tv review – Starz’s Black Sails, episode 1.8

‘VIII.’, Black Sails‘ season 1 finale, was thrilling from start to finish, as Flint and crew were out at sea, looking for the Urca de Lima, and Vane took a piece of Nassau’s pie. Both storylines were engrossing, but it was Captain Flint’s that offered spectacle: sea battles, murder and mayhem. It’s funny how Vane, the man we first thought of as the most ruthless pirate around, used his wits and calm to take over Nassau’s fort, thereby acquiring a powerful position on New Providence Island. He even spared Rackham and Anne Bonny who killed a few of Vane’s men, men of their own crew, to avenge Max, a prostitute, an act that goes against a pirate’s code of honor. He just severed ties with them and moved on. Vane’s demeanor was a breath of fresh air compared to Flint’s desperate and fevered mad dog routine that, again, cost many people their lives.

The first victim of Flint’s desperation was Gates. He had lost all faith in the captain and decided not to help and attack a frigate they came across. Because Gates led the other ship and Flint needed both crews to succeed, he killed Gates, snapped his neck, an impulse to prevent Gates’ crew from leaving. Realizing what he’d done he was sick with grieve and about to give up everything, but then John Silver barged in to offer him a way out. It was a promising start to a friendship, a bond forged to survive, but unfortunately Dufresne and other crew members weren’t as willing to let Gates’ death go unpunished and took measures. Flint got shot and so nearly got Silver, but Randall came to his aid, and Silver singlehandedly started a battle with a fregate, which left the crews of both pirate ships no choice: they had to attack the frigate to survive. It proved to be a suicide mission; both pirate ships sank and many pirates were dragged to the bottom of the ocean. Flint, Silver, Dufresne and a handful of other crewmen survived, found themselves ashore, and by a stroke of luck near the Urca and its treasure. No doubt they’ll try to take it next season, but more interesting are the fates of Flint and Silver. They’re captives now, an unfortunate situation they’ll need to get themselves out of.

So, now, at the end of season 1 Flint and Silver are in a pickle, Vane and Eleanor are in power and Rackham, Anne and Max are running Nassau’s brothel. A lot has changed over the course of Black Sails‘ eight episodes, but everything felt organic, nothing out of character or like a deus ex machina. The writers have done a fine job constructing a tightly woven narrative, with interesting character and story arcs which will be picked up again in the show’s next season. As a result ‘VIII.’ presented us with a satisfying conclusion to the first season, but also set up what’s to come, a balancing act fully accomplished.

‘VIII.’ offered thrills, collected cool and even some moving scenes. It was a fitting finale to Black Sails first and very consistent season. 8/10

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