Review: Black Sails Series Finale

*All the spoilers ahead*

A couple weeks ago Starz’s Black Sails came to an end after four seasons. The show was set up as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, but incorporated many historical figures and famous pirates into the show along with politics from the British government as the pirates fight to maintain control of Nassau. The show’s plot and characters rival the likes of Game of Thrones and House of Cards in depth, yet did not seem to achieve the popularity. Regardless, Black Sails fans remain a devoted lot.

I really enjoyed this show and was seldom let down. Almost every season contained an episode that seemed to be the shows most pivotal moment, and yet the following season there would be another amazing arc. In season one, it was the final episode, when Flint kills his quartermaster Mr. Gates for knowing too much about his past. Season two has Charles Vane rescuing Flint from his trial in Charles Town, sending the town into chaos. I loved the scene in season three when Anne Bonny and Vane rescue Jack Rackham from his prisoner transport carriage before Vane gets captured himself.

And in season four, besides the climactic final scenes between Silver and Flint, the most dramatic point to me is when Woodes Rogers overtakes Blackbeard’s crew and kills Blackbeard in one of the most gruesome sequences I’ve seen on TV. The buildup, as Jack and Anne watch, is palpable.

I had an idea of how Long John Silver and Captain Flint’s stories would conclude as they lead up to Treasure Island. That idea turned out to be quite wrong and the climax was not what I expected. First of all, I was convinced that Flint would die at the end (and there seem to be some interpretations where that is in fact his ending). Assuming you take the story literally, Flint’s fate is not what he hoped for, but turns out to be a happy ending that he didn’t know was possible, orchestrated by Silver. Flint’s story ends with a surprising rekindle of his lost love. Silver, on the other hand, nearly loses his love, Madi, when he gives up on Flint and the dream of war. It is suggested that Madi and Silver get back together.

While this final season was strong overall, I was not particularly satisfied with the conclusion. Flint’s former love Thomas Hamilton had supposedly killed himself after being sent to a mental institution, but in a twist we discover that he is still alive and working on a humane prison plantation. Silver sends Flint to the plantation after tracking down Hamilton thereby securing a non-violent future for Silver and happiness for Flint. Giving Flint this happy ending seemed odd to me considering his ruthlessness, the people he killed and destroyed, and general villainy the whole show. Also, in Treasure Island it is suggested that he eventually drinks himself to death. I’m struggling to see how the two ideas meet up.

Silver’s eventual betrayal of Flint was heavily foreshadowed in the later half of the season. Same for the conflict that it caused between he and Madi.

The most exciting part of the series finale is the optimistic future for Anne Bonny and Jack Rackham as they continue a life together on the open seas after reestablishing Nassau with Max as the new Eleanor Guthrie. Max’s arc, to me, was the most complete and makes perfect sense watching her story unfold. Max always wanted this power and, in this fruition, says that her former love for Eleanor came from her admiration in wanting to achieve that same level of freedom and control.

Interestingly, another character was introduced in the final episode, Mary Read. We meet Read talking to Jack in the tavern on Nassua as he tells her his story. Read, dressed as a man, accompanies Jack to his ship and joins their crew. This ending makes me wonder if it is setting up for a Black Sails spin-off focusing of Jack and Anne’s adventures. I certainly wouldn’t be disappointed if that happened.

  1. It’s a valid criticism that such a monster as Flint gets to live “happily ever after,” but there’s a scene in episode 209 where he tells Miranda where the name comes from that I think explains why he’s so ready to give it all up. He tells a story of his grandfather meeting a man called Mr. Flint who showed up for some unknowable purpose and then up and disappeared. At the end of the scene Flint talks about how much he hates the name and how ready he is to “return him to the sea.”

    I think by the time he saw Thomas the violence and anger of Captain Flint was gone and all that was left was a man ready to move on. Flint wasn’t always a terrible and violent man and didn’t want to be one forever. Once the possibility of being reunited with Thomas was on the horizon he was no longer able to sustain that rage and so let Captain Flint fade away.

    Great review by the way, I wish more people had watched the show. I’d also love to see more of Mary Reed but I wish they would’ve introduced her sooner!

    Liked by 1 person


    1. Definitely a good point… and you have an impressive memory! It does make sense that he would let go of his anger upon reuniting with Thomas, I’m just surprised the writers chose that direction. Apparently that was always the intended ending, I just didn’t see it going there.

      Thank you! I wish Mary Reed had been introduced sooner as well.

      Liked by 1 person


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