A Crossbones Community
NBC (ended 2014)
Hmm, since I guess staff has dropped out of reviewing the series, and we're only halfway through, guess it's time for a review!

This week's episode was a step up from last week's. We had some action, some plot momentum, and things moved along a bit.

Subplots first. Nenna the bisexual (?) pirate has sex with Rose, the bisexual (?) brothel madam, and then cuts her throat and leaves her in a buried chest. Which I suspect would be a callback to when Kate was buried by Jagger, if I thought a) the writers were that clever, and b) the callback meant anything. But Nenna temporarily forgets that Rose said she had a letter written to Blackbeard detailing Nenna's crime. When she does remember, she goes to the madam's bedroom and looks for the hidden chamber. You wouldn’t think that someone would hide a letter if they wanted it found if they were dead, but go figure. So Nenna doesn't find the letter, and doesn't kill the prostitute who wanders in looking for Rose.

Was it kill the madam and get the blackmail letter she has hidden away in case she dies, or get the blackmail letter and then kill her? I always get those two confused...

Then there's Jagger and Antoinette. Sheesh. By my count we had five separate scenes of Antoinette in her prison cell, four of them with Jagger. Does he have nothing better to do then visit her again? And again. And again. Especially since only the last scene really resolved anything, in a rather confused manner. Somehow a nursery song that Antoinette heard Blackbeard sing to his dead son gives Jagger everything he needs to work out Blackbeard's convoluted scheme to sink the Spanish Treasure Fleet. I'm not up on Edward Teach's real-life marriage history, but would he have known about the Chronometer, that he needed to set his scheme in motion, when he was married to Antoinette? There doesn't seem to be a real-life wife that Teach was married to.

Does it bother you when I do this, honey? Well, damn well get used to it because we're going to go through this three more times before the end of the episode.

And why is Antoinette in a cell in Jamaica, anyway?

Tim gets a bit of a mouth on him, wondering why they're stealing another boat and complaining to the pirates that come to arrest him. I suppose he's getting the casual "I'm just going to put up with this shit and see what happens next" attitude that most viewers probably are as well. I know that I am.

On to the main plot. Tom has convinced Blackbeard that he needs to bore a hole in his head. In what I'm assuming is an authentic 18th century surgical procedure, Tom uses the McGuffin of the Week (i.e., the trephine), to bore a hole in Blackbeard's head, relieve some pressure, put a coin as a plug, and then seals it shut. Kids, don't try this at home. I did, once, and it all ended in tears. Anyhoo, it works, raising the question of exactly how much surgery Tom actually knows. He seems a true Renaissance Man, knowing sleeper holds, medical techniques, sketch artistry, and explosives.

One wonders how this all would have played out if Hugh Laurie had taken the role of Blackbeard. Director Deran Sarafian was a co-executive producer and director on House, and there seems to be a curious emphasis on medical techniques in Crossbones. One can only imagine Hugh Laurie playing Tom Lowe. Oh well, we can dream.

In fact, let's dream of the characters from House on Crossbones. House as both Tom and Blackbeard, Cameron as Kate, Cameron's dead husband as James, Thirteen as Nenna, Taub as Tim, Foreman as Rider, Cuddy as Selima, Vogler as Jagger, Chase as Oswald (make him Tom if we only let Hugh be Blackbeard), Adams as Rose, Martha Masters as Nelly, Park as some random crewman fed to the sharks... Umm. Much better. Oh well, let's deal with the Crossbones that we're stuck with.

Of course, before the surgery scene, Tom reveals who he really is to Kate. This goes over about as well as one would expect (i.e., not at all), in their on-again, off-again, I-want-you-dead-again relationship. Not only does she reject Tom, but Tom decides to have this confab in Kate's house without first seeing where James is. James overhears them and squeals like a piggy to the pirates. They hunt down Tom but he's too clever for them. On the amazing dimensionally transindental island, Tom has managed to find Blackbeard in that cave that's two miles away from Santa Campana and simultaneously beneath it. How he knows Blackbeard is there and where the Wildman is during the whole conversation, I don't know.

