“Black Sails” Season 2 has Eleanor and Max at odds

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At the end of Black Sails‘ first season, we saw Eleanor and Max have a heart-to-heart where their true feelings remained unspoken. But when Season 2 returns to Starz on January 22, the two most powerful women of Nassau are struggling to navigate their intricately woven lives so that they don’t have to see each other, but aren’t doing so well. Now that Max is head of the brothel right across the street from Eleanor’s tavern, there’s no easy way to ignore one another, especially with their mutual friends and enemies constantly bringing them together.

During TCA last week in Los Angeles, we spoke with the actresses behind the pairing, Jessica Parker Kennedy and Hannah New, and found out how Eleanor and Max will deal with their new circumstances on Season 2, and if there’s any romance rekindled. 

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AfterEllen.com: How are you two interacting on the new season?

Jessica Parker Kennedy: [joking] That epic scene where we murder each other! [laughs]

[to Hannah] I stab you, you stab me, we die together, then we kiss. It’s very dramatic! Episode 5. [laughs]

Yes, Season 2 has a massive arc for my character, she’s a dramatically changed person as are you in so many ways in Season 2. She’ll never be over what’s happened to her but she’ll be moving forward in a very- in her mind- a very confrontational way. But still sneaky about it. 

Hannah New: I would say she’s proactive in ensuring that her destiny isn’t one of failure. I think she’s a true survivor. I think in regards to Eleanor she suddenly realizes that she has a true rival. Because Max is her equal, and Max has been privy to and a confidant with regard to Eleanor’s business for such a long time. She’s the only person on the island who knows the real mechanics of how it actually works. She sees how she can fit into that role which is beautiful. The real threat to Eleanor is that she knows Max has knowledge, and knowledge is power. 

 

AE: What kind of direction does Eleanor go in?

HN: We have a lot of interaction in a sense that whatever the other person does has a direct effect. But you don’t always get to see it but you feel the connection and it’s very much through Season 2 and how one person’s decision affects the other. The pain is still running very deeply. I think they are both completely lonely. I think Eleanor is the loneliest she’s ever been in her entire life. She doesn’t have any other female confidants, she has women. I think Barlow is also another threat that she tries to take on board as an ally. But she doesn’t have anybody she can really open up to and ask for advice from. And with regard to emotional connection, I think that they are trying in a lot of ways to undermine each other because they’ve forsaken each other. 

JPK: Absolutely, I think after that decision was made in Season 1, when you said, “Let me help you, let me protect you,” she left, and then I left. So there’s a very equal end in terms of who ended things in a way, and I think it’s very difficult for both of them.

HN: I think it’s interesting because Eleanor is again trying to be this patriarch, like, saying “I can take care of you, come under my wing.” And Max is like, “Fuck you! I can take care of myself.” 

JPK: So, but I think too the potential for a friendship was there, and had that gone differently when Eleanor said, “Let me take care of you,” that could have been a wing that Max wanted to be under. But being that tremendously betrayed, the trust is gone. I don’t know if it’s salvageable.

HN: I think the love is gone. It runs so deep in her, I think it’s a love she never experienced in any other capacity. So I think for her it’s a real thorn, that whenever someone who comes in that is there for her, it’s a feeling where she wants to throw up. 

JPK: And in that there’s a decision the character makes: “OK I’m going to hate Max or I’m going to accept that I can be hurt by that lover.”

HN: But the love/hate line is so close. At the end of Season 1, that beautiful scene on the bridge, that was written so stunningly. For me, that’s the real connection point where they’re like, “OK, maybe we can move on from here.” Eleanor is really naive at that point. She still loves me, she still trusts me. 

JPK: You’re dealing with two women that are both very alone, Eleanor more than Max, but they’re also incredibly shielded women. They very rarely show their emotions and their feelings. I think Eleanor’s comes out when she’s around Vane, because Vane has this thing over her. But they’re so close. They are women who don’t talk about their feelings except to each other and now they don’t have that any more.

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AE: Jessica, in the first episode of Season 2, there’s a scene you have with the another womanAnne Bonnythat’s a little romantic and sexual. What does that turn out to be?

JPK: I think there’s affection there that Max has for Bonny and owes Bonny a lot. Max came out of a place where she was never going to trust anyone againman or woman, and Bonny was this complete wacky presence that came out of nowhere, that for such a vicious woman- because she’s a vicious killer- was tender. So there’s a tender moment about can they trust each other. Max has made a very clear decision for herself. She’s like, “OK, I’m going to trust this person.” Whether its’ all from the heart or is it strategic, is the question the audience will be asking for Season 2. 

 

AE: What is the struggle for Eleanor this season?

HN: I think more than anything her main struggle is this balance between Flint and Vane and that she has to make a decision about which force to back. It’s a tough decision because their visions are so ideologically opposed, you have this dichotomy between chaos and order. She is developing and growing as a person. She is trying to marry the two. Can she find a happy medium? So for her that’s a huge political value that she’s dealing with. But yeah, away from the political dilemma is the emotional dilemma. She is trying to be a decisive woman, an independent woman, completely self sufficient. But physically and emotionally she’s the loneliest she’s ever been. And there are threats that come in that are threats on her life, which becomes much more fundamental of a decision to have to deal with. The fight to stay alive. 

 

AE: Is there hope for people who want to see your characters together, happy, in love?

HN: We don’t actually know, that’s the thing. So those kind of connections run so deep that I think it’s something that will be very situational. In life, people you have connections like that, they don’t just disappear from your psyche. So in some ways, whatever it is there has to be that reconciliation. So, for me it’s really interesting because Max is such a present entity in Eleanor’s life. She’s so physically close to her, in that I look out of the office and I can see Max’s window. I can see the front door. So Eleanor is threatened by the fact that she is drawing boundaries. But she does cross those boundaries. But she doesn’t cross it without being rebuffed. 

JPK: You know when you have a fight with a dear friend, it’s a weight, but when you make up it’s like a weight off your shoulders. So, as a viewer, I can see why that would be fun to address. 

HN: That’s the thing with relationships. To Eleanor’s other relationship with Vain —she’s very comfortable seeing him. Because it’s on her terms. She knows how towomen are different. Women are completely different. It’s a different entity in regards of being an equal to someone. It far more complicated in a way and penetrates the cycle of these characters in a way that no other relationships on the island would ever do. 

Black Sails returns Saturday, January 24 on Starz. Live tweet with us using #Ahoylezzy.

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