The biggest criticism I had of the first season of Black Sails was that it was all a bit hammy, there was a lot of wasted screen time and certain characters were woefully underutilised (primarily Silver), season 2 fixed all of these problems and improved on what they had already achieved. I genuinely think that Black Sails is one of the best shows currently on television.
There will be spoilers for season 2 of Black Sails in this review.
Some show struggle to keep one plate spinning, Black Sails spins plates and throw knives at the same time whilst also doing their washing and having a slice of pizza. It would have been so easy to make the show centre around a chase for booty and plunder, with lots of arghing and all that shit, however they decided to give the characters varying desires and the show benefits from it hugely.
Flint is the most complex character in the show, this season delved into the mystery of how he and Miranda ended up in Nassau and the payoff was well worth the wait. I’m not always a fan of a show using flashbacks to fill gaps in the story, however it worked perfectly here. The revelation that Flint prior to being a pirate had wanted to fix Nassau by pardoning the pirates alongside Miranda’s husband, who also happened to be his lover, was fantastic. The way it linked in to their relationship as well as the mysterious nobility who was killed last season was very well done, it shows a show which is willing to plan for the long term rather than a short term gain and the show is the better for it.
Flint’s whole story arc this season was brilliant, from him manipulating his way back into control of the ship after being deposed, to his politicking in Nassau and finally his time in Charles Town, it showed the best of the characters and the range which Toby Stephens can play. The show has always centred around Flint but you have never quite known his true desires or the reasons for his actions, the reveal made him incredibly sympathetic and the pieces fell perfectly in to place.
The episodes which centred around Charles Town were done very well. The realisation that the reason Flint’s relationship with Miranda’s husband had fallen apart was that they had been betrayed by Peter Ashe, whom they believed to be a true friend, followed by the out of nowhere killing of Miranda, it all happened so quickly and unexpectedly which along with the slow mo fixed camera on Flint’s face made the moment all that more impactful.
Vane showing up to Flint’s trial could have seemed farfetched and forced, however they handled it very well and the logic that to allow the most feared pirate in the Caribbean to fall would give confidence to those who want to move against them. This along with the cannon onslaught of the town, Miranda’s dead body having vegetables hurtled at it, Flint’s killing of Peter and the general chaos which surrounded the whole sequence was outstanding.
We also finally got to see how Silver loses his leg and hence becomes the quartermaster, after some good old fashioned torturing and a gruesome leg removal. The culmination of the scenes at Charles Town were also significant for the show as Vane and Flint, so often rivals, have come to see eye to eye as to what must be done and it is a big step for the show going forward.
One of the things that I do enjoy about Black Sails is that most decisions a character makes have a logic to them, you don’t really have characters doing things out of character to over dramatize or to further the plot, rather decisions usually make sense (such as Hornigold turning his back on piracy after he feels that he has been treated unfairly). Part of the reason for this is that the vast majority of the characters aren’t one dimensional, this combined by the generally good performances gives a level of realness which isn’t easy to come by.
Fleshing out characters allows Black Sails to run plot strands such as the Anne/Max/Jack love triangle, which on the face of things could have been an absolute drag, was the absolute opposite. What very much felt like a game between Max and Jack with Anne in the middle, which had Max’s rise as madam and Jack’s rise to captain and concluded in the two winning the Urca gold with their uneasy alliance was a nice little interjection to the stories floating about.
I felt in the first season that one of the shows biggest weakness was the underutilisation of Silver, a character who the show should really centre around along with Flint, well season 2 brought me my wish. Silver went from being a side project to a main eventer, very much moving into the centre of the story as he connived his way to a portion of the Urca gold at the expense of his crew and managed to whittle his way up the ranks, it was a nice build.
So much happens in Black Sails that inevitably when you do a season review things will be missed out (such as Ned Low being set up as the seasons new villain, only to be taken out by the real bad guy only a few episodes in), but that is the strength of the show, there is a depth of characters to be invested in and each has something going on. It’s a massive compliment to the quality of Black Sails.
The first season was good and left a foundation to build on, season 2 took that foundation and built a castle on it. I think that Black Sails is one of the best shows currently on television and if it was produced by something other than Starz people would be talking about it a hell of a lot more. Strong well developed characters, good action sequences, an interesting plot with many differing story strands, it’s almost all you could want in a show.
So what did you think of season 2 of Black Sails? Are you wondering where the newly formed bromance between Flint and Vane will go? How good a swimmer must Billy be to survive that storm? And how do you think Jack will store all his lovely gold? Well leave a comment and share those thoughts.