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CROSSBONES: "Beggarman" John Malkovich as Blackbeard (NBC)

Image Credit: Francisco Roman/NBC

'Crossbones' recap: Introducing the infamous Blackbeard

Season 1 | Episode 7 | “Beggarman” | Aired July 25, 2014

The secret is out: Lowe is a spy. For that, he got a beatdown from the Commodore last week—and then the Commodore allowed him to drill a not-insignificant-sized hole in his head. Ah, bromance in bloom. It is complex, n’est-ce pas?

As the Commodore convalesces, Selima consults with the good spy-doctor. If looks could puncture, Lowe would be leaking all over the carpet.

Oooo—”Eight Years Earlier” comes on screen. This is when we get to see Blackbeard with a black beard. I’m tingling with hair-and-makeup anticipation.

CROSSBONES: "Beggarman" John Malkovich as Blackbeard (NBC)Jagger unlocks a cell, sits and asks Blackbeard when he last ate, offering him some apple. Disheveled Blackbeard remains silent. (Nice job on the “disheveled,” hair and makeup! I hope to see those long locks and braided beard put to use in some moment of pirating ferocity—i.e., the Blackbeard we’ve come to know and fear from that “ghoulish folklore” that the Commodore dislikes so much.) Jagger continues, saying that most fugitives sleep like babes after being caught, but he hears Blackbeard has barely slept. What gives, boo? Jagger answers his own question, admiring Blackbeard’s discipline. Then he tells him he has his wife, Antoinette—Blackbeard perceptibly vibrates with anger—and observes that William Teach has become a slave to this Blackbeard character he has created. No matter! Whether the man or the legend, Jagger’s going to hang him just the same, then “slice open your belly and watch the offal slide out of you.” Nice.

(You say “offal,” I think “haggis”—a most unfortunate word association in this instance.)

Lowe strolls through the island’s market in very clear danger of being shivved. He dares approach Kate, offering contrition and asking for her forgiveness. No need, she says. I see you clearly now, she says, and I see that it is the nature of the beast. She does not say, but we may safely assume from her coolness that she’s not into sleeping with beasts. She does, however, tell him to leave. But he invokes 1977 Eagles’ hit “Hotel California,” saying “That’s the price of a secret island: You can arrive, but you can never leave.” How very prescient of him. Kate: “If the Commodore doesn’t live, these people will lynch you.” Awkward. Fortunately, one of the brothel workers, Nelly (Marisé Alvarez), approaches and beseeches Lowe to follow her.

The Commodore shouts out as he fever-dreams, bringing Selima running. Into his dream we go: Back in the cell, Jagger asks how long Antoinette has been mad, because she absolutely lost it when she heard Teach had been captured, and she threw their children off a cliff into the sea. Jagger hopes their deaths will haunt Teach—they will—and he hopes Teach rots in hell; I think this news surely must be the password to the gates of hell, so—mission accomplished, Jagger! (I also think Jagger is a liar, and Teach’s kids are probably being raised to be little Jagger monsters somewhere—just a theory.)

At Lowe’s beach hovel, Nelly explains that Rose is missing and she fears for her safety. She gives Lowe the letter since the intended recipient, the Commodore, is conked out. The letter identifies Nenna as the threat. Lowe looks out the window to see Nenna staring up and pacing like a jungle cat. “She knows,” he says. And he can’t think of a worse enemy to have on the island.

Crossbones-107-Nenna-LoweLowe, Nelly and Fletch go down to the market and meet Nenna, who accuses Lowe of stealing her property. Lowe offers a bargain: The trio won’t say anything about the letter’s existence as long as they all stay safe, but if Nenna raises a finger to any of them (or Nelly’s baby), the letter will go to the Commodore, and she will hang. Nenna refuses: “I won’t be in your debt, Tom.” Lowe: “This isn’t a debt; we’re in check.” Nenna says she doesn’t play chess, and she’s going to kill them all unless he gives her what she wants. Lowe dares her, and they all rush off in different directions. Nenna follows Lowe, who digs a hole in the sand and puts a box into it. Nenna digs it up and finds a note inside that says, “You’re looking in the wrong place.” She rushes off in another direction, while Lowe returns to the box, puts the real letter in it and buries the box again.

Nenna next shows up at James and Kate’s place, and catches James contemplating some new vice—damn him his weaknesses! Nenna then implicates Lowe in Rose’s disappearance.

As Selima washes the Commodore’s feet, Nenna sneaks past into his throne room, stealing jewels from one of his treasure boxes.

