Pirates of the Caribbean: Cat O’ Nine Tails
OPENING: Anne Bonny’s crew is digging a deep pit among evergreens as Jack and Gibbs sit nearby. Jack’s hat is still floppy from the wedding in the previous film. [THEME of freedom, reversed] The skies beyond are cloudy, and the scene generally looks chilly. The sailors are flinging aside various nautical things they come across in their digging, including a rotted whip that Jack fondles for a moment with a ghastly expression.
Gibbs (quietly to Jack): “I always believed Captain Kidd’s treasure was a myth.”
Jack: “It didn’t help him escape the noose.” He glances at the ring around his finger. [THEME]
Gibbs: “Aye. And, either way I’ve never heard of any Crown of Neptune being part of it.” [PLOT REMINDER]
Jack : “Maddening.”
At this point, one of Jack’s hallucinatory, miniature others appears on his shoulder (with an intact Jack Sparrow tricorn) to lecture him: “Jack Sparrow, you’ve always thought that your destiny was to be remembered as the rough lord of pirates. Immortal, either in body or in name. But, what if your destiny was to be a hero, eh? A savior of men, battling against their direst foes? Even to die a hero, in service to something greater than yourself?” Jack, of course, has no desire to die, and says as much.
Hallucination: “Then what was that business with the Kraken? Once free of those shackles, you could have dived overboard and swam for the boat.”
To which Jack has no answer, except to mumble: “Dove. Could have dove overboard.” [CHARACTER]
CUT: Bill and Mary in a tavern in Boston trying to decide where to stand in the war between Baldassaro and Bonny. From the conversation, Bill is apparently working in the mines to get by. Bill wants to stand against both of them. Mary is afraid to oppose either side while Baldassaro controls the Whale and Anne controls the winds. Bill mentions that Anne’s powers are still limited. [PLOT FORESHADOWING]
Mary: “Still makes a ship-to-ship fight untenable.”
Bill: “If we could get Sparrow to our side, her power over her ship’s crew would be limited as well.”
While they talk, rabble-rousers start a scuffle with Redcoats in the street. [SETTING]
Mary: “If only we can stay out of this war long enough to fight our own!”
RISE TO PLOT POINT: Baldassaro visits Paris to convince the King to promise help to the Americans against the British. When Captain Jules asks him, aside, why he wants this, the Cardinal replies: “The more ships of war on the seas, the fewer flags a godless pirate can hide behind. A world at war, and no harbor for the heathens and buccaneers.” [CHARACTER + PLOT]
CUT: Jack and Gibbs still conferring in camp as the sailors continue to dig in vain for Kidd’s treasure. Anne is frustrated, sipping a glass of wine refilled by one of her sailors and staring off into the horizon opposite where the ships are anchored.
As Jack and Gibbs squabble about how to get free of Anne and back to pirating, Sparrow decides that the only way to free himself from Anne and save them from Baldassaro is to find the Crown before Anne does. Now that Jack has something he wants, the compass points to a heading which he cautiously shows Gibbs. [PLOT]
Jack slips off his ring [THEME], surprised at his ability to do so. He drops it among the recently unburied debris, and the two sneak off to the Pearl and make haste to escape before Bonny discovers them.
FUN AND GAMES: Cut to Bill Thicke working in a mine, the epitome of a hammer-swinging strong man. There is an explosion elsewhere in the hole, and Bill runs to find the primitive steam pump (for removing water from the mine) has burst, killing the engineer. [SETTING IN THE MID-1700s]
The mine supervisor says: “Third pump man I’ve lost this month. Thicke, you’re a smart fellow… [CHARACTER] you think you can keep this thing running?”
Thicke takes a look at it, wheels obviously turning in his head. [PLOT FORESHADOWING]
CUT: Jack and Gibbs aboard the Pearl on the open sea, having fled Bonny. A ship is sighted by one of the Pearl‘s sailors. Jack orders the colors raised for attack: both ships fly the black flag at once, i.e., the other ship is also a pirate ship.
After looking through his spy glass, Jack tells Gibbs that he thinks that it’s the Cat’s Tail, ship of the notorious Captain Rachel Wall. [She is loosely based on real pirate Rachel Wall.] Jack’s suspicion confirmed as the two ships approach, they board the Tail for parlay and drinks.