What follows is the kind of polite British-speak that we (well, me) associate with Downton Abbey. "Then I'll kill him." "I'd be most obliged if you would." Blackbeard is a walking talking philosophical Miss Manners when he isn't brutally slaughtering hundreds.

If I might take a moment from my dissertation on Aristophanes, dear fellow, would you mind terribly if, when you shoot me, you take care to place the bullet between the fifth and sixth rib? Aesthetics, you know.
Not at all, kind sir! And might I say, it's been most sporting of you to let me live on this island and protect me from your hostile pirates. The mark of a true gentleman, mind my words.
Oh, indeed, my good fellow, pip pip and cheerio, one can't have ill manners in-between one's rape and slaughter of innocent civilians. Wouldn't be good manners at all, tsk tsk.

Anyhoo, after the bromance, what follows is an embarrassingly poor display of fighting skills on Tom's part. Apparently hand-to-hand combat beyond sleeper-holding women and wrestling a 56-year-old Julian Sands is beyond him, because Blackbeard makes Tom his bitch. It's the most enthusiasm we've seen John Malkovich display in a while, that's for sure. But then Blackbeard spares him. Because... Tom was willing to die to protect Santa Campana? Because Tom didn't kill him when he had the chance? It's all a bit vague.

(What happened to that episode 1 subplot of Nenna meeting with the Spanish, anyway? That was the initial reason Tom didn't want to kill Blackbeard right away.)

So Blackbeard needs Tom to perform the surgery (and probably make sweet sweet love to him later), and Tom does so. Except Tom admits to Tim afterward that a) he didn't know what he was doing, and b) he made the whole thing up to get Blackbeard to send him to Jamaica.

Am I boring you?

So the previews we saw last week are for the next episode. This must be very cost-effective when you can use a preview for both the next episode when the scenes don’t appear, and the episode after that when they do. John Malkovich probably spends most of the episode sleeping and screaming like a girl when the Woman in White appears to him again (another overworked motif). Rider and the rest decide to kill Tom for killing their leader. That's one episode down and three more afterward: sheesh, do we really need to spend three more weeks watching Jagger try to catch up to the Spanish Fleet and find Blackbeard? Oh well, avast me hearties, brace yourselves for the long haul.

But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Comments (15)
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Entertaining your House fantasy might almost get me to watch the final 3 episodes.

Good review. Someone's gotta do it
Did have one problem. The Trephine is a real surgical device used to do exactly what they said in the show. Not a McGuffin.

Doing a Google image search you'll find ones similar to the one used by Mr. Lowe.
McGuffins can be real, although not always. What defines them as a McGuffin is their purpose in their show.
I'd say the TV staff panning the show and the lack of comments speak pretty clearly about Blackbeard. I skimmed the review as I haven't watched this episode, but the silence on the boards tells me this show isn't going any longer than a 10 ep. run even if it wanted to.
Actually a better episode than the last few. I found it quite engaging.

There was some talk about trepanning during Penny Dreadful, here we have it demonstrated in great detail, though with surprisingly little blood.

'House' on 'Crossbones'. Now that would be a fun show :-)

I guess we don't need to spend three more episodes on this, but still, we kind of want to, don't we?

It really is summer, isn't it. ;-)
Actually, we're getting four more episodes. I wasn't counting this week's new one, since that seemed to actually be doing something plot-wise. It shouldn't take more than one episode for Jagger to find the Armada, so that leaves us three to spare.
Ooh, maybe we'll get to see some pirate activity in the last three. Wouldn't that be something.
Hey, your first sentence is a rhyming triplet. :)

Is burying women a pirate activity? It seems to be a recurring theme.
A rhyming triplet eh? I'm not much of a poet, but I guess sometimes you get lucky :)

I guess you could say that women are a kind of treasure, at least for pirates. And burying treasure is defiantly a pirate activity. But digging it up again is an integral part of the buried treasure concept, so I'm not sure it would work with women.
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