Black Sails "III." Review: Pirate Sunglasses and Pirate Business Meetings

By Tim Surette

Feb 09, 2014

Black Sails S01E03: "III."

So this is what all those advanced reviews of Black Sails were yammering about! "III." was a tedious hour of pirates mopping up business affairs before setting sail for treasure, and it was as about as exciting as it sounds. At least "II." had some skullduggery and suspense going on while it was stuck on shore! But "III." was literally full of pirate negotiations. Negotiations! Like terms and agreements and offers and counteroffers and such! Even a rape was used as leverage for one side to renegotiate the terms of a deal. Black Sails probably could have done without this episode, if I'm being honest. 

The big objective of "III." was to obtain a consort—or a "pirate partner," if you will—for Flint's Walrus, because taking down this treasure galleon is going to require the forces of more than one pirate captain. Some roundabout chatter had Quartermaster Gates stepping into the role, provided he could find a ship. But Gates is old in pirate years, and he feared that his crew wouldn't respect him the minute he broke his hip during the first round of cannonballing. So Gates came up with the crazy idea to have Captain Vane, Flint's chief rival, tag along. That's just asking to be stabbed in the back, in my opinion. And Vane's primary motive for agreeing to this nonsensical pairing was to make himself look better in Eleanor's eyes. That is some weak stuff, Vane. Grow a pair and find yourself a new wench. Be a damn pirate! Pirates don't fall in love! Pirates fall in hate! 

But it doesn't really matter, because Vane's involvement was short-lived. It turned out that Max didn't make it off the island like we thought; nope, she was kidnapped and chained to a wall, naked, by Vane, who then threw her to his men for a gang rape. That didn't sit well with Max's ex Eleanor, and Eleanor promised to reward any of Vane's men who flipped over to Flint's side with riches, and to hit anyone who stayed with Vane with an embargo on pirate business. Naturally, they all jumped ship (haha, I am good) and now Vane has nobody except for hipster pirate Rackham and the horny assassin Anne Bonny. 

And Max! Max pulled a pretty slick move by really driving the stake into Eleanor's heart when she decided to join Vane's team. Ouch! But Eleanor deserved it. That bitch really sold Max out in "II.," kicking off this whole chain of events. Good for you, Max! 

Basically, "III." just went in circles with lots of humdrum negotiations, only to have all the men join Flint, with Gates becoming captain of the second ship. I don't know why we had to go through all that just to end up where we are now. I suppose Vane losing all his men is a big deal, but until we see how it shapes his arc, "III." was an hour mostly wasted. 

However, there's one thing that made this episode amazing: Rackham's pirate sunglasses. I happen to be a sunglasses historian, so I know that they weren't even invented until 1752, yet here in 1715, Rackham was wearing a sweet pair of shades!

They even have peripheral vision shades so the sun can't get in from the side! That's four lenses on one pair of sunglasses! It's enough to make me wonder if Rackham is actually be a time-traveler from the future, because even we modern men don't have that kind of four-lens technology. 

Okay, so we've got the treasure galleon's schedule, we know when it will be the most vulnerable during its journey, and we have two boats and a bunch of men. Is it time to finally hit the water? I know I had no complaints about staying on dry land in the first two episodes, and I still don't, on principle. But if Black Sails is going to remain ashore just to do more of the back room wheeling and dealing we saw in "III." then I'm hitting the water without it.


– This episode was directed by low-budget action master Neil Marshall, the same man who directed the series premiere and Game of Thrones' "Blackwater." Even he couldn't milk excitement out of a stale pirate negotiation.

– I was not into the Guthrie plot. Why are we spending so much time on him, and what's going on with Flint's ladyfriend who's watching over him? 

– Eleanor is kind of an idiot, isn't she? Did she really need to go boink Vane? Did he only have to mind his manners for 30 minutes in order for her to change her mind about him? 

– Randall's scream reminded me of Dumb and Dumber's "most annoying sound in the world." I like that guy. 

– I thought the mutiny plot would cover the bulk of the episode, but it was solved rather easily, wasn't it? Maybe it will carry over into next week? 

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  • mattcollins96199 Mar 18, 2014

    Sunglasses were invented in the 1200s by the Chinese.

  • poulwknudsen Jan 26, 2015

    But bifocals were invented in 1783! What is actually a heck of a lot more annoying is the CNC machined frames that seem to be widespread. That is such an obvious flaw that it's incredible nobody on the entire set has reacted. Any metal accessory at the time was hand crafted and a looking glass was most likely held in a leather frame.