Lowe, Nelly and Fletch have reconvened at Rose’s place. Lowe plans to plant some evidence on Nenna. He bloodies a rose necklace and gives Fletch and Nelly guns, instructing them to not hesitate to use them should Nenna come calling.

At Nenna’s beach cabana, Lowe searches for the perfect spot to plant the evidence, but Nenna arrives, and he hides beneath the wood floors while she sorts through her booty.

Charles visits James, who tells him he thinks Nenna is in trouble. Charles goes to Nenna’s place, which is trashed and has a dark-skinned severed finger on the floor.

CROSSBONES: "Beggarman" Richard Coyle as Tom Lowe (NBC)Lowe returns to the market and finds a lynch mob waiting for him. They shackle him in the market square, and Eisengrim whacks him in the kidney with a giant mallet. When they start in on Fletch, Kate steps in to defend him and takes Fletch away.

Charles asks where “she” is, and Lowe asks who “she” is. Charles shows him the finger, and Lowe laughs: “That’s very good. That’s outstanding. That’s commitment.” Eisengrim pulls Lowe’s feet out from under him with the chains. Lowe protests that Nenna is concealing the fact that she’s planning to leave the island, that she stole from the lot of them, that she stole from Rose and that she shut Rose up permanently when Rose blackmailed her. Lowe demands that the charges be proven and threatens that the Commodore would be quite cross if he woke to find Lowe dead without proof of his guilt. Charles tells him the Commodore better wake up soon or the mob will rule and Lowe will find himself filleted.

In his dream-state remembrances, the Commodore recalls Charles busting him out of jail, and imprisoned—and quite insane—Antoinette cursing him with various names of the devil and monsters. Time to go. Bye, Crazy!

James and Kate interrogate Fletch, who vehemently defends Lowe. Kate says Lowe strangled her and knocked her out. Fletch counters that even so, she is here today alive and well—i.e., Lowe’s intentions were not to hurt her. James then says that Lowe is responsible for his disability—that Lowe had him arrested, which shocks Kate. James describes how Lowe was a spy among the Jacobites, and when they got close to him, he escaped and coordinated the arrest. He’s not to be trusted, is the moral of this story. Fletch: But there was a letter— James: Did you read this letter? Fletch: No, but—be right back!

Meanwhile, Kate looks green. She asks if it amused James to pass her back and forth to Lowe “like a jug of wine.” James claims he didn’t know who Lowe was until he heard of his confession to Kate. Besides, he was glad to see her happy. They’re all liars and now no one’s happy! The end. James sucks down some wine.

Charles hunts for and finds—something! But Fletch got to the letter first and brings it to James. The bell tolls. Turns out Charles found Rose’s body, clutching Lowe’s pendant. Charles proclaims Lowe guilty and sentences him to death. This must be the fifth or sixth time Lowe has been sentenced to death since the series began. The man really has a knack for it.

James burns the letter. And I like him less for it.

CROSSBONES: "Beggarman" Lowe, Eisengrim (NBC)Fletch attempts to stop the execution, and when James shows up, Fletch rails against him for lying about the letter. His conscience getting the better of him, James stops the execution just in time, and Eisengrim’s blade hits the block instead of Lowe’s neck.

Flashback to Nenna conspiring with James to stage her death, so that she can leave the island. She tells him to destroy the letter. Then she’s shown back at her cabana, sifting through the jewels she stole from the Commodore. Lowe slinks away undetected, and Nenna cuts off her finger.

Back in the present, Charles accuses James of false accusations and allowing a murderer to walk free. The punishment is 40 lashes, which will kill James. Kate tries to stop it, but James is ready to accept his fate. Lowe steps up and offers to take the punishment in James’ stead because of the wrongs he’s committed against James. “Here and now, let us wipe the slate clean,” Lowe says.

Selima sleeps next to the Commodore, who wakes.

Lowe doesn’t want Fletch to witness the lashing, and so asks him to go prepare to nurse his wounds.

Everyone watching the punishment—clouds of blood spraying up with every lash—is made ill, including Charles, who’s administering it. Eisengrim stops it, saying Lowe has had enough. Being carried to the surgeon’s quarters, Lowe sees the Commodore and asks him why he told them to stop. “You’re forgiven, Mr. Lowe. Let it be,” the Commodore replies. And when Lowe is out of sight, the Commodore looks unsettled: “I didn’t.”

Crossbones, rated TV-14, airs Fridays at 10/9C on NBC.

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