Black Sails Review: Nassau or Bust!

All good things come to an end… And as Black Sails launches into its final hours, it does so confidently and triumphantly. Its been a true privilege to watch.

For several years now, Starz has been producing genre programming that’s helped build a solid audience of MustGeekTV viewers. Spartacus led the way with its visual style, sex and violence. Camelot was short-lived, but it was an interesting take on the Arthurian legend co-produced by the brilliant Michael Hirst (Vikings). Da Vinci’s Demons started with such promise and I am still upset with David S. Goyer for dropping the ball on such a unique series. Tom Riley’s turn as Leonardo da Vinci was pure genius. Black Sails and Outlander followed cementing the network’s place in the crowded original series arena. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is coming in April, and will no doubt be impressive.

Black Sails - Season 4 Episode 1 "XXIX."
Courtesy of Starz

While it’s sad the final voyage of our favorite antiheroes begins tonight, we knew going in that the buccaneers failed to take New Providence Island. For me, its been a bit like watching Titanic. You knew the damn ship was destined to sink, but experiencing the interactions and character development along the way was part of the fun. Did you ever imagine Flint and Silver would grow to respect one another? Become something resembling friends?

What a terrific dynamic Toby Stephens and Luke Arnold have shared over the past few seasons. How well-written and acted their scenes have been. Silver teasing Flint, “If it makes you feel any better, I haven’t considered killing you in months” lines up with the one legged pirate eventually naming his parrot “Captain Flint” to mock him. With the legend of “Long John Silver” growing among Billy’s men, it’s going to be interesting to see how Flint handles all of that. Is his time truly up?

In typical Black Sails fashion, it did not take long for everything to go to hell. To say things started off with a bang is an understatement. I wish I had gone back to watch the Season 3 finale, because its been so long I forgot where the show left off. Then, Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) mentioned Charles Vane’s (Zach McGowan) hanging and many details started flooding back. Man, I’m still bummed that Vane went out that way. History tells us Woodes Rogers (Luke Roberts) outlives all the famous pirates of the time. It’s going to be heartbreaking watching Rackham fail in his quest for revenge. Billy claimed to have sent word to Flint via Jack’s quartermaster Featherstone, but I can’t remember the man’s fate. Either way, Flint advanced without knowledge of a third ship and was blown to smithereens. That scene must have been total chaos to shoot, but boy did it look magnificent. The cinematography continues to be feature-film quality.

When Silver fell into the water, I was surprised Flint did not dive in after him. Do you think a part of him wanted Silver to drown? Will that somehow fuel Silver’s hatred when he returns? It was clear Silver would survive as his legend is still in its infancy. I’m curious to see if their relationship takes a turn.

Black Sails - Season 4 Episode 1 "XXIX."
Courtesy of Starz

I was also surprised to learn Rogers married Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New). What?!? How much time went by between the Season 3 finale and this installment? Didn’t the main players all sit down and plan to take back Nassau posthaste in last year’s closing moments? The flashback to Silver and Madi in bed filled in a few of the blanks, and we learned he shared the location of the treasure with her. I wonder if there will be other flashbacks to bring us up to speed after the death of Vane. The show uses the device sparingly, but it usually works really well. Doesn’t it seem like there’s a ton of information we’re missing out on?

In the time that passed, Billy Bones (Tom Hopper) became a leader in his own right. His contempt for Captain Flint’s at an all time high, only now he does nothing to disguise the fact. It was pretty ballsy of Billy to let Flint know his men were prepared to follow Long John Silver upon his return, not Flint. Recruiting hundreds of slaves from the nearby plantation seemed like a sensible plan. While Flint was right and time was not on their side, what options did they have? Rush in and get slaughtered? Flint does that a lot.

Black Sails - Season 4 Episode 1 "XXIX."
Courtesy of Starz

Apparently, Black Beard has set a course for Nassau for the one thing he wants… I’m assuming that’s Eleanor? She was responsible for Vane’s death after all. As one of the characters created specifically for this series, her fate remains unclear. However, as the wife of Woodes Rogers it’s hard to believe any harm will befall her. At least, not if Rogers has anything to say about it. Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) on the other hand, well that’s another story. She attempted to stand up to Rogers, but he put her in her place. I have a bad feeling Max is not long for this world.

Silver’s escape from the net into the sinking ship was completely nerve-racking. Thank God for tight pockets of air, right? The closing moments revealed Israel Hands (David Wilmot) welcoming Silver home. Hands (aka Basilica Hands) was a real life pirate and second in command to Edward Teach. That’s right, the insurgency is about to meet its pirate king.

Closing Thoughts…

The first couple of seasons of Black Sails were arguably stronger, as we were meeting all the characters and setting the stage. However, the storytelling has never wavered on its way to a strong series finale. The cast is once again at the top of their game, and all the players are in place for one last showdown. While some series tend to drag from time to time, giving us filler episodes, Black Sails delivers an action-packed quality hour each week. One day when I sit down to relive the entire 38 hours of this series, I’m sure the time will fly by in an instant. Never dull and always inspired, Black Sails is like nothing on television and will definitely be missed when it fades to black.

Black Sails airs Sundays at 9/8c on Starz.