Jack tells Gibbs as they board that Wall is the luckiest pirate he’s ever met: Jack has seen Wall’s ship go down three times, only later to mysteriously reappear again. [PLOT FORESHADOWING] He also mentions that she’s one of the fiercest pirates, and Gibbs cringes as they notice four deep gashes on the mast next to a hook where hangs a brutal whip with a metal tip. [CHARACTER]
In her cabin, a blue-clad Wall laces Jack’s hat up for him, rolling her eyes, and asks where and why he’s roving. Jack explains that he’s looking for Mary Read and Bill Thicke, “who might lately have been pirating these waters.” Wall reveals that she knows them and has seen them hiding out in Boston.
However, she warns Jack that the city is on the verge of war and packed with British soldiers, and that he’d best keep his distance. Jack says he’ll take his chances. When she presses him why he’s so dead-set on finding Bill and Mary, he reveals that he’s on the trail of the Crown of Neptune. Impressed, Wall invites herself along to “rid the seas of that witch-burning rat-bastard Cardinal and his leashed monster.” [PLOT + CHARACTER + THEME in Neptune’s leashed, unfree nature]
Throughout the exchange, a certain chemistry between Sparrow and Wall is apparent.
RISE TO MIDPOINT: The Pearl and Cat’s Tail sail to Boston, into what appears to Jack to be a harbor filled with nothing but merchant ships. As they come alongside a few of them, Gibbs notices a Redcoat hiding in the sails of one of the ships: it’s a trap! Swarms of British marines swing across to the decks of both ships, taking Jack and Wall captive.
In prison, Jack shakes the bars and mutters “full-barrel hinges” to himself before lying on the floor beside a sleeping Gibbs. Neptune appears to him, explaining that Jack is indeed not the Crown, but that Sparrow has “been close to it.” [PLOT FORESHADOWING]
Jack responds in whispers, to avoid waking Gibbs and to keep Wall, jailed nearby, from overhearing and thinking he’s insane. Neptune expresses his disappointment that Jack agreed to be chained to Anne, to which Jack retorts: “Well, I’ve freed myself of that arrangement.” He waggles his empty ring finger in the air. [THEME]
Neptune (as he fades away): “Or so you think…”
Anne walks in to pay Jack a surprise visit, and he realizes that she out-flanked him (with the help of the winds), arrived in Boston first, and helped set up the Redcoat trap. She reveals that she traded the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow to the British navy for a full pardon of her own piracy. [CHARACTER]
Jack: “So, you’ve got a British noose around me neck, and you’ve just come to rub it in, love?”
Anne: “Oh no, no. I’ve come here to intercept two mutual friends whom I know cannot resist rescuing you.”
At that moment, there’s sound of a scuffle and the whump-grunt of guards being clobbered. Mary and Bill round the corner, swords drawn. [Speaks to their CHARACTER] They are surprised to see Anne, and are suddenly seized from behind by her pirates. Anne tosses Jack his wedding ring and one of her men tosses her the jail keys. [THEME: she is the master of Jack’s freedom] She unlocks the cell and shoves the key ring into her sailor’s mouth. “Let’s go,” she tells Jack.
“What about me?” Captain Wall calls out from a neighboring cell.
Anne (suspicious but calm): “Who’s this, Jack? Not an infidelity, I hope.”
Jack: “Well, darling, you and I never actually consummated what remains a purely ceremonial relat—”
Wall appears hurt at Jack’s interaction with Anne, and interrupts him to offer Anne her ship in defiance of Cardinal Baldassaro, if she will free Wall and her crew. [CHARACTER + PLOT]
CUT: Rushing to the dock with Mary and Bill in chains, Anne sees French ships turning into the harbor. As they begin firing on the British ships, Anne curses Baldassaro and orders them all to hurry. Jack mentions to Gibbs that there’s no “shaky-shake.” Where is Neptune?
When they reach the Pearl, the Cat’s Tail, and Anne’s new ship the Vengeance II, Anne warns Jack that next time she’ll leave him to the hangman. She rouses her crew by saying, “We’ve got our Admiral back boys, and there’s no earthquake! Looks like the Cardinal’s lost his leash!” [THEME] They cheer and set sail, fighting their way through the French and British ships. Jack notes Angelica at the helm of one of Baldassaro’s ships, and she draws her pistol to take a personal shot at him. [PLOT + CHARACTER]
Once Anne and Jack are sighted by the Cardinal’s crew, Baldassaro orders his men (through Captain Jules) to ignore the “beef-eaters” [an old French insult against the British] and focus on the pirates. He again rubs the mysterious jewel on his cassock. Once the pirates are free of the harbor, Gibbs notices a familiar upwelling of water chasing them.
