Should start at sea. Jack, up in the crow's nest, balanced precariously but completely at ease, humming a sea chantey, maybe fiddling with a bit of rope. A ship is sighted.
I’m wondering is maybe this episode should be something of a mystery. I think the spy event should take place on land.
So I keep thinking of that Firefly episode where they find the ship that appears to be deserted but was ravaged by reavers and they find all the crew but one hanging and the lone man left goes crazy and reaverizes himself. So my descriptions aren’t up to par this morning. Anyway…
Jack is perched precariously in the crow’s nest, humming softly to himself and drinking the rum he filched from storage. Enjoying the sunrise, why not fiddle with that string – string never hurt no one, now rope, rope is a different beast altogether… Jack’s mucking around with the telescope – I can’t remember the proper term for it here. He spies a ship on the horizon. I really want to use “off the starboard bow” in here – just because. In any case, the Captain, who still needs a name. Captain Jacob Wolfe? Or perhaps Gerard? Anyway, the captain barks some orders, the ships flags indicate it to be a… Spanish merchant vessel. As they get closer, Jack’s still watching the ship and notices, (he climbed down earlier?)
Muttering, “Now that’s very interesting.” He shoves the spyglass into the captain’s hands. “Go on, take a look at that.” The captain looks. Keeps looking. Keeps looking. Puts the spyglass down and gives the orders to board the other ship. Getting a lot of strange looks from the crew.
So here’s where we get to sort stuff out.
1. indications of cargo visible on the other ship but no indication of people?
2. Visible dead bodies?
3. Live people the captain is familiar with for better or for worse?
4. Captain Wolfe just wants to steal the cargo and profit from it, thinking he’ll be able to overtake the ship.
5. Captain recognizes a particular individual on the deck of the other ship – someone Jack would recognize as well? Then we’d have to create a back-story and use… dum dad um… flashbacks.
I vote for 1 or 5.
Also, what “position” are we having Jack occupy for this merchant company he’s sailing with. If he’s just one of the crew, then why does he get stuck doing a lot of the dirty work? I can’t really see him as a first mate either, although we could do that or make some indication early on that he has a certain preference from the captain. We can even make him start the series all sparkly clean in new duds with a new promotion.
If we want to keep the reaver parallel, I'd suggest the crew killed off by disease. or vampire (sorry, just read a book with a vampire on a steamboat, and remembered those stories about how the vampire pays for passage and then eats the crew up one by one. which brings up the point of just how much fantasy we want to mix in. although... there have always been folk stories, and we could just make it unclear on whether it was really a monster or not. but that would mean doing the spy ep later.
for 5... perhaps someone in either english or french uniform? you wouldn't expect them on board a ship sailing spanish colors. or even spanish uniform on board a merchant vessel might be enough. perhaps the ship is bait for pirates, the way they would hide cavalry on board trains.