Spoilers for this Saturday’s Black Sails episode “XVII” are abundant throughout the next several paragraphs. Don’t delve in if you haven’t caught the episode, yet.
The violence on Black Sails often ebbs and flows; thus is the nature of a series that is halfway about piracy and halfway about politics in a world that is still untamed. Despite seeing some pretty brutal moments throughout the second season of Starz’s period drama, nothing quite prepared us for this weekend’s penultimate episode, which saw Miranda Barlow (Louise Barnes) murdered during a meeting that she expected to be her salvation.
Throughout Season 2, Miranda was the person really pushing to make Nassau a center of trade. But once she and Flint achieved their goal of setting up a meeting with Peter Ashe and dropping off his kidnapped daughter, everything unraveled quickly, as Peter explained that Flint would need to reveal his piracy but also his homosexual relationship in order to return to England. While this was happening, Miranda recognized a clock that had once belonged in her home and saw Ashe as her betrayer. She swiftly turned on Peter, endangering the meeting and delivering an impassioned speech that led to her death. Here’s a snippet.
What forgiveness are you entitled to while you stand back in the shadows, pushing James out in front of the world to be laid bare for the sake of the truth. Tell me, sir, when does the truth about your sins come to light?
It was a rare moment for Miranda, a woman who does not usually get angry or make impassioned speeches. In the past, she has been able to win Flint over to her way of thinking with a few choice words, but just before her death, a lot of feelings spilled out. She’s been holding back anger that her husband and Flint were chasing a dream so many years ago that changed their lives forever. She has not cherished her harder, rougher life on Nassau in the time since, and no wonder. To know that she had placed her last hope in a man who actually betrayed her must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, spilling out feelings that had festered for a long while. Still, it was an inopportune moment, and during her outburst, one of Peter’s supporters pulled a gun on her and shot her swiftly in the head. It was both disturbing and heartbreaking.
It’s not that death is uncommon on Black Sails. In fact, earlier this season we saw Ned Low get killed off, when early on it seemed as if he would be the big baddie of the season. Another harrowing moment occurred during Season 2 when Anne Bonny murdered a pirate and a prostitute. In fact, many pirates actually saw their throat cuts earlier in the penultimate Season 2 episode. But Miranda has always seemed like a safe character, someone who lives on the outskirts of the pirate community who has never seemed in any immediate danger. As such, watching a bullet go through her brain was very affecting.
There’s a lot at stake leading into the Season 2 finale. You can catch Black Sails’ Season 2 finale next Saturday at 9 p.m. ET on Starz.