Gibbs: “It’s the Whale!
Anne raises the winds, and all three ships pull ahead into open sea, leaving Boston (and the Cardinal’s fleet) far behind. The Cat’s Tail, however, remains at the rear throughout the chase.
Jack (shouting across to Anne): “Love, the Pearl is fast and the Vengeance is getting the most of your … blowing. Think we might spare a little wind for our new partner?”
Anne: “Your new sweetie will keep up or she’s not fit to join our fleet.” Jack is visibly annoyed and leaves the helm to Gibbs, to run to the stern.
Jack (shouting across to Wall): “Lose ballast! Dump the cannons and trim the—”
The Whale suddenly pulls up alongside and cuts left to slam full-force into Wall’s ship. She orders her crew to “Grab tight and take a diver’s breath!” [PLOT foreshadowing] As the ship sinks, the Whale turns and swims off. jack turns the Pearl to pick up stragglers, but the Cat’s Tail sinks with the entire crew inexplicably holding tight to the ship. Anne brings the Vengeance around beside the Pearl.
After a few quiet and confused moments, Anne shouts across to Jack: “Looks like we’re the ones who lost ballast. Where are we off to now, Admiral?”
Suddenly, the water churns and the Cat’s Tail springs from the water, bobbing several times before coming to rest. Jack looks surprised, and Wall laughs, coughs up a little water, and shouts: “You think you’re the only one who made a deal with Davy Jones? The difference is: I was able to run out my credit until the old fool was dead.” He gives her a look of pirate-to-pirate admiration, when she clearly enjoys.
Wall steps over to the mainmast, grabs the metal-tipped whip, and lashes another mark in the wood. Gibbs (on the Pearl) has a look of realization: the notches keep track of how many times the ship has been sunk and raised again. Perhaps Rachel Wall isn’t so brutal after all.
One of Wall’s pirates mutters to her, “Only four more Tails to go, Captain.” She growls and warns him that if he reminds her again the next lash will be on his back. [CHARACTER]
HIGHER STAKES: Baldassaro, Jules, and Angelica are in conference on the Cardinal’s flagship. Angelica is hot for vengeance against Jack, but wants to know what the Cardinal’s vendetta against Anne Bonny is about. He tells her it’s a defensive war, because she is a witch, possessed of a demon once called a goddess by heathens, and she wants to destroy the church “for no reason.” He has a special commission to wipe out the vestiges of heresy, paganism, and unbelief, and this includes pirates who are enemies of all mankind.
Angelica seems doubtful, so he offers her a gift that he “found” during the attack on Port Royal, something that doesn’t seem to work well for anyone else, but might work for her. It is, he claims, a bit of Halcyone’s power that he captured many years ago and was in turn stolen from him, by Blackbeard. He reveals it to be the magic sword Angelica’s father used to lift the sails of his ship, which Barbossa had been carrying when he died. With it, she should be able to catch up to Anne’s pirate fleet.
CUT [DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL]: In the brig of Anne’s ship, Bill is showing Mary a piece of paper with a diagram of the sump pump from the mine. When Jack walks up, he quickly folds it and stuffs it into his trousers. They plead with Jack to release them, as Anne is planning to execute them for mutiny once they reach the pirate haven of Barataria. Bill promises that he knows a way to defeat Anne despite her control of the winds.
Jack: “It’s on that … map you’ve got hidden in your pantaloons?”
Bill: “It’s no map, but yes. Not all treasure is buried.”
Jack: “And not all that’s buried…” He nods at Bill’s crotch. “…is treasure.”
After some back-and-forth Jack realizes that Bill and Mary are his greatest allies against Anne, and he agrees to try to sneak the key away from her. [CHARACTER + PLOT]
CUT: Later, at dinner in Anne’s cabin, Jack attempts to seduce her. She rebuffs him, telling him she is interested in sharing her bed with no mortal man.
