Black Sails Season 4: What Do We Want From Our Pirates?

The first two episodes of Black Sails Season 4 raise some interesting questions about pirates and pirate lore.

This article contains some spoilers for the first three seasons of Black Sails…but none for season 4!

Obviously, if you like Black Sails, you like pirates. Pirates are probably the first anti-heroes, the rogues we love to hate. They kill people and take stuff, but they also laugh a lot, buy drinks for the house, and look damn good in tight pants.

Jack Sparrow introduced us to a different pirate. Johnny Depp created a man who was obsessed by his own legend. Jack Sparrow isn’t really into violence, except against people he had a grudge against. He was a survivor, and he wanted to make his time on this earth as pleasant as possible. Wine, women, and song.

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But Black Sails has given us pirates that are even more in the historical vein. Charles Vane, Ben Hornigold, and Blackbeard were real people (even if Captain Flint and John Silver weren’t) and the plot was peppered with real people and situations, such as the Maroon island and the Guthrie clan.

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Now Black Sails is in its final season. We’ve watched the pirates bring home Urca gold, and deal with the aftermath of having too much of the shiny stuff. We’ve watched Max rise to power and play to her own benefit against the pirates. We’ve seen Eleanor brought low and then fight her way up (via sex, as she’s so often done.) We’ve seen Charles Vane make the ultimate sacrifice, and Blackbeard go to war.

Black Sails Season 4 is the end of the line for the show. Many people are upset about that – we have come to love these characters, and the world that they live in, and it’s tough to see them go. But ultimately, I think it’s a good thing. I’d rather see a well-crafted ending to a good show than season 65 of The Big Bang Theory.

So what do you want from your pirates?

Do you want huge, violent fights? If so, it seems like this last season will give you that in spades. After all, we’re standing right at the beginning of a war, staged by a production company that doesn’t need to keep any of its sets for next year.

Do you want beauty? I think we’ll have that, too. In spite of the loss of Vane’s magnificent abs, there are many lovely men and women, on a show that has never been shy about nudity. Production stills show strikingly beautiful scenery (Caribbean vacation anyone?) that can only be enhanced by CG crews with years of experience and a large library of previously used images.

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But maybe you want something more?

For me, the rebellious nature of pirates is a big draw. I like to root for the guy who is trying to overthrow the system. And that’s just what our pirate friends are after, in a completely savage, anarchical way, with lots of back stabbing infighting and betrayal.

Pirates love freedom, but pirates love chaos almost as much. In history, their every-man-for-himself attitude was what brought them down. In history, when Woods Rogers came to New Providence waving pardons, and Ben Hornigold said, “Go ahead boys, take them. You can always go back to being pirates later,” the pirate game was just about up.

In real life, the men who had been pirates had sick livers and aching kidneys from all the drinking. They hadn’t experienced the kind of institutional mistreatment that had driven them to the pirate life in the first place. Once they went straight (with a certain amount of pirate gold behind them) it was easier to stay straight.

But in this show, in this time, Blackbeard is out for revenge. The previously wishy-washy Jack Rackham has found his balls and his backbone, and is ready to become a real leader of men. Anne Bonny is still the toughest woman in the room, and we have the power of Flint and Silver, two men who don’t exist in history, but who are central to this story.

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We ended last season with the “Legend of Long John Silver.” Why the “long” is so important is not really clear, but the desire for a frightening image is certainly clear, In history, Blackbeard is the only pirate to ever put this kind of effort into his image. In Blackbeard’s case the image was so good it terrified people all over the Caribbean.

How will Silver work to turn the tide? And will Flint (with his amazing ability to mess things up) mess things up?

I’m hoping that the pirates win. Of course. I’m hoping that they make off with massive amounts of treasure, at the very least. I’m hoping that Rackham and Bonny retire to someplace nice and comfortable to wallow in romantic bliss. I’m hoping that Max gets a ton of money, and that Woods and Eleanor die ugly.

Most of this stuff won’t happen of course. But that’s what I want.

What do you want? Give us a comment and let us know.

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