“Antoinette” continues a few romantic angles without playing them up for drama. In this world, survival is dependent on the ability to keep secrets, and each secret created brings more and more trouble to the keeper. Hence, there’s very little time for such a thing as a private romance. I’m delighted that this isn’t the main thrust of the show. I think Crossbones is more about philosophy, psychology, and religion at a time when people were exploring new lands and new ideas, and while people did fall in love, the life of a pirate has been over-romanticized. Crossbones is a healthy break from such foolishness and takes great care to depict conditions as they would have been during Blackbeard’s time. This lends an authenticity to the universe and the characters, allowing for a suspension of belief which aids the writers in setting up new twists for Blackbeard’s tale.
While Kate Balfour and Tom Lowe do sleep together, it’s a short-lived affair. Tom is dedicated to providing an antidote to James Balfour’s suffering, and Kate does love James. Seeing James hold her close after her rescue reminds Tom that he has a responsibility to the health and happiness of his patient, so he tells Kate that he can’t add to James’ pain. It was the most mature decision I’ve seen in a romantic situation, and it definitely surprised me. I’m hoping it’s a closed chapter because I’d hate to see it dredged back up since it didn’t last long and didn’t produce a lasting bond between them. I think we tend to romanticize affairs and this plainly showed that while affairs may spring up for legitimate reasons, they don’t always end well, nor should they be continued.
Tom provides a contrast to his former boss, William Jagger in this way. While Tom aligns more with Blackbeard in his treatment of women (asking a woman’s permission before examining her prior to birthing a child, taking the responsibility of the affair with Kate on his shoulders, and treating women as equal humans). Blackbeard treats women with respect and treasures their children, something we don’t see from the culture Tom comes from, as we see in “The Man Who Killed Blackbeard” as a redcoat tells the captured Kate, “You don’t have anything I wouldn’t take if I wanted it”. This is why it is so odd to see Blackbeard haunted by the image of a mother and child. “Antoinette” gives us another look at the spectres invading Blackbeard’s mind. Tortured by this mirage, he cannot decide if it is a symptom of sickness due to his headaches, or if it’s an omen.
This motivates Blackbeard to move forward with his plan, which is exactly what Tom was hoping would happen. While Tom is becoming something of an aide to Blackbeard, he still has a mission and he’s still trying to figure out a way to end Blackbeard’s life. This does not mean, however, that Tom fully buys into Governor Jagger’s philosophies. I’m wondering when it will hit Tom that he is very much like the pirates he keeps company with.
“Antoinette” continues to sow seeds of discord amongst Blackbeard’s most trusted, especially between Charlie and Tom. Charlie is no longer as useful to Blackbeard, and he has a thing for Blackbeard’s lady. We’ve got the makings of a dangerous situation for all of them, and only time will tell who the survivors will be. I’m betting on the one with the least amount of honor, but whoever that is remains to be seen.
There’s another angle presented in this episode as well, something I was wondering about since episode one. In “Antoinette” we finally see more of Nenna, the woman pirate, who spies on another woman and takes her treasure. What does Nenna need of treasure? She already has a stockpile, although she’s had to give some of it to someone who saw her take more than her fair share. She now has to give up her entire stash to Rose, who is blackmailing her for stealing. It appears as if Nenna is saving up for something, and it also appears as if Nenna fancies a woman. Will we get to see a non-hetero relationship on the show? And how will this affect Blackbeard’s perfect world?
Unfortunately, the ending of “Antoinette” gives me grave doubts about Blackbeard’s continued pursuit of a free nation. Governor Jagger has reached his limit. It’s time to pull out the big guns. He decides to use someone out of Blackbeard’s reach to gain access to the island. We see him visiting a prison and stepping up to a cell with a woman, potentially the one Blackbeard has seen as a spectre.
Who is she, and what will happen to Blackbeard?