Synopsis of 3×08: Flint and his army prepare for war, while Vane makes the ultimate sacrifice. Eleanor takes matters into her own hands. The resistance is born in Nassau.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Charles Dickens has never more accurately summed up my feelings regarding the most recent episode of Black Sails. I’m still sitting here in shock over what has recently transpired and boy, do I have a lot to say. I will forewarn you now, there are plenty of spoilers ahead, ones that will forever change the course of the show and its future.
Flint and the Walrus are still being pursued by Hornigold. Rackham and Anne now sit in the Walrus’s hold on top of their cache of gold. Rackham is clearly worried, believing that the cache represents Vane’s sacrifice and potentially his life if Vane cannot be rescued in time.
Back in Nassau, Eleanor comes face to face with Vane and she coldly presents Vane with a plea, claiming that he will receive a merciful private execution if he signs. If not, a swift public execution awaits him. Eleanor’s calm demeanor quickly turns into rage, rage over Vane’s role in her father’s death. Vane seems to have accepted his fate and attempts to help Eleanor see reason, revealing that Eleanor’s father ultimately betrayed her.
Eleanor will hear none of it and rounds on Vane, striking him multiple times and screaming in anger. Before leaving, she claims that Vane is an evil, hollow animal with no ability to forgive or comprehend. Eleanor is far more disillusioned that we have believed her to be, as demonstrated by her inability to see Vane’s development and humanity.
To her surprise, Eleanor finds that Rogers has been confined to bed with a fever. Despite his advisor’s presence and insistence, he leaves Eleanor in charge. She shares with Rogers that she is ready to move forward from her history with Vane and still seems incredibly smitten with Rogers, although I still cannot see why. As Rogers’ fever worsens and he spirals into delusion, Eleanor is forced to take action of her own and sequester Rogers in his room to recover.
Silver comes up with an unusual plan to escape Hornigold’s tail and make landfall. Flint and Silver are essentially able to beach the Walrus on a shallow sand bar and place them in a position where Hornigold is unable to approach without being shot at by the Walrus’ broadside. Once Hornigold backs off, Flint and the crew regroup with the maroon community. Flint reasons that Hornigold will return to Nassau to share Flint’s and the cache’s location with the Governor.
Meanwhile, Madi returns to find her father, Mr. Scott, worsening. She sits vigilantly by his bedside as she shares with him news of the approaching war. Mr. Scott later passes away peacefully and the entire community mourns his death. Silver approaches Madi to offer her some sort of consolation and the two embrace as Madi sheds her tears. I’m going to call it, these two are likely going to share a bed next week.
Billy soon discovers that there are those in Nassau who do not wish to see Vane moved and privately executed. Instead, they see Eleanor as a tyrannically threat and wish to see Vane tried fairly in the open, as they are due. Max warns Eleanor of these men and Eleanor attempts to consult an unconscious Rogers, but soon finds that she needs to make a decision on her own.
As Flint’s agent on Nassau, Billy has taken up refuge at Miranda Barlow’s old house. He calls upon Featherstone to once again help him, this time to help him rescue Vane. Featherstone quickly returns to Billy once he learns that the Governor has changed his plans and plans to put Vane on trial publicly in Nassau today.
As Eleanor has instructed, Vane is shuttled to the town square of Nassau where he will be tried and subsequently executed if found guilty, which we have no doubt he will be. Billy and those loyal to him take up places around the square with the intent to rescue Vane. Vane makes eye contact with Billy and painfully shakes his head, instructing Billy to stand down.
It is at this moment that we realize that Vane has accepted his fate and is willing and ready to die for the cause, to die for what he believes in, to die for the future he sees in Nassau. As we watch Vane’s friends look on hopelessly as the noose is placed around Vane’s neck and he is subsequently hanged, it is clear Vane’s death will not be in vain, as his death has raised doubts and suspicion and ultimately has started the resistance movement in Nassau. Eleanor may have just killed herself with her hasty decision.
As Flint and Rackham observe the maroon community’s funeral for Mr. Scott, Rackham proposes that Flint make Rackham captain of his second ship, replacing Vane whom Flint originally intended to name. I must admit, Rackham is a good replacement and one who will strive to meet Vane’s own ideals and avenge his name.
Back in Nassau, Eleanor attempts to anticipate Flint’s plans, and proposes to involve more men and ships to wage war against Flint and his men.
Meanwhile, word of Vane’s hanging travels rapidly and news of Vane’s death soon reaches Blackbeard’s ears. Only time will tell how Blackbeard will retaliate against England for Vane’s death. I can’t imagine his relationship with Flint will be jovial, considering Flint was the one indirectly responsible for Vane’s return to Nassau and his subsequent death. I am incredibly curious to see how all of Vane’s friends act following Vane’s passing. Part of me longs to see Rackham or Bonny kill Eleanor in retaliation. They are pirates after all.
All in all, I’m disappointed. Not necessarily in Vane’s immediate death, but in the destruction of the potential and development that Vane and ultimately Zach McGowan brought to the show. What is Black Sails without Charles Vane? Assuredly very little.
Undoubtedly, Vane and Flint are the two titular characters of this show, despite what others may say, and by removing Vane, the show has likely ruffled some feathers among fans, but it also has driven the story immensely. Vane has come a long way and over time has begun to show true humanity and feelings not just for himself. While Vane would never admit his true feelings, he scarified himself to save those he loved and I hope his friends, as well as strangers, use his loss as fuel to stoke their fire.
I’m also incredibly frustrated with Eleanor Guthrie’s character development. I had hoped that Eleanor would see reason. Eleanor loved Vane for years, and yet she throws their history away for the affection of a man she’s known for a month or two.
Vane and Eleanor’s relationship was doomed from the start, a tragic love story akin to Romeo and Juliet’s, but in this case Eleanor became a spiteful unapologetic bitch. Starz certainly doesn’t sugar coat their shows and considering this is a gritty historical drama, I’m not surprised by both Vane and Eleanor’s fate, although I wasn’t expecting Vane’s demise so soon. Historically, Charles Vane died after Jack Rackham.
I will say though that Hannah New knocked it out of the park with her acting. I don’t see redemption for Eleanor in the future considering she has cemented her fate and I hope that only when she’s rolling in her grave, does she realize her grave mistakes.
On another note, it was painful to watch Mr. Scott’s timely passing and I sat here wishing he had been given more development over the course of the previous seasons. He will be dearly missed, not only as a husband and father, but also as a trusted ally to Flint and the pirates.
Don’t miss the finale of Black Sails next week on Starz!