This is it – the last episode to a season of Black Sails that was much too short. It didn’t quite have the historic conflicts of last year, but it did have a solid ending, with alliances changed and storylines concluded with promise of more conflict to come.
Vane’s character has always gone against type. Looking at him the first time we were led to expect the senseless violence of a one-dimensional bad guy. He’s shown us much more than that. Alone of all the pirates, Vane understood what the piratical ideal of “freedom meant. And now Vane has come to truly understand the full depth of the truth. That “those people”: the governors, the admirals, the army officers and the mob of sheep that follow them, see pirates as pirates, with no differentiation between Vane or Flint or Rackham.
This is also the episode when we see Flint’s heart broken. He wasn’t quite “Flint” before – not quite that substance that has been described as “cold stone that never struck a warming spark.” I had thought that, in the last episode, Miranda’s death came much too quickly. One blast from a gun, a surprised look, and she was gone.
That was a good move. We saw, and to some extent felt, Flint’s shock and horror. When she died, his last ties with his old life, and his last chance at a happy ending, died with her. This episode, we see what we need to see to get closure for ourselves. We also see the end of Flint’s old life. When the crowd throws garbage at Miranda’s corpse (a lovely 18th century touch) the last of Flint’s heart turns to stone. We see it in his eyes.
Vane’s turn into a rescuing angel (a fallen angel, mind) is both smart and brave. Vane, in spite of the danger, has nothing to lose. That’s because Vane’s story was never going to end happily. It was just going to end someday, and Vane was going to live the best life he could before that happened.
So Flint and Vane are now brothers, in spirit if not in fact. Their escape from Charlestown reminded me oddly of Jack Sparrow’s escape from the hangman at the end of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. A lot more explosions (why do movies insist that cannon balls explode when they hit?) and a lot more blood, but the same feel, somehow.
In line with pirate teaming up, we get good closure between Rackham and Bonny. I loved the line, “When I said my name, they knew my name. The first thing they said every time was your name.” Anne says she can’t marry Jack… And I wonder if history will deal into this, the way it has feed into so many plotlines in Black Sails. The historic Anne Bonny couldn’t marry the historic Jack because she was already married to James Bonny.
But we certainly get a beautiful scene with the sun over Bonny’s shoulder and the wind in the rigging.
The plot which is leading us toward Treasure Island is likewise moving forward. Silver’s betrayals and machinations are coming home to roost. Selling the details of the Spanish gold to Rackham might have worked better if Silver hadn’t been in the middle of Flint’s crew. But his guilty secret, in spite of murder committed, is still between Silver and one last co-conspirator. So easy to betray.
The point is that Silver has finally found himself in a place where he can’t talk his way out of a problem. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
The scene moves too fast, I think. Rather like the scene with where Miranda dies. The show would have benefitted by having one more episode. The torture is effective, thought I think that shooting Silver’s friend was just a plot device. A much more believable and subtle one than many we’ve seen. The loss of his confidant leaves Silver free to spin the truth again, any wah he can get away with.
I like historic accuracy. The attack on the fort made a great deal of sense. It was lovely to see the town’s guns turned around and used against it. It’s proper tactics, and for once the fighting was done with a thought to how these things could really happen. No one can complain that the pirates forgot how to pirate in this episode.
We end this sequence on a bombardment, revenge, and on Silver losing his leg. Flint’s really a pirate now, the bitter and vicious man that haunted the dreams of his old crew in Treasure Island. And we have once again moved closer to the book. Silver’s is now one-legged, and quartermaster, though not at presently of the Walrus.
Still thinking, our John Silver, though. He’s got a plausible reason now to tell Flint about the sale of the information. I don’t think Flint believes him, but I don’t think it matters to Flint now.
Did anyone else notice that Lord Ash is still alive? I hope his daughter comes back, too. I liked her.
Once again, though, we end with Spanish gold. Rackham and Bonny have it. Max will get her share, and now she owns a powerful lot of island business. But Flint’s coming for it, and Vane is on his side. Roll credits, with a nice savage skirl of music.
What’s next? I’ve heard rumors that Flint will now turn into Blackbeard, but the announcement that the show has hired Ray Stevenson to play the part of Blackbeard. Pirate stories work best when it’s three sides against each other. So it’ll be Blackbeard vs. Vane/Flint vs. Rackham/Bonny/Max. We’re also overdue to meet Mary Read, who in history was the “ahem” companion of Rackham and Bonny. I’ve been wanting her to make an appearance for two years now. Maybe we’ll see it at last.
Any way it comes out, however, I think we’ve got a good year ahead of us. Black Sails has proved itself a class act. Here’s to next year.