John Malkovich's Blackbeard is the best, and perhaps, the only reason to watch Crossbones. And don't they know it!
So. Things you should know about Blackbeard: he has a ghost lover.
He performs acupuncture on himself.
He can talk with just his fingertips.
Otherwise Crossbones is NBC's "Like" rip-off brand of Starz's "Nike"-level piratical drama Black Sails. The two shows have an almost legally problematic amount of overlap: a pirate captain relying on a morally ambiguous dude who happens to have photographic memory and saw the right document, a fair amount of landlocked plot to cut back on boat scenes, and a hot hoity-toity British lady steering market forces on a pirate island.
What Crossbones doesn't have is a costume department with more than two nickels to rub together, and before this premiere I don't think I ever fully realized how valuable historical accuracy in costume production is. Because literally every element of the plot and acting became superseded by my outrage and bafflement at the costumes.
I mean, is this dude wearing Timberlands?
A conversation full of critical exposition was completely ignored thanks to this hot look.
This is just a lot of leg for the 18th century.
Why is this bro out for a morning jog pretending to be a character on this series.
Malkovich got the best outfits, as he damn well should. A posy-sprigged greatcoat, and luxurious silken pajamas, because this Blackbeard is equal parts ruthless pirate legend and Santa Monica Mom-style New Age medicine enthusiast.
His considerable personal charisma is what's keeping Crossbones afloat, and the director is fully aware, using Malkovich's ability to imperceptibly shift from "friendly" to "sociopathic" in a couple lines roughly half a dozen times throughout the pilot. You may not watch Crossbones for the plot, but you should stay onboard for the rich bootious bounty of potential reaction gifs to come.
[Video via NBC]