Black Sails Finale Review: VIII

The Black Sails season 1 finale wraps things up in a blaze of glory! Bring on Black Sails season 2! Here's our review of the finale...

Well, I said they couldn’t do it, and I was wrong. Black Sails managed to end the season with a huge ship battle (knew that would happen) AND a dose of history. I’m referring, of course, to the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet. Google it. The entire fleet (5 ships, historically) sank off the coast of Florida in a hurricane. One of the ships was, in fact, named the Urca de Lima. This was one of the most powerful influences on the pirates in the Caribbean.

How, you ask? Because the money was, just like in the show, laying out on the beach, or in very shallow water. And news got out. “Hey, dude there are millions of dollars laying on a beach, with a huge wrecked ship right there to mark the place!” Adventurers came from all over the world. The Spanish came too, of course, with an army. So the scavengers formed their own army and they fought up and down the beach, pausing only to pick up gold, dive for it, or send slaves diving for it if the water was too deep. (Who cared if a slave died of the bends?)

The end result was pretty much a draw. The scavengers got about a third of the money, the Spanish the rest. But because so many otherwise honest men had seen the piles of treasure, and had fought to make it their own, many pirates were forged in those battles. These men “acquired” boats and began to rob passing ships.

So, I’m looking forward to that next season.

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I’m also pleased to see some history coming out of Charles Vane’s story line. Nobody ever actually took the fort from Hornigold, but Vane’s tactics are sound. Land on the other side of the island, march cross country, and attack the fort from behind. This was the method that Captain Morgan (yes, the guy on the rum bottle) used to decimate the Spanish. In Black Sails, it’s a great way to bring Vane back and shatter the balance of power.

In addition, Vane’s men have surely never seen anything as nice at Nassau’s main brothel, and it will be interesting to see what goes down on that score. Vane can control these men, but will he? Especially since he’s on the outs with Jack and Anne. I loved the way he told Rackham off. “You will never serve under the black flag again.” It’s enough to make a man WANT to be a pirate again, when a lot of guys would have thought that running a whorehouse was the perfect job to last a lifetime.

Vane’s finally worked out his relationship with Eleanor, too. “I think you’re tired of fathers telling you what to do.” The man who’s already been through hell trying to lead the woman he loves in the way of true freedom… Doing whatever she damn well pleases. Eleanor, of course, is stuck with Vane now, whether she wants him or not.

And the main course of our feast, of course, was Flint.

Flint will make an excellent head of government. Rather than being two-faced, he’s up to something like five, and he inspires treachery and backstabbing in all around him. I’m terribly sorry to see Gates go. I liked him. And I dearly loved watching him sit in Flint’s leaking cabin, drinking fine liquor and talking about old times.

Flint’s steadfast determination to start a fight with the Spanish warship really played out true. All his past catches up to him, but he just keeps moving forward. For once he was running a decent strategy, too. With the stern-work on the Walrus she really looks like a Spanish ship, and having her “attacked” by her consort the Ranger was the perfect way to get the real Spaniard in close.

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All the tension over Silver, and his remembering of the correct co-ordinates worked well for me, too. He’s on Flint’s side, if no one else is, because only Flint can keep him safe. And Randal, who is just so much fun. “You’re welcome.” And hits the man with a wooden leg. That missing leg just haunts me. When will Silver lose his? Maybe never in this show. But the possibility of it keeps me interested.

So. A couple of weeks ago, I was starting to worry about where all this was going, but this is the best ending to a TV show I’ve seen in quite a while. Everybody is in crisis, all of the crises are drawn perfectly from the character’s previous actions, and hell is just over the horizon. Well done! 

TS Rhodes is the author of The Pirate Empire series. She blogs about pirates at 

Read ALL of TS Rhodes’ Black Sails reviews and historical pieces right here!

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5 out of 5