Jack: “Weren’t you to deliver immortality as part of our bargain?”
Anne (smirking): “I lied.”
Jack is miffed, but then he identifies the brig key hanging on the wall and renews his seduction. When he suggests that perhaps he truly is the Crown of Neptune, and the reason Anne’s ritual of control did not work is that they did not consummate the marriage, she nearly falls for it. But, she catches Jack reaching for the brig key. The air begins to spin around her, and Jack’s hand becomes paralyzed mid-reach. As he struggles to grab the key, whiteness spreads from the ring to engulf his entire hand.
Anne: “Go back to your ship, Admiral Sparrow. Your hand is given to me in matrimony, consummated or not.”
Jack (staring guiltily at the hand): “Well, I wasn’t planning on using it for—”
Anne: “Soon enough, your entire self will be mine, Crown or not. And, the moment we pull into Barataria Bay, the mutineers Bill Thicke and Mary Read will hang by the neck until they are dead.” Jack’s hand is drawn toward the door, and he is unwillingly dragged along.
Walking along the deck of the Vengeance toward the boat that will return him to the Pearl, Jack encounters Rachel Wall, who has been summoned to discuss strategy with Anne. When Jack explains his weird, left-hand-first walking as the result of a “minor spat between meself and the missus,” Wall replies coldly that Jack must have hitched his fate to the wrong woman.
RISE TO PLOT POINT: Angelica’s ship races forward on the winds of her father’s sword, drawing part of the Cardinal’s fleet with her. Baldassaro and Jules are joyful, until the wind suddenly dies in their sails and Angelica alone begins to pull ahead. [CHARACTER] She turns to give them a sarcastic salute.
Angelica: “Sorry boys, but Jack Sparrow is all mine!”
Baldassaro (to Jules): “Never trust a woman.”
CUT: In Barataria Bay, Jack again visits the brig to reveal his key-retrieving failure to Bill and Mary.
Mary: “I didn’t know you were going to try to seduce her. Yours isn’t a true marriage, Jack. Anne’s only love was murdered long ago.”
Jack: “I thought you said he was taken by the sea.”
Mary: “Insofar as Neptune is the sea. Her first husband, Ceyx, was the first target given Neptune centuries ago when he submitted to the leash of the Church to avoid being completely lost to myth.”
Bill: “Ceyx was god of the morning star, and Halcyone the daughter of the god of winds. Theirs was a true love.”
Mary: “But they were foolish, and when Halcyone found herself with-child, they compared themselves to God and St. Mary. Their heathen followers wrote songs about it, which reached the ears of a Greek bishop. Under orders from that Bishop, Neptune took Ceyx and the child, sparing Halcyone because he found her too beautiful to kill.”
Bill: “After a loss like that, Anne was never truly free to give herself to another.”
Jack (showing Bill his ring and whitened hand): “I never thought I would surrender freedom for a wife.”
Bill (showing Jack his own ring, revealing he and Mary were married in Boston): “I’m not enslaved to Mary. This ring frees me to be with her, free from uncertainty, free to love without concern for the future.” [CHARACTER]
Mary: “You may one day know a true love, Jack. But it must be a free love, not coerced. Not driven by ambition or greed.” [THEME]
CUT: Anne and Bill are hauled onto the deck of the Vengeance II, nooses awaiting them. Other pirate ships have gathered nearby to watch the spectacle. The pirate haven of Barataria Bay and the Louisiana swamps are in the background. [SETTING]
When Jack pleads one last time for Anne not to hang Bill and Mary, she decides that Jack must duel Bill—who is not a good swordsman—to the death. Anne orders Bill unshackled and armed. Jack refuses to fight, but his whitened left hand draws his sword and lunges at Bill. The fight is both tragic and comical, as neither Jack nor Bill want to harm each other, but Jack’s hand is out of his control. [CHARACTER + THEME]
As Jack’s enslaved hand is repeatedly slicing into her husband, Mary demands the right to fight Jack in Bill’s stead. [CHARACTER] Bill protests, but Anne thinks this is all good sport, so she agrees to let Jack fight them each in turn, Mary first. Sparrow is still reluctant as Bill is once against seized and Mary released, but Jack’s enslaved side is eager for the skirmish. Jack is now white to the elbow and, as Mary’s blade reveals through Jack’s sliced pants, also white down to the left knee.
