Season 1 | Episodes 8 & 9 | “Crossbones” & “Blackbeard” | Aired Aug 2, 2014
Crossbones met its end—the NBC series won’t be returning—in a two-hour finale, in which Santa Compana’s Commodore fully embraces his inner Blackbeard to face British forces led by sadistic and obsessed Jagger.
In the first episode of the evening, “Crossbones,” the Commodore’s forgiveness seemingly knows no bounds when it comes to his bromance with Tom Lowe: 1) Lowe is a British spy, 2) Lowe was working directly for psycho spymaster William Jagger, the Commodore’s archenemy who is responsible for the advanced-stage crazy the Commodore’s first wife Antoinette currently suffers from, and 3) Lowe filled the hole he drilled in the Commodore’s head with a silver crossbones symbol—like a scarlet letter, but metal embedded in his flesh, not simply embroidered on his bodice. (To be clear: At no time does Blackbeard wear a bodice in Crossbones—that we know of.)
Lowe reciprocates the man-crush by gleefully agreeing to take part in the Commodore’s wild and ambitious plan to sink a Spanish treasure fleet. Hoorays all around for dead Spaniards and sunken treasure, sayeth Lowe. They’ll be talking about Blackbeard’s sunken treasure for hundreds of years at least, and produce a short-run theatrical series starring a renowned American actor as the infamous pirate—once we create that country.
In a flurry of conciliatory interactions, Selima finally agrees to marry the Commodore. When Lowe visits James and they agree to a clean slate, James sums up the ongoing love-fest: “An eye for an eye, and we’d all be blind.” And later, the Commodore poses to Charles, “Tell me why I love you,” and then gifts him a captain’s coat. These all sound ominously like last goodbyes in the face of a superior naval force (or imminent cancellation). Love you! Love you too! Don’t go dying! You either!
Slow Fletch is the only person reasonably wary of all of this—and agreeing with Slow Fletch is unsettling.
OK, so Kate’s a little skeptical as well: “Are you a physician, do you think, or an assassin?” she asks Lowe in their tentative reconciliation. Or perhaps “conditional” reconciliation, as this one has payment attached: She wants him to abort their love child she now carries in order to spare James further humiliation. Judging from Lowe’s initial response to news of her pregnancy, the price is quite high. He begs her to reconsider—James will be a great father. Her response is to visit the whorehouse seeking a solution, which Nelly provides in the form of a green liquid concoction.
Once the jolly pirate party is at sea, Jagger kills the mood entirely with an ambush, forcing Blackbeard to emerge and start barking orders. Charles is no longer in charge. And when Charles challenges the Commodore, accusing him of making decisions based on his own rage and a personal vendetta against Jagger, the Commodore accuses him in return of mutiny. “I wanted to remind [Jagger] what I can do, Charlie, because I wanted him to know what you’ve forgotten … that I’m Blackbeard,” he says, shivving young Charles. Turns out the Commodore believes Charles tipped off Jagger. Did we suspect this? A quick mental review of the season … and … no, at no point did Charles give any indication that he might be in communication with Jagger. Blackbeard tips bleeding Charles overboard in recompense, then ditches a few barrels of his explosive brew into Jagger’s path and blows a hole in his ship.
When Kate inevitably poisons herself, James insists that Lowe save both mother and child after deducing there’s a baby on board—the response to news of Kate’s pregnancy that Lowe suspected James would have. Lowe’s only answer is a rudimentary blood transfusion. James: What’s that? Oh, some French guys invented it 50 or 60 years before. Crossing fingers that Lowe is type O. And something like that, because she recovers. (Wonder what the percentages are on the chance that a random, blind blood transfusion would be successful, because this seems to be a popular fictional scenario this year. Someone needs to do a storyline on the discovery of blood typing—maybe that will appear in Cinemax’s 1900-set The Knick.)
Lucky for him, Charles was plucked out of the ocean, because he’s now bleeding in a cell on Jagger’s burning ship—maybe not so lucky. The fire looks fierce enough, but for now seems contained to one section of the massive boat. As the first part of the finale ends, Jagger informs Charles that he will tell Jagger where Blackbeard is.
In the second hour of the finale, the aftermath of these botched reconciliations features Kate schooling Lowe on what love is. The doctor can’t say if the baby thrives, but he wants to be Kate’s in any case. She doesn’t believe he knows what it means to give yourself to another. Her deep connection to James colors the entire scene.
The Commodore returns with a Blackbeard swagger, but his crew looks vaguely mutinous, and it appears that clever Jagger has followed Blackbeard’s ship. Ironically, clever Jagger saves Blackbeard from the vaguely mutinous crew with a conveniently timed attack on the island—the irony and convenience of which depends upon your POV. Jagger betrayed incarcerated Charles, who bleats that Jagger promised not to hurt the people of the island, but only to pursue Blackbeard. Again, Jagger is a liar.
Blackbeard meets the subsequent British invasion of Santa Compana with a rousing speech to the island’s inhabitants denouncing despotism—using language that would not be out of place in the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Meanwhile, Charles has freed himself aboard the ship by strangling one of his jailers. Selima and the Commodore are in for a nasty shock; their conversation before the attempted arrest of the Commodore divulged that the scene that landed Charles in the drink was really the result of Selima’s request that the Commodore fire Charles in a permanent way. Murder fail!
The battle that ensues ends with mostly the blood of British soldiers painting the ground red. Proving that Charles’ opinion of Lowe has changed dramatically, he saves the physician from an overwhelming force. Jagger plants crazed Antoinette on the island and goads her into tracking down Selima. Blackbeard and Jagger both stagger from bullet wounds during a one-on-one shootout. Jagger’s next shot glances off of Blackbeard’s metal skull piece—thank you, Lowe!—while Blackbeard’s next shot secures Jagger’s place in the legend of the infamous pirate by killing him. Selima’s shot strikes Antoinette in the shoulder, but the Terminator just keeps coming and slits Selima’s throat. The Commodore returns the favor by driving a sword through Antoinette that the madwoman embraces and even helps along when he hesitates.
In the final confrontation between Lowe and the Commodore, Lowe accuses him of sacrificing those who died in this battle to satisfy his own need for revenge. The Commodore begs to differ: “What you saw today was not my revenge; it was a crucible—the birth of a nation.” Lowe: You’re insane. I’m taking your island. Commodore: Come at me, bro! He does. Lowe chooses the pugilist’s route, while Blackbeard chooses blade. In the end, however, Lowe resorts to a heavy silver scepter to finish the job.The Commodore’s last words, as he sits on his throne: “Clever fellow. Well done.” Then Lowe bashes his head in.
The island residents start picking up the pieces as Lowe takes over leadership. He makes a trip to Jamaica and gives Jagger’s replacement a head in a bag—the scalp has a piece of silver embedded in it—with a message to leave them alone.
Back on Santa Compana, Blackbeard stands on the beach, looking out at a passing ship, then wanders down the sand. The implication? To have survived the savage beating Lowe gave him, Blackbeard must surely be immortal.