The first season of Black Sails was awful. It was just badly done soft core porn. Calling it a pirate adventure series would be like saying Debbie Does Dallas was a documentary about the Dallas Cowboys football team.
But then, in the middle of the second season, something happened. Black Sails plot lines and character development became interesting. The scenes stopped being about the whore house, and started being about the battles at sea. There were still plenty of sex scenes and naked women, but there was now also an interesting story and complex characters.
This changes are great, since pirates of the 1700’s were, in fact, fascinating people. Their motives and backgrounds were varied and complex. The leaders of the British and Spanish empires were afraid of them; and not just because of the money they stole.
The powers at the top of the British and Spanish empires hated pirates since pirates challenged the entire social order upon which the empires were based. Pirate ships were truly democratic societies. The pirate captains were elected by the crew with each crew member getting an equal vote. Pirates included run away slaves, women and even some people who had formerly been at the top levels of society.
The fact that Black Sails is finally focusing on the social revolution of pirates is terrific. In season 2 of Back Sails we finally got the back story of Captain Flint (perfectly played by Toby Stephens). At one time he had been a rising star in the British Navy and we never before knew how or why he became a pirate. It turned out that he was thrown out of the Navy in disgrace, after it was discovered be was gay. This was 200 years before the word “gay” even existed, and homosexuals were treated as mentally deranged deviants who had no right to be in society.
Flint, however, refuses to meekly submit to the judgements of other people. He was expected to move to Nassau and live the rest of his life in hidden disgrace. Instead, he became a pirate captain, viciously attacking the ships of the British Navy that betrayed him.
The back stories of most of the other major characters were also filled in in Season 2. It was like the writers finally figured out that naked breasts were not enough to have a show. It took the writers way too long to get their characters and the show moving, but once they did the actors really were able to show their true talents.
Black Sails does have a hugely talented cast of characters, who will be returning for season 3.
Zach McGowan is the tough as nails Captain Charles Vane, who understands that the most powerful weapon pirates have is the fear they instill in others. Jessica Parker Kennedy is Max; a whore who through wits and strategic thinking became fabulously wealthy on Spanish gold.
Hannah New is Elanor Guthrie, a high-born English woman who became dealer in stolen pirate goods after her own father betrayed her.
Beneath her beautiful cool exterior is a smoldering hatred for the English and the pirates; both groups having condemned her to death on several occasions. Elanor and Captain Vane ended Season 2 as vicious enemies sworn to kill each other, after having previously been the most passionate of lovers
Toby Schmitz is Rackham; the character who was a beaten down wimp for most of 2 seasons, and ended up becoming the most successful pirate captain of them all. His beautiful and dangerous partner Ann is played by Clara Paget. Despite her small stature, even the toughest of the pirate men know better than to cross her.
Season 3 of Black Sails looks like it is gong to be exciting. The British and Spanish empires have no intention of letting a group of social misfits steal their gold and challenge the World Order. They are coming full force to Nassau to attack. It should be great.
- We rate Black Sails on Starz Network Four Stars ****