Mary is eventually forced to her back on the deck and about to be slain. Bill breaks free from the pirates holding him, takes a sword from one of the pirates, and attacks Jack. Mary is able to rise again, and Jack is suddenly fighting off two assailants. Anne watches with great amusement, casually sipping from a glass of wine.
Jack is shoved back into Gibbs (being held on the periphery by Anne’s pirates) who quickly mutters: “This isn’t pirate-y at all! Better if she’d made them walk the plank.” He winks and tilts his head.
Jack (thinking, then grinning): “Aye!”
Realizing his right foot is still under his command, Jack rejoins the fray and kicks both Mary and Bill overboard, allowing them to swim to freedom. He claps a shackle over his left wrist [THEME– freeing himself with the tool of enslavement] chaining the whitened arm to his belt. He wrestles the sword into his right hand, and comes at Anne with it. She shouts at her crew to stop him, but they hesitate, only Rachel Wall standing at her side. However, even Rachel is torn, her sword drooping as she looks at Jack.
Anne and Jack and the crew of the Vengeance II glance back and forth at each other uncertainly for a beat, before the crew backs away in deference. Jack breaks out into a wide smile.
Anne (furious): “What?! You dogs! Mutineers! Kill him!”
Jack (his left hand constantly struggling to free itself from its shackle): “Good my wife, you forget who you’re married to. Or to whom you’re…” (shaking his head) “I’m … Captain Jack Sparrow.”
THE GRAND BATTLE BEGINS. At that very moment, Angelica swings in from a nearby ship, knocking Jack on his side. As he hits the deck, Wall’s pins pop from his hat, making it floppy once again.
Angelica: “We all know who you are, you blowhard. You are a liar, and a traitor, and a pirate of the worst sort!”
With Jack disarmed and splayed clumsily on the deck, Anne’s crew remember themselves and set to saluting her, apologizing, and seizing Sparrow. As Jack is hauled to his feet, Wall grabs his shirt and nods sidelong toward Angelica.
Wall: “Who’s she? Another wife?” [CHARACTER]
Jack (almost apologetically): “Another mistake.”
Wall: “You seem to make a lot of them.”
Jack (smiling wanly): “So, I’m due for a change of luck.”
Anne’s pirates shackle Jack to the mast. Angelica warns Anne of the Cardinal’s approaching fleet, and offers to joins forces, with her sword completing Anne’s control of the winds. In exchange, she asks Anne to maroon Jack on the notorious island where he left Angelica. Anne agrees, but postpones the marooning until after the coming battle.
CUT: Anne rallies her pirate fleet under Commodores Rachel Wall and Angelica Teach, recruiting more pirates from the Barataria haven. Ragetti and Pintel are brought out of retirement to captain ships, which visibly irks Jack.
Ragetti: “Your circumstances aren’t much improved from the last time we saw you.”
Pintel: “Nor’s your hat!”
THE CLIMAX. When the Cardinal’s fleet arrives, a huge battle ensues. Anne’s winds (supplemented by Angelica’s sword) and the White Whale’s ramming compete to destroy the two warring fleets. Notably: the Cat’s Tail is sunk, followed by Angelica’s ship and the Vengeance II. Anne uses the winds to blow herself over to the Black Pearl (captained by Marty?) just in time to see Pintel and Ragetti desert to the open sea.
As the Cat’s Tail surfaces once again, Anne realizes that the Cardinal’s fleet is destroyed, but his flagship and the White Whale are still a danger. She calls it a draw and orders her two remaining ships to flee.
CODA: At the marooning island, Anne extends no plank (a very unpirate-y thing, which Gibbs notes) and simply kicks Jack overboard after saying: “Consider this a divorce… love!” Under water, Jack notes his arm and leg are back to their original color. He smiles and yanks the ring free, abandoning it on the reef. Gibbs splashes into the water nearby, and they both swim for shore.
Angelica thanks Anne for keeping her part of the bargain, and offers her loyalty. Wall reiterates her determination to find and destroy Baldassaro. Anne recognizes their statements, but reminds them that Mary and Bill are also a vendetta that must be dealt with. [Her vengeful CHARACTER revealed even more to be a flaw.]
Anne: “We’ll find the mutineers, and let the Cardinal come to us.”