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“The Devil’s Dominion” | Review of ‘Crossbones’

By: Cynthia Ayala

John Malkovich as Blackbeard the Pirate
John Malkovich as Blackbeard the Pirate

John Malkovich has come to Television folks. Honestly, I don’t know when was the last time he did a network television show, but as a fan of this brilliant man, I am pleased.

Crossbones is a period drama set in 1729 and is about the infamous pirate Blackbeard, played by Emmy winner John Malkovich. This is a compelling new one-hour drama filled with extraordinary action, adventure and intrigue. ‘Crossbones’ brings viewers to a world of the past where it’ unclear who the villains and who the hero’s are in this show.

Spy at work
Spy at work

In this first episode, viewers follow Tom Lowe, played by Richard Coyle, as he takes on a daring mission from him commander to kill the “Commodore”, also known as Blackbeard, and keep a vital device out of the hands of pirates. As he is taken prisoner on the secret island of Santa Compana, part shantytown, part utopia, part marauder’s paradise, this is a place like no other. This is the home of Blackbeard, where he rules over the rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreants.

Claire Foy as the charming fugitive Kate Balfour
Claire Foy as the charming fugitive Kate Balfour

The premise of the show is focused on the new designs and invention of the longitude chronometer, an invention that will change the world.

Last Friday, the show premiered with a captivating tell of story and show. The set designs and the characterizations presented where amazing, and the plot twist near the end allows for a subtle build for the show. The show opens with a narrative that is as follows:


The brilliant cast of Crossbones
The brilliant cast of Crossbones

“At its height, the British Empire was the most powerful force humanity had ever known. Fully 1/5 of the world’s population lived and died under the British flag. Yet its true power was not on land but on the sea where they ruled with the most brutal and efficient military force that has ever been: the British Navy. But the oceans that this navy sought to control were vast, unknowable and full of terrible danger. And for all the Crown’s might, its ships were often lost to starvation, to storm and tempest, and to pirates. So it was in 1712, the Crown offered a prince’s fortune to whomever could create a device that would allow its navy to navigate this great emptiness with a precision never before known. With this device, the Empire would increase its dominion over the world. But without it, the ships of the Crown would continue to be easy prey, not only from the gods and monsters of legend, but from a monster far more brutal and far more real.”

He's going "slightly mad" as visions haunt his nights
He’s going “slightly mad” as visions haunt his nights

John Malkovich, as always, was brilliant. The intensity with which he delivers his lines has such passion that it inspires fear and awe for his character. There is also a human frailty, a twist in his character that he captures beautifully as he sees visions while he is plagued with headaches. The madness that the writers have introduced to his character, coupled with the subterfuge of the British and Blackbeard’s apparent siding with the Spanish. Much is left unsaid in the show, but the development, the story and the characters give the show so much vitality. A strong dynamic really builds this show and with the brutality and humanity within each character, viewers won’t know who to vote for.

An amazing pilot episode.  Don’t miss the next episode this Friday on NBC at 10 PM.

Sources: Crossbones Wiki, NBC


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