a wife, it would ruin any chance she ever had of fixing her relationship with Anne. It’s a huge sacrifice for Max to make, but it may prove to be the best choice she’ll ever make.
Back in Nassau, Governor Rogers is becoming increasingly unstable. When Mrs. Hudson finds Eleanor’s diary in a drawer, she sees a way to help push Rogers off his pedestal of power once and for all. She approaches Mrs. Mapleton and offers her the chance to rejoin the Governor’s Council. Mrs. Hudson will provide insider information to destabilize Rogers’ rule in exchange for Mrs. Mapleton using her new power to finally release Mrs. Hudson from her service. Mrs. Mapleton is interested, especially because she can turn around and resell that information to Jack Rackham and Mr. Featherstone. The men use that information to find the last living survivor of Captain Avery’s crew, and set out for Skeleton Island.
Unfortunately for them, one of the many other people looking to kill Captain Flint has found him first. Governor Rogers’s ship shows up under the cover of darkness, and Rogers immediately shows his power by killing and dumping a few pirate captives over the side of his ship in full view of The Walrus. When Madi is brought forward as the next victim, Silver hurls his figurative cards on the figurative table and practically throws the cache at Rogers. The terms of the deal set, the two ships head off up the inlet to the interior of Skeleton Island.
Along the way, Flint and Silver have another chat. This time, it’s Silver taking the lead. He is done blindly following Flint, and he demands that Flint submit to him for a change. Much to everyone’s surprise, Flint agrees. Not to everyone’s surprise, that partnership is short-lived. Flint decides that Silver is blinded by his love for Madi, and recruits a new partner in his grand scheme. This betrayal is even more short-lived, as Flint’s new partner turns out to be pretty inept at killing people. The guard that they tried to murder isn’t quite dead, and it’s only due to Israel Hand’s well-timed appearance that Flint isn’t shot in the back. Hand delivers an epic “I told you so” speech but leaves Flint alive to depart the boat with the cache. Hand needs Silver to see Flint’s betrayal first-hand in order to fully convince him of the situation. In response, Silver sends six of his men to retrieve the cache while he goes to Rogers himself to buy time. Aboard Rogers’s ship, Silver reveals that his men have also been ordered to kill Captain Flint.
It’s looking more and more like Captain Flint won’t make it to the end of the series finale. The question is, whose hands will be stained with his blood?
Black Sails airs on Starz on Sundays at 9pm eastern/8pm central. Viewers can catch up anytime online or on the Starz mobile app. Check back here to FanFest.com each week for episode previews and recaps.
Kade is often described as, “here just a minute ago” and can often be found just around the corner from where you’d expect. Approaching is not encouraged, unless you come with a strong wifi connection and a nice charcuterie board with gluten-free breads.