On the third episode of “Black Sails,” Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) leaves the safe haven of Eleanor Guthrie’s (Hannah New) brothel and is immediately taken captive by Charles Vane (Zach McGowan) as punishment for losing his chance at the logbook schedule that points the way to the treasure.
Once captive, Max endures several rapes at the hands of Vane’s crew members, with Eleanor eventually freeing her, only to be rebuffed because Max blames Eleanor for all of the plans going awry. New tells Zap2it that Max will recover from her attacks because the show wants its female characters to own their sexuality.
“It’s interesting the way certain characters respond to [the rape]. There’s a
sense of reappropriating sexuality and trying to take hold of it. It
becomes something the person is giving rather than what is taken, that’s important to understand,” says New. “The show really does try to put
power back to women, lets them grab hold of their sexuality. That’s
what’s really important, that notion that sexuality is one of those
things that should never be imposed on someone else. It should only be
given, never be taken.”
New continues, “Being given the opportunity to be someone
who attempts to save [Max] from that situation is very difficult because ultimately [Eleanor] couldn’t save her. I think what’s interesting is that [Max] really does take it upon herself to survive and not
let it take her over.”
It was a particularly hard storyline to film not only because of the rape but also because it’s a reminder of how little recourse women had for that in those days — and perhaps still don’t have.
“Living in that world where it’s a constant threat is just horrific. What’s really difficult with portraying it is — what
safety did women have from this kind of threat? How could women pull
themselves out?” says New. “It becomes even more poignant when you realize this is something that has gone on for too long, this threat to women. It’s something the world needs to wake up to, because it’s still so prevalent.”
“Black Sails” airs Saturday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Starz.