Black Sails Finale

Black Sails ended. Sad day. And how did its last gasps fair? I apologize for skipping out on some recaps but I couldn’t miss musing over the finale. Ending a television series has to be difficult, subjecting yourself to social media screeds if not done according to the wishes of fan boys/girls, but when you put something out there, you subject it to public opinion and can only hope people will appreciate your work. I truly appreciated Black Sails. It did for pirates what no other movie or show had done before. It brought pirates to life, not as caricature, but as living, breathing figures with grounded desires and motivations. And the actors really gave it their all and balanced their portrayals with the right amount of gravitas and fun. The show established a specific tone from the get go and stuck to it. Bravo. And gave us swashbuckling to boot! Huzzah! What I offer here is not so much a review or recap, but more a reflection on the series and how it ended.

Did it earn its ending? Certainly a tough task and what sometimes ultimately makes or breaks a show. Dexter had not earned its ending. For Dexter to send his son off to South America with a murderess after he took such pains to shelter him from the “dark passenger” was preposterous. The show set the viewer up from day one with the scenario…shit is going to hit the fan when his coworkers discover his true identity. But no. Only Laguerta found out and they killed her. I previously posted about the ridiculous and disappointing Penny Dreadful finale. It pains me to think about it so I won’t recap, but you can find it here:

So Black Sails? The ending or last few episodes were a mixed bag for me. If there was ever a slight tonal shift in the show it was when they sailed for the mysterious island or what would become treasure island. It kind of veered into Pirates of the Caribbean territory so I mentally got on board for the ride. But then the show did some funny things and told us we had to be serious again, giving us maybe more than was necessary conversations between Flint and Silver. Talk about bromance.

Some characters earned their fates like Eleanor, Jack Rackham and Anne Bonny. It was interesting in fact to see how the fictional character fates intertwined with what happened to the real life pirates. Jack and Anne had served on Charles Vane’s crew (along with Mary Read who we meet as the young “boy” on the show) until they mutinied and marooned Vane who was later picked up by the authorities and taken to Port Royal and hanged. Eventually, Jack Rackham’s head swung as well. Anne Bonny and Mary Read were to see a similar end but both claimed to be pregnant, which was found to be true, so their lives were spared. But back to the show and Max’s fate. Ugh, well, I just never really took to her character. I don’t know if it was the acting or just how her character arc was handled – from a backstabbing, manipulative former prostitute to the savoir of Nassau. Uh, okay.

In comparison, we see Billy’s transformation from a true brother, living by the pirate code even when the leaders around him outright broke the code (Flint) yet he soldiers on, trying to do the right thing, until he breaks and he knows it. He’s killing his own brothers at the end, he knows its completely jacked up, but he continues to do it anyway. (No one survives being tossed overboard like Billy!) Maybe my issue with Max is she had no self-awareness of how she arrived where she ended up.

So that leads us to Flint and Silver. I really wanted to see a flash forward to our crusty old peg leg sidling up to Jim Hawkins, but no such luck. We can only surmise what eventually drives Silver to leave everything behind to seek out the treasure. I don’t believe Flint’s words to him, that eventually the quiet life with Madi won’t be enough. Sorry show. The entire series we see Silver trying to weasel his way out of responsibility. I liked when, while searching for Madi on Rogers’ ship, he comes upon a crew member hiding below deck. Silver calls him a coward, and the man replies he’s just the cook. Such a call back to season one when Silver had done the same very thing when Flint’s crew attacked the ship he was on. Then Silver became their “cook”. Silver’s legend and authority was basically thrust upon him. Something bigger has to happen for Silver to give up the quiet, idyllic life on the maroon island and not him just seeking out fortune because he misses the pirate life.

Flint’s end is extremely complicated. And what, he and Thomas were going to live out their days on some kind of work camp/penal colony and you can’t tell me they’d be free to live as a couple when Thomas was sent there because he was homosexual or bi-sexual. I don’t remember if all that was clear given Miranda’s involvement. Flint and Thomas shared the same dream of a sort of “utopia” free of British conventions. I would think being together again would only fire Flint up even more. I’m more apt to believe Flint gave up because Silver basically betrayed him. Honestly, a knock down, balls to the wall, battle at the end with Woodes Rogers riding off into the sunset, the victor, may have been more fitting, showing us the futility of it all. Sad but true. Woodes Rogers did defeat the pirates and the story of how he did so with the help of Benjamin Hornigold, while I rail against it with ragged breaths, is truly remarkable. He served as Governor of Nassau for a good long time. I’m not sure why they decided to see him jailed. So the pirates could have their Nassau? Why? They still could have let Anne and Jack sail off into the sunset, Silver giving up and living with Madi, and Flint dead. I felt they gave us the pretty ending and pirate lives were never pretty. Fair winds!

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