Fans of the friendship between James Flint and John Silver definitely get what they want in episode 409, “XXXVII”. The entire hour explores the trust, support, love, and betrayal between the two, as well as just how much they’ve learned from each other over the last four seasons. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Black Sails episode if there weren’t also swordfights, schemes, and a good explosion or two.
Spoiler Warning: the rest of this review contains spoilers from Episode XXXVII. Do not read further if you wish to avoid spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Last episode focused on all the people who want to kill Captain Flint. It’s a nice reversal then to see this episode open with Flint trying to keep someone else from being killed. A flashback tells of when Flint taught Silver how to handle a sword with just one leg. In typical Silver fashion, John spells out the metaphor for viewers: Flint is teaching Silver how to defeat him. This leads to a deep moment when Flint realizes that he knows next to nothing about Silver’s life before he turned pirate, while Silver knows almost everything about Flint. Also in typical Silver fashion, he still refuses to reveal anything new.
Flashing forward to current time, Silver and his men arrive ashore of Skeleton Island and meet up with Israel Hand. Hand has been giving Billy a run for his title of “Worst Person To Make A Plan With” for the last few episodes, and he’s playing to win this time. Luckily, Silver has a plan. He splits the group and sends them off in separate directions to find Flint, Dooley, and the cache.
Flint, meanwhile, has leveled up his sneak game. He finds the first group of Silver’s men and drops them like three sacks of potatoes. By the time Silver finds his dead men, Flint has vanished once again into the heart of the island with the cache trunk. Silver is discouraged, but luckily he has Hand there to urge him on in his mission of murder.
Back in the harbor, Woodes Rogers is having serious doubts. He calls Billy over for advice, which is a terrible decision for anyone to make. Rogers asks Billy who he thinks will win- Flint or Silver. Billy replies that Silver has the advantage, but that that’s never stopped Flint from winning before. He advises Rogers to hedge his bets. Rogers takes that advice and turns to Madi instead to shore up his chances of success.
Unfortunately for him, Madi is still made of iron. He once again offers her a “treaty” (which boils down to immunity for Madi but chains for the freed slaves), claiming that he is doing so to appease the voice of Eleanor in his head. Madi replies that while he has to answer to his dead wife, she has to answer to the voices of centuries of murdered slaves. She refuses the deal, even if it means losing any chance she has of seeing Silver again.
Over on the island, Silver’s other men find Flint. A violent swordfight ensues, and Flint emerges victorious. It’s not a clean victory, though, as Flint turns to see Silver standing on a ridge. Sending his men out in two groups was all part of Silver’s plan to force Flint out of hiding, and it worked perfectly. It’s a page straight out of Flint’s playbook, and it proves just how much Silver has learned from his Captain.
The confrontation that everyone has been waiting for arrives shortly afterwards. Hand is the first one to find Flint. They decide to settle their differences with a meeting of the blades. Silver arrives and breaks it up, but not before Flint slices a deep wound into Hand’s arm. Silver demands the cache, claiming that Flint cares more that things unfold on his terms than that people survive. Flint replies that if Silver sacrifices the war for Madi like he plans, he’ll still lose her. She wouldn’t be able to forgive him for the betrayal of her purpose. While Silver is considering his next move, Dooley shows up with a gun and a mind to kill Silver. Flint fires the first shot and kills Dooley. Silver either misinterprets the action or just doesn’t care that Flint saved his life, and launches into a swordfight with Flint. Their battle is quickly interrupted by the sound of an explosion from the bay.
It turns out that Rogers figured out a way to turn the tide in his favor. He sent his men out under the cover of the mist with rafts of black powder. By the time the pirates saw them, the fuses had been lit and the ship erupts into flames. As the pirates abandon ship, the waiting British pick them off like fish in a barrel. Billy inexplicably allows one man to escape, which is almost certainly going to come back to haunt him. Flint and Silver arrive on the beach just in time to find their ship aflame and nearly their entire crew dead in the water.
The episode ends with a final flashback. This time, it’s Silver telling Madi that he has seen Flint survive seemingly insurmountable tragedies to rise again stronger. Now that he has earned Flint’s true friendship and trust, he has offered his in return. Together, he cannot begin to imagine all that may be possible for them. Flint and Silver may still be very much at odds with each other, but truer words have never been spoken.
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.