Season 1 | Episode 2 | “The Covenant” | Aired June 6, 2014
The resident tech whiz, James, has succeeded in building a longitude chronometer; Selima warns the Commodore not to trust Captain Sam Valentine; and Fletch facilitates some exposition regarding “a vessel of some kind — except that it seems to travel underwater,” says Lowe in response to the barrage of questions about his sketchbook. Lowe’s an artist and a spy — a seductive combination. Fletch, however, is again tiresomely dim. I’m sure he’s a lovely person, but his sacrifice for the good of the British Empire can’t happen soon enough.
Lady Katherine arrives to barter with Lowe; she offers to outfit his seaside hovel with a bed, medical equipment, a roof and more if Lowe, the new island surgeon, will help her husband. He won’t promise anything, but — their conversation is interrupted by Kate noting the arrival of Valentine’s ship. She’s got to go. Perhaps Lowe shouldn’t say “spyglass” quite so loudly.
The town madam, Rose Dryden (Natalie Hoflin), gets the ladies ready for the arriving ship, and Fletch is going to earn some cash hunting for sponges for the brothel.
Valentine (Stuart Wilson) visits the Commodore and takes in the scenery. Lowe scales the rooftops to listen in on their conversation. The Commodore shows Valentine the chronometer and says he can’t have the device on the island. He wants Valentine to sell it back to the English to prove that Blackbeard/the Commodore doesn’t exist. He promises a handsome fee and notes that Jagger will be returned to England when the chronometer is redelivered to English authorities. Valentine: The English will be freed from the shipping lanes if they retrieve the device, but they’re easy pickings in the shipping lanes, so … no. Not at any price. Valentine’s man Finnegan (Kevin Ryan), who has stood to the side during this discussion, eyeballs the room, and that eyeballing can only mean that he has his own thoughts about turning down a fortune for the device. (Do we smell a mutiny?)
Fletch finds a dead guy while on his sponge hunt.
The Commodore tells Selima that he can’t just let Valentine declare him an enemy. Selima suggests he humble himself and forgive. No easy thing, he says. Then he humbles himself and begs her to sleep with him, offering the sun, moon and stars. She says he’d soon find that she’s quite human, grow bored and regret his extravagance — yep, sounds like the formula.
The brothel is booming. Lowe runs into Eisengrim (Ezra Buzzington), who accuses him of homicide. Not quite sure how he came to this conclusion, but Lowe assures him that he is not whoever killed whomever was killed whom Eisengrim loved so dearly in his dark pirate heart. Can’t wait to see who or what Eisengrim is talking about.
Fletch chats with crabs on the beach, then decides to sink the body, which apparently is someone Lowe is responsible for killing. The French guard who discovered Lowe during his midnight run to the warehouse? Back at the brothel, Rose demonstrates to Fletch what the sponges are for — “bastard thwarting” — using her hand.
I thought there’d be no yo-ho-hoing in Crossbones, but the tavern singing comes close. Nenna chats up Valentine, who tells her that he’s known the Commodore since Blackbeard was a skinny lad from Bristol and that his name changed frequently. OK.
Lowe peruses James’ chronometer-making tools. James rolls up on him in his wheelchair and compliments the brilliant mind that made the chronometer in the first place. Too bad that mind is now lost to the world. And … why are you here? Lowe tells James his wife sent him, and he’ll do what he can. He knows James, by the way: a disgraced earl of the house Kinross, a Jacobite who believed the wrong king was placed on the throne. He was betrayed and tortured, now endures constant pain and confesses that he “cannot be a husband” to Kate. Noted, Lowe’s eyes say. James admits to dosing himself with rum and opium, which, James knows, can “rob a man of vigor.” James: By the way, do I know you? Nope, not me, says Lowe. Not sure James believes that.
Lowe later tells Kate to stop pitying her husband and love him as a wife should. She takes offense and tells Lowe how she lied, conspired and bribed to get her husband out of prison and the both of them to this island, giving up everything she had and her family, so don’t talk to her about the love of a wife! Whoops. Lowe backs away slowly.
Valentine tells Commodore stories until the Commodore arrives. Then Valentine questions the future of the island and its people. Commodore informs him that it will be a republic of the Athenian model. Valentine accuses the Commodore of planning to take the title of “king” or “emperor.” The Commodore isn’t happy with Valentine’s lack of faith.
Some very safe whoring takes place — clothes on and some bizarre lap rocking, but again, this is broadcast television. (Does it have to feel so much like it, though? Could there not have been some strategic silk draping or limbs engaging in strategic obfuscation?) Anyway, a woman’s voice tells the gals to get out so she can talk to Valentine’s men.
The Commodore takes his favorite walk along the beach and runs into his ghost pal, hovering in the air. “I won’t see you,” he repeats. Back at the house, he hears things while visiting his altar of many ambiguous faiths.
Kate helps James to bed: “Never doubt me — never.” She kisses him, apparently as a wife should.
At the altar, Valentine’s whore-humping friends approach the Commodore, weapons drawn. “Did Sam send you?” the Commodore asks, and then asks for a blade to defend himself. Don’t think that’s part of the “we’re here to kill you” deal. The Commodore uses various altar items to fend off the villains, including a bell that brings his men running from the bar (where Lowe’s been skulking about). The Commodore tries to get the remaining pirate to tell him who sent him, but the slice across his neck spurts blood and he dies. Commodore kicks Lowe for not being able to keep the guy alive long enough to say the name.
Nenna and Charles detain Valentine, knocking out Finnegan.
Selima tells the Commodore that he drove Valentine to this. The Commodore says that Sam’s too wily for such a dumb plan. The Commodore thinks Finnegan is trying to set up Valentine so that he may take over the ship. Selima thinks it’s Lowe. They’re all taken captive, in any case.
Lowe is caged with Valentine, who tells him that Blackbeard is evil, that he’s seen him burn boats full of men for no reason other than as a laugh. (This does not sound like our civilized pirate.) Lowe starts asking a bunch of suspicious questions, offering Valentine a quick death in exchange for “intelligence.” No fool, Valentine guesses Lowe works for the crown, but he decides to answer Lowe’s question, “What is a ‘hellburner’?” It’s an empty ship stuffed to its rims with explosives and metal shards, “a weapon of indiscriminate destruction.” Valentine doesn’t know why Blackbeard wants it — probably just for his usual bloodlust, but certainly to blow the crap out of something and kill a whole lot of people.
The jury voted and found Valentine guilty. He and Lowe are strung up, but the Commodore comes to Valentine’s defense, saying that Valentine is no coward, and he would have done the deed himself if he wanted to kill him. The Commodore regrets he can’t stop them, but he’s not king and winks at Valentine, who starts his slow hanging. Kate vouches for Lowe, saying he was with her all day in bed, and Lowe is cut free.
The next morning, Lowe snipes Valentine, making good on his promise to ease his suffering and prevent a long death. If he’s been hanging since the night before, however, that’s plenty long — I say Lowe is actually late.
Finnegan appears before the Commodore and swears that Valentine was envious, but not murderous. Captain Finnegan promises to sell the chronometer to Jagger in Jamaica. After he leaves with the device, the Commodore reveals in a chat with Selima that he hired the assassins himself. He later pays Rose for her assistance with a large cut ruby and promises to kill her if she reveals their secret.
Kate waits for Lowe, thanks him for speaking to her husband, says their circumstances “can be exhausting” and kisses him passionately. Finally.
Crossbones, rated TV-14, airs on Fridays at 10/9 C on NBC.