  • Marburg66 Mar 16, 2014

    I was waiting till the season ended before starting to watch. Three episodes in so far, one thing I can say that I absolutely love is that they give the most realistic depiction of pirate lifestyle I've ever seen for that time & place.
    I'm nowhere near an expert, but I know more than enough to be irritated by the swashbuckling "Yarr" pirate stereotype that most people cling to by default.

    The show definitely has its superficial flaws, but hey, every single other show does too. I'm willing to coast past alot of 'em 'cause so far, this show has it right in the places where it really counts

  • EffieElse Feb 17, 2014

    I'm surprised the rape hasn't been been more of a focus in this episode. It was probably the most severe case I've seen depicted on TV, and that includes Spartacus, a show where a young virgin slave was selected for double penetration. Here Max was kidnapped and chained in a room, stripped, beaten, and apparently gang raped through the night by order of Vane. Later, after being let go, her rapists find her and once again begin raping her, this time in public while surrounded by a huge crowd of men who do nothing. Then Max makes the decision to turn herself over to the man who ordered the first gang rape.

    That's pretty shocking, traumatic stuff, even for premium cable. Worthy of a lot of analyzing and conversation, IMO. But instead we're going on about SUNGLASSES and too much talking?

  • LOST-TWD-PP-GOT Feb 16, 2014

    I can't figure you out Tim. While this was certainly not a good episode, i gave it a generous 5.5 (barely watchable); you are very inconsistent in your reviews. On one hand you complain about Revolution's action oriented show with it's two dimensional characters. Then you'll complain about shows like Black Sails and The Walking Dead, for lack of action and focusing on character development. ?????

  • ZakMarcus Feb 17, 2014

    I was just talking about this on the review for episode IV. I don't understand the logic. Damned if you do, damned if you don't I guess.

  • LOST-TWD-PP-GOT Feb 17, 2014

    I haven't seen IV yet, i'm a week behind. Unfortunately, Tim reviews a good percentage, of the shows i watch. He bashes them on a regular basis. Recently, he has caught the Helix fever, and stopped bashing it. Honestly, i don't believe that Tim likes Sci-Fi/ Horror/ Fantasy shows. Maybe he should review shows from genres more to his liking.

  • ZakMarcus Feb 17, 2014

    Yeah there is a sense of disinterest that comes across in his reviews.

  • johnbon321 Feb 15, 2014

    Can someone tell me why it is max's fault that they are out 5000. He is the one that fell off the cliff and lost all the pearls

  • curry20060 Feb 15, 2014

    Talking like lillte children, that's what pirates do in "Black Sails". That show should be renamed "Talking Chicks". Where is the action ? Where is the sea ?

  • auraeulogia Feb 11, 2014

    This were my thoughts after I saw this episode :
    -Who knew Cap Flint was like a baby when Ms Barlow was removing the dressing ?
    -Mr Gates has GOD sign in his head?
    -I like Flint vs Vane
    -I like Gates and sometimes John Silver
    -Cap Vane looks like he's out of either Spartacus or Mad Max film.
    -Anyone could read what was on the painting?
    -Eleanor Guthrie ;you're easier than anyone could thought.
    -As Vane's crew said "Make it right Jack (FLINT )QUICKLY"?

  • Sproxar Feb 11, 2014

    The sunglasses killed this for me. 3 episodes in and it's already jumped the large toothy aquatic creature. Like this guy is saying "it's not cool enough being a PIRATE, I'm also rocking these totally awesome shades, soon to be available at a Sunglass Hut near you." Why not give him an iPhone as well?

  • DonovanBrown Feb 11, 2014

    Come they're really not as anachronistic as everyone would make it seem. 30 years off from their invention is hardly worth this much whining.

  • Sproxar Feb 13, 2014

    I wasn't whining about the fact he was wearing sunglasses, so much as the contemporary styling and finish, which seems far removed from what actual early sunglasses might have looked like. They have the look of a modern, mass produced, designer brand fashion accessory, rather than something that was hand-made in the 18th century to be purely functional.

  • MarkPeters Feb 11, 2014

    I was so hopeful for this show. What a disappointment the first episode already was. I can forgive the temporary Karl Lagerfeld insanity the costume department of this show is suffering from. However mixing the finesses of modern day 'corporate politics' and swashbuckling as if ithis show is a contemporary legal/political thriller is just ridiculous. Arrrrr... Time to scuttle this wreck me hearties.

  • fweak Feb 10, 2014

    I am so ready for Flint's crew to set sail! I appreciate the deals and doublecrosses, but these pirates need to be on the water!

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