‘Crossbones’ Surrounds Blackbeard with Enemies

Published 11 months ago by

crossbones season 1 episode 2 tom Crossbones Surrounds Blackbeard with Enemies

[This is a review of Crossbones season 1, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]

Last week’s series premiere of Crossbones proved that John Malkovich (Blackbeard) and Richard Coyle (Tom Lowe) are more than capable of carrying the dramatic weight of NBC’s new pirate drama. In its second outing, entitled ‘The Covenant,’ some of the supporting cast members are called upon to help share the load. Were they successful, or did they crumble under the intense pressure?

This question is paramount, due to the fact that even with two strong leading characters, any new series is only as strong as its ensemble (or guest stars for that matter). Look at a show like Almost Human, where Karl Urban (Star Trek) and Michael Ealy (Underworld: Awakening) had some of the best acting chemistry on television, but without an engaging story and poor character development outside of its leading men, the series had some issues.

Fortunately, Crossbones creator/executive producer Neil Cross (Luther) appears to understand the importance of his secondary players. In ‘The Covenant,’ we learn more about the rum-drinking, opium-smoking political refugee James Balfour (Peter Stebbings).

The Canadian-born actor’s scene with Tom Lowe during an examination was stellar. He seems to be a man of great conviction, who was almost beaten to death and has now lost a part of himself that he is desperately trying to get back. Blackbeard has him relegated to fixing old timepieces; however, the man has far more potential, which we will hopefully discover as the season progresses.

crossbones season 1 episode 2 blackbeard Crossbones Surrounds Blackbeard with Enemies

Our introduction to Balfour makes Lowe’s romantic interest in Kate all the more problematic. James, though troubled from past events, is a “good guy” who wants to make his marriage with Kate work. Why Kate is so enchanted by Lowe still doesn’t make sense and is one of the weaker arcs from the first two episodes. Compared to her husband, Kate is developing into a something of a cliche – a woman locked in an intricate but all too predictable love triangle. But this show is still in its infancy, so Kate has time to develop into someone we want to care about.

As for guest stars, Stuart Wilson’s (Hot Fuzz) portrayal of the loud-mouthed Captain Sam Valentine was a pleasure to watch. Sadly, the boisterous captain fell into Blackbeard’s complex plot to sell off the Longitude Chronometer to the British fleet, which ended up costing him his life. For the moments that he was onscreen, hearing Valentine repeatedly refer to Blackbeard as Edward Teach demystified the man who is obsessed with his own legend. Commodore Blackbeard says he desires to model his town after the ancient Athenian democratic model, yet the legendary pirate’s schemes would have us believe otherwise.

After just two episodes, it’s difficult to determine where this show is going, but Cross and company appear confident in their direction. Balfour and Valentine are good signs that Crossbones has cast wisely, which should make for an engaging viewing experience on Friday nights.

For those of you who stayed on for this second episode, was ‘The Covenant’ a positive sign of things to come, or are you abandoning ship before this journey ends?


Crossbones continues with ‘The Man who Killed Blackbeard’ next Friday @10pm on NBC.

Follow David Griffin on Twitter @griffinde
TAGS: Crossbones
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  1. I have only watched the first episode so far, and have not abandoned ship yet. Blackbeard does not look like the traditional Blackbeard we would usually think of at first thought, nor act like him, but this show so far as one episode can show me, anyways, has enough to commend it that I will probably go ahead and follow it all the way to the end.

  2. A side-note: the article mentioned Almost Human. I had been watching that one, and found it mildly entertaining. Not all that great, just not all that bad. I expected it to get cancelled, but I enjoyed it overall while it was on.

    • I agree Goldilocks. ‘Almost Human’ had potential, but never capitalized on it. I hope Crossbones doesn’t fall prey to the same fate.

  3. I’ll be watching episode 2 tonight but I was pretty bored 10 minutes into episode 1 and it failed to excite me after that. I’m sticking with it though because most potentially great shows tend to have a bit of a slow start.

    • I lasted about 30 minutes through the first and second episodes … then I got bored, too.

      I don’t understand why? I love the stars. I think Cross did an amazing job with Luther.

      The reviewer is right about the cliche love triangle. The woman seemingly has no purpose other than as a love interest.

      Something is a little off. I hope they figure out what is wrong and fix it.

      • Not sure they can fix it if it’s anything like British TV (which, unlike US TV, has its entire season written and filmed long before airing, whereas US shows tend to drag on for 10 months with later episodes written and filmed up to a month before the episode in question airs so they can change things easily for the later episodes according to reviews and viewer comments).

        The love triangle is definitely cliche and you could see it coming a mile away but basically, this episode was like The Promise in Arrow’s second season in that it was an entire episode of guff with a revelation at the very end (in this case, showing how devious Teach is in eliminating potential enemies before they can think about doing the same to him).

        I still can’t understand what Malkovich is doing in this. At times, his speech is a little too fast and with diction used in weird places and others, he seems competent. Considering what a talented actor he is, it’s confusing why he’s acting this way.

        Since the MacGuffin is now gone at the end of this episode, I’m wondering where the story will go next.

  4. I agree John Malkovich feels like a fish out of water. It seems like he’s in a totally different series. Maybe that was the plan; to have Blackbeard stand out. In speech, language, persona. But he’s standing out too much.

    The relationship between Blackbeard and Lowe is a bit forced. Obviously the intention of the show is to have Lowe as the good guy vs. Blackbeard the bad guy. But the reasons to keep Lowe hanging around (and basically climb buildings and eavesdrop) are rather thin, from Blackbeard’s perspective. Okay, he saved his life, but the Commodore is this cruel pirate – or so they want us to believe – and doesn’t hold much empathy. For anyone. Lowe’s not doing much and can only cause trouble.
    The show makes them interact like equals, which they are not. Blackbeard should be playing a cat-and-mouse game with him. Toy with the doctor. That’d be the only purpose to keep him alive.

    I think where it goes from here, is they’ll be working towards the season finale, in where the island gets discovered. That seems to be the arch, based on the first two episodes. I don’t agree the macguffin is gone; it will be used later on.

    So… It’s mostly because of John Malkovich this show is still on the air. The second episode is usually a much lesser one compared to the pilot, but that said, the other actors, the writers, need to step it up.

    • That’s what I meant by the MacGuffin being gone, it’s been sent off the island so now, what’s Teach’s purpose for keeping Lowe there until the chronometer is picked up by the British and used to find the not-at-all-dead Blackbeard?

      It seems that other than Lowe figuring out his hallucinations based on the acupuncture he gave himself and possibly using Lowe’s expertise to help cure that, Teach could literally have Lowe hanged and be done with him.

      I can guarantee, some convoluted plot point will arrive soon that will show that somehow, Teach knows Lowe is there to kill him and why and will simultaneously use him as a bargaining tool to remain alive as well as to betray Lowe’s masters in the finale.

      So far though, looking at it objectively based on their actions in the episodes thus far, Lowe seems like more of a villain than Teach does.

  5. Unlike some offerings we have seen, (AOS I am talking to you) Cross can write and with 2 leads I am enticed of what will be said next. Yes somewhat difficult as I teach Pirate history….but unlike Black Sails this is believable. Again many need to get over the fact John is playing an actual figure in history, because that is the point with his performance. Dazz is right concerning Lowe as a villain for the Crown ,as the Commodore believes what he does is his mission and calling in life. His speech in episode one made that very clear.