[This is review of Crossbones season 1, episode 4. There will be SPOILERS.]
In its fourth outing, entitled 'Antoinette,' Crossbones continues to astound and baffle in a seamless fashion. There are moments of brilliance, only to be followed by perplexities that defy explanation. What does creator Neil Cross (Luther) want us to take from this series?
As with the premiere, Crossbones excels during its more intimate moments, which sadly take place primarily with the male leads, while our leading women are stuck performing acts suited for a mostly-male viewing audience. These strong beautiful ladies are capable of so much more, if only Mr. Cross would give them something interesting to do.
Before focusing too intently on the negatives, let us examine the moments where Crossbones sparkles. Per the norm, conversations between Tom Lowe and Edward Teach (Blackbeard) are some of the high points of each new episode. This week, Lowe informs the commodore that he is likely to die, spurring the pirate into action. Viewers have yet to learn exactly what he's searching for so feverishly, but Tom has not forgotten his mission, and intends to find out. It was fun witnessing Teach asking his enemy for advice on how to acquire sensitive information, but it's unclear if Blackbeard actually trusts Lowe - then again, does the legendary pirate trust anyone?
For the first time, the Woman in White (Antoinette) is revealed to still be alive. This frightening figure is under the control of the villainous William Jagger, who wishes to use her in order to learn more about Blackbeard's intentions. Who was the young boy next to Antoinette? Was he their child, or just another omen plaguing Teach's mind? From the few insights we've been given, it's safe to say that their past is a complicated one. It will be interesting to see if she is still loyal to her long lost love, or whether that love has been replaced by a desire for vengeance.
Another high point from this week's episode was actor Peter Stebbings' (Immortals) portrayal of the recovering opium addict, James Balfour. The man is clearly in one of the worst dilemmas imaginable, with the pressure of keeping his marriage to Kate intact while making sure he keeps doing quality work for Blackbeard, or else he may face a potentially slow and horrible death. In terms of honor, Balfour is the most courageous person on Crossbones, and is one of the few people to root for week after week. His arc will be one to follow closely as the series progresses.
Getting back to the ladies, Selima is still a walking conundrum. What is it she wants? Her fling with Charlie last week appears to carry little weight now, and why was she trying to seduce Blackbeard? Hopefully there will be an episode in the near future giving us more insight into her character. As far as Rose and Nenna's flirtatious encounter over the stolen gem, the scene (as stated earlier) is clearly meant to titillate, forgoing any possibility of developing these secondary cast members into something more meaningful.
Although Crossbones can lead one into a bout of madness, there are times when Neil Cross and his team prove that they are worthy storytellers. They have the board, with all the right pieces in place. Now they just have to guide them on the correct path. Are you still aboard this chaotic ship?
Crossbones continues with 'The Return' on July 13, @10pm on NBC.